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Old 6th February 2020, 03:33 AM   #1
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Minister in Scottish government resigns over texts to 16 year old

Scottish minister has been "caught" messaging a 16 year old. The implication is heavily that it was not "innocent" messaging, one of the messages called the 16 year old "cute" and that seems to be the most salacious one as that is what the newspaper that broke the story has led with.

He has now resigned.

Should he have resigned? He has never met the 16 year old, all the mentions of meeting are in public places and even at public events, and nothing that would seem to be clandestine. Is this Is this a case of "no smoke without a fire" and the Minister just being a tad stupid rather than anything malicious?

Link to story : https://www.thescottishsun.co.uk/new...nce-secretary/
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Old 6th February 2020, 03:39 AM   #2
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Firstly, although there is no evidence of any illegal activity (16 not being a minor in Scotland) this is nonetheless a serious error of judgement on the part of a senior Scottish government minister. Mr. McKay is 42/43 and it should have been obvious that a 26 year age gap was inappropriate.


The question is therefore what sanction, if any, accrues. His resignation as a minister has happened, but is he expecting a few years on the back benches then back to the fore? Should calls for his resignation as an MSP be heeded?


My gut reaction is that he should be consigned to the back benches for a lengthy period, given the lapse of judgement, and preferably left there. Resignation from his seat, although doubtless on the lips of Unionist-leaning press outlets, seems excessive where there is no hint of illegality.
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Old 6th February 2020, 03:45 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Architect View Post
Firstly, although there is no evidence of any illegal activity (16 not being a minor in Scotland) this is nonetheless a serious error of judgement on the part of a senior Scottish government minister. Mr. McKay is 42/43 and it should have been obvious that a 26 year age gap was inappropriate.


The question is therefore what sanction, if any, accrues. His resignation as a minister has happened, but is he expecting a few years on the back benches then back to the fore? Should calls for his resignation as an MSP be heeded?


My gut reaction is that he should be consigned to the back benches for a lengthy period, given the lapse of judgement, and preferably left there. Resignation from his seat, although doubtless on the lips of Unionist-leaning press outlets, seems excessive where there is no hint of illegality.

Would you recommend similar punitive action if he'd were suspected of some other not crime but there was no actual evidence?

If there was a similar level of evidence for him, for instance, taking money from foreign powers to cast a vote in a particular way, but, as in this case, there was no actual evidence, should he be similarly punished?
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Old 6th February 2020, 04:07 AM   #4
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Quote:
The paper said the teenager’s mother was furious. “I worry about what would have happened if my son had sent him back a message he wanted to hear,” she said.
It might end in them having hot sweaty gay sex. Sharia does not allow this!
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Old 6th February 2020, 04:31 AM   #5
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One expects this sort of thing from church ministers, not government ministers.
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Old 6th February 2020, 04:49 AM   #6
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Who does this guy think he is? Mick Jagger?
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Old 6th February 2020, 04:54 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Architect View Post
Firstly, although there is no evidence of any illegal activity (16 not being a minor in Scotland) this is nonetheless a serious error of judgement on the part of a senior Scottish government minister. Mr. McKay is 42/43 and it should have been obvious that a 26 year age gap was inappropriate.


The question is therefore what sanction, if any, accrues. His resignation as a minister has happened, but is he expecting a few years on the back benches then back to the fore? Should calls for his resignation as an MSP be heeded?


My gut reaction is that he should be consigned to the back benches for a lengthy period, given the lapse of judgement, and preferably left there. Resignation from his seat, although doubtless on the lips of Unionist-leaning press outlets, seems excessive where there is no hint of illegality.
Quite seriously, an age gap too high for what? Talking with the 16 year old?
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Old 6th February 2020, 05:04 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
Quite seriously, an age gap too high for what? Talking with the 16 year old?

The texts published in the (cough) Sun (cough), if genuine reflective of the overall tone, are clearly flirtatious in nature. Whether Mr. MacKay anticipated matters might go further is, in my view, academic - it's inappropriate for someone significantly older in high public office, where the public expect high standards.

I observe in passing that Mr. MacKay was previously an elected councillor in Renfrewshire and might be reasonably expected to be familiar withthe advice provided by the Standards Commission for Scotland which, whilst focussing on procedural and financial propriety, nonetheless stress the additional scrutiny expected for those in public office.

