On Pedophilia

Is Mark Foley a slimy closet-case and a major-league hypocrite? Absolutely.

Is he a pedophile? Should he be branded a criminal? That depends.

As Joseph points out, the Congressional pages involved in this ongoing “scandal” were all above the legal age of consent in the majority of the United States. In the eyes of the law, at least, a man in his fifties who hits on a 17-year-old is a different thing entirely from one who hits on a 12-year-old. While Foley’s attraction to guys in their late teens may be a bit creepy or distasteful to some, not to mention rather undignified, it’s no more illegal than hitting on a 25-year-old secretary or a 60-year-old society matron, at least in most of the country.

Of course, the controversy is officially about the actual email and text messages rather than any specific sex act. Ironically, that may be Foley’s only actual crime. In the US, it is very much against the law to send “pornographic” messages to a 17-year-old. However, in most of the US, it is also quite legal to actually have sex with that same 17-year-old. There’s just something wrong with that logic.

Or is it just me?