Why is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi so quiet about Kevin Jennings?
Jennings is in the news because he is the Obama administration's Safe Schools czar, in bureaucratese the assistant deputy secretary of the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools inside the Department of Education. And because he has now admitted that when, as a teacher, he was sought out by a 15-year-old boy asking for advice about an affair with an older adult male, Jennings suggested wearing a condom. In an audio tape of a Jennings talk obtained by Fox News, Jennings says the boy told him he had met the man in a "bus station bathroom" and was later taken to the man's home. Jennings did not report the incident to police. His defenders say this is because Jennings, although told upfront by the boy, had no evidence a child predator was committing statutory rape.
Now caught in the public spotlight, Jennings, the author of a book called Queering Elementary Education and the founder of Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), says he "should have handled the situation differently."
Let's widen the lens a bit here.
What does this have to do with Nancy Pelosi? Why is she so notably silent on Mr. Jennings?
One of the reasons the GOP lost control of the House in the 2006 elections was the scandal surrounding then-Florida Republican Congressman Mark Foley. Foley, it needs to be recalled, was revealed to be targeting young male House pages for sex -- his texting messages to underage boys making him instantly infamous. In the ensuing uproar, Foley -- correctly -- resigned.
Leading the charge on this issue was none other than Nancy Pelosi -- the Congresswoman from San Francisco. Said Pelosi on the issue which would make her Speaker of the House:
Republican leaders admitted to knowing about Mr. Foley's abhorrent behavior for six months to a year and failed to protect the children in their trust. Republican Leaders must be investigated by the Ethics Committee and immediately questioned under oath.
Catch Speaker Pelosi's phrase: "…protect the children in their trust."
For failing to protect those children, Pelosi wanted a Congressional investigation, with members of Congress to be "immediately questioned under oath."
But there was something curious going on with Pelosi, something that was revealed here in this space. To his considerable credit, Fox's Sean Hannity picked up on the story instantly, consistent in his horror at the attitude toward sexual predators then and now.
It seems that back in 2001, Pelosi was a happy participant in the San Francisco Gay Pride parade. As noted here, with a large gay community in her hometown there was nothing unusual about this. What was unusual was that the Grand Marshal of the parade was one Harry Hay, the (now-deceased) advocate of "man-boy love." At his death, he was remembered fondly by the North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) for saying things like this at a forum at New York University in 1983:
Because if the parents and friends of gays are truly friends of gays, they would know from their gay kids that the relationship with an older man is precisely what thirteen-, fourteen-, and fifteen-year-old kids need more than anything else in the world.
In other words, Hay was advocating precisely the mindset that Kevin Jennings appears to have exhibited when he, Jennings, advised a 15-year-old boy the way to deal with a child molester was wear a condom.
Pelosi, marching along in the wake of NAMBLA's hero Mr. Hay, saw not a problem in the world of associating herself with someone who was an activist supporting precisely what she was, in one of Washington's more cynical double-standards, demanding be investigated. What would have happened if the Grand Marshal were, say, a Nazi? A member of the Ku Klux Klan? Would Nancy Pelosi have so nonchalantly sallied forth, waving and smiling for all of San Francisco? You can guess, can't you? Is it any wonder she is not front and center demanding a resignation from Jennings?
Why is this import ant in the case of Mr. Jennings?
Sean Hannity is once again asking the questions that need to be asked here, focusing on the underlying attitude that was so strikingly apparent with Pelosi during the Foley episode. Jennings, by his own admission, when face to face with a boy (let's say that again -- a boy) who came to him and revealed what in fact was a case of child molestation -- suggested a condom! There was, apparently, no looking into the incident by the account of his defenders. Jennings now says he made a mistake. No kidding?
Hello? Is anybody home?
Well, yes, there is both somebody and something at home here. Something that is truly monstrous. And somebodies aplenty willing to excuse that something. The something is a left-wing philosophy that doesn't blink about adults sexually preying on kids.
Let's focus for a moment on Roman Polanski and his child rape of a 13-year-old girl. When one goes back and reads the actual transcript of this court case -- the case that caused Polanski to flee the country -- it is a stark reminder of exactly what is just no big deal with many in the film community. Since this is, as they say, a family friendly publication, we will keep the details to a limit.
The girl testifies that under the guise of taking her pictures she is fed champagne followed by a Quaalude. Why did she take the drug? Says this child, 13 years old at the time: "I think I must have been pretty drunk or else I wouldn't have." Polanski then instructs this child whom he has gotten both drunk and drugged to remove her clothes and get into a Jacuzzi. More pictures are taken, which follow others taken in various states of undress. Polanski then undresses and gets in the Jacuzzi. He takes hold of her, at which point the girl pleads a case of asthma (which she doesn't have) and says she wants out. She gets out and Polanski gets into a nearby pool, trying to coax her in there. She gets in -- and out -- quickly and untouched, then goes into the house to dry off in the bathroom. Polanski appears and she tells him she wants to go home. He tries to get her to lie down in the master bedroom. She refuses and goes to the living room, sitting on a couch in her underwear and a towel. She was, she says on the stand, "afraid" and wanted him to take her home. He sits down beside her and kisses her, she telling him again that she wants to go home. Again, she tells the court she was afraid of Polanski.
Now. We'll stop here. This is a rape case and the actual transcript heard in that Los Angeles court room thirty-two years ago gets extremely graphic. The transcript can be found here.
But suffice to say, this is one big never-mind to a disturbing number of people. Over 100 filmmakers have signed a petition in support of Polanski. Here's some of things said in that petition.
