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A resignation, a firing, and a survival

One man fell by his hypocrisy, another took flak for his principles

A resignation, a firing, and a survival

Farenthold (left) and Williamson. (Farenthold: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/AP • Williamson: National Review)

When Blake Farenthold, a conservative Republican, became on April 6 the latest member of Congress to resign following a sex scandal, some asked why he had changed his mind and left so abruptly. The harder question was, “How did he ever get elected?”

Yes, Farenthold became infamous last December when news spread of the $84,000 in taxpayer money he used to pay off a former aide who had sued him for sexual harassment. (He said he would pay back the money and leave Congress at the end of his term.) But in October 2010, a month before Farenthold first gained election to Congress, Glenn Beck’s The Blaze headlined a story about the candidate, “Why is this Repub. Hopeful in Duckie PJ’s Next to a Near-Naked Blonde?”

The story by Jonathon Seidl introduced Farenthold as “a businessman and radio host who believes in ‘faith, family, hard work, and limited government.’ He has a wife and two daughters. And apparently a thing for pajama parties.” Farenthold in the photo—which we won’t show in WORLD—wears what must have been extra-extra-large light blue pajamas with big yellow ducks. He also flashes an extra-extra-large smile.

I emailed Seidl, a student at The King’s College a decade ago when I was provost there. He wrote, “Liberal sites like Talking Points Memo were circulating the photo. But no one else cared to dig deeper. I kept digging and that’s when I found the pictures of the spanking and nearly-bare-bottom paddling that occurred at the same ‘charity’ fundraiser. We (at The Blaze) took a little heat for it, because we were considered a traitor conservative site going after a Tea Partier with a shot at unseating a Democrat. But come on! How can you ignore the story?”

Farenthold did not deny that he was there and the photo was legit. Democrats asked sardonically, “Who among us hasn’t donned duckie pajamas for a night out with scantily clad women, then run for Congress?” But here’s the really weird thing: Even though the photo received wide circulation in the congressional district, which includes Corpus Christi, Farenthold defeated the incumbent, Solomon Ortiz, by 799 votes, and gained reelection three times.

Unsurprisingly, Farenthold’s office in Washington gained a reputation for lewdness and his staffers joked that they had to be on “redhead patrol” when they accompanied him to Capitol Hill events. Farenthold contributed to the meme about family-values hypocrisy—and, unsurprisingly, his D.C. tenure did not end well.

Another much-discussed departure during the week after Easter—and one not related to sex—featured Kevin Williamson, a brilliant writer and former National Review correspondent. I hired him to be an adjunct writing teacher at The King’s College, where he received great ratings from students. So it was no surprise when The Atlantic hired him last month to be an opinion columnist, nor was it surprising that the venerable liberal magazine fired him on April 5 when pro-abortion staffers attacked him for saying that “the law should treat abortion like any other homicide.”

Pro-lifers have argued for years about whether and how to punish women who choose abortion: Most focus on punishing the abortionist and realize, as Frederica Mathewes-Green put it, that a desperate woman “wants an abortion like an animal caught in a trap wants to gnaw off its own leg.” But liberal magazines frequently have writers who see abortion as a sacrament of progressive faith, so how could it hurt to have one who passionately presents a countercultural viewpoint?

Williamson this month became the latest victim of intolerance by those who theoretically advocate tolerance. Atlantic Editor in Chief Jeffrey Goldberg had claimed to desire some ideological diversity: He is now, like family-values Farenthold, a poster boy for hypocrisy. Ben Domenech, publisher of The Federalist, argued that Williamson’s rapid firing shows, “If you have wrongthink, you will not be allowed for long to make your living within any space the left has determined they own—first the academy, then the media, then corporate America, and now the public square. You will bake the cake, you will use the proper pronoun, and you will never say that what Planned Parenthood does is murder for hire.”

Domenech prophesied that the tension in institution after institution is growing and “will, eventually, explode. … If you think Trump was the explosion, you are wrong. You haven’t even seen it yet.” Maybe, and we should pray that God will mercifully and miraculously forestall an explosion, because explosions leave behind corpses. But we certainly need strong Christian colleges and publications. I’m happy to say that on April 3 I spoke at The King’s College for the first time after resigning from it seven years ago. I saw that God has been merciful to that institution. He has been merciful to WORLD. He knows past and future, and we ride His currents.

Marvin Olasky

Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD and dean of World Journalism Institute. He joined WORLD in 1992 and has also been a university professor and provost. He has written more than 20 books, including Reforming Journalism. Marvin resides with his wife, Susan, in Austin, Texas. Follow him on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.