Crap, no, not Al


Now it’s Al Franken’s turn. He treated a broadcaster, Leeann Tweeden, with gross disrespect on a USO tour.

Then, on an airplane flight, Franken snuck up on her while she was sleeping and groped her breasts, she writes. Franken even had someone snap a photo of him doing it while he looked at the camera with a big smile on his face.

“I couldn’t believe it,” she writes. “He groped me, without my consent, while I was asleep. I felt violated all over again. Embarrassed. Belittled. Humiliated. How dare anyone grab my breasts like this and think it’s funny?”

Franken told Raw Story in a statement: “I certainly don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit in the same way, but I send my sincerest apologies to Leeann. As to the photo, it was clearly intended to be funny but wasn’t. I shouldn’t have done it.”

I have some expectations of what ought to happen when someone is caught in this kind of behavior. 1) Apologize, 2) Admit that it was wrong and inexcusable, and 3) Explain what you’ll do to make amends and correct the behavior. Franken has done #1 and #2, at least, but #3 is just as important and remains to be done. Tweeden makes it clear that he treated her poorly multiple times, which is disturbing — are there going to be other women stepping forward with similar stories about him?

Does every man who comes into a little power immediately turn into a crude, abusive asshole? In my despair at this constant problem, I thought that maybe this means that we should only elect women…but then I remembered Ann Coulter and Katie Hopkins. And Margaret Thatcher. And Jill Stein.

OK, next election, write in a vote for A Bag of Spiders in every position. It can’t be worse. These hu-mans are not to be trusted.


You should also read Tweeden’s account. It’s distressingly awful.


And now…Leeann Tweeden takes the high ground and accepts Franken’s apology.

Comments

  1. markgisleson says

    Being the nicest guy on SNL does not mean you’re fit to serve in Congress, even if most of the current occupants are unfit as well.

  2. iiandyiiii says

    He barely did #1, and only did #2 for the photograph. Really bad apology.

    Franken was my absolute favorite Senator, up until about an hour ago. You don’t have to defend him, PZ, or play up his shitty apology. He should resign, IMO. We and the Democratic party need to be better than the Republicans.

  3. Ragutis says

    The floodgates have opened. Sadly, I expect as many “admirable” or unexpected figures to be revealed as being/having been creeps as those that don’t surprise us in the least. Of all the things I’ve thought about G.H.W. Bush, I never figured him for an ass-grabbing dirty old man. We’re all going to be facing the issue of deciding how we can respect these people again. PZ’s #3 seems like a start.

  4. says

    It’s bad enough the specific overt acts of assault, but she also says he was basically unpleasant to her for the whole trip after she pushed him away. Also, small point, but he is and was married at the time, I don’t expect his wife is too happy either.

  5. davidnangle says

    This one really hurts.

    On the plus side, Republicans and conservatives can’t say jack shit about him, at this point. Not after who and what they’ve been defending.

  6. latveriandiplomat says

    Does every man who comes into a little power immediately turn into a crude, abusive asshole?

    FWIW, Franken was elected to the Senate in 2008, these events happened in 2006.

    Given the USO context, this seems more in keeping with the Show biz “boys club” problem than political power going to his head.

  7. numerobis says

    latveriandiplomat: Franken had power in showbiz — that’s precisely how he managed to get a winning campaign for federal office together.

  8. davidnangle says

    If this results in politicians leaving office upon valid claims of abuse, I’ll be happy. As long as it’s not just Democrats. Like now.

  9. Vivec says

    Color me unsurprised that a person with power and no oversight abuses that power and lack of scrutiny.

    That isn’t to downplay how terrible these actions are at all – fuck Franken and every other one of these sexually-assaulting assholes. My point is that hopefully this will lead to further scrutiny of the fact that society systematically enables and covers up abusers like Franken, Moore, and CK, and that we should not assume that people in positions of power will avoid exploiting that power.

  10. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    If the Democrats have any integrity, they will call on him to resign. If he has any shame, he will resign.

