OK, let’s allow for argument’s sake that they were the exception — that it was love, not (except in the eyes of the law) rape. It certainly wasn’t a passing fancy. But now they’re marketing their love (is it still love, then?) by promoting rape.
Opprobrium turned into celebrity cult–it’s the modern way. Next, they’ll be appearing on ‘Dancing with the Stars’. She was a neighbor of ours in Seattle at one time although I don’t think I ever met her.
I read once that the significant cultural difference between the West on one hand and East Asia on the other (or between Christianity and Confucianism/Buddhism, if you prefer) was that Europe has a Guilt culture and East Asia has a Shame culture. That is, if you violate some cultural norm, in Europe you are expected to feel guilty, whereas in East Asia you are expected to feel ashamed.
It might be an interesting, however, to work out when and how it was we elevated shamelessness to a virtue.
From the “Believe it or Not Department:” Her mother was once hailed as the “West Coast Phylis Schlafly,” a notoriety she attained in large part due to her husband (and Mary Kay’s father), John G. Schmitz. Once a California State Senator and Congressman, Schmitz ran for President on the AIP ticket in 1972, and was actually thrown out of the John Birch Society for being an extremist. The parents’ careers effectively ended when it was revealed that he’d fathered two children with one of his students while teaching Political Science at Santa Ana College. That came about because of child abuse charges against the unwed mother (later dropped).
From the “Just When You Think it Can’t Get Any Weirder, It does Department:” While acknowledging paternity, Schmitz refused to provide any support for the two children. After their mother died, famed astrologer Jeane Dixon assumed custody of them.
Another odd fact: For a time, Schmitz was Richard Nixon’s congressman while he was President as Nixon’s legal residence was in San Clemente. When Nixon went to China, Schmitz was quoted as saying he didn’t mind Nixon going but objected to him coming back.
I’m ambivalent about this one, and have been for a long time.
For the case itself, something about it struck me as different when it first came to light, and subsequent events seem to have proven that correct, either that or the young man is deeper into the equivalent of Stockholm Syndrome than we realize. Whatever the reason, this particular case never really stirred me to outrage.
Beyond that, on the subject of cashing in on one’s notoriety, I’m also ambivalent. LOTS of people have made money off of these two. Their story sold a LOT of tabloids and brought a LOT of eyes to webpages and TV shows. If it’s ok for E! TV to profit from exploiting their story, why shouldn’t they get some piece of that?
Also, the very notoriety itself can make it difficult to get a regular job. They probably still have whacked out paparazzi following them around; what ordinary business wants to get sucked up into that by hiring one of them for an ordinary job? If you were thinking about hiring a DJ for your private party, all things being equal would you hire the non-public figure DJ, or the DJ who is something of a C list celebrity, whose selection might result in tabloid journalists crashing your party? Obviously, people who thrive on notoriety might prefer the second, but in terms of ordinary people trying to avoid the spotlight, they’re likely to prefer the first.
Thus, I think that capitalizing on their guilt may be the only real way they have to make money to support themselves and their children. It’s a nasty, dirty, vicious cycle.
Pat: very thoughtful. I had the same reaction as you: something about it struck me as different. I was not particularly outraged at their case, either. I was kind of fascinated by it, not because of the scandalous aspect but because of the ways it seemed different.
I understand their need and temptation to live off their notoriety, too. That doesn’t outrage me, though it’s sad.
What really offends me about this is one thing: “Hot for Teacher.” That seems to go beyond their own situation, generalizing and cheapening it, and above all, to be encouraging this sort of relationship, which, in the majority of cases, WOULD be exploitative and rough on a kid’s psyche.
YUCK. While I never thought that Le Tourneau should be drawn and quartered and I shrugged when she later married (the now adult) Fualaau, I can’t help but be completely repulsed by this t-shirt and publicity campaign. That they NEED to cash in on their notoriety because they have no other possibility of earning a living strikes me as preposterous but I especially want to hurl at the “Too Hot for Teacher” slogan since it is, as you say, promoting rape Remember, Fualaau was in second grade when he first had Le Tourneau as a teacher and only in sixth grade when they started having sex. Mary Kay makes Kim Kardashian look like Eleanor Roosevelt.
P.S. Wow, I remember Schmitz, I had no idea he was her father…
“This case was different” — you mean like the fact that he was in 6th grade?!?!?
I’m sorry, but even if you accept that sometimes a high school student and teacher might be a special case, but a 6th grader? I’d have to say that the only thing special about it would be how egregious it is.
Oh Newt, you loved our country so much you couldn’t love your cancer-stricken wife . . . a man must choose.
There are two ways to look at that. One is that everybody’s human and personal peccadilloes should not disqualify public figures — whether artists or politicians — from greatness.
The other is that a major disconnect between private character and publicly professed ideals ought to be a warning signal. If a person doesn’t at least try to apply his/her ideals to his/her own conduct, maybe the ideals themselves are hollow, or unworkable. Two of the historic figures who treated their families worst were Rousseau and Marx.
Private peccadilloes should not be a disqualification — with one exception. If your private behavior runs directly counter to your publicly professed ideals, and those ideals are integral to your position, then they are relevant and should be a disqualification.
I thought about the flip side of this: someone arguing for behavior that he is not personally engaging in. Would that be similarly disqualifying? My kneejerk reaction was no, but it took me a while to figure out why. I suppose the distinction is in whether he is saying “this should be allowed“, or saying “this should be required“.
Allowing others to behave in a way that you personally do not is more a matter of tolerance. Whereas requiring (or trying to require) that others behave in a way that you do not is hypocracy. And tolerance is, IMHO, a plus whereas hypocracy is a big negative.
“Oh Newt, you loved our country so much you couldn’t love your cancer-stricken wife . . . a man must choose.”
That’s how i felt about John Edwards- the same choices. And, Clinton- never being faithful in the bedroom and expecting an entire country to follow and trust his choices. It never rang true to my ears.
I thought i had never heard of these two people or this situation- until you spelled her last name- “Letourneau”. Many folks up this way of that name, actually- relatives of my husband’s.
I think something should be either accepted or rejected- all in all. Not case by case. Any older woman and 6th grader engaging in– this– should be rejected. No tolerance.