Congressman Wiener is in a tough spot. It is a spot of his own making, but it is tough. He now has some serious thinking to do, beyond his Congressional seat. He certainly should resign, and not just because Republicans have been run out for lesser offenses, but because he is compromised. Even voters who would vote for a man as smug, arrogant and malicious as Mr. Wiener deserve good representation. I do not think they can have it from him. However, should he decide to remain in office and take his chances with voters in 2012, he needs to answer some more questions and then take a new stand without question.
As a lawmaker, I found myself pulled into issues I never expected. One issue really stuck with me. There was a young man raised in relative affluence, groomed to take over his father’s dental practice. He went away to the best schools, studied hard, made the grades, and picked up a habit. Shortly after returning home, he went to meet a 13 year old girl for sex. The girl turned out to be a cyberdetective. The cop was hired in part due to a funding program I created. The laws used to prosecute and sentence him were also enhanced through my legislation. His arrest was not something that I celebrated. I found it really sad. It made a chilling point that I make anytime I speak at the University level or elsewhere; The only thing possibly worse than your child becoming the victim of a predator is your child becoming the predator. Mr. Weiner is an addict, bent on a destructive path from which he could not extricate himself. I cannot celebrate this either. This is sad.
I was drawn to the issue of stopping sexual predators because Bill O’Reilly once challenged our state saying “Missouri is a state that does not care about kids”. He was referencing the critical Megan’s Law and Jessica’s Law recommendations and the fact that Missouri scored so poorly in adopting them. The words resonated for me because my brother, a probation officer for sexual predators often told me the frustrating stories of people our state turns loose. So, having that wonderful honor of being a public servant, and ability to do something about it. I went to work. Congressman Wiener should too.
It is near tragedy that there is so little shame in our society that his continued service is even a question. I think of the famous image of a Japanese Samurai disemboweling himself for bringing shame to his profession. The honorable thing, for him, is death. For Congressmen, the honorable thing ought to be to go away. For narcissists, giving up the limelight is akin to death. This is the real reason resignation is unthinkable for Wiener. If he will not resign, there is an honorable and redemptive path he should take.
Former Congressman Mark Foley, the man at the center of the “Page Scandal” resigned in 2006. Sanctimonious Democrats called for his head. Republicans nationwide reviled him as the guy who shamed the GOP and certainly exacerbated the poor GOP performance in the elections. The mainstream media so enjoyed the “Republican Page Scandal” narrative, even printing the email exchanges verbatim, that they missed some key information. One, Foley is gay. Two, he was the number one champion of laws to protect kids from predators. Foley knew he had a problem and I suspect he deeply desired to protect kids from predators like him. There is a certain honor in that. Wiener should be so honorable.
I suspect that Congressman Wiener, a hard leftist is on the wrong side of these issues. We know he is radically pro-gay, pro-abortion, and pro-any other behavior that has to do with sexual liberty. I imagine where the first amendment is concerned, he thinks government regulation of the press is a good idea as long as it is not the porn “press”. This is an odd characteristic of the hard left. They love sexual liberty and seem opposed to press liberty, gun liberty, education liberty, tax liberty, etc. This is why it would be so powerful were Wiener to take a page (pardon the pun) from Foley’s play book and do the honorable thing and use his unique flaw to protect people from people like him.
The month of Wieners “exposure” is Internet Safety month. Mr. Wiener, a human being, has shown the world the dangers of addiction. How could a Congressman behave so wrecklessly? Well, how could a US attorney from Florida, who prosecutes predators, be arrested in a sting in another state designed to catch sexual predators? To dismiss him as a bad guy is to miss a bigger point. The internet is the wild west. Give 1oo men (or women) computers and a little time alone, and watch how many of them “go rogue” in some way.
So what is internet safety? We do not know that Wiener is a child predator. We know he has reckless behavior characteristic of an addict and that the internet was his playground. There are porn addicts and there are hard core porn addicts. There are child porn addicts. There are chat addicts and even Facebook addicts. Many migrate through these patterns to seeking to meet willing partners. We do not know if Mr. Weiner would ever enter the stage of becoming what the cops call a “traveler”, but many just like him will. Sending pictures is a tool called “grooming”. It is a tool predators use to both confirm and prepare a willing partner. Internet safety is about awareness of dangers and awareness of tools. Mr. Wiener should look into not just computer filtering, but also computer monitoring. As cops look to partner with Internet Service Providers on how to capture child porn distributors, Congress may have a role. Internet privacy is a critical issue. Should political or consumer privacy become a smokescreen behind which child predators hide and enjoy equal privacy protection? Can we make a carve out even for the child porn made-to-order industry? Mr. Wiener, are you ready to do something really positive and show leadership? We need champions on these issues. The lobby for internet safety and protecting kids from predators has virtually zero funding.
Mr. Wiener, you are still hedging. You say you sent the picture as a joke. Really? What part of that picture was funny? That picture was no joke Congressman. If you want this to go away, you need to take full responsibility and truly repent. You need to come totally clean. You should “bone” up on internet safety. I am guessing it will be a new area for you, but a tiny, yet important lobby needs a champion. You may even make some new allies. If you will not follow the lead of Congressman Foley and resign, then at a bare minimum, follow his lead and take up this cause.