Guest: Jennifer Giroux, James Rocchi, Drew Pinsky, Lisa Bloom, Larry Pozner, Heather Mac Donald
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM RIDGE, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Everybody knows I love public service. I did it there 22 years. But I just want to step back and pay a little more attention to some other personal matters.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MONICA CROWLEY, GUEST HOST: The first ever secretary of homeland security is leaving his post. But is he leaving our homeland more secure? We will debate that.
Then, the 24-year-old Tampa teacher accused of having sex with a 14-year-old student heads to court, but will she receive a get-out-of-jail-free card just because she is a woman? We have seen this double standard before.
And can one man be responsible for the nation‘s high divorce rate, AIDS epidemic and child abuse? Some conservative groups say yes, and they are angry that Hollywood is celebrating him in a new film called “Kinsey.”
ANNOUNCER: From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all. Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
CROWLEY: I‘m Monica Crowley, in tonight for Joe Scarborough.
The nation‘s first ever secretary of homeland security, Tom Ridge, announced today that he will be stepping down from his post, effective early next year. It‘s time for tonight‘s “Real Deal.”
Helping the commander-in-chief prosecute a war is a grueling job. There‘s no greater responsibility on Earth than protecting the safety and security of 280 million Americans in an age of terror. And so Ridge has decided to leave his post, maybe to get some rest, maybe to go into the private sector and make some money, maybe to even think about running for president himself someday.
But because Ridge did the job so well, some folks have overlooked the magnitude of what he helped to accomplish. Shortly after September 11, Congress gave the authorization for a brand-new department charged with defending the homeland. It had sort of a World War II ring to it, the Department of Homeland Security. And the man President Bush turned to, to bring that department to life, Tom Ridge, faced an unprecedented challenge.
He had to bring together 22 different agencies, all with their own turf to protect and their own separate missions, and he had to convince them all to work together, to share information, to communicate. That‘s a mighty tall order in Washington, D.C., but Ridge was able to do it. Sure, some folks poked fun at the color-coded threat system. Others complained about politics intruding on policy, but in the end, Tom Ridge will be judged on two facts, one, that he was able to launch a new and successful agency from scratch in the middle of a national security crisis, and, two, there was no terrorist attack while he was secretary.
By any standards, even Washington standards, that is a very successful record. And that‘s tonight‘s “Real Deal.”
With Tom Ridge resigning, what‘s next at the Department of Homeland Security? Has the department done what it was set up to do, or have we just been lucky since September 11? And where do the interests of homeland security and intelligence reform come together?
Here to talk about are Howard Fineman and Heather Mac Donald of the Manhattan Institute, who wrote the cover story in the latest edition of “City Journal” titled “Homeland Security? Not Yet.”
Welcome to you both.
HEATHER MAC DONALD, MANHATTAN INSTITUTE: Hi, Monica.
HOWARD FINEMAN, NBC CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi.
FINEMAN: Howard, let me start with you. I want to deal a little bit with the politics of this first.
This resignation, not a very surprising development.
CROWLEY: Tom Ridge did a lot of heavy lifting there over the last couple of years, trying to launch this new agency in a time of national security emergency. What are your thoughts on Tom Ridge‘s tenure?
FINEMAN: Well, he told me, Monica, that his job was the worst in Washington, said that about a year ago to me. He said, you know, I am only going to get my name in the paper if something bad happens.
And it‘s true. I think it was a thankless job, that only would be noticed if there was a catastrophe. I think Tom Ridge is a Marine and a veteran and a tough guy who as governor of Pennsylvania was used to getting his way, and I think he did a fairly good job of beginning the task of welding together this vast new agency, which originally, by the way, George Bush didn‘t want. George Bush had to be convinced that there was a need for a Department of Homeland Security.
And Tom Ridge, who was his inside the White House director of homeland security, had to be convinced that it was necessary as well. But once he was given the job, I think, in bureaucratic terms, Ridge did a pretty good job at a thankless task.
CROWLEY: Heather Mac Donald, one of the biggest challenges that Tom Ridge faced in putting together this new organization was to bring together these 22 separate agencies, everything from border control to the Secret Service, and try to get them all on the same page with regard to the terrorist threat. How well do you think he did that?
MAC DONALD: Monica, it‘s a constant struggle, because turf battles are inherent in government bureaucracies.
And recently there‘s been a lot of complaining among former customs agents that feel like their status has not been recognized. I think there‘s been a fairly decent job of sharing information among agencies. The problem is, though, there‘s two key facts that are going to keep us safe in the future, intelligence and immigration reform. And on both those issues, I think there‘s still a huge amount that needs to be done.
Neither Ridge nor the FBI have yet to compile a single watch list of terrorists. This is inexcusable. The FBI has the main responsibility at this point because Ridge let that responsibility go from DHS to the FBI, but he is still involved in that project, and I think that has to happen.
