Hard Times in the Old West
I’ve been neglecting the blog. I know. Hard times, hard times. I can’t seem to get it together. As usual I am trapped by my own issues. I am paralyzed in my own head space. Well, I’m working on it. For today, I’d like to talk about something completely different.
Jim West. Who is Jim West? Jim West is the former mayor of Spokane. He was recalled last December amid allegations that he used his position as mayor to seduce young men (like barely legal teenagers,) used his city computer to visit porn sites on the internet, and sexually harassed at least one (fairly young) man whom he had appointed to the human rights commission. Now, you may have actually heard of Jim West and the fallout from these allegations because the techniques employed to "catch" him actually made the national news. That’s not what I want to talk about though.
You see, a close friend and I disagree on the issue of whether West should have been recalled. His view is that mayors of cities surrounded on four sides by wheat fields (Spokane!) have been doing exactly what West did basically ever since they invented the office of mayor. The only difference was that those mayors: 1. Did not get caught and 2. Seduced young women instead of young men. And I agree. I’m certain that West is not the only mayor to have seduced and attempted to seduce young people using his position of power in a kind of quid pro quo fashion, nor will he be the last (hey, for all I know the new mayor is feeling up some city hall intern right now.) I also agree that if West had received a hand job from a woman or even a barely legal teenage girl that probably no one would have cared enough to run several front page stories in the local paper exposing him, and even if they had, he would not have been recalled. A large part of what happened to West is based in the fundamentally conservative homophobia that is the norm in Spokane. All that being said however, I still think that he should have been recalled.
I believe that recalling West was the right thing to do because he sexually harassed at least one man working for the city. I believe that West should have been recalled because he did offer city hall internships to young men while, at the same time, pursuing a sexual relationship with them. I believe that West should have been recalled, because when questioned about his offer of internships to these young men he said that it was fine for him to offer those internships (implicitly in exchange for sex, or perhaps simply as a result of an anticipated sexual relationship with them) because, get this, internships are unpaid. That’s right. He really believed that the unpaid status of the internships offered made a whole world of difference. But it doesn’t. No one should have to exchange sexual favors to obtain career advancement (and that’s what internships are, opportunities for career advancement.) No one should have to compete with people who are willing to exchange sexual favors to obtain career advancement. And, even more importantly, once career advancement has been achieved, no one should have to put up with a sixty-something small town politician persistently trying to feel them up, get naked with them, or otherwise sexually molest them in order to keep that job.
On the topic of Inappropriate and Unwanted Touching: have you all seen the pictures of our very own Dear Leader "massaging" the German Chancellor? No? Well, go over and see them here. Notice the look of disgust on her face?
EDIT: The news broke yesterday that Jim West died over the weekend. He was 55 and died as a result of complications from cancer.