FWIW I would be of no different view if it were a 16 year old girl, I hasten to add, but admit my views may be coloured by having a recently-turned-18 daughter.
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Old 6th February 2020, 05:20 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Architect View Post
The texts published in the (cough) Sun (cough), if genuine reflective of the overall tone, are clearly flirtatious in nature. Whether Mr. MacKay anticipated matters might go further is, in my view, academic - it's inappropriate for someone significantly older in high public office, where the public expect high standards.
Have you seen who the PM is?
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Old 6th February 2020, 05:36 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Architect View Post
The texts published in the (cough) Sun (cough), if genuine reflective of the overall tone, are clearly flirtatious in nature. Whether Mr. MacKay anticipated matters might go further is, in my view, academic - it's inappropriate for someone significantly older in high public office, where the public expect high standards.
The boy was above the age of consent and thus presumed to be able to assert himself and decline any propositions he dislikes. I highly doubt that 16 year old boys (or girls, for that matter) become so utterly terrified, or perhaps mesmerized, by being propositioned by a significantly older man working in the government, that they are unable to freely exercise their sexuality. From what i can read his messages don't seem crass, offensive or otherwise inappropriate. Unless his behavior, on the whole, tended toward sexual harassment i don't see how how it's reasonable to consider him as having acted inappropriately.
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Old 6th February 2020, 05:41 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Arcade22 View Post
The boy was above the age of consent and thus presumed to be able to assert himself and decline any propositions he dislikes. I highly doubt that 16 year old boys (or girls, for that matter) become so utterly terrified, or perhaps mesmerized, by being propositioned by a significantly older man working in the government, that they are unable to freely exercise their sexuality. From what i can read his messages don't seem crass, offensive or otherwise inappropriate. Unless his behavior, on the whole, tended toward sexual harassment i don't see how how it's reasonable to consider him as having acted inappropriately.
I mean, sure, the law is clear.

I will always find 40 year old people trying to spark up a romance with a 16 year old very creepy.

I don't know if this is something that should spark resignation, but it absolutely would damage my view of that person's character.
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Old 6th February 2020, 05:52 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by SuburbanTurkey View Post
I will always find 40 year old people trying to spark up a romance with a 16 year old very creepy.
What is "creepy" about it?
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Old 6th February 2020, 05:58 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Arcade22 View Post
What is "creepy" about it?
What is it about a 16 year old that a grown person finds attractive? There are plenty of hot young people in their 20's.

Could it be that a young teenager is less experienced with romance and easier to manipulate if you're a grown adult with decades more practical knowledge?
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Old 6th February 2020, 05:59 AM   #14
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The claim is that, uninvited, he contacted the boy by way of social media and send over 200 messages during a period of some six months. These included at least light-hearted apparent invitations to formal events. Beyond referring to the boy as "cute" there does not seem to be any overtly sexual material although, having seen those published, the tone is clearly flirtatious.

The 2005 Act only applies to people below the age of 16 hence this is not illegal grooming. It is over the age of consent. Nevertheless as recently as last Easter the Scottish Government and Police Scotland launched a campaign highlighting the risk of grooming, and there have been other schemes highlighting (for example) texting and social media conduct.

For a Minister, in a supposedly stable relationship, to have engaged in such messaging with someone who has just turned sixteen and is some 26 years older is a significant error of judgement insofar as the publicity currently covering the Scottish press could have been reasonably foreseen. Mr. MacKay has been in local and then central (Scottish) government for a number of years and should reasonably be aware of the expectation of high standards in public life. One need only look at Michael Russell's problems some fifteen years ago to anticipate what might happen (albeit Mike had temporarily lost his seat).

That reasonably calls into question his judgement in respect of other matters and, notwithstanding the seperation of public and private life, I suggest that it is not unreasonable for him to fall on his sword. In my mind the question is how far it goes: is this simply stepping back from high office, or will the Scottish Parliament expect him to resign his seat. My view is the former, but let's see.
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Old 6th February 2020, 06:00 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by SuburbanTurkey View Post
What is it about a 16 year old that a grown person finds attractive? There are plenty of hot young people in their 20's.

Could it be that a young teenager is less experienced with romance and easier to manipulate if you're a grown adult with decades more practical knowledge?

What's the maximum age gap for social interaction, do you think?


As an aside, and only slightly related:

Do you think really, really clever people should be allowed to try to seduce stupid people (of the same age) that they find attractive?
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Old 6th February 2020, 06:01 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by 3point14 View Post
Have you seen who the PM is?

