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(DV) Marshall: Foley is a Red Herring







Foley is a Red Herring 
by Lucinda Marshall 
October 2, 2006

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If ever there was a week that the brown stuff hit the political fan, last week was a doozy. If it could have happened, it did. Even Tony Snow’s formidable spinmeister skills were no doubt taxed as heavily as a middle-class worker. 

First there was that pesky NIE leak.  Next we found out that surprise, surprise, it seems that Jack Abramoff was in contact with the White House more than a few times, hundreds of times as it turns out. And then wouldn’t you know it, a couple of those heinous whistleblowers piped up to mention that Diebold secretly patched voting machines in Georgia. To top it all off,  the Congress then not only  voted almost unanimously to piss billions more of our money on the war in Iraq, they also stood up and proudly affirmed that Torture-Is-US. 
All this with an election just around the corner, not the kind of week that you want to stick in the minds of voters. If ever there was a week that the pols needed one of their famous red herring stories, this was it.  A red herring, as explained by Wikipedia, works like this: 

"[I]n politics, a minor or even phony issue trumped up as being of great importance, in order to influence voters to vote for one party or candidate and against the other, or distract from more important issues that might help the opposing party." 

Now you know things are getting pretty bad when the GOP sacrifices a shoo-in candidate like Florida Representative Mark Foley. But these guys know darn well that anything that smacks of sexual perversion is the ultimate red herring story. 
The keyword here is SEX. No other news item is as salable as a good juicy sex crime. Sex stories, particularly ones involving children, sell billions when they are marketed as pornography. 
Politicians and newsmongers (many of whose parent companies make handsome profits from pornography) know this. This story is a slam dunk to knock all that pesky bad news off the front page and distract us just long enough so we forget all about influence peddling, disastrous wars, election stealing and the like. 
This is hardly the first time that such a lurid and titillating story has broken at a juncture when lawmakers or the President are up to something they don’t want us to think about. Anyone remember the media frenzy over the arrest of John Mark Karr, the man who wasn’t even vaguely guilty of killing Jon Benet Ramsey?  Remember what other news happened that week? Neither do I. 
The best part is that while Foley’s seat may be a goner for the GOP, sex scandals are the most forgivable political sin that there is. Pols on both sides of the aisle indulge, lots of uproar, then wink, wink, nod, nod, and it’s back to business as usual. 
Let’s not allow ourselves to fall for the latest smokescreen of moral outrage.  Foley is slime; there is a good chance he belongs in jail for violating laws he helped pass.  But it wasn’t even close to being the only reprehensible occurrence in the hallowed halls of government last week, and we should not allow the media to do it’s usual feeding frenzy at the expense of informing us of the rest of the news we need to know.

Lucinda Marshall is a feminist artist, writer and activist. She is the Founder of the Feminist Peace Network. Her work has been published in numerous publications in the U.S. and abroad including, Awakened Woman, Alternet, Dissident Voice, Off Our Backs, The Progressive, Rain and Thunder, Z Magazine, Common Dreams and Information Clearinghouse. She blogs at WIMN Online.

Other Articles by Lucinda Marshall

* What Women are Saying About the Violence in the Middle East
* Women’s Equality Day: In Praise of Radical Women
* Penis Politics
* Involuntary Motherhood
* Kathleen Parker’s Duke Rants Miss the Point
* What Mothers Really Want
* The Harm that Occurs When Women are Under- and Mis-Represented
* Ending Terrorism Against Women Begins at Home: The Urgent Need To Fully Fund VAWA
* President Bush’s Ken-Doll Performance an Insult to Women
* How Hot Does it Have to Get?
* 30,000 Iraqis, More or Less
* We're Melting
* The Turning Point
* Geena in 2008
* Before There Are 2,000 More
* The Booby Trap: Does Breast Cancer Awareness Save Lives? A Call to Re-think the Pink
* Were Women Raped in New Orleans?
* Why I Do Not Support The Troops
* The Democratic Unravelling
* Child for Sale: The Corporate Takeover of Our Classrooms
* The Dead Children's Society
* Media Exclusion of Women as Sources Impedes Meaningful Reform
* Military Pollution: The Quintessential Universal Soldier
* Honoring the Lives of Women in Perilous Times
* Why We are Horrified by the Destructive Forces of Nature but Accept Our Own Violence
* The Financial Immorality of American Generosity
* The Surreality Show: Stranger than Fiction
* (Not) In The News: Media Culpability in the Continuum of Violence Against Women

* Yanar Mohammed on the Impact of the US Occupation on the Lives of Iraqi Women
* The Misogynist Undercurrents of Abu Ghraib