    Otherwise, I for one welcome our new spider overlords.

  11. normanthorsen says

    Looking closely at the photo reveals he isn’t touching her. So, the photo was meant to be funny but wasn’t Tacky, yes; assault, no.

  12. zenlike says

    @davidnangle, 5
    You underestimate the total moral bankruptcy of the current conservative movement in the US.

    @HappyNat, 7
    As much as I hate to lose one of the better US Senators, yeah, I don’t really see any other way. He fucked up seriously.

  13. militantagnostic says

    I certainly don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit in the same way

    No doubt that is true because he wasn’t on the receiving end of that transaction and he lacks the basic human empathy to think how Leeann Tweeden would remember him sticking his tongue in her mouth.

  14. says

    Prediction: Franken will resign and/or be forced out. Moore will be elected, and not expelled. There’s going to be a very idiotic part of the left who is OK with that outcome.

    We in a fight for our lives; sometimes that means getting you hands dirty and/or working with moral monsters. Franken and/or Democrats being principled here isn’t going to do anything but hand the Republicans, who believe in nothing but power, more gris for the whataboutit mill and a chance at a Senate seat we can’t afford to lose.

  15. microraptor says

    Mike Smith @16: In other words, we should only have standards when it’s politically expedient?

  16. Saad says

    Mike Smith, #16

    Makes sense that you’d say something like that.

    Misogyny is one of the problems with the current system that we are in a “fight for our lives” for.

    By the way, when you say “we”, you do include women too, right?

  17. whywhywhy says

    Franken calling for an investigation can be seen in at least two ways:
    1) His investigation will set a precedent for how the Senate handles such situations. This could be applied to others in the Senate or soon to be in the Senate (ie. Moore).
    2) It is a Senate ethics investigation which may very well end up covering for Franken’s misbehavior rather than actually confronting the issue at hand.

    I hoping for #1 and then let Franken take the meted out punishment which may include dismissal from the Senate. I am against resigning since it would short circuit the institutional procedures that are needed and thus weakening our country. (Yeah, I think we as a country would be better off if Nixon was impeached rather than resigning.

  18. says

    @17

    No. We should only act on standards when the opposition can be reasoned with. By all means try to use Franken to get rid of Moore. By all means do whatever official sanction short of removal you feel necessary to avoid charges of hypocrisy. But bite the bullet and protect that seat as a harm reduction method.

    I feel exactly about this as I do about gun control. Yes under reasonably favorable conditions Franken would be gone and we could restrict access to guns. But there’s a quasi-fascist in the white house, neo-Nazis murdering in the streets, a political party consumed by power that dominates almost all the govt and a large swath of the electorate that is completely hostile to the material well being to anyone who is different from them. Now is not the time to give up any institutional power under any pretense nor to disarm.

    It’s not that standards are to be jettisoned for political expediency, it’s survival is the ur-standard and losses a Senate seat now hampers that a great deal.

  19. says

    @18

    Women/people who can get pregnant will totally be better off once the Franken less Senate approves the final s. Court vote to overturn Roe.

    Spare me the self-righteousness. There is no consideration or value that comes out better by having a republican senator from Minnesota at this time. If there was a way to have Franken gone but not lose that seat I’d favor it.

    I’m sure there’s going to be less misogyny after the religious right guts abortion services, title 9, gets Obergefell overturned, strengthen corporation religious rights, etc.

    I’m sure it will less misogynistic when groups of assholes like God’s Army in Phoenix turn towards to violence as they eventually will do.

  20. says

    Hooray now we get to work out the trolley problem in real life! On one track you have a sex offender and the life and welfare of working-class americans, on the other you have your own moral standards and any hope sexual justice in our lifetime. Currently the train is moving towards your morals, do you pull the lever?

  21. says

    The pictures of him mugging while he groped her – those would make a great political ad. I wonder if he realized he had just blown away his career. What a dumbass.

