I wrote this op-ed for the Oregonian 3 weeks ago, arguing in support of the recall. The response to the piece has been little more than a whisper, which doesn't bode very well for the recall campaigners. Nevertheless, I want to share a snippet from a recent conversation. It was with an intelligent local professional who disagrees with me about this issue. Some of his reasons were familiar and fair--the cost and hassle of the recall, and confusion about who would replace Adams. But then he said something that baffled me.
In the essay, I called Adams a predator. (For those unfamiliar with the issue, the mayor had a romantic relationship with a kid named Breedlove who was 18, possibly 17, when Adams, already a city councilman, was 41. As a mayoral candidate, Adams lied about the relationship a number of times. Oh yeah--and he owns two homes that are in foreclosure.) Anyway, the man I was speaking with said he has known people like Breedlove, that they too can be quite predatory, and that Adams is really a weak person. At first this sounded like an intelligent point, not to mention clever recycling of a word I had used. I nodded politely and let the conversation drift elsewhere, as if to indicate that his point was interesting and one that I had overlooked. The man I was speaking with is gay and I'm not, and perhaps my reflex was to presume that he has more insight into these matters than I could ever have.
Yet the more I think about this comment, the more it disappoints me. What I should have said was: How, exactly, is an 18-year-old kid, male or female, a predator? This was in fact the whole point of my essay; that a kid is a kid, that an adult should know better, and that sexuality shouldn't matter. As many other people have wondered: What if Adams was straight and Breedlove was a young woman?
Alas, those what I should have said replies rarely materialize in the brain fast enough to matter during real-time conversation. Thank God for blogs.