Another Sexting Pol: Drawing the Lines

"ARRGH! I didn't consent to THAT!"

From today’s  New York Daily News:

“Garden State Democrat Louis Magazzu announced his resignation Tuesday after nude pictures he sent to a woman he had been corresponding with were posted on a Republican activist’s website. At least two of the photos showed the Cumberland County freeholder’s crotch, two showed him dressed to the nines in a suit, and a fifth showed him waist up without a shirt.

Comments and observations:

  • Magazzu didn’t have to resign, but it was right for him to do so. Sexting is a problem among high school students, and it doesn’t help to have elected representatives indulging in it. He was humiliated by publication of the photos, and because the humiliation extended to his constituents and his party, resigning quickly was an appropriate, honorable, courageous thing to do—as it would have been for Bill Clinton, Sen. David Vitter, ex-Sen. Ensign, ex-South Carolina Governor Sanford, and others. He didn’t have to resign, however.
  • The fact that he did resign makes me have more respect for him than most elected officials around the country that are still in office. Now that’s depressing.
  • His situation is not like Anthony Weiner’s. Weiner wasn’t sexting one acquaintance, but lots of them, whether they wanted to see his wee-wee or not. Weiner had pregnant wife, making his conduct especially distasteful. Magazzu is single. Weiner lied to reporters over and over again, as well as falsely accused others of hacking his Twitter account. Weiner’s conduct appeared to border on the pathological, as his subsequent seeking of treatment indicated. And while I don’t think it is a big difference, it is one: Weiner was a U.S. Congressman, while Magazzu is just a state county legislator. The higher you go, the higher the standard of conduct. I know you Clinton fans don’t believe that, but it is true, nonetheless.
  • Blurring the line between Weiner and Magazzu is unethical, and, I hate to say, despicable. Pundits are already using this as a justification to again defend Weiner, who does not deserve to be defended. Even Craig Calcaterra, the baseball writing lawyer who is an unapologetic liberal, answered a questioner who asked, ” Why do we, and MLB, care so much about gambling and other vices, but not so much about drunk driving?” with this, and a link to the Magazzu story:“For the same reason we care about consenting adults sending text messages to other consenting adults yet don’t seem to care about them failing to support their children.” (Note: This is a reference to Tea Party Congressman and deadbeat dad Joe Walsh.)

Cheap shot, Craig, and untrue in all respects. Who’s “we”? It sure isn’t me.  I just wrote about Walsh, whom I correctly labeled a hypocrite and an unethical low-life. He shouldn’t be in Congress, just as Charlie Rangel shouldn’t be in Congress, but how does that make Rep. Weiner any less revolting and untrustworthy? By the way, the reason gambling by athletes is perceived, correctly, as more of a problem  than drunk driving is that gambling raises the possibility of an athlete coming under the influence of gamblers, calling the integrity of a whole sport into question. (I’m pretty sure Craig knows this, but preferred to be flip than informative on this occasion.) Calcaterra also linked to a post by Andrew Sullivan that made a similar point, but with a key distinction. Sullivan wrote, “It is a strange country where someone unmarried sending consensual sexting pictures to another adult is forced to resign, while a man who is alleged to have abandoned his children is secure.” That limits the comparison to Magazzu, and excludes Weiner.

  • Walsh has nothing to do with either Magazzu or Weiner, but it is clear that he will now take David Vitter’s place as the favorite “You can’t ask this creepy Democrat to resign if this sleazy Republican is still in office” rationalization when Democratic officials misbehave. This is one more reason for the Republicans and his constituency to force him out. The other is that he’s a disgrace.
  • Should the anti-Magazzu website that acquired the photos have published them? Of course not. There was no justification for that at all. The photos don’t tell constituents anything useful about him, other than the fact that he’s in so-so shape for his age and is capable of behaving like a teenager.
  • Apparently the woman he was sexting sent the pictures to the website. This is utter betrayal, and she is beneath contempt.

One thought on “Another Sexting Pol: Drawing the Lines

  1. Jack,
    I agree, as silly and distasteful as they may be, there’s nothing inherently unethical or illegal in the act of sending them (except in cases where they may have been unsolicited and unwelcome).

    Weiner was married, sure, which makes him a deplorable person, but I still cannot see a valid justification for making it a political issue in the first place. It should be remembered that the lies (to reporters and the public anyways) all started in the wake of the controversy, not before. I’ve given up trying to defend Weiner at this point (not because I’ve changed my mind but only because I’ve been unsuccessful in changing anyone else’s); however, he wasn’t the one engaging in political haymaking over what should have otherwise been a private family matter.

    I also agree that the justification “everyone lies about sex” has grown thin and likewise holds no traction with me either. That said, I’m constantly frustrated in cases like this where those in question put in a position to lie about it. Clinton lied under oath (I get it), Craig engaged in illegal activity AND lied (I get it), Gingrich lied to three different women and was hypocritical (again, I get it), but now we’re making issue over dirty photos? If Christine O’Donnell didn’t have to give an explanation or her drunken Halloween misadventure (and I agree she didn’t), why does Maguzza?

    One more small point: “Sexting is a problem among high school students, and it doesn’t help to have elected representatives indulging in it.” Here I might be inclined to agree with you again except that: 1) Kids don not now, nor have they in recent memory, looked to politicians for serious role models (outside of presidents, perhaps). Most in high school and below find government incredibly dull and those involved hopelessly old and therefore unrelatable (I’m completely serious, by the way). 2) You’re putting the cart before the horse, adults learned sexting from kids, not the other way around. 3) Kids will continue to sext so long as they still have libidos, irregardless of what their elected officials do.

    -Neil

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