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?”
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.