It has been a flurry of more recent bad news for Matt Gaetz. While Joel Greenberg’s lawyer, Fritz Scheller, hinted that Greenberg will cooperate with prosecutors against Matt Gaetz, Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger has called for Gaetz’s resignation. Now it’s come to light that Devin Murphy, Gaetz’s legislative director, has resigned along with Gaetz’s communications director, Luke Ball. But before we throw ourselves a jubilant schadenfreude party, there’s one sobering fact we need to consider. If the charges against Gaetz are true, at least one young woman has had her life ruined.
Laws against statutory rape and sex trafficking exist for a reason. They are not mere convenient technicalities with which we can get rid of dangerous and obnoxious members of Congress. If the charges being formulated against Gaetz are true (and I am personally convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that they are true) then one or more children have suffered lifelong and irreparable psychological damage because of him. Those children need our compassion and our hyper-vigilant resolve to protect them from public scrutiny and further abuse.
If I have learned nothing from my years defending the victims of Bill Cosby, I have learned that even the most vile and detestable celebrities have their defenders, and those defenders themselves become vile and detestable in their merciless attacks on those celebrity’s victims. In their headlong mission to protect their beloved icon they turn into brainless, soul-murdering mobs like those described in the book (which came before the movie) “Lord of the Flies.”
Because Matt Gaetz was a darling of Former Guy, he will have his defenders and they will turn ugly, or uglier still. And if one or more names of the victims of Matt Gaetz should leak out, those victims will be revictimized by slut-shaming and death threats. You can count on it. After all, just imagine what kind of people would defend Matt Gaetz in the first place. You get the idea.
It is dispiriting to realize how many truly evil people there are in Congress. Whether or not he’s guilty of these specific crimes (and, as I say, I firmly believe he is) Matt Gaetz remains a truly evil man. He’s also a little man, an inconsequential man who would be a nobody, an “incel” in his mother’s basement had he not been born with his father’s money.
Gaetz is a cautionary tale against admiring the rich and famous. The rich and famous can be human scum, just like any other class of people, and Matt Gaetz is an example of just that. And it’s amazing just how often people like Gaetz are evil, too. But above all, their victims must be protected. It is our first duty. Our second duty is to see that someone like Gaetz receives the punishment he so richly deserves. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.