On One Hand

February 28, 2007

“To Catch a Predator.”

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 1:22 pm
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The TV news magazine Dateline NBC features a two year series called “To Catch a Predator,” which helps police catch adults who hoped to have sex with children. NBC correspondent Chris Hansen hosts the series, which uses members of a vigilante group called “Perverted Justice” to pose as 12- and 13-year-old children in chat rooms to lure older men into meeting for sex. The decoys tell the men to meet in a house that is set up with camera crews and a police battalion ready to capture whoever comes in. When the unwitting subject arrives, he is videotaped, interviewed briefly by Chris Hansen, then tasered and arrested, with transcripts of his Online chats used as evidence against him.

I’ve had mixed feelings about this program since it started. For an adult man to seek out out young girls and boys Online for sex is obviously unethical; there is no way to ignore the power issues and the hungry pillaging of innocence that takes place when a teenager has sex with an older adult. There’s an inherent hilarity in the dumbstruck looks on the faces of guys who just got caught; first they’re talking to an actor they think is a child, and then Chris Hansen suddenly appears from behind a curtain. The visitor usually assumes Hansen is the girl’s father, smiling stupidly or stepping backwards, and bumbles apologetically, “I uh… I … I’m really sorry, sir.” Then Hansen announces he’s with NBC, and the camera crew marches into the room. It’s hard not to get a perverse pleasure out of seeing this shocked person strugle, so poetically, to redeem himself, now that something he should be wretchedly ashamed of doing is now to be broadcast across the country. He’ll usually say, “I knew this was Dateline but came by anyway; I don’t know why,” or “I promise I only came here to talk.”

I don’t think it’s wrong to prosecute adults who have sex with young teenagers, and I don’t think it’s wrong to convict them and put them in jail. I’m not sure how I feel about imprisoning “potential” sex-offenders who have not actually comitted a crime against a child, and are probably not a danger if only they get a wakeup call and some counseling. But I don’t mind forcing them to seek treatment through a criminal process.

But there are some cases on “To Catch a Predator” that do seem wrong – where the “intent” of the suspect to have sex with a teenager is not so clear. Sometimes men as young as 19 are caught and arrested as predators, and in other cases the decoy claims to be 15, which is not even an illegal age in every state under close-in-age clauses. I think that, at the very least, Perverted Justice should stick to ages that are across-the-board off-limits in every state.

The program does not mention that the decoys were eager and willing to talk about sex, and that sometimes in the Online chats, even when the unsuspecting person had second thoughts about talking to someone so young, the decoy would urge him forward with reassurences like “I had a boyfriend who was even older than you are.” (See this chat between a nervous 19-year-old and a decoy who said her last boyfriend was 20 on the Perverted Justice website.)

Some potential sex offenders never approach the house, or turn around and leave without going inside (perhaps having a pang of conscience) but the program alleges they only turned around for fear of getting caught. Even those who stop their pursuit are arrested and broadcast as intended child-predators along with everyone else. There is no concern for the personal safety of the alleged sex-offender after his release into the public, and Dateline shows little concern in uncovering his actual intent, assuming the worst from beginning until end.

In some cases, Dateline includes bizzare information in its report to further embarrass men involved. In one situation, in which a man in his late 20s turned around before reaching the house but was pulled over and arrested anyway, police found a penis-enlargening during a search of his truck. The device couldn’t possibly be used on the girl the man was intending to meet, but Dateline still thought it necessary to discuss the device in the segment and ask the man why he has or needs a penis pump. In other cases, when the man arrives, a decoy posing as the young girl asks him to get in the hot tub, and the visitor will start disrobing, to be caught on camera in varying stages of undress.

The program catches horny guys with their pants down, revealing their perverse lusts so that everyday people can get pleasure out of watching someone’s sexual humiliation. The status of those caught, as predators and deviants, gives viewers an excuse to take pleasure in the sexual humiliation of another person in a way they wouldn’t otherwise allow themselves. Though the program condemns the intentions of the men being arrested, it highlights the dirty details to titilate viewers, fetishizing the perversity of the men just as they had fetishized the youth of children they were pursuing.

It’s not the act of using decoys to shake out sex offenders that I have a problem with, or the attempts of Perverted Justice to discourage pedophilia by humiliating those caught associating with it. And though I think Perverted Justice sometimes crosses the line, I will not take a stand against it as a whole. It’s Dateline’s role in taking sides with the vigilante group as a journalistic endeavor that I oppose.

