Thursday, June 16, 2011

With regard to (former) Representative Weiner...

I've had a couple of different, partially composed entries sitting in notepad documents on my computer since shortly after my last post. When I got called in to sub long-term for the colleague of a mentor of mine, they were unceremoniously shoved to the back burner by a sudden need to prep and keep up with the rigors of the end of a school year. I will come back to these when I am able but, once again, I find myself compelled by recent news to speak up while it's still relevant.

Now, there are some things that, from what little I have on this blog so far, may not be immediately evident. Perhaps my links are the only clues currently available to some elements of the identity of the blogger responsible for this drip-pan rainbow. I happen to be a few things, loath though I am to reduce myself to simple labels, among them a woman and a liberal. No, I'm not actually a dude like either of those bastards masquerading as a woman, but a real, actual one who happens to have lady parts about which I would like the legislature to butt right out because my bits aren't their business. To that end, I've been quite fond of the recently stupid New York Dem Anthony Weiner.

BEFORE this whole debacle (and, as you will see if you read on, I do NOT mean that in a minimizing or dismissive way), he had seemed like a man of spine and of standards. His impassioned rant about the 9/11 First Responder healthcare bill (and the sort of wheedling, noncommittal foolishness that the Republicans were hiding behind to block the bill) endeared him to me greatly. His verbal sparring match with a Fox News anchor that couldn't seem to grasp the concept of giving an actual INTERVIEW to a [mock disdain] bleeding heart liberal like Weiner, particularly with regard to OBAMA'S UNBELIEVABLE SOCIALIST HEALTHCARE, both amused and impressed me. Until recently, youtube was just FULL of videos lauding Weiner's attitude, his passion, and his dedication to Doing the Right Thing.

One evening, being terribly disappointed in Mr. Obama (more on that this summer) and absolutely DREADING the possibility of the pendulum swaying back toward the Republican side of things and risking electing one of their distressingly ignorant talking heads, I mentioned to my fiance, in all sincerity, "Y'know who I'd like to see go for the Democratic nomination? Rep Weiner. That Dem from NY who gives all those great fiery speeches on the Congress floor. HE's got spine to spare, and he champions a lot of things that are important to me." I pulled up both of the aforementioned videos to support my point, and then went on to include his investment in women's rights, which, as I mentioned earlier, are JUST A LITTLE BIT important to me!

Sadly, not long after that, conservative darling Andrew Breitbart broke the story that, at first, seemed INCREDIBLY suspect from every angle. First off, Breitbart himself doesn't exactly have the best track record ever for journalistic integrity, thus, in part, my choice to link the New York Post article about the (at the time) potential Twitter scandal. Secondly, Ars Technica ran a piece within days of the original accusation suggesting that the errant tweet could have been the fault of YFrog, a commonly used and, if you're savvy enough, fairly easily exploited service of popular image host, ImageShack. I even read somewhere that the EXIF data for the image didn't match the phone or camera he normally used, though I can't seem to find the original article source at this time. The comment that he couldn't "say with certitude" if it was his junk or not never sat right with me, but still, I had such respect for him that I WANTED it all to be some massive conservative prank to discredit him before he could pose more of a threat to the status-quo.

Breitbart's blackmail maneuver didn't do anything more to convince me that it WASN'T a conservative spin-fest; just because it WAS Weiner's junk in the photo didn't necessarily mean it was unwanted, harassment, or even any of our damned business. I'm not a prude, and, unless there is an issue of consent (being unable or unwilling to provide it, namely), what two adults do safely and sanely in private communications is absolutely between them. So what if he's married, maybe it's an open marriage, maybe they're poly, or however it may be so, maybe Abedin knows what's up. After all, although MOST of us have moved beyond Puritanical sex-is-a-chore-without-joy-or-desire mindset, there are still those who would crusade against those in the GLBTQQI spectrum being allowed normal relationships, much less marriage. Non-hetero-normative, non-monogamous relationships are just not something our society handles politely, even though it's generally none of our damned business, so even if this whole thing WERE completely above board and consensual all around, efforts would have been made to keep it hushed up.

Then the recipients started coming forward and my dreams were crushed. First Gennette Cordova, and later Ginger Lee both made it CRYSTAL clear that they had not done anything to encourage, solicit, or even in the least way imply they were open to the congressman's sexual interest.

The reason I feel so strongly moved to post on this issue is because I absolutely abhor how it has been handled in the media. At BEST, it's handled as an issue being all about Abedin and how she is pregnant and he betrayed her. Bill Clinton was married when the Lewinsky scandal occurred, too. Marital infidelity is not the business of the nation, it's the business of the couple's counselor or lawyer, as the pair sees fit. The issue is also not Weiner's voracious appetite. So what if the man likes sex? Plenty of people do, but, again, polite society expects us to limit our indulgences.

What IS an issue in the Weiner case is CONSENT. Again, it would be one thing if the congressman had simply sent a private, text based message politely proposing a more intimate meeting, or otherwise attempting to discern the interest of the other party in communications of a more intimate nature, but that's not what happened. In the case of Ms. Cordova, he shipped off the unexpected, and unwanted, as we have come to find out, risque picture that started off this whole scandal. In the case of Ms. Lee, he continually made efforts to turn the conversation in a sexual direction, which she repeatedly rebuffed by simply not reciprocating.

Also at issue here is the fact that he couldn't "say with certitude" if it was him or not. Had he just owned up to it, it would have been less of an issue. At the same time that he wasn't saying with certitude that it was his package in the picture, he was also making statements suggesting it was "a prank" played on him, or, later, some kind of joke with Ms. Cordova.

Such behavior is precisely the sort of thing I expect from politicians, and a great deal of why I liked Weiner up until now. His passion and fervor lead me to believe that maybe he was some kind of HONEST politician. One who actually said what he meant. One who actually kept promises. Stood by the issues he believed in. Represented the people he was meant to represent. He seemed like a real people's politician, and absolutely the kind of candidate I could support for president.

Compounding Weiner's harassment and dishonesty, of course, is the absolute field day that the media is having with this. As much as I hate to contribute traffic to such ignorant tripe as this, LZ Granderson needs to have his keyboard confiscated. Not terribly long ago, Mr. Granderson took it upon himself to police young girls' clothing, after leading into his article with a distressingly licentious and lecherous description of a girl he saw at the airport whose attire he considered inappropriate... the girl in question, by his own admission, was around six years old. Unsurprisingly, he exercises similar care and analysis in referring to the recipients of Weiner's unwanted attentions as "HIS" women, as if they are possessions of the congressman, and going on to suggest that somehow the intrusion of this media frenzy into the private lives of these women is a desirable or enviable thing. As if they would deliberately seek it out. Just like the suggestion that women file false rape claims for kicks, the insinuation that women would seek attention in this way is a clear manifestation of the ignorance and privilege that Granderson enjoys as a male in this society. No, Mr. Granderson may not be at the top of that pyramid of privilege, but, if I may enter the realm of the crass for a moment, just remember that shit flows downhill, and although Granderson's not at the TOP, he's not at the BOTTOM, either.

So please. Don't view this as apologia for Weiner's behavior. I don't condone it. Take it as it is meant; this is a dose of perspective on an issue that's been spun so hard it's miraculous that the world hasn't reversed it's rotation.