James Clay Fuller

Things We're Not Supposed to Say

Monday, October 09, 2006

An alkie's take on Foley and other phonies

My name is Jim and I am an alcoholic – and I'm fed up, disgusted and deeply angered by show biz types, corrupt politicians and other celebrities who dash for a treatment center when they get caught with their pants down and/or the truth about their racism, crookedness and/or cruelties is exposed.

I am almost equally disgusted with the celebrity treatment centers that so eagerly shelter them before a complete and true assessment of their alcoholism, drug addiction or other problems could possibly be made.

It's been a long time since I cared at all who might know I'm an alcoholic, and I never did care much. Early in recovery I kept a low profile in certain work situations, when knowledge of my alcohol addiction could have proved a distraction from the job at hand, but that's about the extent of my adherence to the “anonymous” part of Alcoholics Anonymous. (There is good reason for anonymity for other people in other situations, however.)

But even if we are out in the open, neither do I or any of the literally hundreds of other recovering alkies and addicts I have known over the past 29 years use our addictions to excuse our behaviors before or after we got straight. Personal responsibility is a core value – a real value – for the recovering person.

Addiction exacerbates ugly behavior, but it doesn't “make you” into something you're not. An addict, even in the midst of the compulsion, always is aware of how he or she offends other people, the law, decency or one's god, if you have one. Addiction, whether to booze or other drugs, makes you careless, often irresponsible, insensitive. It can lead people to theft and prostitution under the worst circumstances. It does not alter one's sexual orientation, it does not make one a pedophile, a racist or a rapist.

This commentary is inspired, obviously, by the loads of bullshit being written and spoken about Rep. Mark Foley, the Florida Republican who got caught attempting to seduce Congressional pages, which is to say juveniles. It also is inspired by the antisemitic super-Christian film actor-director, Mel Gibson, whose anti-Jewish filth spilled out when he was caught driving drunk not long ago. They aren't the only ones, of course, just the latest in a long line of responsibility-dodging creeps.

Oh deary me, they both said, I'm a poor suffering alcoholic and I must go to treatment, and that will make everything all right.

Their dash to treatment is about as sincere as a Dick Cheney speech praising democracy.

I know I speak for a very large number of recovering alcoholics when I say they can both take their sudden, phony dashes for public redemption and get stuffed.

Do you wonder if the greater criminals in the Foley sideshow, the Republican leaders of the House of Representatives, also will run for treatment centers when and if the public finally tells them that their criminal cover-up of the Foley situation was as disgusting, unacceptable and even more venal, than their pedophile colleague's actions?

Those congressional leaders have both legal and moral obligation to protect the kids, and they deliberately hid from that responsibility for fear of losing some degree of power. They knowingly allowed kids to be victimized.

That, people, is even more sickening than their open sale of the U.S. government to the highest bidders.

Of course, the right is so rabidly intent on maintaining power, and its “base” is so ignorant and fanatic, that the likelihood of the congressional scum being held to account is almost nil.

So, again, let's get this straight: Pedophilia, racism or other anti-human traits and positions are not natural outcomes of alcoholism or addiction to other drugs. Addicts do terrible things sometimes, and we certainly are self-destructive when caught up in our addictions, but the booze and drugs don't turn us into something we are not.

The knee-jerk response of the big-name god shouters to the Foley situation – that he's gay and what he did is just proof of the perversion of gays – is utterly cynical and so reprehensible that they would forever be shunned in a rational society.

A New York Times report makes clear, however, that their constituency of fearful fools is buying the spoiled goods the various extremist “reverands” are selling. The right wing evangelicals focus entirely on Foley, and parrot the preachers' claim that homosexuality is the reason he went after the pages, the Times says.

They have closed eyes and ears to the cover-up.

It occurs to me that “hypocritical religious right,” a phrase I have used from time to time, is redundant.

The perversion of pedophilia has nothing to do with sexual orientation; any reputable shrink will testify to that. There are homosexual pedophiles and there are far, far more “straight” pedophiles and some of them are female. Anyone spewing that particular brand of hatred should get a blast from any of us who overhears it; it should not be tolerated any more than mutterings about “kikes” and “niggers” and “spicks” should be permitted in our hearing.

Alcoholism and addiction to other drugs is very real, and very hard to overcome, I assure you. Anyone who has been there and come out alive will attest to its horrors. And we'll tell you, if you ask, how grateful we are to have survived. We all knew people who didn't.

We will not try to hide behind our addictions, to claim that anything we did, anything at all, should be immediately and entirely forgiven because we were drunk or high at the time.