  22. says

    I do think it’s time we talk – seriously – about whether it was such a good idea to allow men into the workplace. They’re too emotional, they can’t think straight when they have a hardon, and they write buggy software. The history of men in the workplace is replete with incidents of them starting wars, killing eachother, and – of course – humping anything that moves ablnd ejaculating into potted plants. I think it’s time we declare the experiment over and get them out of the workplace and develop some kind of protective clothing they can wear that’ll make it harder for them to embarrass humanity.

    PS – they probably aren’t ready for the internet, yet, either. Especially not twitter.

  23. brett says

    If Franken does end up stepping down after the ethics investigation, it’s not the end of the world. Minnesota picks interim senators by gubernatorial appointment, and Mark Dayton is a pretty good Democratic governor. The replacement election wouldn’t be until 2020, either, which is almost certainly going to be a better year for Democrats in elections than if we had to replace him now (or in 2018).

  24. Gregory Greenwood says

    I find myself on all too familiar territory with this – disgusted but sadly not surprised any more.

  25. says

    Personally, I don’t think he should resign over this. He should be censured, and he sure has a lot of atonement to do. This also should be a permanent black mark against him that he’s going to have to work against for the rest of his career.

    People were talking about Franken for president. I think this kills that possibility for him.

  26. Gregory Greenwood says

    Marcus Ranum @ 25;

    You comment is more than funny enough to elicit a laugh, but I find I am just too damn depressed about the state of humanity (especially the penis owning and operating segment of it). It is firmly in the ‘too close to the truth to be funny right now’ column for me I’m afraid.

  27. Gregory Greenwood says

    PZ Myers @ 28;

    Personally, I don’t think he should resign over this. He should be censured, and he sure has a lot of atonement to do. This also should be a permanent black mark against him that he’s going to have to work against for the rest of his career.

    I’m afraid I can’t agree with you on this one PZ. What he did is clearly unacceptable, as should have been obvious to him at the time. He can’t claim to represent the interests of his constituents as Senator when his attitude toward those of them who happen to be women lead him to behave as if this kind of thing was acceptable. Even if it was eleven years ago, we can’t just take it on faith that he has changed and would never behave that way today. We have to hold those who wield governmental power to the highest standards.

    He needs to resign. Once he is out of office and away from the temptations of power, he should reevaluate his life, but I don’t think he should be allowed to eat a little crow in public and then just continue on as if this never happened.

  28. iiandyiiii says

    How does having a groper in the Senate help the Democrats? For moral reasons, but for political reasons as well, Franken should step down. Let at least the Democrats be the groper-free party. Franken can go on to try and make amends and do good things in other ways, perhaps, but as long as we have a groper in the Senate, it will be that much easier for Republicans to point at him as a “what about Franken?” distraction for a million other future disgusting things Republicans will be caught doing. This will be a long and painful process, and zero-tolerance, at least for high political office, for groping and similar shittiness, should be one of the easiest parts of that process.

  29. Gregory Greenwood says

    PZ @ 30;

    Bag of Spiders in 2018!

    Can it be a very large bag full of Black Widows, Brazilian Wondering Spiders, and assorted others of the most venomous of arachnid kind? Then we can elect it to office and just throw all of the sexual predators into it and solve our problem, starting with Trump…

    (For any of the terminally humour-challenged who may be reading this; yes, this is a joke. I am not actually advocating for the execution of anyone by poisonous spider sack. If nothing else, expecting those poor eight legged critters to sink their fangs into Trump would certainly amount to animal cruelty…)

  30. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    If recent history has taught us anything, it’s that once one person comes out, others follow. Somehow I doubt we’ve heard the last of the story.

    And what iiandyiiii said.

  31. says

    My concern is that we only have an all-or-nothing response: you fuck up, you’re totally out. We need some action we can take that really, really hurts but doesn’t totally eject people who can still make a positive contribution.