The question is, since when is journalism an appendage of law-enforcement?

Journalism is a means for different parts of society to communicate through a reporter as medium, and its role is to critically and independently seek the truth. Journalism can be a tool for law enforcement because it asks criminals why they commit crimes, which can achieve solutions to crime at its roots. But that only works when reporters are independent; people on the deviant fringes of soceity won’t speak through reporters when such communication directly leads to his or her arrest. The reporter who is honored for being jailed in contempt of court because she refused to reveal a source – like former New York Times reporter Judith Miller in the Scooter Libby case – is the exact opposite of the role Chris Hansen is taking.

To Catch a Predator breaks down the barrier between law-enforcement and reporting. Other reporters try to root out corruption and deceit in government, claiming their true role is to be the critical eyes and ears of the public, but their case is watered down, now, by journalism that is much less critical of government. Remember our present circumstance: we now have a White House administration that continuously accuses reporters of bias or dispatriotism for asking very innocuous questions – let alone the tough ones they should be asking. On December 6 of last year, former Fox News commentator and current White House Press Secretary Tony Snow accused NBC journalist David Gregory of trying to “frame the issue in a partisan way” when Gregory asked if the White House considered its new goals for Iraq to be a change in policy. These are unbiased reporters giving the government a chance to explain itself; these are reporters who are eager to fairly publish the Administration’s response to questions the public might be asking on its own. Reporters are being criticized for bringing the issues up, and their claims that the role of journalism is to be independent – not cheerleaders for politicians or government – is weakened by reports like To Catch a Predator, in which journalists are cheerleaders for government.

Then consider the questions To Catch a Predator isn’t asking. Chris Hansen does not wonder if the men arrested would never have done anything wrong if it weren’t for the decoys. He does not attempt to verify the accuracy of the transcripts the vigilante group Perverted Justice uses against the potential sex-offenders. He does not mention that some people featured on the program expressed reluctance to meet a young person Online but the decoy gave reassurence and urged him to meet anyway. The program doesn’t even ask if it’s OK for law enforcement to rely on vigillante groups and media when fighting crime.

I am not saying there is no “yes” or “no” answer to these ethical questions I am offering, but I am wondering why Dateline takes no role in asking them.

Dateline also fails question the possible infringement of the Constitutional rights of those caught and prosecuted for sex crimes. In Texas, the series pointed out, a person does not have to actually solicit sex from a child to be arrested, but must simply be caught in the act of talking about sex Online with a police decoy; a person who may well be another adult. They are being prosecuted not for actual actions, but for thoughts and desires, or potential actions with little substantiation. Whether this is right or wrong, does it not deserve questioning?

And though statuatory rape is serious – inasmuch as young people are harmed – there is no point in continually re-hashing a moral issue that everyone already knows is wrong, meanwhile refusing to question the tactics of law enforcement. Reporters across the country, regardless of their feelings toward sex crimes, must experience some disease with how Dateline is tainting the role of journalism with “To Catch a Predator.”

February 26, 2007

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February 24, 2007

Cousins

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 11:33 am
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I invented this joke in 9th grade and used to tell everyone I knew, and I don’t think any of them ever got it.

A renowned zoologist crashed his small plane in the middle of the African rainforest. He was alone there, and after months of subsisting in the jungle he knew that no one was still looking for him. He had hurt his leg badly in the crash, so could only walk for short distances at a time – yet was miles away from civilization. Already in his early 50s, the zoologist decided he would likely never see the human world again.

The zoologist befriended a female chimpanzee, and to the zoologists amazement, the two of them were able to develop a language to communicate through. Over time the language became increasingly complex, and the zoologist taught the chimpanzee all about science.

Maybe it was that the lack of human contact, or jungle fever, or the hallucinogenic iboga leaves he accidentaly ate from time to time, but after years had passed in the jungle, the zoologist looked at the chipanzee – and she seemed different from the hairy animal he first saw her as. She was almost human, even. He realized how deeply he cared for her.

“Oh God,” he gasped in their special language as the chimpanzee gazed back at him, “I just realized I’m in love with you.”

The chimpanzee’s eyes went wide in a wave of emotion as her hairy lips curled, “Oh, I love you too! I’ve been in love with you for years now,” the chimpanzee confessed.

