Why I’m glad I have three boys

Because it has got to be so hard to raise daughters in today's culture.  I'm not normally the biggest fan of Bob Herbert, but I thought this column (costs $ at NY Times, but free here) was quite eye-opening.  The key insight::

the recent shootings at an Amish schoolhouse in rural Pennsylvania
and a large public high school in Colorado, the killers went out of
their way to separate the girls from the boys, and then deliberately
attacked only the girls.

Ten girls were shot and five killed
at the Amish school. One girl was killed and a number of others were
molested in the Colorado attack.

In the widespread coverage
that followed these crimes, very little was made of the fact that only
girls were targeted. Imagine if a gunman had gone into a school,
separated the kids up on the basis of race or religion, and then shot
only the black kids. Or only the white kids. Or only the Jews.

would have been thunderous outrage. The country would have first
recoiled in horror, and then mobilized in an effort to eradicate that
kind of murderous bigotry. There would have been calls for action and
reflection. And the attack would have been seen for what it really was:
a hate crime.

None of that occurred because these were just
girls, and we have become so accustomed to living in a society
saturated with misogyny that violence against females is more or less
to be expected. Stories about the rape, murder and mutilation of women
and girls are staples of the news, as familiar to us as weather
forecasts. The startling aspect of the Pennsylvania attack was that
this terrible thing happened at a school in Amish country, not that it
happened to girls.

It truly is a sad statement that we are so inured to violence against women that this really does not get a second thought in that regard.

Why Foley Still Matters

I'd been meaning to write some more on Mark Foley, but I've now finally gotten around to it after a student asked me today why the misdeeds of a single Republican should apparently so damage the larger party.  The short answer: had Hastert and others in the Republican leadership not ignored the warnings about the Foley problem this issue would have been over by now, but alas, the preponderance of the evidence certainly suggests that Republican leadership failed to take appropriate action to address Foley's misdeeds.  This leads to why this issue has led to lasting damage to the Republicans hopes for maintaining control of Congress– it fits into a larger narrative of Republican corruption.  Voters may not remember the names Jack Abramoff, Bob Ney, or even Tom Delay, but they are at least vaguely aware that there has been a certain stench to this Republican Congress.  The Foley scandal simply further reinforces that. 

Hardcore Republicans are not going to change their votes to Democrats, or even stay home over this, but life works at the margins and in a country essentially divided 50-50 this really hurts.  There will surely be some small, but not insubstantial, number of voters who are finally pushed away from the Republican party over the cumulative effect of these scandals and the air of corruption surrounding the Republican party.  One of the truths of social-psychology and political science is that
persons do not even truly know the reasons they take their particular
actions.  Come election day, very few people will say that they cast a vote for a Democrat due to Mark Foley, but this scandal will assuredly have had a subtle, but very real, impact on many votes.  The Republicans can still recover, but it now looks that much harder and that much less likely.

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