But the other big failing, I think, in the Department of Homeland Security is, it has not taken immigration reform seriously enough. Terrorists can‘t do bad things on our soil if they are not here. Our most important protection is making sure that al Qaeda doesn‘t come to America, but every single day, there are illegal aliens that we don‘t know who they are that cross the border.
They are picked up, and they are immediately released on their own recognizance because the Department of Homeland Security hasn‘t funded enough detention facilities. This is a policy known informally in the field as catch and release. And if that continues and our borders remain as porous as they are, we still are at very great risk of another terror attack.
CROWLEY: It is a very serious issue, Heather, and you have done some great work on this.
Howard, let me go to you, because one of the things that was so important about establishing this new bureaucracy—and, initially, I was opposed to it, too, as a conservative. But one of the initial objectives of it was public relations and getting information out to the public. Tom Ridge was criticized up and down and on the late-night comedy shows for the color-coded system to signal the threat level.
But the point of that was to try to establish some sort of uniformity about threat assessment and then to impart that information to the public. Was the DHS successful in doing that, at least that part of it, in getting information to the public?
FINEMAN: Well, I think they got better over time. I think there were some disasters, certainly, press conferences there. I happened to be in Washington when the stampede of the duct tape happened, when one junior aide said go out and get the duct tape and make your sealed room. That was a disaster. It hurt their credibility .
But I think over time, they got better at it. And I think Tom Ridge, just as a political person, was a fairly calming, secure presence. I think he did well on TV as a kind of Dudley Do-Right character out there, who at least gave the impression that he knew what was going on. I agree that there are lots of things they haven‘t done.
And if there‘s a criticism that could be made of Tom Ridge, one of them is that he wasn‘t enough of an advocate, a sort of proactive advocate for policy changes that needed to be made, that Congress needed to consider and vote on. You rarely heard him do that. Maybe it‘s because he was too busy dealing with the chaos of bureaucracy that he was given, but he needed to be out front more than he was on immigration, on the lists that were discussed and so forth, and he didn‘t do that.
CROWLEY: All right, Howard, I also want to pick up on one of the political questions here, because the intelligence bill has been stalled in the Congress. The top members of the 9/11 Commission held a news conference today. And Chairman Tom Kean could not have been more blunt.
Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THOMAS KEAN, CHAIRMAN, 9/11 COMMISSION: The basic structure of the intelligence community hasn‘t changed since 9/11. The status quo failed us. The status quo does not provide our leaders with the information they require to keep the American people safe. Reform is an urgent matter, and reform simply must not wait until after the next attack.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: All right, Howard, you heard the man. Congress comes back to work next week. What do you expect in terms of movement on this bill?
FINEMAN: Well, I think George Bush is going to have to apply the heat. And I think he will. I think Dick Cheney, just as important, will have to do so.
Tom Ridge has been—maybe I have missed it, but he hasn‘t been all that visible on this issue, and I think he missed a chance over the years to be more of a forceful advocate for things that needed to be done across the government. There may be bureaucratic reasons why he didn‘t push the national intelligence director that still is hanging fire in the Congress. He should have and didn‘t do it. Now it‘s up to George Bush, and Dick Cheney to really apply the heat. And I think they will, and I think they will get it done.
CROWLEY: Well, here was what the president had to say today about this very issue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want a bill. Let‘s see if I can say it as plainly as I can. I am for the intelligence bill. I believe the bill is necessary and important and hope we can get it done next week, and look forward to talking to Speaker Hastert and Leader First here before the week is out, to express to them why I just told you in public I am for the bill again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: Well, there you go, Heather. You heard the president of the United States. He says he is for the bill. After the election, he said, look, I have got all this political capital. Is he going to spend it on this bill?
MAC DONALD: I think he will try, Monica, but I am frankly rooting for the opponents, like Sensenbrenner. I think this is another layer of bureaucracy. I think it‘s a sideshow.
I think what matters is the intelligence gathering capacities, the political will to gather intelligence, and, again, I can‘t emphasize it enough, borders, borders, borders.
CROWLEY: I agree with you, Heather. I think that‘s the No. 1 national security issue facing this country.
Howard, what do you think is the biggest challenge for Ridge‘s successor? Is it border control?
FINEMAN: Could be.
I think it‘s going to be finding their place in the gathering and dissemination of intelligence, because the Department of Homeland Security is not the place where the intelligence is gathered, but it‘s the place where that information is supposed to be used to defend the homeland. There‘s a whole lot of organization and coordination that needs to go on.
I also think that the next head of homeland defense has to be out there more, has to be more of an advocate, has to be more willing to take part in the public debates. Tom Ridge knows George Bush well. He knows George Bush values teamwork. But I think sometimes he favored teamwork, Ridge did, at the expense of the public function of his job, which he needs to get out there and do.