Night was near, and the zoologist thought eagerly of the time the two could cosummate their relationship. He told the chimpanzee he would marry her if he could.

“We can’t,” the chimpanzee suddenly said, and the unmistakable pain of longing arose in her glazed eyes.

“But – my love – whyever not?” the zoologist pleaded, surprised and earnest.

“Well,” the chimp explained, “humans and chimpanzees are cousins, right?”

“Exactly.” The zoologist raised his palms into the air pointedly.

“You know how it is with cousins;” the chimp went on. “If we got married – our kids would be freaks.”

February 22, 2007

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February 16, 2007

It’s all about love

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I can’t speak to ethnic minorities or small religious groups when I say this. I am not one of them, so to do so would involve criticizing what I don’t understand. I respect and consider any perspective that comes from them.

But I can speak to GLBTQ people, liberal spiritual people, and political progressives in general. I am one of all of those groups, so they can listen to me; criticizing them means being also self-critical, so is fair, and I beleive I can have an impact in those communities.

And what I want to say, is this: don’t make it your life to worry about what the “bad guys” are doing. Don’t worry about how they think or how they live. Instead, worry about what you can do. Worry about your morals, whether you’re doing the truly right thing, and worry about where the future of your ideological movement is.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot. I’ve realized that I know as much as anyone knows, but that it is still almost nothing. And I realized that I don’t have the right, or any real reason, to sit here and condemn Evangelicals or religious conservatives or Islamicists or right-wingers for being what they are, Evangelical or conservative or right-wing. I can assert my own rights, and it is within my rights that Evangelical Christianity or right-wing ideology should not impede my right to marry, love, practice, or do what my beleifs guide me to do, as long as they don’t hurt anyone else. But if they consider me a “sinner” or an “infidel,” if they hate me, if they teach their kids to hate me and refuse to cooperate me; there really isn’t anything I can say to that. We are powerless to stop them. And it isn’t very affirming to fixate on an issue on which we are powerless.

Liberals can win if they refine this message: we don’t want to change who anyone is. We don’t want to destroy “fundementalism” or Christianity. We don’t want to destroy the “upper class.” We don’t want to destroy small-town community, big buisness, or Wal-Mart. All we want to do is make sure that we, and also people who are persecuted, oppressed, disadvantaged, or suffering, receive their rights and receive help. We want to save small towns from Wal-Mart. We want to save diversity and the many variances in our society that make sure everyone has a niche, that risk encroachment from by the endless onslaught of commodification, suburbanization, franchization, consumerization, materialization, and so forth. But we do not achieve this by fixating on bad guys or bad messages. We save diversity by speaking highly of where diversity is successful, and bringing the world’s focus to that.

We are pro free-speech and pro-pluralism. If we hear something we find offensive, we do not shut it down, and if the message is ambiguous, both good and bad, we don’t even criticize it. Instead, we provide a counter-argument, or explain what it is in our enemies’ ideologies that we actually agree with, and stay positive.

There is a book called Gonzo Judaism, by Niles Goldstein, a well-known Rabbi from New York, about how American Jewish people can renew their faith. It speaks to one community, but can be applied to many others.

One section I found poignant was when Goldstein describes the reactions of Jewish leaders to Mel Gibson’s controversial film, The Passion of The Christ. The groups decried the film as anti-Jewish, and called for a boycott, or even outright censorship, of the disagreeable film. Goldstein was angry – but not with the Mel Gibson film; it was the hostile and defensive reaction of his own community that Goldstein condemned.

In agreement with Goldstein, lets assume for a moment that Gibson’s film was deeply anti-Semitic and that the film implied that this anti-Semitism is a necessary, inherent tenet of its brand of Christian faith. Then, as an outsider, ask what it really is about religious attitudes like theese that make them problematic. Is it that they have their own inherent, likely distorted views about an historical occurrence? Is that they consider a certain thing to be sin that we don’t consider sin, and are thus “puritanical” or “closed-minded?” Is it that they are “filled with hate” for us? Or is it, rather, that they turn their faith outward and are more concerned with what the outsiders are doing than what their own faith suggests?

