And we're seeing that same dynamic here, mainly because in our sexual paradigm, youth is valued as a commodity. Any young person who'd give it away to someone who has nothing to offer has to be stupid or looking for money, and those old men and women/cougars without any value are really out of place for looking towards the younger generation for love.
The Portland Tribune's editorial is far more honest than the Oregonian's since it focuses on the sex and tacks on some indignity about the lying for good measure. I say that it's more honest because every time one of these sex scandals comes out, invariably pundits start saying "I don't care what he did, but the lying is unforgivable" and all I can think is "Liar, liar, liar, liar!"... about the pundits themselves.
It was a lie then that Clinton was impeached because he lied about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky (it had far more to do with bitter partisanship and typical Republican obstructionism), and it's a lie now that the biggest reason these folks are calling for Adams to resign is because he lied.
The Tribune can't tell the difference between 17 and 18
The Tribune editorial makes a statement so stupid, so clearly illogical and divorced from reality, that the entire editorial is worth discarding.
We don't believe the public makes much of a distinction when it comes to a man over 40 having sex with either a 17-year-old or an 18-year-old. And it makes no difference if the teenager is male or female -- it's sexual opportunism, pure and simple.
Really? People don't make a distinction between sexual behavior with a 17- or an 18-year-old?
I'm sympathetic to arguments about how the sexual majority laws are based on a silly distinction that results in people going from being children who can't decide what's best for them one day to completely mature adults the next day. I really am. It's hard to come up with a certain date that works for everyone.
But the people of Oregon came together and decided that the 18th birthday was the day. And to say that they don't "make much of a distinction" is completely laughable - they draw all sorts of jagged, hard lines to divide those below and those above the age of 18.
163.315 Incapacity to consent; effect of lack of resistance.
(1) A person is considered incapable of consenting to a sexual act if the person is:
(a) Under 18 years of age;[...]
163.415 Sexual abuse in the third degree.
(1) A person commits the crime of sexual abuse in the third degree if the person subjects another person to sexual contact and:
(a) The victim does not consent to the sexual contact; or
(b) The victim is incapable of consent by reason of being under 18 years of age.[...]
163.435 Contributing to the sexual delinquency of a minor.
(1) A person 18 years of age or older commits the crime of contributing to the sexual delinquency of a minor if:
(a) Being a male, he engages in sexual intercourse with a female under 18 years of age; or
(b) Being a female, she engages in sexual intercourse with a male under 18 years of age; or
(c) The person engages in deviate sexual intercourse with another person under 18 years of age or causes that person to engage in deviate sexual intercourse.[...]
163.445 Sexual misconduct.
(1) A person commits the crime of sexual misconduct if the person engages in sexual intercourse or deviate sexual intercourse with an unmarried person under 18 years of age.
Sounds like the public in Oregon has made a pretty clear distinction about which age group is able to consent and which isn't!
The Portland Tribune's statement is even more ironic considering that Breedlove could be prosecuted if he had sex with someone under the age of 18.
I'm still waiting, though, for the Tribune to write an editorial decrying the fact that 18-year-olds are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since the public doesn't make much of distinction between 17- and 18-year-olds, the US is clearly sending children into battle.
I'll also be waiting for the Tribune editorial that decries how 18-year-old murderers are tried as adults. If 18-year-olds aren't old enough to make decisions about what they want to do with their bodies yet, then clearly they can't be held responsible for the mistakes they make when making those decisions. Right?
It's not about the lying
Here's a bit from the Tribune's editorial. (I do like how they say that they don't care that Adams is gay - I was in a writing workshop once and the professor mentioned, in response to one woman's essay, that anytime someone prefaces what they're about to say with "I'm not racist, but..." then it's a red flag that they're racist.)
We don't care that Adams is gay. But we care -- and believe that Portlanders deeply care -- that Adams engaged in incredibly inappropriate actions and then lied about them for 17 months. In doing so, Adams created an irreparable breach in trust with the people who elected him.