CROWLEY: Howard, do we have the political will to do this? The president has political capital. He did win reelection by three points. Does he have the political will to do this? Is the Congress behind him?
Can we get this stuff done?
FINEMAN: Well, I think, look, the 9/11 Commission made this its top recommendation. Some people may view it as a sideshow, but the 9/11 Commission said, this is the No. 1 priority.
In the Senate, they voted overwhelmingly for it. I think most members of the House are for it. Frankly, I don‘t know enough of the tradecraft to understand who has the right way to go here, but the consensus of the experts is we need some kind of unified directorate to look across all intelligence and find it and deploy it. And I think the president will make that argument, both publicly and privately, and he will speak to speaker what‘s his name. I thought he almost forgot Dennis Hastert‘s name there, and I think they will get it done.
But this is interesting, in that it‘s the first confrontation of the second Bush term, and it‘s not with Democrats. It‘s with Republicans. And I think that‘s foreshadowing of things to come.
CROWLEY: Heather, what do you think? You and I have both been critical of President Bush from the right on the illegal immigration issue, on the open borders issue. Will he feel the pressure from those Republicans in the Congress and around the country who agree, as we do, that we need tighter security in this area?
MAC DONALD: Of course he is going to feel the pressure, and I think the vote in Arizona to say that we are not going to continue disregarding somebody‘s illegal alien status may be a harbinger of things to come.
I hope that other politicians take up the lead and continue the pressure, because, again, with all respect to the 9/11 Commission, the director of central intelligence, which is also the CIA director, was already supposed to have the power of the central organizing command for intelligence sharing and analysis. This new directorate is duplicating something we have already got.
I would rather see the attention being put on the core functions of intelligence gathering, making sure our agents have the legal authority to get what they need, and, again, get the borders tightened up, and put the money into enforcement and facilities that we need.
CROWLEY: You know, that is the No. 1 issue in my mind, Heather, because these weapons of mass destruction we‘re all so concerned about cannot detonate themselves. The bad guys have to be here to do it, and we need to keep them out.
Howard Fineman, Heather Mac Donald, thank you so much.
And coming up next, Debra Lafave was a 24-year-old teacher accused of having sex with a 14-year-old student. Juries tend to go easy when the perpetrator is a woman, but will they buy an insanity defense?
And was Dr. Alfred Kinsey a researcher who helped us understand human sexuality or a pervert responsible for the country‘s moral decline? That debate coming up later.
Don‘t go anywhere.
CROWLEY: When a teacher has sex with a student, should the sentence be lighter if the teacher is a woman? We‘ll debate it next.
CROWLEY: Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. I‘m Monica Crowley, in tonight for Joe.
Everybody knows the case of Mary Kay Letourneau, the former grade school teacher who had sex and two children with her 13-year-old student. She was initially sentenced to three months in prison, but later spent seven years in jail for violating her probation.
Another teacher-student sex case is preparing for trial, and the defendant in this case appears to be pleading insanity.
Let‘s go to Kerry Sanders for some background on that story.
KERRY SANDERS, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She has kept a low profile since July, 24-year-old Debra Lafave, a Tampa schoolteacher accused of having sex with a 14-year-old middle school student on at least two different occasions.
Prosecutor Sinacore says he cannot talk about the specifics of this case. But he admits if there were an older male teacher who had sex with one of his 8th grade female students, the volume of outrage would be different.
MICHAEL SINACORE, PROSECUTOR: Whenever you have a case with a female perpetrator, one of the biggest challenges is just to find jurors that can be fair and impartial, that can apply the law equally to the defendant, regardless of gender.
SANDERS (on camera): Lafave had been married for less than a year when she was arrested. Now divorced, the one-time model filed papers in court, showing she is now working as an office assistant, earning $10 an hour, trying to pay off a mountain of debt. If convicted on the charges, she could face up to 30 years in prison.
Kerry Sanders, NBC News, Miami.
CROWLEY: Lafave and her attorney were in court today for a pretrial hearing. He told the judge she would be pleading insanity. And she faces trial in April of next year.
Joining me now, defense attorney Larry Pozner, Court TV anchor Lisa Bloom, and Dr. Drew Pinsky, who is the author of “Cracked: Putting Broken Lives Together Again.”
Welcome, panel. Nice to see all of you.
Let me start with Dr. Drew, because this case is so reminiscent of the Mary Kay Letourneau case. What‘s going on here? What would possess these grown women to want to have sex with such young boys?
DR. DREW PINSKY, AUTHOR, “CRACKED”: Well, the fundamental phenomenon that we see over and again in people that are perpetrators, that they themselves were victims of childhood sexual abuse.