I think you'll find that our FM is trying to ensure that this is your problem, not ours.
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Old 6th February 2020, 06:01 AM   #17
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I agree with Architect. It was highly inappropriate given his position, irrespective of whether the young person was male or female. Consigned to the back benches for a very long time would be my view.
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Old 6th February 2020, 06:02 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by 3point14 View Post
What's the maximum age gap for social interaction, do you think?
I think gap becomes less important as people age. The maturity change of a teen becoming a young adult is pretty swift.

A 16 year old is not only much less mature than an actual adult, they aren't even masters of their own affairs. Nearly all are still dependent on their parents, unable to support themselves through work, and unable to interact with the world as an adult. A 16 year old can't even get a driver's license for christ's sake. They are nearing adulthood, but in many important ways, they are still children.

If the boy in question here were even just an 18 or 19 year old, I could easily see this as being just something worth mocking whispers rather than outright scandal.

Originally Posted by 3point14 View Post

Do you think really, really clever people should be allowed to try to seduce stupid people (of the same age) that they find attractive?
I quibble with "allowed". I'm not commenting on the law, but rather on what find morally objectionable and a stain on someone's character.

If someone was really, really clever and was using that cleverness in a way that seemed manipulative on someone much less intelligent, I too would find that dishonorable. Someone telling some impressionable mistress that their going to leave their wife any day now probably falls into that category. Again, not something that the law should handle, but I feel free to make a moral judgement of this.
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Old 6th February 2020, 06:06 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by 3point14 View Post
Do you think really, really clever people should be allowed to try to seduce stupid people (of the same age) that they find attractive?

False equivalence. People with, for example, significant learning difficulties do receive various protections in law under the 2007 Act.

Therefore you mean someone competent, but at the lower end of the intellectual spectrum and who should - all things being equal - be able to look out for themselves. If they are not and there is a risk then one might expect, depending on circumstances, MARAC policies to come to the fore. This can include co-ercive behaviour, which is an issue in an unbalanced relationship.

But happy to be corrected if you intended the point to be interpreted differently.
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Old 6th February 2020, 06:09 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Architect View Post
I think you'll find that our FM is trying to ensure that this is your problem, not ours.

Currently, as sad as both you and I find the situation, your PM is my PM.


If suggestions of possibly inappropriate conversations with a person above the age of consent is sufficient for censure, then surely suggestions of possibly inappropriate conversations and receipt of monies from foreign agencies should be too?
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Old 6th February 2020, 06:10 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by 3point14 View Post
then surely suggestions of possibly inappropriate conversations and receipt of monies from foreign agencies should be too?
Perhaps, but that is not the subject of this thread.
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Old 6th February 2020, 06:13 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by Architect View Post
False equivalence. People with, for example, significant learning difficulties do receive various protections in law under the 2007 Act.
It's not a false equivalence at all.

If the issue is one of imbalance of power and naivety on the part of one of the participants, then any and all of these issues that we apply in this and similar cases should count when:

Rich people chase poor people
Clever people chase stupid people
People with social status chase people without social status.


If the issue is something else, then the above doesn't count. If the issue is imbalance in power, intelligence and experience then we need to start looking at a lot more than age to establish appropriateness of relationship.




Quote:
Therefore you mean someone competent, but at the lower end of the intellectual spectrum and who should - all things being equal - be able to look out for themselves. If they are not and there is a risk then one might expect, depending on circumstances, MARAC policies to come to the fore. This can include co-ercive behaviour, which is an issue in an unbalanced relationship.


But happy to be corrected if you intended the point to be interpreted differently.

Where both parties are deemed to be competent adults, there can still be a massive imbalance in all sorts of things in their relationship. If imbalance in the relationship is your issue then there is no false equivalence here.

If that is not the issue then my comment doesn't apply.
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Old 6th February 2020, 06:19 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by 3point14 View Post
It's not a false equivalence at all.

If the issue is one of imbalance of power and naivety on the part of one of the participants, then any and all of these issues that we apply in this and similar cases should count when:

Rich people chase poor people
Clever people chase stupid people
People with social status chase people without social status.


If the issue is something else, then the above doesn't count. If the issue is imbalance in power, intelligence and experience then we need to start looking at a lot more than age to establish appropriateness of relationship.







Where both parties are deemed to be competent adults, there can still be a massive imbalance in all sorts of things in their relationship. If imbalance in the relationship is your issue then there is no false equivalence here.

If that is not the issue then my comment doesn't apply.
I mean, the OP here is about someone who is by law not a competent adult. A 16 year old is treated as a child and that places a lot of restrictions on the 16 year old in how they can manage their own affairs.