    My nightmare is that, since we’re all assholes, we’re going to boot out all the assholes who are willing to confess to their flaws, like Franken, and the only people who will be left in congress are the flagrant assholes who are good at denial and have recruited a cabal of fellow flagrant assholes to back them up.

    The only alternative is if you’re going to tell me that there’s a good contingent of progressive non-asshole men in line to step up and serve. I’m beginning to doubt that such beings exist.

  32. KG says

    My concern is that we only have an all-or-nothing response: you fuck up, you’re totally out. – PZM@35

    Franken can make a positive contribution outside the Senate. Hell, he would make a positive contribution by resigning. First and most important, by reinforcing the message that sexual assault is wrong, whoever does it. Second, by depriving the right of the opportunity to point to Franken any time any Republican is exposed for sexual assault or harrassment and say with justification that their enemies are tribalist hypocrites.

    The assault would be enough to justify resignation morally – although perhaps politically survivable if no more complainants come forward (as it is surely all too likely they will – is it probable that this was a one-off?). But it’s clear from Tweeden’s account that, as cervantes@4 says:

    he was basically unpleasant to her for the whole trip after she pushed him away

    .

  33. Mark Jacobson says

    PZ @30

    Bag of Spiders in 2018!

    I know this is a joke, but you have a history of humanity-depreciating humor. If you keep joking about something long enough, you begin to believe it, and that’s a toxic level of cynicism – one of the biggest problems I’ve seen around here. There are good people. Some are men. Some are women. Some are nonbinary. It is possible to get them into office.

    PZ @35

    My nightmare is that, since we’re all assholes, we’re going to boot out all the assholes who are willing to confess to their flaws, like Franken, and the only people who will be left in congress are the flagrant assholes who are good at denial and have recruited a cabal of fellow flagrant assholes to back them up.

    The idea that survival is the ultimate goal is the enemy of morality. We do what’s right. If that results in our extinction at the hands of assholes, so be it; we still did what was right. To do anything less would mean we were already dead.

  34. tacitus says

    If that results in our extinction at the hands of assholes, so be it; we still did what was right.

    Yeah, and let’s not worry ourselves about the future of millions of children we would be placing in the hands of those assholes, with no hope of being saved (since the non-assholes are extinct). Got any more ridiculous arguments?

  35. thirdmill says

    The Democrats made a huge mistake in sticking with Bill Clinton after it surfaced in 1992 that he was a serial sexual harasser. Since he was pro-abortion, generally good on women’s issues, and better than Bush I, the pragmatic wing of the party decided to stand by him. That then blew up in our faces when he himself pragmatically abandoned progressive causes and his sexual shenanigans came back to haunt the Democrats by helping defeat Hillary Clinton last year, giving us the Trump presidency. So, while I understand the concept of realpolitik, our last experience with it was not positive. Had the Democrats ditched him in 1992 some other Democrat would have won that year — probably Joe Biden — and a lot of the really bad stuff of the intervening 20 years wouldn’t have happened.

    On the other hand, we don’t know yet if this was a one-time fuckup by Franken, or if he, too, will turn out to be a serial sexual harasser. If the former, I’m inclined to give him credit for blaming himself rather than blaming the women, unlike Trump and Moore. Plus I really hate the idea that a single and apparently repented-of fuckup permanently precluding someone from exercising their talents. I believe in second chances. But only if this was an isolated act of stupidity, and only if the perp demonstrates repentance and rehabilitation.

  36. Mark Jacobson says

    tacitus @38

    Yeah, and let’s not worry ourselves about the future of millions of children we would be placing in the hands of those assholes

    By not doing the right thing we’d be the assholes those children are in the hands of. I’d rather children not be in the hands of assholes.

  37. Chris J says

    Well, at least the conversation here is “this is bad, what’s the right way to handle it” and not “she’s lying, and anyway it wasn’t that bad to begin with.” More evidence to me that, even of we’re all biased, the side I align myself with is biased in a less bad way.

