David Brooks, moral idiot

Does David Brooks really think that letting your colleagues molest other people’s children is merely a question of “management,” somehow divorced from “morality”?

David Brooks blames Mark Foley’s child molestation on the “culture of expressive individualism” represented by The Vagina Monologues, and thinks that worrying about the failure of leadership among House Republicans misses the point.

In discussing the Foley case, the political class, with its unerring instinct for the aspect of any story that will be the least important to average Americans, has shifted attention from Foley’s act to Denny Hastert’s oversight of it. It has fled morality to talk about management.

Right. So only sexual self-restraint counts as “morality.” Protecting the children trusting parents have put under your care from the predatory behavior of your colleagues is just “management.”

Conclusion: What this country really needs is … more fanatical puritanism. Or, as Brooks puts it,

… the party that benefits from events like the Foley scandal will be the party that defines the core threats to the social fabric and emerges as the most ardent champion of moral authority.


(No, I’m not making this up, but the column is behind the Times Select paywall, which seems to me an excellent place for it.)

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

6 thoughts on “David Brooks, moral idiot”

  1. "(No, I'm not making this up, but the column is behind the Times Select paywall, which seems to me an excellent place for it.)"

  2. I wish people wouldn't call it "child molesting". We're talking about a 17-year-old, here, not a child. Yes, it's satisfying to accuse Republicans of protecting a pedophile, but no one would be talking about pedophilia if he were a straight man, since pretty much everyone recognizes that normal heterosexual men are attracted to pretty seventeen year old girls (even as they recognize that normal heterosexual men should be horrified by the idea of *doing* anything about it.) They'd be calling him what he was: a dirty old man. Not a pedophile or a child molester. This usage panders to the fear that Homosexuals Want To Turn Our Children Gay! We shouldn't get our candidates elected that way for the same reason we shouldn't torture terror suspects: the cure is worse than the disease.
    I'm not in any way defending him . . . he shouldn't have done this, first because he was in a position of power over this boy, and second because he is much older which makes the kid vulnerable. But what he did was not in any way morally equivalent to having sexual contact with an eight-year old, and blurring the distinction in my opinion just feeds homophobia.

  3. I agree with Jane's comments above. And would add: this is a harassment and abuse of power case.
    David Brook's doesn't believe that authority figures should do anything about abuse of power at Enron, Halliburton, the Pentagon, the White House. He is consistent.
    Harassment and abuse of power are core Republican values once you get to the higher echelons. The people of the top must be protected at all costs. The people at the bottom – the targets and victims – deserve what they get. "If you're so smart/good, why aren't you rich and powerful?" It's the new Calvinism and it's even uglier than the original version.

  4. Of course Jane is compeltely incorrect. If he was straight there would be a bigger outrage than there is now. Haven't you seen an episode of Dateline in the past 5 years? And Jane specifically wants lessen the effects of what Foley did.

  5. Why would there be a bigger outrage if a straight man of mature years were to talk dirty to a lad of 16?

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