I think the biggest clashes between religious ideologies – the ones that lead to violence, persecution, and strife – are caused by just what Goldstein points his finger at: it’s when the religious community is somehow more concerned with what outsiders are doing than the state of their own faith. It’s when we hear radical Islamic clerics and terrorist organizations base their actions on attitudes toward the “infidels” and “sinners,” that we see violent clashes between their cultures and the West. It is when we see Evangelical Christians in the United States suddenly fixate on what homosexuals and liberals are doing that we see them rise up against the interests of a minority class – in a same way that they have offended, and still offend, American Jewish people. And it’s when we see the Jewish community fire back with insults, as Goldstein describes, that people begin to turn a deaf ear toward the more authentic spirituality that the offended community can bring to the world. Ironically, these hostile, outward-facing attitudes are often in violation of the very heart of the religion they come from.

And, ironically, our outward-facing attitudes are often in violation of the very concept of diversity and acceptance that we preach.

America has won almost all of its wars. But there are two that it can be said to have lost, or is losing: Vietnam, and Iraq. How did we get in the war with Vietnam? It was by being worried about whether Vietnam was communist or not, because we are not communist and thought that communism was bad. But they aren’t us and can choose whatever economic system they like. We were in the wrong, and lost the war. Then, how did we get in the war with Iraq? It was by being worried about whether Iraq was democratic or not, and we now have disasterous problems because it seems we may have imposed something that wasn’t really wanted.

Disagreement between religions is an inherent part of religion itself – unavoidable – since almost every religion was itself formed as a response or reformation of the previous religious landscape it disagreed with, and will counter it directly. The same is true for political ideologies. But if one community’s obsession with what the people they see as “bad guys” are doing, becomes, almost always, a problem, why wouldn’t this be true for another community, in this case, Goldstein’s own? Goldstein sees faith as something best turned inward, where a person asks how he or she can become right with him or herself and God rather than how he or she can criticize or condemn, and he suggests that the best way to deal with ideologies so hostile to us that we cannot compromise with them, is to ignore them.

As a Jewish person himself, Goldstein is probably not going to change the views of the Conservative Catholicism or Evangelical Christianity. But he is in a position that he can improve the state of his own community, and that’s what he seeks to do.

How many of you sympathize with oppressed, embattled Arabs in the Middle East, or in Palestine, but then see a flock of Palestinian radicals burning an American flag, screaming “death to Americans,” and YOU are an American, and it gets to you – and for a moment, you think fuck those guys – for a moment, you waver in your concern. They almost turned you against them, and against innocent people, by hating. That’s what we do to our ideological enemies when we writhe in condemnations. We turn them even more against us.

Lets start celebrating life and celebrating our diversity, rather than worrying about it. Lets shut up about the bad guys and let them live how they live.

We can unite with conservative Christians in opposition to materialism and in the need to care for the poor. We can unite with pro-war hawks in the need to be an influence of democracy and pluralism to other nations that do not have it. We can unite with economic conservatives in the pursuit of free choice, and we can achieve many of our desired ends by using our own economic power to buy forrests and preserve them, to support environmentally-friendly products, and to do business with companies that are fair and friendly to their employees.

I’m beginning to realize that this is the argument I can offer the world. All other arguments I could make are already being made, against materialism, consumerism, militarism, and so forth. I can’t change right-wingers and Evangelicals. They beleive what they will, and by fixating on them I become what they are; obsessively worried about the behavior of others. But I can, however, show them what a better approach to the world can look like, and I can urge people on my own “side” to show them what a better approach to the world can look like. I like to unite people, and am coming to the realization that this is the only answer to our problems.

Aspen Dust

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 2:26 am
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When we were kids, everything in nature was made just for us.

Stones piled at the edge of the river only so we could skip them across. Blades of rye grass were grainy and sharp for making grass whistles that screeched when we blew between the leaves. Horsetails grew in links so we could splice the segments together as necklaces and chains. We were sure tree branches would grow new trees when we stuck them into the ground.

We were raised in the suburbs, but lived in a world apart from the familiar suburban landscapes of subdivisions and shopping centers we would later identify with home. The house my sister and I grew up in backed up to an open field filled with prarie dogs and bicycle trails – and in those years on the hot and lazy sidewalks we got just as much dirt on our skin as any of the kids who grew up in mountain towns or on farms.

Four aspen trees grew in an artificial stand in the back yard of the house on the corner. When we played there, we decided that the white powder on aspen tree trunks was “lotion,” and we slid our hands over the smooth bark to massage the fine dust, barely visible in glittering particles, into our skin. We’d rub the same part of the same poor tree each day until the white surface was worn glossy and green.