But that aside, sure. I generally find gross power imbalances in relationships generally creepy. Again, people who are competent adults are free to manage their own affairs. At a certain point, you just have to allow people to advocate for their own interests. Managing relationships is not the business of the state.

Lots of things are legal that I find morally objectionable. Such is life.
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Old 6th February 2020, 06:22 AM   #24
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Creepy? You think you know what creepy is? Creepy is sneaking around outside of your house at night, peering in through the blinder while you are trying to sleep. That's creepy.

You can view the thought of a 42 year old man being in a relationship, and having sex, with a 16 year old as being disgusting on a purely visceral basis. But "creepy"?
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Old 6th February 2020, 06:24 AM   #25
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Why the hell is it so difficult for some people to just behave themselves? Especially when in a position of public view and responsibility.
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Old 6th February 2020, 06:30 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by SuburbanTurkey View Post
What is it about a 16 year old that a grown person finds attractive? There are plenty of hot young people in their 20's.
Males tend to become less cuter and pretty as they age, for one thing. Edit: many homo, and especially bisexual, men are less attracted to masculine and "manly" men and are attracted to those who are less manly.

Quote:
Could it be that a young teenager is less experienced with romance and easier to manipulate if you're a grown adult with decades more practical knowledge?
Perhaps, but far more likely it is about physical attraction. Besides I don't see why there's any need to psychologically analyse the motivation of why they are courting someone. The age difference is not by itself any reason to be concerned.
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Old 6th February 2020, 06:32 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by SuburbanTurkey View Post
I mean, the OP here is about someone who is by law not a competent adult. A 16 year old is treated as a child and that places a lot of restrictions on the 16 year old in how they can manage their own affairs.
As far as I'm aware it places no restrictions at all on who they can interact with socially and sexually. I'm happy to be corrected, but I believe that, in the are of personal relationships, this young man is deemed by the state to be able to make his own decisions.



Quote:
But that aside, sure. I generally find gross power imbalances in relationships generally creepy. Again, people who are competent adults are free to manage their own affairs. At a certain point, you just have to allow people to advocate for their own interests.
The state mandates that reaching the age of 16 is that 'certain point'. do you think it should be different?


Quote:
Managing relationships is not the business of the state.
It is, at least in part. Or there'd be no age of consent. Or concept of marriage for that matter.


Quote:
Lots of things are legal that I find morally objectionable. Such is life.
Indeed. And I'm not getting at you, I just find these things interesting in how similar things (as I see them) can be perceived so very differently by others.
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Old 6th February 2020, 06:36 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by SuburbanTurkey View Post
I mean, the OP here is about someone who is by law not a competent adult. A 16 year old is treated as a child and that places a lot of restrictions on the 16 year old in how they can manage their own affairs.
No, in Scotland 16 is the age of competence per the 1991 Act albeit that there are restrictions on, for example, driving (17) and purchase of alcohol (18).

Quote:
But that aside, sure. I generally find gross power imbalances in relationships generally creepy. Again, people who are competent adults are free to manage their own affairs. At a certain point, you just have to allow people to advocate for their own interests. Managing relationships is not the business of the state.
As we both know, there are procedures in place to manage such issues where there are competency issues or one party is abusive (which includes a wide spectrum from coercive control upwards). Society has, therefore, set some limits already.


Much as Arcade would like to suggest otherwise, nobody here has stated that what Mr. MacKay did was illegal. Scottish Labour have tried to raise the spectre of grooming based on NSPCC guidelines but as usual fail to land any body blows.


Which takes me back to my earlier point. Any professional politician would be aware of how this might be interpreted, never mind a senior member of government. Mr. MacKay is aware of guidance from the Scottish Commission on Standards. Most people I know would consider that kind of age difference "icky" whichever genders were involved. For MacKay to have breenged ahead therefore throws his political judgement into question and hence the reason there should be questions about his continuing suitability for high office.
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Old 6th February 2020, 06:40 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by 3point14 View Post
It's not a false equivalence at all.
I'm confident it is, although there may also be an element of "whataboutery" or similar fallacy involved. The law does protect vulnerable people, including adults and those who are otherwise competent.

270 messages in six months is around one a day. The boy had just turned 16. Had the lad ben just two or three months younger the Police would have been knocking on a door. Anti-grooming legislation would have come to the fore.