The very child that we‘re crying for when we find them victimized actually grows up to be perpetrator that we‘re trying to figure out what to do with when they‘re an adult. So the probability is that she had a trauma history of some type. The kinds of behavior she was manifesting also suggest there may be some bipolarity there.
And I guess the—I really am not in a position to speak about the legal issues of this, but I guess what they are saying is that, in that condition, she could not tell right from wrong.
CROWLEY: Lisa Bloom, what about the charges in this case, because this woman is charged with a couple of counts of lewd and lascivious behavior, but I don‘t hear anything about statutory rape. Why not?
LISA BLOOM, COURT TV ANCHOR: Well, that may just be a peculiarity of Florida law, which may be included under lewd and lascivious behavior.
You know, according to some reports, she is facing up to 50 years behind bars, if convicted. I think it‘s highly unlikely she would get anything like that, even if convicted. Insanity defense means she is agreeing as to the truth of these charges, i.e., yes, she had sex with a 14-year-old boy, but she didn‘t have mental intent, she is now saying. She had a mental disease or defect that prevented her from knowing right from wrong.
Insanity defenses almost never win, Monica. This is really a long shot for her.
CROWLEY: Well, outside the courtroom today, Lafave stood silently while her attorney addressed some reporters. Let‘s take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN FITZGIBBONS, ATTORNEY FOR DEBRA LAFAVE: Debbie has some profound emotional issues that are not her fault. I think once anyone reads what the doctors have to say, they will understand a lot more about what happened here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: Larry Pozner, Debra Lafave—and you just heard from her attorney—she is claiming profound emotional distress and trauma. Her pregnant sister was killed three years ago, very horrific crime. She is claiming all kinds of psychological trauma because of that. Could that be the basis for this insanity defense?
LARRY POZNER, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, it could be the basis, but I think the guests are all in agreement. Insanity defenses are very difficult defenses.
It will take experts who have gone through her psychiatric history and who can demonstrate to a jury that this has been a very disturbed person for a very many years. And then, under most insanity defenses, all it changes is where you are locked up, not that you will be locked up. She could be in a mental institution for quite a while under that plea alone.
CROWLEY: So, Lisa Bloom, if they cannot demonstrate that she has had this long pattern of mental instability, then that insanity defense goes right out the window, right?
BLOOM: Well, that‘s right. And juries don‘t like the insanity defense. We don‘t like releasing people who are guilty of crimes but just didn‘t have the mental capacity to know right from wrong.
And, Monica, think about it. We know that sexual predators have the highest rates look of recidivism. Look at Mary Kay Letourneau. She was in prison for six months. She gets out. She reoffends with her victim, gets pregnant a second time by him. After seven years in prison, the first thing she did after getting out was, she wanted to see Vili Fualaau again. Now they are engaged.
CROWLEY: That‘s right.
BLOOM: So, we have to be very careful when we‘re dealing with women or men who like to prey on children, because they are going to do it over and over again.
CROWLEY: Dr. Drew Pinsky, you mentioned the psychological impetus for some kind of this behavior.
PINSKY: Right. I guarantee you...
CROWLEY: What do you think about what she is arguing here? What do you think about her defense?
PINSKY: Well, I‘ll tell you what. It‘s not a grief reaction. There‘s no grief reaction that compels people to go out and sexually—be predators to young children. That‘s ridiculous.
But the fact that she may have had a lifelong history of characterological disturbances, of trauma history, I think that‘s worth examining. Again, I don‘t know about the legalities of this, but it‘s something that I think should be examined. What do we do with the child that has been sexually abused that becomes a predator? It‘s a crazy thing in our society.
We look at the young woman and immediately—well, not these pictures so much, but her standing in court, and we think, oh, it couldn‘t be her. But the fact is, it is precisely anyone who has that history that can act in these unbelievable ways that have no boundaries. And we live in a society where boundarylessness is not—it‘s almost encouraged.
We have a president that preys on people that work with him. We have teachers that prey on their children and we look at it as a romantic interlude, the Mary Kay Letourneau story. We have doctors that take advantage of their patients. The fact is that people that have traumatic histories in their family systems do not perceive boundaries and have great difficulty maintaining them.
They can be sexually compulsive and they act them out. It is our responsibility as a society to help contain them. So the question then becomes, what do you do with an adult that has this history? They may be insane, but shouldn‘t we put very, very intense barriers in place to help contain these behaviors?
CROWLEY: We hear about these high-profile cases all the time, Mary Kay Letourneau. Now we have Debra Lafave. And we talk about it on programs like this.
But how widespread is this as a problem? You see these kinds of issues all the time. But in terms of the general population in America, what are we talking about here?
PINSKY: In terms of teachers on children, is that what you are asking, or children in general?
CROWLEY: Yes, or any sort of abuse of power in a sexual context.
PINSKY: Well, there‘s some data that suggests 50 percent of women at some point in their life, by the time they reach adulthood, have had some sort of predatory experience with a male, 50 percent.
