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Weiner’s behavior sleazy, but ...

Updated: June 21, 2011 1:53PM

Life used to be so simple. A married person had sex with someone he or she wasn’t married to. That was cheating. It didn’t matter if the sex happened once or a hundred times. Cheating was cheating. Everyone understood.

Then the Internet came along. (Thanks, Al Gore.) Then came chat rooms, websites, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, texting, sexting and cybersexing. So many opportunities to get into trouble.

Then a married (now former) congressman, Anthony Weiner, sends pictures of his privates to women he’s met over the Internet. He engages them in conversations that could be written by an extremely unimaginative pornographer.

This behavior is disgusting, gross, unbelievably stupid, perhaps addictive, definitely self-destructive. But is Weiner a cheater? Your thoughts:

Paula: I don’t consider what Rep. Weiner did to be cheating. I don’t think it’s acceptable behavior for a married man, however, particularly considering he’s only been married for a year and his wife is pregnant. He should be far more attentive to her at this point in the marriage. If I were in her shoes, I would divorce him because he has no respect for their marriage.

Joe: I think people who think if there’s not actual genital-to-genital contact then it isn’t cheating are more interested in the literal definition of the word than the spirit of it. To me, anything that you do of a sexual nature that you don’t want your spouse to find out about is cheating. To me, if you’re flirting, sexting or exchanges graphic photos, you’re cheating.

Harriet: Jimmy Carter once famously said that anyone who has lusted after a woman has committed adultery in his heart. And he owned up to being guilty of that many times over. I get what he meant, and I think he’s right. Still, I think people who lust in their heart, but never take action — any action — and who continue to treat the spouse well are far better people than those who act on it.

Anthony Weiner acted on that lust. It wasn’t technically cheating, but sexting and cybersex without the spouse’s knowledge and consent dishonors and humiliates the spouse — so it’s a breaking of the vows he took to love, honor and cherish her.

Obviously, he figured what she doesn’t know won’t hurt her. But what he apparently hasn’t learned is that character is what you do when you think no one’s watching. He showed an appalling lack of integrity and basic consideration.

Mick: I don’t think what Anthony Weiner did is actual cheating. But it’s not right, either, unless it’s something he and his wife already have discussed and she’s OK with it. Different people have different “rules” for their marriages, and that should be respected.

But if he was doing this in secret, without his wife knowing, without permission from his wife, then it’s harmful to his relationship, even if I don’t consider it exactly the same as cheating.

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