OK, I was Wrong, Anthony Weiner Is Kind of a Pervert

So that really was his junk. You still have no right to harass me.

OK, I was Wrong, Anthony Weiner Is Kind of a Pervert

I’m a mature enough person to admit my own mistakes. Last week I wrote an article about Rep Weiner and Weinergate, because Anthony Weiner follows me on Twitter, but I had never had any indication that he was a pervert. I was contacted by reporters and obnoxious right-wingers looking for dirt that I genuinely didn’t think was there. Turns out I was wrong.

I honestly didn’t think the Congressman was stupid enough to send lewd pictures across a platform as public as Twitter. He admitted in a press conference this afternoon that he did send the photo, and claims he’s had online relationships with a few women for a while, that his wife knew of the relationships but not of this particular photo, and that he does not intend to resign.

I haven’t fully made up my mind about how this affects my opinion of him, however. I mean, it’s not exactly a boost, but there are a few key factors at play. Namely, the desires and willingness of the recipients of the photos, and the true nature of how OK his wife is with this. Let’s assume that, as he said in the press conference, he and Huma Abedin have an understanding in their relationship, which is fine and no one’s business but theirs. The focus, then, is on the recipients of the photos.

Whether or not they consented to have erotic pictures sent to them is an important detail. It’s the difference between an adult flirtation and sexual harassment. The former would be excusable; whether or not it’s something I would want personally is irrelevant if they are all consenting adults. However, the latter would be pretty serious. An unsolicited dirty picture would be a major problem. Sexual harassment is not something I would forgive easily, and would be in direct contrast to his otherwise great record on women’s rights.

I’m not completely abandoning Weiner yet. His politics are still more in line with my own than any other member of Congress, and his verbal take-downs of Republicans on the House floor are still the same. Yes, he lied about the tweet at first, and it would have been better to come clean right off the bat. But let’s be completely honest—almost anyone’s gut reaction would probably be to lie and try to make that situation go away.

There’s a difference between Weiner and the numerous others caught in various sex scandals — Weiner is not from the party that generally tries to control private sex lives, and he certainly has not personally made any statements to that effect. This isn’t an anti-gay politician tapping his foot in a men’s room or someone talking about the sanctity of marriage while cheating on his cancer-stricken wife. I’m not excusing him, of course. It’s stupid, sleazy and I wish he hadn’t lied about it, but it’s not quite as hypocritical as some other scandals have been.

One of the worst things to come out of this is that Andrew Breitbart will further inflate his already exaggerated self-importance. He happened to luck out and caught this one, so now he’ll really never shut up. He was full of himself after failed attempts at creating scandals; it’s going to be disgusting to watch his ego inflate in the wake of actually getting one right. Of course, he had to coerce Weiner into confessing by publishing other photos and threatening to release even more.

Some of my points from earlier remain the same, though. It is not appropriate for anyone to harass the Representative’s Twitter following. Women in their twenties and older should not be referred to as “young girls.” The appearances and activities of these women (including myself) don’t need to be paraded about as some kind of evidence. The last one feels like slut-shaming, similar to the practice of using a woman’s appearance or sexual past to remove legitimacy from claims of sexual harassment or assault.

Last week, after I wrote the previous piece, I went home and checked my Twitter feed. I checked the profiles of everyone who had mentioned me (there were more than usual) and noticed one was retweeting things from all the “Weiner girls,” including the Facebook link of one, as if her profile picture were some kind of evidence because she happened to be wearing a bathing suit. He retweeted something I had posted about attending the Punk Rock Bowling festival in Las Vegas over Memorial Day weekend. I’m still not sure what that was supposed to mean. But the fact that Weiner had online relationships with a few women is not grounds for harassment of everyone he follows.

The dust needs to settle and more details need to come out before I can really make up my mind. Nancy Pelosi has ordered an ethics investigation, which may bring forth information that will influence how I feel. He may have tweeted his way out of any shot at Mayor of New York, but it will probably be a while before we can be sure what kind of lasting impact this will have.