The March 2012 edition of the Foreign Service Journal on page 42 reports that the State Department has proposed to discipline a handful of employees for off duty conduct– extra-marital affairs between consenting adults. The article notes that the State Department has never formally notified its employees that, “depending on the number of partners, it views such behavior as ‘notoriously disgraceful conduct.'”
There are so many questions with this one, who knows where to start?
Assuming State Department people are randy in equal proportion to normal people, a lot of diplomats will be needing stern discipline. According to the Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy, approximately 50 percent married women and 60 percent of married men will have an extramarital affair at some time in their marriage (some of whom are candidates for president). And since it is unlikely that the people having affairs are married to each other in every case, the current statistics on the percentage of married couples who cheat on each other means that someone is having an affair in nearly 80 percent of marriages.
What does State mean by “multiple partners?” Does that mean the to-be-disciplined diplomat had say, affairs with three mistresses over the course of three weekends, or does it mean that while 1:1 affairs are cool, group stuff is, um, undiplomatic?
Since State refuses to recognize same-sex marriages, substituting an awkward partner agreement of its own creation to avoid the nasty hypocrisy of an Administration that allows for partners abroad but won’t rescind the Defense of Marriage Act at home, one presumes the naughty diplomats noted above are all heterosexuals. Does this mean gay dips are free to party? Is this a loop hole that needs to be filled by an ever-growing body of regulation?
If State is going to classify an affair by consenting adults as “notoriously disgraceful conduct,” what else will they put on the list to clean up our embassies? What about other forms of sexual conduct between consenting adults? State should publish a highly-classified cable listing what the partner threshold actually is, and delineating what acts are allowed and which are punishable. The list may grant allowances for rank, i.e., just like Ambassadors get to fly Business Class and ship more household effects abroad, they should be allowed more leeway with interns and household help.
What about special rules for Diplomatic Security agents?
Will diplomats assigned to Japan have to ration their anime viewing?
But most important of all, given the pressing issues in the world in say Syria, North Korea and other places State is worked up over, why do they have time at Foggy Bottom to enforce morality rules like this?
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