Is the closet to blame for the Foley scandal?

Andrew Sullivan seems to think so. In a post about former Congressman Foley, titled the Closet, Sullivan waxes on about “what the closet does to people.” He says, “the hypocrisies it fosters, the pathologies it breeds – is brutal.”

He continues: “What I do know is that the closet corrupts. The lies it requires and the compartmentalization it demands can lead people to places they never truly wanted to go, and for which they have to take ultimate responsibility. From what I’ve read, Foley is another example of this destructive and self-destructive pattern for which the only cure is courage and honesty.”

So are we to understand Foley’s behavior is causally related to being a closeted gay man? As I understand Sullivan’s argument, the cure for Foley’s pursuit of teenage boys is honesty about his homosexuality. Not that I favor dishonesty, but I am not buying Sullivan’s argument.

I say this, in part, because straights who interfere with underage youth are rarely closeted straights — are they? Debra Lafave was not closeted and still did a very bad thing.

Sullivan also writes: “In some ways, I think it was my pride that forced me to be honest with myself and others; and a deep sense that obviously this was how God made me, and it behooved me to deal with it forthrightly. ” Here he argue that self-esteem is the key – be proud of what you are and then you won’t do such things. On the other hand, I would argue that it is not self-esteem that prevents “hypocrisies” and “pathologies,” but self-control – no matter what your sexual attractions are like. Quoting self-esteem researcher, Roy Baumeister (from Myers, Social Psychology, 2005, p. 64), I agree that: “…self-control is worth 10 times as much as self-esteem.”

UPDATE: Former Rep. Foley now says he was sexually molested between ages 13-15 and that he is gay. The plot thickens…