Carolyn Moynihan

The culture behind the Cartagena scandal

Carolyn Moynihan
By Carolyn Moynihan
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May 7, 2012 (Mercatornet.com) - President Obama has called them “knuckleheads”. A CNN columnist says the actions of a dozen Secret Service agents in Colombia amounted to “stupidity”. United States Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the episode, also involving military personnel, was a “huge disappointment”. The official message seems to be that consorting with prostitutes in Colombia while on an official mission is dumb, embarrassing, but not really bad.

To be sure, the moral character of the men’s behaviour depends on what standard of conduct is being applied, and when you look at this incident in context, it does seem hypocritical to be particularly scandalised by it, or even surprised.

From the beginning three weeks ago, commentaries on the affair have raised the question of “culture” in the service which is responsible for the safety of the US president. Ms Napolitano said a review of Secret Service records showed no similar episodes of misconduct that might have warned of problems brewing at the agency, but journalists have dug up evidence that trouble was brewing all the same.

The Washington Post cites a 2002 US News & World Report investigation which found an agency “rife with problems”, including “alcohol abuse, criminal offences and extramarital affairs between agents and White House employees. Male officers had viewed pornography on White House satellite channels… Supervisors in two field offices had authorised professional strippers at office parties.” (Two of the agents who misbehaved in Cartagena also were supervisors.) Former Post reporter Ronald Kessler wrote a book about the agency, In the President’s Secret Service (2009), which indicated a lax culture and poor leadership. It was Kessler who gave the Post its scoop about the recent incident. New reports allege a similar episode in El Salvador prior to the President’s visit their last year, and expose an incident involving marines and a prostitute in Brazil.

All this points to a view of sex as a recreational right—particularly in places such as Cartagena where prostitution is legal—regardless of any security risks or the effect of marital infidelity on families back home. The majority of agents are said to be married men, and the Post has characterised the attitude behind the current scandal as “wheels up, rings off”, despite the fact that an extra-marital affair jeopardises an agent’s security clearance. Not surprisingly, the divorce rate among agents is said to be high. Where did this culture, if that’s what it is, come from?

As others have pointed out, there is a long history linking war, armies abroad and the condoning of prostitution. It is only quite recently that prostitution itself, and the related issue of adultery, have been specifically addressed in military law and regulation. In 2006 the State Department banned engaging with prostitutes for all Foreign Service personnel and contractors, even where prostitution is legal, and penalties include up to a year in jail. Rules at the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the Secret Service, are more vague. Employees are prohibited from engaging in any “criminal, infamous, dishonest, immoral, or notoriously disgraceful conduct, or other conduct prejudicial to the government,” an official told the Washington Post.

Needless to say the new rules for the military were not universally popular. When they were floated in 2004, reports the Christian Science Monitor, “many US troops reacted bitterly, calling such sanctions ‘harsh’” and a sergeant stationed in Germany, where prostitution is legal, complained that, “Next they’re going to be telling us we can’t drink, or only on the weekends.”

Indeed, given the signs that casual sex was (and is) regarded as an entitlement in these sectors and no big deal, and given that Western countries such as Germany were increasingly legalising prostitution and treating it as regular “work”, there might not have been any new rules, except for one important development: the growth of human trafficking and the part that prostitution plays in this modern form of slavery.

A United Nations protocol designed to control and stamp out trafficking came into force at the end of 2003 and was ratified by the US along with—by 2010—116 other countries. The State Department strictures of 2006 were part of the Bush administration’s effort to give effect to this commitment. The moral issues of casual and adulterous sex, whether with foreigners or other state employees, do not appear to have played any part in it.

Nor do they seem to feature in criticism of the posse of Secret Service agents and their military counterparts who disgraced themselves in Cartagena. (No-one, by the way, seems to have taken the security threat very seriously.) Columnist Kirsten Powers takes them to task for fuelling sex trafficking, indirectly at least, not for cheating on their wives. She quotes the US State Department which says that forced prostitution of women and children from rural areas in urban areas remains a problem in Colombia, which is “also a destination for foreign child sex tourists, particularly coastal cities such as Cartagena”—the reason why Colombia is known as the “Thailand of Latin America”. Says Ms Powers:

Representatives of the U.S. government should be setting the standard for the world, not feeding the problem of sex trafficking. The chances that the women or girls the Secret Service agents procured for their pleasure were there by free will is very low. Most likely, they were sex slaves.

Most likely she is correct. It is hard to believe that there is much if any freedom in the sex industry, anywhere, but where there is poverty and social dislocation, as in developing countries like Colombia, so much the less. And Kirsten Powers is certainly right to say that Americans abroad should be setting a high standard—of respect for women, protection of children—for the world. Sex trafficking is a hateful crime and we must do all in our power to stop it.

