U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, the Ennis congressman whose district includes parts of Tarrant County, didn’t intend for his naked body to wind up on Twitter the week of Thanksgiving. But that’s what happened, his nether regions edited out with blue, the photo posted next to a screenshot of a text message sent from a “Joe B.” that read “I want u soo bad. Right now” and a couple other words that I’ll let you Google for yourself.
Barton apologized immediately, saying that the photo was sent to someone with whom he had a consensual sexual relationship while separated from his second wife. And because we live in a time when a man accused of initiating sexual encounters with underage girls is still very much in a Senate race, Barton emphasized that the person in question was one of the “other mature adult women” that he’s had relations with. He is twice divorced, first in 2003 and then again in 2015 (he married for the second time in 2004). He says the photo occurred after the second divorce.
“While separated from my second wife, prior to the divorce, I had sexual relationships with other mature adult women,” reads the statement, posted by the Tribune. “Each was consensual. Those relationships have ended. I am sorry I did not use better judgment during those days. I am sorry that I let my constituents down.”
If we take him at his word, that the photo was a private transmission between two consenting adults, then wouldn’t this make Barton the victim of some weird revenge porn scheme? If that’s not the real story, then we should start talking about his political future—but regardless of your feelings on his politics, and we’ve certainly had some in the past, this one seems like he might not have deserved.
Then again, I don’t know, maybe just don’t take nude photos of yourself in the first place. Especially when you’re a sitting congressman. And then, especially especially especially don’t send them to someone else. Then again again, this is the same congressman who told a constituent to “shut up” after the man pressed him on why he opposed a bill aimed at curbing violence against women. So.
Interesting point, though: The state of Texas, in 2015, passed a so-called “revenge porn law,” a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine. Here’s its language:
“A person commits an offense of unlawful disclosure of intimate images if without the effective consent of the depicted person, the person intentionally discloses visual material depicting another person with the person’s intimate parts exposed or engaged in sexual conduct.”