Monday, October 09, 2006

Gee, I love being reduced to a cultural stereotype by a New York Times reporter working in concert with a religious-right spin doctor:

...Charles W. Dunn, dean of the school of government at Regent University, founded here by the religious broadcaster Pat Robertson, said that so many conservative Christians were already in a funk about the party that "the Foley issue just opens up the potential floodgate for losses." The tawdry accusations, Mr. Dunn said, "give life" to the charges of Republican corruption that had been merely "latent" in the minds of many voters.

But as far as culpability in the Foley case, Mr. Dunn said, House Republicans may benefit from the evangelical conception of sin. Where liberals tend to think of collective responsibility, conservative Christians focus on personal morality. "The conservative Christian audience or base has this acute moral lens through which they look at this, and it is very personal," Mr. Dunn said. "This is Foley’s personal sin." ...

(Emphasis mine.)

Got that? We liberals don't believe anything is really anybody's fault -- or, rather, we think everything is society's fault. It doesn't matter that you and I would say we're looking at the Foley timeline to determine which individuals may have enabled Mark Foley to continue sexually harassing high school students. Dean Dunn knows what we think better than we do. Dean Dunn can read our minds. And Dean Dunn says that, at least as regards individuals, we liberals have no sense of right and wrong.

Now, I will confess to looking for root causes for bad behavior, because I do think it's worth trying to identify patterns in the personal histories of those who do harm that might be useful in preventing others with similar histories from doing more harm (and from destroying themselves by falling into a life of doing harm). And I'll admit that when I hear about, say, a child molester who was himself constantly molested for most of his childhood, I do regard that as a relevant detail in explaining how he became what he is.

But I think we have to protect society from the molester (and it would be nice if we could also protect society from the molester's molester). I don't want to throw society in jail when something like that happens.

And that's not relevant here anyway -- I don't believe for a second that Mark Foley was molested by a priest or is an alcoholic. I do think this is Foley's personal sin. I just want to know who else let him continue sinning.

But Pat Robertson's mouthpiece wants you to think that liberals don't believe in individual responsibility -- and David Kirkpatrick of the Times dutifully typed up what the mouthpiece said as if it's objective fact. Thanks, David.

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