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June 20, 2011

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As to the tall rock on the Columbia, there was no doubt of the correct name among my college cohort, but that might not prove very much.

"If it's higher than it is wide, it's a phallic symbol. If it's wider than it is high, it's a phallic symbol on its side. If it's as high as it is wide, it's a phallic symbol end-on." Widely accepted rule in that crowd. I suppose by now it's conventional wisdom among the middle schoolers, though maybe without the exalted vocabulary. But I digress.

What locks up the case for the more succinct name is its internal rhyme.

BTW it seems to me that the Rock as shown is rather more obstrusively phallic here than it is as viewed from the scenic highway. But memory might be playing tricks.

Geezer time: Speaking of scenic roads, did you know that the first stretch of decent, really drivable road in Oregon was in the Columbia River Gorge? Pretty much the first in the country. Who the Sam Hill would build such a road from pretty much nowhere to nowhere? Samuel Hill, that's who. Under-appreciated pioneer.

You can actually hike up Rooster Rock; I'd be surprised if it wasn't nicknamed (in some quarters) the Walk of the Cock. The view is pretty staggering for us flatlanders.

I'm not sure I'd qualify what Weiner did as harrassment (as it may have been solicited. But I could be wrong about this, not having been all that obsessed with the unfolding (so to speak) story). But it's not the kind of behavior we want our Representatives to engage in; it's behavior that (one would hope, anyway) doesn't represent his constituency.

But he's not my Representative, so to me he's just a giant joke, and somewhat of an embarrassment, and to a great degree pathetic. And I don't want him representing my government, or serving on any important committees, or in possession of information that would need to be protected in any way.

"I don't care' camp until [college student] Gennette Cordova said she didn't ask him to send [the photo]"

It's not complex for me, he's a DB at lot's of levels.

But common sense says that if you ask a college student, probably with parents and family that will read the answer, if she asked him to send the photo, her answer is going to be no. I'm not even sure that's a good criteria,but if that's the one you want to use it doesn't seem you really have enough information to decide.

Ah: Wikipedia says that it the original name was "Cock Rock".

Oh, here's the sign at the base says it's 800 feet high, and "400 paces" in circumference. Taking a modern (rather than Roman) pace as 30 inches, that translates to about 1000 feet in circumference, or about 320 feet in diameter.

So: taller than it is long.

Did anyone else think Breakfast of Champions?

Most of it is in the fourth dimension.

Slarti:

I'm not sure I'd qualify what Weiner did as harrassment (as it may have been solicited. But I could be wrong about this, not having been all that obsessed with the unfolding (so to speak) story).

That's the point I'm making! I'm talking about the fact that you are unsure about whether he sent out pictures unsolicited -- WHICH HE DID -- when that *should* be the central, most-discussed issue.

The question I want you to ask yourselves is, WHY is the most important moral-political issue not the one people have actually talked about? How can there be so much sound & fury without even addressing what *should* be the point?

CCDG:

But common sense says that if you ask a college student, probably with parents and family that will read the answer, if she asked him to send the photo, her answer is going to be no. I'm not even sure that's a good criteria,but if that's the one you want to use it doesn't seem you really have enough information to decide.

I have in fact read articles (which I can't find in the crowd right now) quoting more than one young woman who received crotch shots from Weiner. The evidence suggests to me that it was a pattern with him.

The point I'm trying to make is that you should wonder why it is so very, very difficult to find this out. Why did the incredible media firestorm-cum-travelling-circus spend so little time on issues of consent and harassment that most people have no clear idea whether Weiner is a harasser?

Judging by the media, Weiner's sin is that he took pictures of his crotch and sent out. His crime is "unauthorized sexuality" -- it would be just as bad, from the media's POV, if he sent the pictures only to a woman with whom he had a long-term online relationship.

The issue of harassment is a non-issue, that's why we can all be so unsure and vague about it -- because obviously, objectively, *no-one cares*.

What did Weiner in was the massive amount of lying he did, and the self-righteous manner in which he did it,

Better apologists, please.

http://folksongcollector.com/gloryglory.html>Freud's mystic language needn't have us mystified
He has shown us all the secrets that the ego tries to hide
A thing's a phallic symbol if it's longer than it's wide,
As the id goes marching on!
Glory, glory, psychotherapy....

Anyway,

"The point I'm trying to make is that you should wonder why it is so very, very difficult to find this out."

