Fire damages Methodist church near Walterboro, which Baptist church was sharing after its loss

Colleton County firefighters battle a blaze at Peniel United Methodist Church Sunday morning.

'Inappropriate,' indeed: Shameless Folks is no gentleman

Will Folks: "I got made out to be a villain, and that's unfortunate."

Made out to be a villain?

Unfortunate?

Warning: Now entering old-fashioned judgmental zone.

Once upon a much less crass and jaded time, few self-respecting men would publicly assert that they had "inappropriate sexual contact" with another man's wife -- and no man who did would simultaneously whine about being "made out to be a villain" of the melodrama.

Or is it a farce?

Folks' credentials for "villain" billing long preceded his latest sordid stunt. In July 2005, he was accused of kicking open the door of the Columbia home he shared with his fiancee, then shoving her against furniture, bruising her back in the process. After his arrest, he initially denied that wrongdoing.

But he soon resigned his position as Gov. Mark Sanford's spokesman. In late September 2005, he pleaded guilty to criminal domestic violence, drawing a 30-day suspended sentence, a prohibition against contacting his victim and a requirement to attend anger management classes.

Too bad the judge didn't also order him to attend personal-class classes.

Then again, the rising ranks of scoundrels in our midst contain few redeemable sorts.

What's truly unfortunate is that nearly all of these creeps are beyond reclamation into the ever-dwindling class of gentlemen. And their villainy goes beyond the despicable bad-guy habit of roughing up women.

What possessed this particular bad guy to ride this sleazy story into the home stretch of the South Carolina Republican gubernatorial primary race?

Folks initially wrote that his goal was to defuse the harm that would be inflicted by "the gradual release of this information." In other words, he was trying to help the candidate he named as his partner in "an inappropriate physical relationship," a description he later upgraded (or downgraded?) to "inappropriate sexual contact."

With help like this, who needs hurt?

Why did Folks drop this bombshell?

The most logical deduction is that he desperately craves mass attention. By telling the truth -- or lying -- he amply serves that twisted thirst.

Does his allegation of "inappropriate sexual contact" also serve some perfidious political cause?

And why use the modifier "inappropriate"? Or is there some form of sexual contact with another man's wife that is "appropriate"?

And when was the honorable -- and practical -- code against kissing and telling routed into obsolescence by the evidently contagious urge to tell all about all "sexual contacts"?

The decline in shame, and decorum, isn't limited to the male of our species.

Two years ago, Barbara Walters delivered telling insight into her "up close and personal" brand of journalism by writing in "Audition: A Memoir" that she had an affair with then-U.S. Sen. Edward Brooke, R-Mass., in the 1970s. America's first female network news anchor explained on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" that those were "exciting times in Washington."

More than a quarter century later, these are increasingly unseemly times in America -- including South Carolina. Last year, our governor confessed to a marriage-busting affair with his "soulmate."

Now his ex-mouthpiece has made that "crying in Argentina" scandal seem almost quaint by comparison.

Folks is, in essence, bragging in the vile manner of a punk who takes misguided pride in making sure that everybody's aware of his sexual conquests -- both real and merely claimed.

That's a sorry high.

And our culture has sunk to a sorry low when so many folks want to tell us so much that we shouldn't know.

As the great Larry Fine of the Three Stooges put it:

"Where's your dignity?"

Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His e-mail is wooten@postandcourier.com.