To Know Better
Put your hand on my head, baby, do I have a temperature?
I see people who are supposed to know better standin' around like furniture. - Bob Dylan
I was afraid I'd lost the link - I'd bookmarked it several broken computers ago - but here's a small item from The Hill of March 3 of last year that's stuck with me ever since:
Protester cuffed after porn tirade
A woman was arrested for disruption of Congress on Tuesday afternoon after she stood up in the Senate visitors gallery and began shouting wildly about child pornography during debate over the bankruptcy bill.
At a few minutes before 5 p.m., when Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) were debating an amendment, the woman rose and shouted, “You don’t know who’s a pedophile,” according to a Democratic staffer whose office abuts the chamber.
“You don’t know who has a child pornography site,” she continued. As police were removing her from the chamber, she began shouting names. “George Bush, John Kerry, McCain from Arizona — those are the sites you should check.”
The woman, who appeared to be roughly in her 50s or 60s, continued to scream, kick and resist for some time as she was removed to a hallway and handcuffed. A Senate employee who works in the gallery said the woman “had been in there all day and I think even yesterday.”
Capitol Police did not release the woman’s name. Disruption of Congress is a misdemeanor offense.
That's it, and that's all I know. And I expect most Hill readers filed it under news of the weird and forgot about it. Perhaps that's what it deserved. The unknown protester could have been mentally ill, and only incidentally correct, when she disrupted the Senate with the shout "You don't know who's a pedophile," but she would still be closer to the truth than the many more who are treating the scandal of the predatory Floridian co-chair of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children as an "isolated incident," when it so evidently isn't.
"I think we're entering a very, very dangerous period," said Foley in 2002 regarding the sexual exploitation of children by "more mature people...who should know better." He should have known, but perhaps the entitlements he enjoyed in one of Washington's concentric rings of privilege led him to think he was as untouchable as those in the innermost circle. (The Franklin Cover-Up tells a similar story of stepped justice, in which certain perpetrators are within the reach of the law and public disapprobation, and some are not.)
But we need to know better, too, and contextualize Foley in terms unadmitted by opinion makers and our best wishes. Because this goes deeper than politics; even deeper than Florida's alarming knack for losing children. It's about power, earthly and other-worldly, and its corruption of institutions both secular and religious. Pope Benedict is implicated in the institutional cover-up of his church's abusive priesthood. Sai Baba, India's most revered "living god" whose teachings and magic tricks have won him influence over tens of millions of people including members of the British Royal Family and many others in the West, including the creator of Gumby, is himself an alleged paedophile. One victim, Tal Brooke, writes in Lord of the Air that he wondered whether the sex was not an indulgence so much as the wellspring of Baba's seeming occult authority: "Think what kind of unsuspecting gold mine Baba might have in the Veda School lads. Several hundreds kids disciplined severely into celibacy whom Baba uses as a kind of sperm-bank. Even then, [fellow victim] Phil told me that he quite frankly suspected that such was the source of Baba's powers."
Foley, of course, is now effectively powerless, and waving the pilfered crutch of alcoholism to account for his actions. Still, there's no natural accounting for how endemic this practice appears among humanity's presumptive elites and their wannabes. Yet however often Congress is disrupted by a scandalous resignation or a shout from the visitors' gallery, it endures.