Because the mainstream media have a very deeply ingrained habit of shielding the public from how depraved their lords and masters really are. The internet might have compromised their gate-keeping capacity, but they're still working on old habits. Or maybe they're deliberately sucking up to the political class in the hope of being granted a public subsidy to rescue them from their looming buggy-whip manufacture fate, and it's not habit at all.

But the public would be aghast at how vile their leaders are, if the media didn't protect them. Of that I'm quite certain.

Oddly enough, the issue of Weiner and his weiner came up at a dinner party last week.

The *only* thing that matters in the public sphere is the recipients' consent.

I think you're making a very important point here, which is that the presence or absence of consent is the bright line that distinguishes sexy fun between adults from a form of psychic assault.

And I agree, I can't think of anyone involved in the public discussion who has even raised the question, let alone answered it.

Which is weird, and speaks several volumes.

All of that said, IMO that isn't the only thing that matters in the public sphere.

What also matters in the public sphere, IMO, is that, in a nation of over 300 million people, we can't seem to find 435 folks capable of grasping the fact that being a member of the House of Representatives is actually a position of public responsibility, and not just a great way to get laid.

Some folks like to send each other sexy pictures. To each his or her own. In and of itself, nobody's bizness but their own.

But it takes a special kind of - what? Hubris? Self-entitlement? Recklessness? Appetite for disaster? - to engage in behavior that anyone with half a brain will understand is going to interfere with your ability to fulfill your public responsibilities.

Let alone behavior that is arguably abusive.

I will give Weiner credit for one thing: he didn't make his wife stand there on the podium with him while he confessed all and begged the public's forgiveness.

Assuming, of course, that his wishes had anything to do with it.

Seriously, I can't think of a more thankless position in life than politician's spouse.


Doctor Science, great post, thank you for articulating and clarifying part of what has been bothering me about this since it started.

Random other thoughts:

-- WTF was Weiner doing answering his constituent mail himself anyhow? Do we not pay for him to have a staff?

The first question answers itself...he was answering his own constituent mail so that he could do what he did. If his staff had a teaspoon more sense than he did, they would/should have gone out the door a la Gingrich if they knew what he was doing, or if he had asked one of them to do it for him.

-- I tend to avoid gender generalizations (being something of a gender outlaw* myself), but in this case I keep trying to imagine what would happen if a female legislator did the equivalent. The mind boggles; I can’t imagine the aftermath because I can’t imagine the phenomenon. (Then again, I’m known to be overly literal-minded so maybe my imagination isn’t up to the task.)

My senators are Collins and Snowe. Whatever you might think of their politics, they are deeply committed to the dignity of the office and to -- thanks, Russell, for bringing this up -- the fact that it's a public responsibility. Maybe it’s just ‘cause they’re Mainers, but then there's our undignified new governor saying he’d tell Obama to go to hell, and the NAACP can kiss his butt, and various other gems of consideration and respect, and that theory goes out the window.

*Hat tip to Kate Bornstein.

a, there were and are enough beings in Congress or State House that lie more and more egregiously and suffer no consequences. And self-righteousness is the default setting too. Moral has little to do with it.

"I will give Weiner credit for one thing: he didn't make his wife stand there on the podium with him while he confessed all and begged the public's forgiveness."

No credit, she was out of the country with Secretary Clinton.

I think russell gets to the heart of the matter: responsibility. What we seem to get in politicians (not just members of Congress) is an awful lot of people who are really keen on power, especially power without responsibility attached. There are doubtelss exceptions, but that seems to be the norm.

I wonder if that is not, at its heart, the reason for the enthusiasm in some quarters for politicians who have "met a payroll." It might not be so much a matter of wanting someone who understands business as of wanting someone who has a better chance of having dealt with responsibility. (And no, I'm not saying that all business owners and executives are responsible people. Just that succeeding as one takes a level of responsibility that politics does not demand.)

I refrain, with effort, from a obvious segue into why gay marriage is a better approach than domestic partnerships.

...but in this case I keep trying to imagine what would happen if a female legislator did the equivalent. The mind boggles; I can’t imagine the aftermath because I can’t imagine the phenomenon.

After reading russell's comment about Weiner's wife, I was trying to imagine a female politician's husband standing at the side of his adulterous wife in dour support during her mea culpa press conference. Has that happened, because it's hard to imagine, at least on US soil?