But let’s not forget that the war on trafficking starts at home. A couple of years ago Hillary Clinton observed that drug trafficking from Mexico would not be stopped by measures at the border as long as there was an appetite for drugs in the United States. It’s the same with sex. If servicemen work in institutions that wink at the appetite for random sex, those institutions exist in a wider culture where practically any sexual activity that is not forced is permitted—and in this thicket forced sex also finds shelter in which to grow.

Just one example: Nicholas Kristof wrote in the New York Times last month that America’s leading website for prostitution ads, Backpage.com, has been partly financed (by a 16 per cent stake in the owner, Village Voice Media) for more than six years by none other than Goldman Sachs. The leading financial firm, which had a representative on the board of Village Voice Media for four years, cannot have been unaware that the site is notorious for ties to sex trafficking.

While it is good to see the moral fervour going into the war on sex trafficking, one cannot help feeling that it is doomed to failure. If coercion is to be the only criterion for illegitimate and destructive sex, a huge source of sexual mayhem and human misery will go unchecked. Use of pornography, hooking up, marital infidelity—these are symptoms of unruly appetites that lead to nights of debauchery in foreign cities and the destruction of families at home. Until the public voices of conscience start dealing with these broad cultural trends, Cartagena-type scandals will continue to embarrass and distract Western governments. Or worse.

Carolyn Moynihan is deputy editor of MercatorNet, where this article first appeared. It is reprinted under a Creative Commons License.

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Judges order Arizona and Indiana to recognize gay ‘marriages’ on death certificates

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By Kirsten Anderson

Two federal judges have ordered Arizona and Indiana to recognize same-sex “marriages” on death certificates, although both states have laws defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

In Arizona, Judge John Sedwick ordered the state to issue a death certificate for George Martinez listing his marital status as “married” and his spouse as Fred McQuire.  The two were “married” in California in July, and Martinez died in September.  They had previously sued Arizona to recognize their out-of-state “marriage” as legal – a case that is still ongoing.

In his decision, Sedwick said that the majority of federal appeals courts have found that “marriage laws which discriminate between heterosexual couples and homosexual couples infringe a fundamental right.”  He said he thought it was likely that Arizona’s marriage protection law will soon be overturned. 

Sedwick’s decision applies exclusively to Martinez and McQuire.   The judge explained that given the likelihood of same-sex “marriage” becoming legal in Arizona, he didn’t want McQuire’s “marriage” to be excluded from recognition just because his “husband” died before the law could be overturned.  He said he hoped the decision would prevent “the loss of dignity and status coming in the midst of an elderly man’s personal grief.”

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Meanwhile, in Indiana, Judge Joseph Van Bokkelen presided over an agreement between the state and a lesbian couple, Veronica Romero and Mayra Yvette Rivera, who “married” in Illinois in March. The state agreed to recognize the couple’s “marriage” because Rivera is dying of ovarian cancer, and said they will issue a death certificate bearing Romero’s name as “spouse” when Rivera passes away. 

Indiana opted to concede the case mostly due to its striking similarities to an earlier case the state lost, in which Judge Richard L. Young ordered Indiana to recognize the “marriage” of Niki Quasney and Amy Sandler, who “wed” in Massachusetts in 2013.  Quasney also has terminal ovarian cancer, and the couple had argued that Sandler and her two children would suffer irreparable financial harm if the state does not recognize their “marriage” so that Sandler can collect death benefits when Quasney passes away. 

Both Indiana decisions apply only to the couples named specifically by the court; however, last week, a federal appeals court upheld an earlier ruling by Judge Young declaring the state’s marriage protection law unconstitutional. 

The state of Indiana has appealed that ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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A topless activist with Femen attacks Belgian Archbishop Andrè-Joseph Leonard, who is known for his strong pro-life and pro-family stance.
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Why are pro-abortion protesters always taking their clothes off?

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By Jonathon van Maren

I’ve seen a lot of bizarre responses to pro-life activism. There’s the crude picket signs, the illiterate chants, the flashes of violence, the incoherent threats that so often involve used tampons, and even activists dressed up like giant genitalia.

But there is one phenomenon that never ceases to stagger me with its counterproductive stupidity and moral blindness: The increasing prevalence of “feminist” protestors, almost exclusively women, stripping down to “protest” something—usually protection for the pre-born or some other dissent from the totalitarian death cult of the Sexual Revolution.

When people ask me what the weirdest response to pro-life work is and I try to explain this phenomenon, they find it hard to believe. So do I. But yet it happens, time and time again.

