Technology has come so far in this country that we no longer need to have sex in order to have a sex scandal.
Despite the humiliation of his public confession, when all is said and done Rep. Anthony Weiner didn't have sex. He says he has had no physical contact with any of the women with whom he held Internet dalliances.
So, unless one considers taking a photograph of one's private parts and uploading it to one's laptop, and sending it into cyberspace sex, The Old Testament had a name for what Weiner did: Onanism.
But, like pharmakons of yore, the congressman representing districts in Queens and Brooklyn, is now being paraded all over the airwaves just as the scapegoats of ancient Greece were paraded through the marketplace, and with the same false hope that this will somehow make things right again. But, it won't.
Making an example of a member of Congress whose actions can best be described as mischief, not misconduct, is not going to stop teenagers across America from sending "lewd" text messages to their friends.
Let me be clear. Without question, Mr. Weiner made an egregious error in judgment, but it is equally egregious to consider the photograph of a body part, any body part, "lewd." If the photograph of a nude body were to be considered "lewd," then one could theoretically be in trouble for uploading a pic of Michelangelo's "David." That an elected official would engage in such mischief is unseemly, and inappropriate, but not lewd. There is nothing "lewd" about any part of the human body.
If you want to see something lewd, go to the battlefield and watch young men and women get blown apart by IED's, or innocent civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan get taken out by drones.
Yes, without a doubt, Rep. Weiner exercised poor judgment, and the emotional maturity of a fifteen-year-old by his actions. That said, his actions were not in any way, shape, or form unique, but part of a larger social website context in which texting, and digitalizing sex is a fact of life. Making an example of him won't make the practice of sexting go away nor will it stop the practice of extramarital dalliances on social networking sites.
So, please let congressional Democrats, and especially House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi waste no more time, or taxpayer money, launching an ethics investigation into whether Weiner broke "House rules." That time, energy, and taxpayer money would be better spent investigating which House members worked with drone manufacturers to award them huge military contracts, and which congressional members continue to work with the nuclear power lobbyists to silence the risks of radiation leaks in domestic plants.
Yes, it would make much more sense to investigate how it is that every president since World War II has managed to wage substantial military campaigns without congressional approval, or a formal Declaration of War.
A bipartisan resolution ushered in by House majority leader Boehner on Thursday gives the president 15 days to prove why U.S. military combat in Libya is justified, or troops must leave Libya. That resolution, and the House momentum to stop yet another illegal war, has just been effectively co-opted, and stifled by what amounts to a sex scandal without sex.
There are more ethical breeches of far graver consequence to national, and international security to keep Congress busy for many months to come. Get busy, Rep. Pelosi. The meter's running.
Follow Jayne Lyn Stahl on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jaynelynstahl