There‘s data out there that shows 6 percent, maybe even 8 percent of students have been victim of predatory behavior by teachers or personnel in the school. So this is—we are talking about tens of millions of people. This is a big problem.
CROWLEY: Go ahead, Lisa.
BLOOM: Monica, I have heard one in 10 students have been preyed upon by teachers, and as high as 43 percent of the teachers are female who are preying on their young students. So, this is a real significant problem. And this is a child...
POZNER: Yes, come on.
BLOOM: ... who apparently was having sex with her in a car, and there was another 15-year-old in the car with them. So this is a pretty clear-cut case, if that‘s true.
PINSKY: I see Larry shaking his head.
CROWLEY: Let Larry respond.
Go ahead, Larry.
POZNER: There are two different responses here.
There‘s a lot of junk science. If you look at some of these surveys, and if a 14-year-old boy tries to hold hands with a 14-year-old girl, they define it as predatory behavior and unwanted sexual context.
BLOOM: We are talking about teachers and students, Larry.
POZNER: Don‘t buy into these statistics. But the next thing is, you must look at the individual case.
BLOOM: So you think this is great, for a teacher to have sex with a 14-year-old.
POZNER: One of the reasons that we treat these cases differently is, many of these young boys—many of these young boys are mature. They have not been preyed upon physically...
BLOOM: So you would defend her? You don‘t think she has done anything wrong, if this was your son?
POZNER: Nobody is pressuring them. You see, we have young men who are barely old enough to drive who are playing in the NBA.
CROWLEY: Larry, when you say nobody is pressuring them, we are talking about a 14-year-old child here. Can a 14-year-old child really consent to sex with an adult woman?
POZNER: Ask the 14-year-old boy. I don‘t know. Does the 14-year-old boy say he was threatened, that he was physically afraid?
POZNER: Wait. Let‘s—can we be rational? Can we be rational?
POZNER: It is a boundary issue. The conduct is not right.
BLOOM: He won‘t stop talking.
POZNER: But that doesn‘t mean that all of these cases are predatory behavior.
CROWLEY: OK, go ahead, Lisa, quickly.
BLOOM: Larry, we don‘t let teenagers make these decisions. We don‘t let them choose to do drugs. We don‘t let them choose to rob banks, even if that is their fantasy. And we don‘t let them choose to have sex with their teachers or adults who have power over them. It‘s bad for them in the long term.
POZNER: I agree. Sure.
CROWLEY: Hang on, Larry.
Larry, hold on to your horses, because we need to take a quick break.
But when we come back, we are going to talk about this more. I want to get into the double standard.
Also, have Hollywood couples like Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher made it more acceptable for the man to be the May and the woman to be the December?
We‘ll talk about that right after the break.
CROWLEY: More on the case of the Tampa teacher accused of having sex with her student when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
But, first, let‘s get the latest headlines from the MSNBC News Desk.
CROWLEY: Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. I‘m Monica Crowley, in tonight for Joe.
And I am also here with attorneys Larry Pozner and Lisa Bloom and Dr.
OK, I want to get into this whole idea of double standards. And let‘s start from the legal angle first, Lisa.
This whole double standard, do you see this in your practice? And you deal with a lot of these kinds of cases. Do women get lighter sentences when they are involved in this kind of behavior, say, underage, contact with an underage child or minor, because we saw in the case of Mary Kay Letourneau, she initially got a three-months sentence. That was extended to seven years because she violated her probation. Men, when they do this to young girls, they get much longer jail sentences.
BLOOM: Absolutely. And it‘s a great question.
The law is blind. Everyone is supposed to be treated the same way. But you are right. Female offenders do get much lighter sentences. And I have represented a number of boys who had been sexually abused by older women, mothers, teachers, etcetera. They experience the same profound psychological damage that girls did when they grew up after they had been sexually abused.
And it‘s really unfair to the victims to blame them, to say that boys love it when they are 12, 13, 14 years old. They don‘t know what‘s best for them at that age. That‘s why we don‘t let them as a culture vote, drink, drive, own property, live on their own or anything else, because they are not old and mature enough to make that decision.
And I think it‘s important to apply the law fairly across the board, but we just don‘t do that yet.
CROWLEY: Larry, why is that? Why do we give lighter jail sentences to women in these kinds of cases than we do to men?
POZNER: Because the lighter sentence is deserved by the facts of the case.
The law isn‘t supposed to be blind, and it‘s not supposed to be stupid. The judges look at each case individually. And what they find in the female-on-male cases frequently is different than what they find on the male-on-female cases. What they find is that, first of all, there has been no physical force. There have been no threats of force. There have been no other inducements.