The suicidal tendencies of modern-day feminism would be almost laughable if they were not so depressing.

One student stripped down and sat on a folding chair in front of our pro-life display at the University of British Columbia. A few protestors decided to protest the launch of our 2012 national tour by going topless. Then, at a presentation in London, Ontario, a bunch of pro-abortion protesters showed up at a counter-protest organized by the Canadian Auto Worker’s Union, sans clothing. And of course, at last year’s March for Life a topless Femen protestor flung herself at a remarkably composed Catholic bishop as he spoke to the crowd, shrieking “F*** your morals!”

You’d think such behaviour would attract ire rather than admiration. But this is 2014 and most of our municipal governments use our taxpayer’s cash basically to fund a day dedicated to that type of behaviour when the Pride Parade rolls around.

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Instead, these women are now generally referred to as “brave.” Even the popular, but tiresomely far-left website Upworthy recently pushed a video with a street activist protesting harassment by misogynist pigs by standing on the street in her lingerie. (Little tip: Protesting the fact that some misogynists define you by your body by voluntarily showing them what they wanted to see in the first place isn't defiance, it's acquiescence. Protesting the fact that these guys aren't treating you with dignity by acting like you have none is counter-productive. “That guy crudely suggested he wants to see me naked! Well, I’ll show him! By showing him exactly what he wants to see! Wait…”)

A bit of research into the infamous nude activist group Femen (“Our mission is protest, our weapon is bare breasts”) shows just how exploitative (inadvertent though it may sometimes be) this entire phenomenon is. In recent documentary the group’s leader, Viktor Svyatski, admitted that he had perhaps started the group to “get girls,” and that he carefully selected only the most attractive girls for his group. The documentary also revealed that Svyatski had described the Femen girls as “weak,” and was often verbally abusive with them.

Again, the suicidal tendencies of modern-day feminism would be almost laughable if they were not so depressing.

But the phenomenon of public nudity is also more than just incoherent protest—it is a way of forcing people to accept any and all manifestations of the Sexual Revolution. As I noted some time ago:  The public is now regularly subjected to crude and wildly exhibitionist “Gay Pride Parades” and “Slut Walks.” These are not considered to be optional festivals hosted by tiny minority groups. No, politicians who refuse to attend are labelled as heretics by the high priests of the New Moral Order, which is of course not an order at all, but a proud lack thereof.

Liberal activists don’t want the State to be outside the bedroom anymore, they want the State in the bedroom—loudly applauding the acts they see taking place, refraining from any judgment but one of approval, and paying for pills and bits of rubber to ensure that such acts do not go awry and result in reproduction or infection.

Your prayers are not welcome in public, but your privates are. The Emperor has no clothes, and is quite enjoying it—so long as the chilly breezes of moral truth don’t leak out of drafty cathedrals to cause discomfort.  

There may be hope on the horizon, as indicated by the wild popularity of such books as Wendy ShaIit’s A Return to Modesty, as well as increasing disinterest in topless beaches in places like France. Some “feminists” have responded to such trends with irritation, grumbling that all the hard-won ground they had fought for is being spurned by the ungrateful brats of today. But perhaps, instead, many women are realizing that allowing men to freely objectify them in public is not all it’s cracked up to be.

Perhaps people have begun to rediscover a human value that was once enormously prized, but now almost forgotten: Dignity.

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Abortion ‘doula’: I was trained to ‘support’ women choosing gendercide

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By Ben Johnson

A young woman who volunteers as an assistant in the abortion industry says she was trained to be “supportive” of women who chose to have sex-selective abortions and 11-year-olds who opted to remain in a sexual relationship with their much older rapist.

Alex Ronan also describes the conscious decision to lie to patients and the graphic, bloody details of her first year as an abortion doula in an article published Sunday in New York Magazine.

An abortion “doula” – a Greek word that literally means “female slave” – is supposed to comfort women during the abortion procedure. The 23-year-old received her training from Lauren Mitchell, who co-founded The Doula Project with Mary Mahoney in 2007.

“We sat in the park, eating pie,” Ronan remembered:

She gave us a sheet with situations so exaggeratedly horrible they seemed unreal: An 11-year-old in for an abortion who asks for birth control when she’s alone with the doctor. Her mother works nights; she’d been left with a friend who has a twentysomething son. She calls him her boyfriend; he will go to jail. A woman who says she’d like to do another ultrasound to see if it’s definitely a girl, because she’ll only keep it if it isn’t. A drug addict covered in track marks with two kids in the foster-care system who refuses birth control.

“What do you assume?” Mitchell asked of each case. “How can you be supportive?”