Notice how the "incredibly inappropriate actions" are completely separate from the alleged lies? That's shockingly honest for a traditional media outlet when it comes to a sex scandal. Usually, after ignoring government lies and discussing why it's not their job to call out the lies, they have a few fainting spells and call on people to retire, without any awareness of the fact that the only lies that count are ones related to sex.
The Oregonian, though, says it's all about the lying.
But, when former Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR) lied in a series of campaign ads last season about his opponent, did they call for him to resign? Did they ask him to resign when he admitted to lying about his travel time in in Oregon? A search of The Oregonian's site shows they didn't. In fact, they endorsed the liar.
When Swift Boater and Clackamas County (OR) district attorney Al French admitted to having lied about events in John Kerry's life in order to slime him in 2004, did The Oregonian call for him to resign? It seems important enough of a lie, and a DA should be held to a higher standard when it comes to honesty. But if you answered yes, you'd be wrong. He lied in a sworn affidavit and on camera to advance his political agenda, and the Oregonian didn't call for him to resign.
And what about Bush? He lied to start the war in Iraq, lied about his illegal wiretapping, lied about Social Security solvency, lied to get his tax cuts through.... He was a liar among liars, and anyone with a purist view of honesty who thinks that a politician should resign if he lies about anything should have called for Bush's resignation long ago. Bush was president of every state, including Oregon, and yet The Oregonian never called for him to resign, nor did they call for impeachment.
Those are just a few examples that I remember off the top of my head; I'm no expert on Oregon politics. But it seems that if it truly was about the lying that The Oregonian would be printing quite a few more editorials calling for various pols to resign.
The (lack of) value of intergenerational relationships
The only way that Adams's actions can be read as morally wrong is if we start with the assumption that sexuality, especially homosexuality, is an attack on another human being. If we think that there's something wrong with it, that it's inherently exploitative and that we need to protect ourselves and be old enough to adequately defend ourselves from sexuality, then, yeah, there might be an issue here.
But a sex doesn't have to be about taking, and there's no reason to assume that this relationship was "sexual opportunism" when there's no evidence that it was.
Perhaps, as someone who's only been in relationships with men at least 15 years his senior since he left college, I'm biased here. I've heard it all, about being a gold-digger (even when I dated poor older guys), that the relationship is "inappropriate" (read: I'm uncomfortable with your relationship so I assume it has to do with morality), that people of different ages are incompatible, usually with a little you-don't-understand-life paternalism thrown in for good measure.
Older gay men aren't sexually worthless and younger gay men aren't the airheads we're rumored to be. We can all make our own decisions about who we want to be with and it doesn't mean that someone's being taken advantage of. More importantly, these relationships are none of our business and they don't define people's morality in other areas of their lives.
Ahem... my morality is up here
I would hate for any of the older men I've dated to be immediately thought of as immoral or creepy just because they dated someone younger than they were, just as I hate that anyone's morality is determined by what's going on in their pants. If it could be, then George W. Bush would be one of the most moral people in the US.
The idea that someone's morality is determined by their sex life sells papers, I'll admit. In our tabloid media culture, it's hard to get people interested in the ins and outs of FISA provisions, and it's hard to get motivated to do so when a sexy story will instantly get people interested.
But that doesn't mean we have to buy into it, nor does it make the original idea correct. Morality is complex and there are moral people who have sex outside of marriage, who have sex with groups, who have sex with people significantly younger than they are, who have sex for money, who have sex with people of the same sex....
Point is, both papers seem to think that Adams would be a great mayor if it wasn't for this little issue. But instead of acting like the moral magistrates of the city of Portland, protecting the peasants from the immorality of some members of the ruling class, they could just, um, put the material good of the people first and discuss city policy instead of the sex lives of the rich and famous.
Because, when it comes down to it, that's their motivation. As Peter Griffin so eloquently put it: "Ooh, it's fun to watch rich people be naughty!"
But can't we ask for a little restraint from the traditional media, or at least a little fairness? Apply the lying=resigning standard across the board or butt out of people's sex lives. Otherwise, all it displays is a poverty of thought on the part of those folks who let politicians off the hook on matters of policy but gather the pitchforks and torches at the whiff of a sex scandal.