In other words, many of the aggravating factors that judges find when a male of 25 or 30 years old is having a relationship with a 14-, 15-, 16-year-old girl, they don‘t find when it‘s a female. And if the circumstances are different, of course the sentence is different.
BLOOM: Male teachers don‘t have to force their students any more than female teachers do. They use that psychological coercion, which can be just as damaging later on in life when it starts to become unraveled...
POZNER: And if a judge finds it, he will take it into consideration.
BLOOM: Not necessarily.
CROWLEY: Go ahead, Dr. Drew. Go ahead.
PINSKY: The fact is, though, listen, if you—I think we have a sense that somehow it‘s a greater trauma for the female, and possibly that‘s the case.
However, if you look at the males, let‘s not even call them victims. Let‘s call them participants. If you look at males that have participated in this kind of activity, they have higher rates of depression, suicide, antisocial character disturbances, and much, much higher drug and alcohol.
Mary Kay Letourneau‘s boyfriend, husband, whatever he is now, is a prime example of what happens to young people. Their lives are derailed, and it has a profound, profound effect on the young men, maybe not as profound as the female, but to say that it‘s not profound is a mistake.
BLOOM: I think it‘s equal.
CROWLEY: I want to deal with this issue, though, from a different angle.
And let‘s turn the double standard on its head a little bit.
Dr. Drew, in Nabokov‘s famous novel “Lolita,” you have a much older man taking up with an underaged girl.
CROWLEY: And this is a very celebrated work of fiction. And I understand it is fiction. But what about the double standard in reverse? Do men—are men sort of touted if they can get sex with whatever age the girl is? Is that sort of a celebrated thing in this society? And what does that say about our society?
PINSKY: Well, actually, that sociology has been carefully studied. And the studies I have read—and I thought they were well done—the double standard, what you‘re referring to, is actually initiated by men.
There is a double standard out there. But it turns out, when they look very carefully, women tend to perpetuate most double standards. It is them that, for instance, if a woman is acting out sexually, will go to their male friends and say, don‘t date her. She‘s dangerous. The men are not as interested in these double standards quite as much as the women are.
BLOOM: Oh, yes, it‘s always the woman‘s fault.
PINSKY: Well, it‘s not their fault. I‘m just saying, you have the power to change it is really the point.
BLOOM: It‘s always the woman‘s fault.
You know, it‘s silly to compare older women-younger men relationships when both people are over the age of 21, to this type of a case. This is not about gender. It‘s abuse of power.
PINSKY: Yes. Correct.
BLOOM: It‘s about an adult taking advantage of a child. It doesn‘t matter who is male or who is female. They can both be female, both be male. It wouldn‘t make any difference. Teachers cannot prey on students.
CROWLEY: Hey, Larry, what about this idea of the reverse double standard? Do you see in your practice and what you see in the legal system, boys will be boys? Do you see that kind of mentality to justify a lot of this behavior?
POZNER: Well, we see the mentality, but it is still a crime, and women get prosecuted for it.
And we are not saying they shouldn‘t be prosecuted, but of course we need to take into consideration all the circumstances of the case. What we frequently find is, we find some 17-year-old males, they are still in high school. They are having sex with their teacher. And you know what? They are bragging about it. That‘s how they get caught. These are kids that could be playing in the NBA. To say that they don‘t know what they are doing and to arbitrarily say just because you are a student you are being preyed upon and you are a victim, that‘s naive.
BLOOM: You don‘t think teachers have power over students, like an employer has over an employee?
CROWLEY: That‘s really what we‘re talking about, the imbalance of power.
PINSKY: We are trying to raise healthy adults here. When people in positions of authority, even if they are adults, two adults, when people in positions of authority violate boundaries, it is unhealthy for the position...
CROWLEY: All right, let me ask you about a certain pop culture phenomenon we seem to be experiencing right now, older women with younger, not underage, but younger guys. We see it, Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher, Cameron Diaz and Justin Timberlake. But couples still together as of this hour, as far as we know.
Is it becoming more acceptable for the man to be the May and the woman to be the December?
PINSKY: Yes, I think it‘s more acceptable. It‘s—who cares? These are adults. They can make their own choices.
And it‘s almost bizarre that we didn‘t—we haven‘t had more of this in the past. So it‘s fine. People are very accepting, but that is very different, as Lisa pointed out, than an adult preying upon children, where, I must say—I really want to close with this—that the basic covenant of our society, of adults taking care of younger people, people in power taking care of people for whom they have authority, that basic covenant is breaking down. And we have to be very, very concerned about that.
CROWLEY: Absolutely. And we should not be dealing with it in any kind of levity, even if it‘s in a pop culture context.
Thank you very much, Larry Pozner, Lisa Bloom and Dr. Drew.
Please stick around, because, when we come back, we are going to talk about Kinsey. Did one man‘s crusade to teach Americans about sex propel the nation toward oblivion?