Our reasoning was, more specifically, that aspen trees grow in America, where the Indians were before white people came. And since Indians are known to use every part of every thing, they must have used the aspen dust for something, in this case on their skin. We decided the powder must be medicinal, agreeing that it could heal wounds.

Years later I learned that the natural purpose of the dust is to protect the tree from the intense, high-altitude sun, but that it also contains irritants and allergens to keep animals like deer from stripping the bark during harsh Rocky Mountain winters.

Then the red blotches that would sometimes form on our hands from the powder made more sense, then. As did the itching.

February 10, 2007

Paris Hilton

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Last night I dreamed I got a hand job from Paris Hilton. There was some trouble, but I remember saying “this is gonna make a great story,” and she agreed.

The Crossing

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 2:39 am
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I can see him there, sitting in the distant lightning-glare of the streetlamp, air around him naked black, and the skies, haunted; the clouds are low and churning hollow gray, on the threshold to burst with early spring snow. I can see his jaw clenched beneath the cold quiescence of his form, his body monolithic, draped in dark clothing, as still as the beckoning trees, shadowed eyes fixed and burning through the dusty earth. His fists are pulled in, knuckles white as resting place for his stubbled chin, effused in the apparitional tone of a broken cello captive on two low notes, humming interminably.

I am standing on the wintered lawn, grass brown and curled like burnt hair between dirty patches of wind-crust snow, gathering the night. I am far off and before him, luring the void until it lends itself to subatance. Together we are two particles, passing but never coming near, as even in the cosmos of a single atom its components are dispersed as stars are lost in space. Souls can speak, but do not touch, do not truly know each other, and between us are the ghosts of what will never be, happenstance to idealism and reality, forsaken to the singularness that comprises our selves always.

February 8, 2007

“In a Relationship”

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 2:09 am

I don’t like to use the phrase, “in a relationship;” I like to say “fucking
romantically.” And no, I am not currently “fucking romantically” with anyone lately.

Everything is going so well that I don’t know how to handle it. I gained 6 pounds! I’m almost up to 160 now. I’m stronger than I’ve ever been in the gym.

I don’t think I even care anymore if people like me or not. Actually, I know for sure that I don’t care. I’m just over it.

I love how I’m the skinny guy in the weight room, but on most of the gym equipment I’m lifting almost as much weight as the machine allows. Then I see a huge buff guy who probably weighs 200 lbs and he lifts a third as much as I did. I wonder what that’s about: is he on steroids, so that he bulks up without actually being strong? Or am I just skinny because I’m a vegetarian?

Yesterday I was wondering if I would date someone if I knew from the beginning that he had HIV, and I decided the answer is probably yes.

I was watching a video in a Religious Studies class about an anthropologist who studied an Orthodox Jewish community from inside, who became very subjectively envolved with the community after she learned she was dying of cancer. She was trying to respect the group but had problems with the religion’s restrictions on women, and finally decided that rules can be empowering if they are freely chosen and not imposed from outside. At first I thought I hated rules too, which was one of the reasons I quit being Catholic. Then I remembered that the whole reason I quit eating meat was that I wanted to prove to myself that I could make a sacrifice for what I beleived in, even if it means I’ll be skinny and will have to go hungry sometimes. And I realized that not eating meat for four years is one of the things I’m proudest of, and even if I don’t look as sexy and masculine as I want since I can’t bulk up, what good are those things anyway if don’t have yourself?

Today I realized that I have myself.

And the plants that are growing in my bedroom are doing so well!

What I could really use right now, is a garden. It would have sunflowers and irises and tomatoes, and I wouldn’t kill any of the bugs that happen to eat the vegetables. Since it’s winter and I can’t plant anything outside I’ll just keep accumulating housplants I started from rescued avocado seeds and pineapple tops. I just want something to take care of; something that is alive and can thrive when I tend to it.

I keep having dreams about American Idol. I don’t even watch American Idol, so I don’t know where they could possibly be coming from. Last night I dreamed I was in the top ten contestants, then suddenly I was on stage in front of hundreds of people and telling the judges “wait! There’s been a mistake! I actually don’t sing.” Simon looked perturbed. Finally I decided I would just go for it, and knew I would be the first person out of the ten to be voted off.

I want to plant a tree at the UMHE house this spring. It will be something that will exist for a long time, maybe even longer than I’m alive. If the organization won’t pay for a nice tree from the greenhouse (I’m thinking Western Catalpa), I’ll find another way, like by picking acorns off the oak trees in the park and starting the tree by myself.

