Upon hearing of the Huffington Post's impassioned defense of Alex Knepper, the 20 year old gay writer recently fired by David Horowitz's site NewsRealBlog for a series of strange articles related to sex crimes, and now fired by David Frum's site FrumForum, I got to thinking a bit about just how twisted Knepper's situation was. And the more I thought, the more troubling I found it.
And deep down I suspect HuffPo agrees, because for all the defense the site gives, I see no job offer given to the allegedly unfairly fired Knepper.
First off, let's remember that Knepper's activities on a gay teen forum were the end, not the beginning, of the case against him. His public record as a writer was well covered by RedState's Lexington Concord, and should give anyone at least a moment's pause in considering whether to hire him.
But there is the matter of the forum, and it's that which I'm finding more disturbing the more I think about it. Yes, that's possible. Because consider Knepper's own account: he first joined the forum at 17, as a closeted gay teenager, looking for help on coming out, particularly to his family. Being a 17 year old dealing with sex can be tough enough as it is in today's hyper-sexualized popular culture, which denigrates abstinence and celebrates promiscuity. But being 17, gay, and hiding it is double the trouble. So he turned to whom he believed were other teenage boys for emotional support and assistance in a spot where he was at a loss, and both emotionally and blackmail-wise vulnerable to attack.
Since he was in that tough spot, Knepper had moved on up. He was now openly gay, and clearly comfortable with it to the point of writing publicly how cute he thinks Justin Bieber is, while writing with a national audience and gathering prominence. He was secure, he was comfortable, and he was gaining in success. He was even dating successfully as we saw on the forum.
He had it all, and yet he was still on that forum. He's 20 years old, and he was hanging around the place that lost, confused, vulnerable teenage boys were going to get help with critical issues. And what was he doing? He was lusting after them, collecting their nude pictures, and all around living a rich fantasy life with them.
Of all the jokes he told, of all the comments he made, it occurs to me that this is the most damning bit of the entire story. At some point, Knepper made the transition from lost teenage boy to adult sexual predator. He was secure and having a good old time at the expense of these often insecure and uncomfortable boys dealing with enormous stress. Being a gay man who lusted after young, gay teenagers, he was at the same time like the kid in a candy store, and in a position to offer kids candy.
Did he ever take advantage in an illegal and harmful way? We don't know. But he was in a position to, even unknowingly, and as an adult he should have known better than to stick around a gay teenage support group as an adult. It was a situation that could so easily lead to harm in ways he might not even intend or worse, as a imperfect human he could have been led to do something knowingly that could harm a kid.
Smart people just don't put themselves in that spot. That Knepper continued to do so reflects at least very poor judgment on his part, at worst shows a desire to be a predator, and most likely just shows a reckless disregard for vulnerable teenagers in his desire to have a good time.