Stick around and you‘ll find out.
ANNOUNCER: Tonight‘s SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY challenge: Which Oscar-winning actress is the mother-in-law of “Kinsey” star Liam Neeson? Is it, A, Ellen Burstyn, B, Judi Dench, or, C, Vanessa Redgrave? The answer coming up.
ANNOUNCER: In tonight‘s SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY challenge, we asked:
Which Oscar-winning actress is the mother-in-law of “Kinsey” star Liam Neeson? The answer is C. Liam Neeson is married to actress Natasha Richardson, daughter of Vanessa Redgrave.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “KINSEY”)
ANNOUNCER: What brings you to New York, Dr. Kinsey?
LIAM NEESON, ACTOR: We‘ll be taking the sex histories of artists, writers and actors, including the entire cast of “A Streetcar Named Desire.” We‘ll also be interviewing for our next book, which is a female study.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: Is one man responsible for higher divorce rates, increased child abuse, the sexual revolution and the spread of AIDS? You might think so if you listened to the controversy surrounding the new film “Kinsey.”
When Dr. Alfred Kinsey published an article titled “Sexual Behavior in the Human Male” in 1948, his research was called obscene and he was called a pervert. The release of a new film about his life brings his provocative research and controversial conclusions back to life.
Dr. Drew Pinsky is still with us. And joining us now, Jennifer Giroux of Women Influencing the Nation, and James Rocchi. He‘s a film critic for Netflix.
All right, James, let me begin with you. You‘re a film critic. What is this film all about? What is it trying to accomplish?
JAMES ROCCHI, FILM CRITIC, NETFLIX: Monica, first of all, thank you very kindly.
And “Kinsey” is a film which is a biography of Kinsey, but it also looks not only at the world he lived in, but also the world that he helped make. It shows that Kinsey was an entomologist and a biologist by training who had a personal experience with sex which was quite negative and because of that, was inspired to look into sex using a scientific rigor which it hadn‘t had before.
Kinsey‘s work was predicated upon study after study and interview after interview. And we get to see the fact that Kinsey the man had a gift and curse. He could look at human interaction with this very distant, abstracted view, which gave him a great understanding of them, but also made many things in his own life a terrible mystery.
CROWLEY: All right, let‘s take a quick look at a brief clip of the movie. This is Liam Neeson playing Dr. Alfred Kinsey.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “KINSEY”)
NEESON: Why offer a marriage course? Because society has interfered with what should be a normal biological development, causing a scandalous delay of sexual activity, which leads to sexual difficulty in early marriage. In an uninhibited society, a 12-year-old would know most of the biology which I will have to give you in formal lectures.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: James Rocchi, is there a moral to this story? A lot of the critics of this say it‘s essentially pornography, that they are putting sex way out there, and that they are sort of whitewashing this man and what he was out there doing. Is there a moral theme to this film?
ROCCHI: There is very much a moral theme to this film.
Bear in mind, it is a movie about a sex researcher. It features sexuality, for the same reason that a movie about Muhammad Ali features boxing. It‘s sort of tied in with the subject. The moral of the film or one of the ideas in the film is that sex is a very complex business, that it does involve human emotions, that it does involve risks, that it involves dangers.
And one of the things the film suggests is that the only thing worse than the possible negative consequences of sexual activity are the negative consequences of deliberate ignorance about sexual activity.
CROWLEY: All right, let me go to Jennifer Giroux.
Jennifer, what is your problem with the way Kinsey and his work is being convicted in this movie?
JENNIFER GIROUX, DIRECTOR, WOMEN INFLUENCING THE NATION: James, James, James, you are so Hollywood. Let me tell you.
You talk about how he looked at things. Yes, he looked at a lot of things deceptively. He was presented to mainstream America as this very calculated, very methodical scientist, who, in fact, falsified his data by using pedophiles, prisoners, and prostitutes to gather his sexual data.
He basically paved the way for the sex education that we as parents are fighting, which today in the classroom constitutes mental molestation of children. And to say that there‘s a moral value in the film to come up and say that people are repressed sexually if they can‘t express it, if they can‘t go out there and have all kinds of perverted sex, this man was a sexual deviant.
And he—probably, Indiana University should sandblast his name off their institute and fumigate the building, because what he did has led to the moral demise of America.
CROWLEY: Well, Jennifer, let me stop you there, because what do you say to people who say, look, this film is just a biopic and it‘s limited to Kinsey‘s work and his life, and we are not going to deal with the decades of the consequences of the sexual revolution? What do you say to that?
GIROUX: Well, you know, do they depict him as a person that is sexually deviant and in his own little dark world, that forced his workers to have sex on film, that encouraged rape of children by men? This man is praised by NAMBLA, the North American Man/Boy Love Association. This man should not be glorified.
