In yesterday’s post, I was imprecise about the full extent of the role former Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL) played in promoting the moral panic narrative over the last decade. Glenn Greenwald is more thorough:
“When this scandal first broke, I spent a few hours researching federal law with regard to Internet sexual activities and “minors” and, while I knew that Foley was involved in enacting some of these bills, I was really amazed how far beyond that it went. Mark Foley was literally at the center of virtually every activity and law and program over the last 10 years ostensibly designed to battle the evils of Internet sex and minors. Mark Foley spent 12 years in Congress and it is not an exaggeration to say that he basically devoted his whole Congressional career to adding decades of imprisonment on to the mandatory punishments for those who use the Internet to talk about sex with children. He didn’t just condemn that which he was doing. He made the crusade against it his life’s work, in the most vocal and public way possible.”
There you have it. The man was not just a participant but a central leader in the development of a moral panic over sexual predators and the Internet. His own actions, of course, are what brought him down – and rightly so. But it is the maelstrom of moral panic he and other Republicans created that now threatens to bring down, at a minimum, the leadership of the House of Representatives, if not the GOP’s unitary control of the Federal goverment.