Joe Biden See No Boundaries

Much discussed in certain circles of the internet the past month or two has been Democratic presidential nomination candidate Joe Biden’s long history of zooming past boundaries without even acknowledging that they might be there. The debate has been weirdly complicated by some people who insist that, since they themselves would have gladly consented to the touching Biden initiated with them without asking that somehow never asking is a reasonable choice on his part. “If I wanted a back rub,” their argument begins, “but other people don’t want a back rub, how in the world is Biden supposed to know who wants him to walk up behind them and rub their shoulders and who doesn’t?”

How indeed.

Nevertheless, some people still seem to insist that Biden is being loving and helpful and caring when he starts fingering someone’s neck or playing with their hair. They also point out that those “someones” include a few men amongst the multitudes of women whose boundaries he ignores, so how could Biden possibly be doing anything wrong?

I think this story from CNN shows that the Biden defenders don’t actually have any solid platform on which to stand. Biden created and released a campaign ad that begins by reminding us that “a young woman was killed” in Virginia and moves on to condemn Trump for his “good people on both sides” Charlottesville comment.

What’s wrong with that? Well, it’s because he never contacted anyone from Heather Heyer’s family – like her mother who is also the president and chair of the Heather Heyer Foundation – before using Heyer’s murder for the benefit of his campaign. From Jezebel, discussing and excerpting the CNN story linked above:

Biden had only called [Heyer’s mother, Susan Bro] Thursday evening, nearly 12 hours after the ad dropped. “That was the first time I had ever spoken to Joe Biden or anybody related to his office,” she said.

“I think he said something about ‘I would have reached out sooner, but I wasn’t sure how you’d feel,’” Bro said. “And I commented, ‘Yes, I noticed you didn’t mention her name, because you didn’t contact me.’ So we sort of acknowledged that much.”

This isn’t a matter of Biden being touchy. This isn’t a man who just loves hugs and greets everyone affectionately. This is a man who doesn’t see the boundaries of other people, not even reasonable, easily predictable ones. He uses other people to get what he wants. Does it please him to give shoulder rubs? It probably does. Does he care enough about whether it pleases other people to actually ask for permission? No. He wants to do it, so he does it. Asking permission might cut down on the number of opportunities he has to use other people to serve his own desires.

This incident of political campaigning is precisely analogous. “I would have reached out sooner, but I wasn’t sure how you’d feel,” he said. Permit me a moment to run this through Google Translate from EntitledJerkface to english:

I would have asked for your consent, but it was possible you wouldn’t give it. Since I wanted to do this, I didn’t give you a chance to say no.

And there you have it. The same reasoning he uses to justify using the murder of a real human being as a prop to boost his election campaign without consent is almost certainly the reasoning he uses (and some of his defenders implicitly endorse with the “how is he supposed to know?” argument) to justify his repeated crossing of physical, personal boundaries without consent.

This also puts the lie to the idea that Biden has learned anything about boundaries since the issue came under more sustained public scrutiny lately. Joe Biden sees no boundaries in the same way and for the same reason that supporters of status-quo racism see no color: it is inconvenient.

I cannot imagine any plausible scenario in which I would vote for that man.







  1. says

    For me this question seems simple—before touching another person, ask them. Asking takes only a few seconds, it’s not hard. Some people like hugs and back rubs, others don’t. This is why you ask.

    Whenever people try to complicate this seemingly simple question, I always suspect sinister motives. I suspect that I’m probably dealing with somebody who wants to intentionally harass others and isn’t simply clueless. For me it seems unlikely that somebody could be too dense to wrap their head around the simple fact that people have different preferences when it comes to being touched or hugged.

    By the way, personally, I am happy to hug my friends or have one of them rub my back. I also strongly dislike being touched by strangers. When a friend touches me, they show affection, and I’m fine with that. When a stranger touches me, that’s plain threatening. They demonstrate their willingness to disregard the need for my consent, they show that they don’t care for my preferences when it comes to my bodily autonomy. That’s a threat. Therefore, just because somebody has seen me hugging a friend in a public place, doesn’t mean that I’m OK with being hugged by everybody. This is why you ask.

  2. ridana says

    I cannot imagine any plausible scenario in which I would vote for that man.

    Well, if he somehow wins the nomination, I’m going to have to hold my bile and vote for him. If my choices are, “you will be bitten by either a black mamba or a copperhead, pick which,” I’ll pick the latter, since I’d probably survive that.

    I just really hope he shoots himself in the foot enough times for people to finally see who he is. He still doesn’t think he treated Anita Hill badly, and apparently thinks he’s the victim there. I may never forgive Obama for making him veep.

  3. StevoR says

    I agree with this post, Crip Dyke.*

    I don’t wnt Biden to win the Democratic nomination and I really hope he does not. I don’t think he’s the best candidate for a number of reasons and his lack of respecting boundaries is high among those. I don’t like or trust Biden at all.

    * Except for one thing, sorry. If it comes down to a choice between Trump & Biden, this Aussie asks you to please, please choose Biden over Trump. Because of the Supreme Court, the Global influence of the USA, the lack of action of Global Overheating (“Warming” is too mild a word with too many pleasant connotations for me) the empowerment of all the bigots and the 1% stinking kakistocracy and all the other horrendous consequences of another 4 years of Trump in power.

    IOW. I agree with ridana (#2) here.

    But otherwise, yes, spot on.

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