And the fact that it is such a bomb constitutes that people in America do not want to praise somebody that praises pedophilia and diversion.
CROWLEY: Dr. Drew, you are a sex expert. How important was Alfred Kinsey to what we know about sex and how we look at sex?
PINSKY: The primary contribution he made was a willingness to look at it.
And I know Jennifer has issues with who he was as a person, but, really, fundamentally, his philosophical orientation was to look at the phenomenon of the biological, psychological, neurobiological phenomenon of sexuality with scientific objectivity. And it came along at a time in which we had invented antibiotics and hormonal contraceptives.
And both these things threw open the door to a completely new experience of sexuality, where, in the past, sexuality meant potentially death by infections of various types, potentially death in childbirth, potentially social death, unwanted pregnancy. We were in an entirely new biological realm.
And he also opened the door to new considerations of sexuality, outside of any moral consideration. And, as Jennifer pointed out, it unhooked the mooring of sexuality with the human experience, unfortunately, and we are trying to sort of reel it back now, I think.
CROWLEY: Jennifer, one of the points that Dr. Drew just raised, which is one of the things that Kinsey is really noted for here, is removing the stigma about talking openly about sex. Why is that necessarily a bad thing?
GIROUX: It‘s about way more than talking openly about sex, Monica.
And I agree with Dr. Pinsky in some of the points he made. I disagree that this man was objective. He brought his own personal perverse practices and falsified data and spoon-fed it to the American people. That is a disaster and it has caused 40 years of absolute moral decline in this country.
It has increased sex crimes against women and children. And his findings, the fruits have become to be very devastating to women, Monica. You and I both know...
CROWLEY: But, Jennifer, can we really blame only one man for the entire sexual revolution? There were a lot of other elements at play here, no pun intended.
GIROUX: A lot of elements in play.
But the media played a part in presenting this man as this nice little middle American scientist, when, in fact, he had an agenda and his data was false. When you use a prostitute, when you use a pedophile to ask them about...
ROCCHI: Jennifer, Jennifer, if I may interject for a brief moment.
GIROUX: One more point.
He basically said the difference between convicted felons sexually and men is that the convicted felons were caught.
GIROUX: I disagree with that. Men are better than that.
ROCCHI: Jennifer, with all due respect, first of all, the film does make abundantly clear the point that Kinsey himself knew his methodologies were in some parts flawed.
The other thing is that Kinsey spoke to a broad spectrum of humanity. Yes, he spoke with some people who are at the edges and well beyond, well beyond acceptable behavior. The point is that he speak to them. And blaming Kinsey for the sexual revolution and its negative consequences would be like blaming Sir Isaac Newton for negative consequences every time something falls down.
GIROUX: The reality is that the people—Jennifer, the people he was looking at, though, at the point in history, because they had never been looked at objectively, no one really knew the implications of who those people were, why they were behaving the way they were. They didn‘t know about childhood trauma and sexual abuse, really, except through what Freud had sort of hinted at.
But the magnitude of these behavior—these phenomenon on the impact of sexual behaviors in adulthood had never been examined. And, yes, he did look at deviants to try to figure out what made them that way.
CROWLEY: OK, panel, please stand by. We are going to come back and get your final thoughts on this controversial film right after the break.
Stay with us.
CROWLEY: Is it child abuse if you spank your kid with a belt? What if you leave a bruise? A Connecticut court says no to both. We‘ll be talking about that case tomorrow night.
More SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY straight ahead.
CROWLEY: We have one minute left for final thoughts.
Jennifer Giroux, to you first. What do you say to those like Dr. Drew who say knowledge is power and if you‘re educated on these issues, then you can have a healthier and more responsible sex life?
GIROUX: Well, it‘s now come to be realized that Dr. Kinsey‘s work and research was used to change legislative laws to make it easier for people to molest children and also for extramarital sex and things that have led to the decline of the marriage as an institution.
CROWLEY: Dr. Drew.
PINSKY: I just wonder what happened in Europe. If he unleashed the problem here in America, whoever unleashed it in Europe must have been an amazing researcher.
CROWLEY: And, James Rocchi, did Hollywood make a responsible movie here?
ROCCHI: I think Hollywood made a very good movie.
The other thing I would encourage people to do is see it for themselves. It‘s the end of the year. It‘s Oscar time. There are a bunch of controversial films about controversial topics, “Vera Drake,” “Hotel Rwanda.” They‘re all terribly interesting and all well worth seeing to have your own informed opinion about.
CROWLEY: Well, amen to that, because, if you want to go see this film and formulate an opinion of your own, I encourage you to do that.
Thank you so much, Jennifer Giroux, James Rocchi and Dr. Drew Pinsky.
Thanks for joining me tonight.
That‘s all the time we have. “HARDBALL WITH CHRIS MATTHEWS” is next.
I‘ll see you tomorrow.
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