The 23-year-old said, as the training went on, she realized these cases were not hypothetical. “Later, I learned from Mahoney that all the examples were real cases that had come from her first six months working as an abortion doula.”

Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers have repeatedly been caught covering up statutory rape – by pro-life sting operations and outraged parents – as well as facilitating sex-selective abortions.

Faced with the reality of abortion, Ronan said she felt “embarrassed” by “the limits of my compassion. I judged these women on the worthiness of their reasons ('Would she really only keep a boy?' I wondered) and found myself questioning why those who come in for late-term abortions had waited so long to decide.”

Soon, she would see cases she would never forget. She bookends her article with two stories that reveal the pain women suffer in the process and the gory details the procedure burned into her mind.

She saw an emergency that ended in a hysterectomy on her first day.

The abortionists moved up the late-term procedure after seeing the woman's reaction to laminaria. “I hear one doctor tell the other that there’s too much blood,” Ronan writes. “They have to cut into Dee’s abdomen to get a clearer picture of what was going on...Eventually, they have to remove the uterus; there isn’t any other way.”

After the procedure, “What’s called the products of conception bucket is mostly filled with bloody gunk. I make out a doll-size arm, fist curled. It feels like I shouldn’t look, but I can’t turn away,” she admits.

Soon, she got her opportunity to “support” a minor in an “abusive” relationship. Afterwards, “Eliana” asked Ronan, “Do you think I’m too young for an abortion?”

“I tell her no. I think she’s making a really responsible choice,” she writes. “She looks at me, says, 'Do you even know how old I am?' I shake my head no. 'I’m 14,' she says.”

Ronan did not indicate that she or anyone at the abortion facility reported the abuse, or encouraged Eliana to do so.

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When abortion volunteers speak to one another, they acknowledge they have seen everything – “the patients who have second thoughts, and the ones who get abortions for reasons that make you feel uncomfortable. These images are the stuff of pro-life campaigns, the ones that try to make women change their minds.”

Rather than help women face the facts, she said she often acts as a “distraction” to women. “When the patients stand, I see the blood stains on the white paper, a little or a lot,” she writes. “I step between them and the bed, to block their view of the blood.” Mitchell suggested doulas make small talk about astrology, but the writer chooses to talk about the Kardashians.

Part of that abortion industry's “distraction” involves lying, Ronan confesses. As a part of the abortion process, you “quickly learn that you do whatever you need to and ... sometimes you are dishonest. In the beginning, I shadow a more experienced doula as she reassures a patient that the woman in the next room screaming wildly is not here for the same procedure, though, of course, she is.”

She has also seen women who did not want to have abortions but feel they have no other option.

“A doula tells me a story about a woman who wanted to continue the pregnancy but had lost her job, run through all her savings, and was living in a homeless shelter.” For this reason, crisis pregnancy centers offer free medical procedures, diapers, baby clothes, and sometimes financial support to struggling mothers.

Another woman chose life too late. She scheduled a second-trimester abortion, because her child might not belong to her boyfriend. That morning, after the two-day procedure had been initiated, he told her they should keep the child anyway. “I can't, though, right?” she asks. “Since she’s already done laminaria, it’s unclear what would happen if she stops at this point.” She ended up aborting to assure the child would not be born with a birth defect. “I don't know what she wants and I don't know that she does, either,” Ronan says.

Ronan also reveals the often icy indifference of the industry to women's suffering.

She remembers another second-trimester patient named “Princess” who began having contractions, yet the doctor pushed her abortion back all day long. When she feels her child coming out, about to be born alive, the doula seeks help, but the coordinator tells her “coolly” that the doctor is unavailable. After she pleads for help, the abortionist dispatches an attending physician who performs the abortion.

“The fetus comes out easily; they put it in the bucket and shove it near me. It is fully intact, curled on its left side, fists closed, knees bent up,” Ronan writes. Looking at the dead child's mother, she thinks to herself, “He sleeps just like you.”

She immediately has “a second thought, an act of distancing: He looks more like an alien than a person.” An employee at Dr. Kermit Gosnell's late-term abortion facility, Sherry West, said one child who was murdered after being born alive screamed and screeched “like a little alien.”

But for all the pain they have witnessed, abortion doulas are relatively unmoved about what they are doing.

Doula Project co-founder Mahoney has admitted “those pictures pro-life activists flash are real.”

“When you see the procedure, you must decide, as a pro-choice person, whether you are in or out,” Mahoney said. “I have never been more in.”

Ronan seems to be in for the long haul, as well. Abortion “strikes me as strangely similar to birth, only the opposite word and a different outcome.”

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