The arrest of Polanski is "astonishing." It is nothing other than a "case of morals" -- a term the New York Times observed was "the Gallic equivalent of 'yada yada.'" The arrest has caused these filmmakers to be "dismayed" because, hey, Polanski was picked up at the sacred temple that is an international film festival. (No word of protest from these folks when gay activists actively disrupt proceedings in a church, but that's another story.) The filmmakers want you to know that they are upset that this arrest will be "heavy in consequences" for Mr. Polanski. Mr. Polanski, don't you know, is an "international" artist and so therefore "(F)ilmmakers, actors, producers and technicians -- everyone involved in international filmmaking…. demand the immediate release of Roman Polanski."
Among the international list of signers of this jewel are some of the most famous filmmakers in America. Many on the list, be they Americans, Brits or Irish, have created films considered well in the mainstream. The list includes:
• Woody Allen, (who once was in the headlines himself for allegations from actress Mia Farrow, his significant other at the time, that he had molested their 7-year old daughter. Allen was exonerated.)
• Jonathan Demme, whose filmography includes Silence of the Lambs and lately a favorable documentary about Jimmy Carter.
• Martin Scorsese of Taxi Driver and The Aviator and others on a long and notable list.
• Sam Mendes of American Beauty. Mr. Mendes is married to the actress Kate Winslet of the much honored film Titanic, among many others.
• David Heyman, the producer of the Harry Potter films.
• Michael Mann of Miami Vice fame.
• Mike Nichols, the legendary director of everything from The Graduate to the recent Charlie Wilson's War. Mr. Nichols is married to soon-to-be ABC News Anchor Diane Sawyer, the co-host of ABC's Good Morning America.
• Taylor Hackford, whose credits include An Officer and a Gentleman with Richard Gere and La Bamba, the story of rock and roll idol Ritchie Valens.
• Neil Jordan, whose credits include The Crying Game and Interview with A Vampire, the latter starring Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt.
American producer Harvey Weinstein, the executive producer of such hits as The Lord of the Rings, Cold Mountain, and Chicago, among a lengthy list of others, actually dismissed Polanski's actions with this child as a "so-called crime."
And last but not least, the signers included Salman Rushdie, the British Indian novelist who was given a death sentence by Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini for writing The Satanic Verses.
In signing this petition, intentionally or not, these very talented and smart people well within the artistic mainstream have given the world to understand that sexually preying on children -- along with boozing and drugging them in the Polanski case -- is no big deal. Not a crime at all but a "so-called" crime" in the words of Mr. Weinstein.
It is this sentiment that manifested itself with San Francisco honoring Harry Hay, knowing full well he was famous for his advocacy of adult male sex with "thirteen, fourteen and fifteen year old " boys. It showed up with Nancy Pelosi and the entire San Francisco political establishment happily marching behind Harry Hay, never uttering a peep of objection. And now it is showing up in arenas as diverse as the petition demanding the release of Mr. Polanski and the placement of Mr. Jennings in, of all places, the United States Department of Education -- where Jennings is laughably charged with the issue of school safety.
What's really going on here is the slow-motion injection into the American political and social mainstream of what might be called "Hayism" 8 -- the core idea that sex between adults and children is just no big deal. Not for the boys of Harry Hay, not for Nancy Pelosi and the San Francisco political establishment (she wasn't marching alone, you know), not for Roman Polanski and his rich, famous, and powerful friends in Hollywood and the international film community, and -- more to the point -- not for the Obama White House, which has appointed Mr. Jennings.
In the last few weeks Americans have been learning the details of two horrifying stories.
The first is the on-going testimony of Elizabeth Smart, who was kidnapped from her own bed as a 14-year old by a religious nut named Brian David Mitchell. Over the course of nine months, the now 21-year-old Ms. Smart has revealed in the trial of her abductor that she was subjected to repeated, daily sexual assaults.
The second chilling tale is of Jaycee Dugard, kidnapped when she was 11 while waiting for a school bus. Her captor, Phillip Garrido, held her for 18 years, repeatedly assaulting her, two children the result of her rapes.
In both the Smart and Dugard cases there have been considerable public revulsion.
But the question has to be asked: why? It must be the kidnapping that offends, because child rape is getting a pass in a lot of respectable quarters.
Just as with the case of Roman Polanski, Elizabeth Smart's assailant plied her with drugs and alcohol to have his way. There was, admittedly, that small kidnapping detail. Perhaps the real problem for Mr. Mitchell is that, alas for him, he is not an internationally famous filmmaker, so things aren't going well. Harvey Weinstein, Mike Nichols, Jonathan Demme and the gang have apparently decided a decorous silence is most appropriate. Speaker Pelosi has not announced whether she would have a problem marching in a parade honoring Mr. Mitchell.
No word from Mr. Jennings whether he would have suggested to eleven-year old Jaycee Dugard that, absent that troubling kidnapping detail, her best approach was to suggest her rapist "wear a condom."
If Harry Hay was no big deal, if Nancy Pelosi saw not a smidgen of a problem lending her prestige to a parade led by a man actively and famously supporting "man-boy love," if Hollywood-types are coming to the fervent defense of Roman Polanski after he fled the country for drugging, boozing and raping a 13-year old girl, and the Obama administration has a place for Mr. Jennings to espouse his views on school safety for children when the thought never occurred that he was literally staring into the face of the maximum red flag for child safety -- a victim of child molestation -- then the rest of us, apparently, are supposed to ask: what's the big deal?
The hard fact of the matter is that for a certain segment of American society -- a segment once presumed to be on the far fringes of an unimaginably unacceptable morality -- the idea that it's OK to molest children of either sex is just not a big deal.
Child molesting simply wasn't a big deal for Harry Hay. Nor for Nancy Pelosi, now the Speaker of the House. Not for Roman Polanski, or, apparently, for his famous friends in the filmmaking community either. Or for Kevin Jennings, he the school safety czar.
And not, apparently and shockingly, for the Obama Administration.
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