But as I have stated several times, nobody is saying that a crime has taken place. It is about judgement - in this case, very poor political judgement given the easily anticiapted furore.
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Old 6th February 2020, 06:43 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by 3point14 View Post
As far as I'm aware it places no restrictions at all on who they can interact with socially and sexually. I'm happy to be corrected, but I believe that, in the are of personal relationships, this young man is deemed by the state to be able to make his own decisions.





The state mandates that reaching the age of 16 is that 'certain point'. do you think it should be different?




It is, at least in part. Or there'd be no age of consent. Or concept of marriage for that matter.




Indeed. And I'm not getting at you, I just find these things interesting in how similar things (as I see them) can be perceived so very differently by others.
My point isn't about the law.

My point is that a 16 year old doesn't have many of the options that even an 18 or 19 year old might have. A 16 year old is probably living at home, going to school, and has their life largely administered by their guardians. They don't have many of the freedoms that come with being a legal adult.

This is someone who probably gets in trouble if they stay out passed midnight without permission from their parents. Grown people should probably stick to dating people who don't get report cards sent to their parents. That's not a legal argument, that's just a personal judgement.
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Old 6th February 2020, 06:51 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by Architect View Post
I think you'll find that our FM is trying to ensure that this is your problem, not ours.

Would that she were...
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Old 6th February 2020, 06:54 AM   #32
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As I understand it the boy in question is not himself gay. Which raises a whole other raft of questions.
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Old 6th February 2020, 07:02 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
As I understand it the boy in question is not himself gay. Which raises a whole other raft of questions.
It really makes it look like this guy has a serious self-destructive streak. He must have known his flirtation wouldn't go anywhere, yet he persisted. To me that suggests he's either obsessed (and therefore too crazy to keep governmenting) or was on some psychological level trying to torpedo his own career (and therefore also not right to keep governmenting). Either way, something is clearly not right in his life and he needs a change.
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Old 6th February 2020, 07:04 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by Architect View Post
I'm confident it is, although there may also be an element of "whataboutery" or similar fallacy involved. The law does protect vulnerable people, including adults and those who are otherwise competent.
but I don't think there's any way to define this person as 'vulnerable' other than by his age. and given that the law says that 16 is the cutoff point, what is it about this person that's vulnerable?


Quote:
270 messages in six months is around one a day. The boy had just turned 16. Had the lad ben just two or three months younger the Police would have been knocking on a door. Anti-grooming legislation would have come to the fore.
Had it been, yes. but it wasn't. I don't see how that's relevant at all.


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But as I have stated several times, nobody is saying that a crime has taken place. It is about judgement - in this case, very poor political judgement given the easily anticiapted furore.

I agree there. And I entirely agree that this is not a wise or sensible thing for a politician to be doing. I just think there are gross inconsistencies in the way we view things of this nature on occasion.
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Old 6th February 2020, 07:08 AM   #35
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
It really makes it look like this guy has a serious self-destructive streak. He must have known his flirtation wouldn't go anywhere, yet he persisted. To me that suggests he's either obsessed (and therefore too crazy to keep governmenting) or was on some psychological level trying to torpedo his own career (and therefore also not right to keep governmenting). Either way, something is clearly not right in his life and he needs a change.

I think he was simply following his impulses without any real editing of these impulses for appropriate behaviour and very little thought for the consequences. He did realise he was doing something inappropriate, hence the is our conversation private?" question, but he went on anyway.

We don't need people like that in government.
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Old 6th February 2020, 07:10 AM   #36
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It's not just about the age. There's a second creepiness factor here, which is that this flirtation was one-sided and persistent. If the 16 year old had been flirting back it wouldn't be so creepy.
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Old 6th February 2020, 07:10 AM   #37
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Seems clearly inappropriate to me for a man that age to be flirting with a 16-year-old.

The legal age of consent in Scotland is 16, so not technically illegal I suppose. But 16 is still considered a minor. The age of majority and the age of consent are different.

The fact that he's suggesting the boy delete the texts shows that he knows it's wrong.
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Old 6th February 2020, 07:16 AM   #38
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Perhaps the naughtiness of the forbidden aspect of this flirtation is what he found appealing.
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Old 6th February 2020, 07:18 AM   #39
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
Perhaps the naughtiness of the forbidden aspect of this flirtation is what he found appealing.

I can't believe for a moment that people find the taboo and forbidden titillating....

What would that say about the human condition?
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Old 6th February 2020, 07:26 AM   #40
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Originally Posted by 3point14 View Post
I can't believe for a moment that people find the taboo and forbidden titillating....

What would that say about the human condition?
That we're naughty and wicked and need to be punished? By spanking?
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