Not for any particular point, but the day after his wife returned home he announced his resignation. It seems she might not have been up for her role in the ongoing public spectacle.

Good for her.

HSH, I wonder about why we are all having so much trouble imagining a female politician and her husband in this kind of situation. And it's pretty clear that most of us do have difficulty imagining it.

-- do we see female politicians not getting themselves into this kind of situation because they hold themselves to a higher standard of behavior (because they see the glass ceiling is still there)?

-- or do we figure women are smarter/less driven about sex?

-- or do we simply think that, if a female politician did get into this situation, no husband would be willing to be (or perhaps capable of being) supportive? Which says a lot about how we see men, now, doesn't it?

I'm talking about the fact that you are unsure about whether he sent out pictures unsolicited -- WHICH HE DID -- when that *should* be the central, most-discussed issue.

Meh. I don't disgaree that this should be the central issue, but it doesn't surprise me that it's not being discussed. If I received one of these pictures and the media in the ensuing sh*tstorm came a calling I wouldn't answer, and if I answered I would say no comment, and if I commented I would say "stick it up your a$$." Saying, "why yes, he did send my pictures unsolicited," gets your name in the paper, and a whole lot of additional crap on top of the fact that some member of Congress sent you non-official photos.

Now I suppose the WaPo or whoever could/should then report "the Washington Post contacted several of the women to whom Rep. Weiner sent pictures, but they refused to comment." Not sure what that would do other than spur less responsible people on to find out who the women are.

So, again it's not surprising to me that this is not being discussed. It could be as simple as the press protecting the women involved, as opposed to protecting Rep. Weiner (contra to Brett's point). Maybe both.

Good point. What upside could there be to claiming that yes, you did ask a US Representative to send you a photo of his junk?

A chance to participate on Dancing with the Stars?

We're setting a very low bar for motives, here ;)

I think Weiner's behavior is reckless and undignified. Certainly, anyone who has observed the political climate should know that such behavior is stupid and irresponsible beyond belief. I'm really glad he's gone, even though his behavior was perfectly legal.

Harassment? Really? Please explain how seeing a photograph of a covered penis is harassment, particularly if the recipient of the photo can close the photo down, and then decline further contact. Are we really such delicate flowers?

sapient:

Harassment? Really? Please explain how seeing a photograph of a covered penis is harassment, particularly if the recipient of the photo can close the photo down, and then decline further contact.

It's harassment because it implies:

a) that the recipient, is most important as a sex object -- not, say, as a citizen or voter

b) getting one from someone you don't really know *but who knows your name* is threatening. It's an inappropriate crossing of boundaries, and suggests that *other* inappropriate crossings might also occur.

c) have you ever gotten an obscene phone call? It's frightening, ok? This is a milder version of an obscene phone call, and you're saying "hey, she could just hang up, what's the harm?"

The harm is that no sensible woman can be assured that is will stop there.

d) women get told time and time and time again that we have to be careful not to e.g. wear clothing that is "provocative" -- that *provokes* men, that punches male buttons. So getting something like this -- from a powerful man you're a fan of -- will both scare a woman (because of the implied threat) and make her wonder what she did to make this happen.

A female reader told me:

While flashing might be a minor sin, let me tell you, it still makes you feel dirty and creeped out and like you should't have been wearing a shirt that tight on the train, as if it was your own fault their dick slipped out and said hello
The fact -- and it IS a fact, one I cannot believe the men doing it don't know full well -- that women feel "dirty and creeped out" by this kind of behavior doesn't mean women are "delicate flowers." It means that we're alert to danger, as everyone says we should be.

Ugh:

It could be as simple as the press protecting the women involved

No, it couldn't. The point I'm making is that the press isn't even mentioning the issue. They talk and talk and talk about what Weiner did or didn't do, about his relationship with his wife, etc., but they *don't* focus and re-focus on the centrality of consent or harassment.

Look at Andrew Sullivan's posts about "texting while male". There is *no inkling* that the consent of the recipient might be crucial, none.

Doc,
I don't know if this is the totality of what was tweeted (Bill Maher and Jane Lynch doing a line reading of the tweets. most definitely NSFW), but I'm having difficulty thinking there is not some implied consent here.