I took sleeping pills 3 hours ago and haven’t fallen asleep yet, but I’m starting to see auras as it settles in my eyes. Actually, I’m just now getting tired.

I think I’m getting a cold again. The other day I drank out of the same cup as a girl who was sick, but thought to myself that since I just got over a cold I wouldn’t get another one. That was stupid. Why would I think something like that?

I’m too emotionally stable to fall in love right now. My sex drive is great, and I care about people a lot, but I just don’t feel the total abandon or dependency that love comes out of. Good thing I occasionally hook up with my ex boyfriend (no, not that one, the other one) which might knock me off balance just enough that I will fall for someone sometime.

I think the adderall makes me talk too much in class sometimes.

February 6, 2007

Gavin Newsom gets “Alcohol Counseling”

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 1:11 am
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All I can say is, WHAT?!

San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom is getting counseling for alcohol problems after his recently-announced, headline hitting affair with a campaign manager’s wife.

Words escape me. Laughter, however, comes in their place. The alcohol-rehab-to-treat-any-kind-of-scandal phoenomenon has been made into a joke that is already so cliche I don’t even want to repeat it here. (But I will anyway.) Last September, the press became aware that Republican Congressman Mark Foley chatted Online about sex with a 16-year-old male paige (which led to revelations of years and years of inappropriate conversations with many teenaged paiges) and Foley subsequently resigned from Congress and entered rehab for alcoholism. Meanwhile, Foley’s close friends said they never knew anything about any alcohol problems, lending everyone to suspect that checking into rehab was just a diversion tactic. It was a joke, then, that Foley must’ve gone into rehab as a sort of excuse, to blame his conversations on drunken misjudgment rather than just… uh… sober dumbassedness (which is more likely the case).

Congressman Foley’s rehab stint took place just two months after actor/filmmaker Mel Gibson’s rehab session to atone for the publicized anti-Semitic tirade he offered to a cop who pulled him over, and only one month after Ohio Republican Bob Ney went into alcohol rehab after being found guilty of illegally accepting bribes in the form of trips, meals and tickets from lobbyists. (In what Universe are those things even related to alcoholism!?) Also consider the most-notorious Rush Limbaugh rehab experience after Limbaugh’s addiction to painkillers was discovered, and Rhode Island Democrat Patrick Kennedy’s check-in after crashing his car into a road barricade while under the influence (oops!).

Did Michael Richards (Kramer from Seinfield) ever mention alcoholism after his schocking bellowfest against two African-American guests during a stand-up comedy routine? I don’t think he did, although there were murmurings of “counseling,” which is sort of a rehab-for-racists. Also, African-American actor Isaiah Washington, from the television series Grey’s Anatomy, apologized for calling openly gay co-star T.R. Knight a “faggot” by publicly checking into counseling for his homophobia.

Newsom’s confession speech was notable because he actually stepped up and admitted to the affair as soon as the rumors hit, and didn’t make any excuses, like many other politicians do. That is, er, at least no excuses for a while. Newsom is much-loved by liberals (and hated by Bible-thumping Conservatives) for his audacious defiance of California state law when issued marriage liscenses to hundreds of same-sex couples in 2004 (the liscenses were rescinded when the state later stepped in) after Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage 2,000 miles away. Because of that, I think many left-of-center Americans were willing to overlook Newsom’s infidelity and commend his decision to own up to the affair. Consider that San Francisco is one of the most liberal parts of the United States, and Newsom is very popular there. But now, rehab? This happens again?

I can predict what comes next: first, all those guys who got caught trying to meet up with kids for sex on Dateline NBC announce they drink too much (as about half of them already have). Then, Scooter Libby announces an alcohol problem, followed by Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, and then Bush himself, who admits in a soulful heart-to-heart with America that he mislead the public about the war because of a “relapse” into his drinking problems of three decades ago.

I wonder if bin Laden will enter a rehab program if he ever gets caught. Probably harder for him, an adherent of the most Conservative interpretation of Islam, in which drinking alcohol is among the most serious of offenses, and given his kidney problems that would make alcohol lethal to him. I think the rehab experience is more of an American phoenomenon anyway.

In any case, I’m ramping up an alcohol problem of my own right now, in case I ever do anything stupid in the future. I expect that Jose Cuervo, a dear friend of mine, will bail me out of whatever it is.

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