Doc,

I am a little torn here. If a woman received a pornographic unwanted text it is about the easiest thing in the world to prosecute, ask Weiner, it's not like an obscene phone call from a blocked number (almost as easy) or a pay phone. Not the same these days. Action can be taken.

A flasher I just don't see. His only threat is to make one feel dirty and somehow at fault. In a world where we have slut walks it seems to me a random flasher should get laughed at, taking away all of his power.

Leaving aside the discussions that have gone on here about the fact that anyone should be able to walk down the street nude with no reaction in a perfect world, or somesuch.

d) The combination of all of those things, if they happened, which as I pointed out above we really don't know, is a good point.


Painting politicians with a broad brush, Brett skrev :

how depraved their lords and masters are

But I don't think this is a problem just, or even primarily, with politicians.

When people become rich or powerful enough that their wealth or power shields them from the consequences of their own acts, a very substantial fraction of those people lose their bearings, lose the empathetic identification with other people that informs the moral compass, and begin to rot, to become corrupt. It's not just Foley or Wiener, or Louis XIV and the nobles of his court; the same mechanism explains the Koch brothers, Richard Mellon Scaife, Sherriff Joe Arpaio, Sheldon Adelson, Richard M. Daley Sr. and Jr., O.J. Simpson, Tiger Woods, Mr. Kurtz (he dead), Dianne Feinstein, Leona Helmsley, Phil Gramm, Tom DeLay, and George W. Bush.

These people have put on the One Ring, with predictable results.

There are a few -- Harry Truman, Jimmy Carter, George Washington -- who can apparently wield the ring without rotting.

Leaving aside the discussions that have gone on here about the fact that anyone should be able to walk down the street nude with no reaction in a perfect world, or somesuch.

You do see a difference between walking down the street nude, in a world where that is the norm, indifferent to whomever else might be around, and selecting individuals to expose yourself to for the sake of shocking and shaming them for your own arousal, right?

You don't speed down Main Street, chasing people out the crosswalks, under the assumption that it's okay, since you can drive fast on the highway, do you?

hsh. yes, that paragraph was not a serious part of the comment.

@CCDG In a world where we have slut walks it seems to me a random flasher should get laughed at, taking away all of his power.

You might be amused by an incident I witnessed many years ago. (OK, many, many years ago.) A woman I knew got flashed by some lowlife. She just sneered at him and said "I've seen better," and walked away. From the look on his face, it was worse than any punishment he could have imagined. "Taking away his power" was only the beginning of what it did to him.

I'm not saying it is the only appropriate approach. But it does suggest one option if you get confronted.

Some people might not be capable of taking a flash in stride - not something I think they should be faulted for. Those are the people flashers are hoping to flash, I think. So it's a form of psychological assult, even if it's possible that the intended result won't be achieved, depending on the target.

Yeah, it would be great if everyone could brush it off, making flashing pointless. But the same thing could be said of any number of forms of psychological assault that people engage in - bullying, alienation, groping, etc. It doesn't make any of them okay.

To further hsh's point, if you're a woman who gets flashed, you have to ask yourself: is this a prelude to being raped or attacked? I mean, flashing people is already illegal anti-social behavior. Presumably, any flasher feels empowered enough to get away with it, so who is to say that he doesn't also feel empowered enough to follow a victim home? Given that threat model, the question then becomes 'do I really want to antagonize this potentially unstable guy who is convinced that he can get away with degrading me?'. I can't fault any woman who answers that question with a 'no'.

In a world where women weren't constantly subject to the threat of sexual violence, it would be a lot easier to blow off flashers. But that's not the world we live in.

All good points.

Turbulence asks a lot of perfectly good questions that could be answered by some correlation between prior flasher arrests and rape conviction.

Someone better at Google than I am could probably answer that.

She just sneered at him and said "I've seen better," and walked away.

I've always envisioned saying: "Look! It's like a penis, only smaller!" or some such. But it's never me that gets flashed, so far.

Turbulence asks a lot of perfectly good questions that could be answered by some correlation between prior flasher arrests and rape conviction.

There's not really a good way to Google the experience of being threatened.

But it's never me that gets flashed...

Exactly.

As lj pointed out, Weiner's correspondence was most likely consensual. In any case, there's a huge difference between someone who "flashes" someone else in person, or even an anonymous obscene phone call, and a person with a known public identity sending an electronic photo of a clothed piece of his anatomy.

Undignified and unworthy? Yes. Threatening? No.

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