  38. says

    PZ @35

    My nightmare is that, since we’re all assholes, we’re going to boot out all the assholes who are willing to confess to their flaws, like Franken, and the only people who will be left in congress are the flagrant assholes who are good at denial and have recruited a cabal of fellow flagrant assholes to back them up.

    This. Another concern I would have is booting out people who are willing to confess their flaws could have the impact that the better assholes will now be encouraged to stay quiet and not confess. That’s undesirable. I was abused as a child — yes, this is on topic, I swear — and what I learned from that experience was the best way to avoid abuse was to not confess to engaging in bad behavior. I wasn’t really all that deterred from bad behavior. (I’ll note, though, as a kid, I didn’t really know yet what was all considered bad behavior. This may be a point in which my analogy breaks down. Franken should have fucking known better.) My abusive father would use as an excuse for his abuse that no punishment would mean there is no deterrent for bad behavior. He often would assert that other kids behaved badly because of parents that wouldn’t punish their kids. Though he abused me, I don’t think he was entirely wrong. There do need to be consequences to bad behavior, but there also needs to be balance. Punishment that is too harsh, I fear, as I said earlier, can lead to people covering up bad behavior rather than correcting it. I am concerned that demanding Franken resign at this point, considering that he appears to be taking steps for corrective action, is too harsh. If the corrective action is not taken, then, fine, start calling for his resignation then.

  39. says

    Now I learn that Tweeden is conservative and works for Hannity…which explains, perhaps, why Franken treated her contemptuously, but does not justify it. But it also tells me that Franken was a dumbass with poor judgment to place himself in the hands of an enemy.

    And now I’m leaning towards preferring that he resign, and does it quickly.

  40. iiandyiiii says

    The Democratic party has a great chance (I know it may be obvious to many, but obviously not too all) to show, very clearly, how much they are superior to the Republicans, morally speaking. The Democrats can show that they have absolutely no tolerance at their high political levels for gropers/assaulters/harassers, even when kicking them out might be politically harmful in the short term. We can campaign that way going forward — we get rid of our mistreaters of women, while the Republicans rally around theirs.
    Leaving Franken in the Senate only hurts the Democrats. It gives an incredibly easy target to Republicans, and begins a long investigation that will take away focus from lots of other assholes and bad behavior. And Franken will not be nearly as effective an advocate or legislator going forward. Get rid of him now. The longer we wait, the worse it looks. Hopefully they’re all having these conversations at the high levels right now, and will come to the right conclusion.

  41. rpjohnston says

    I’ve seen assertions on Twitter that his accuser doesn’t want him to step down, and if so, I’ll defer to her.

    Otherwise, as long as we can be assured that a Leftist replaces him, then he should step down.

    Since I’m sure that it won’t be long till we have a Democratic Congressperson whose replacement will be a Republican, I might as well say this now: as fucking dirty and slimy as my mouth (or hands, really) feel to say it, I agree with Mike Smith. If we’re truly in this to fight for what is right, not just for what makes us feel self-righteous, then we need to judge by what has the most impact. The GOP wants to enslave women. Throwing ALL women under the bus, for the sake of feeling self-righteous about one person’s conduct, is not pro-woman. There may be no good, or even not-terrible options, but that doesn’t mean we have to go with the absolute bottom. Keep them and primary them hard in the next election.

    @32: Pay more attention. They’re still whatabouting Kathy Griffin even after we destroyed her. Expelling Franken will not appease them. NOTHING will appease them. They’ll whatabout him no matter what we do. They continue to scream about left-wing violence and rattle for societal war to destroy us despite us being vastly less violent. They are going to do what they are going to do, and nothing that you do will change that, so do not even bother trying.

    @37: If you want to get shot by some RWNJ and die with your last thought being a smug “well at least *I* never killed anybody”, then go for it. It’s your life. You won’t drag me with you, though, I’ll fight for mine with everything I’ve got, even if I have to get my hands dirty or bloody. And I’ll fight for the rest of us, too, because I think the rest of us want to live.

  42. rpjohnston says

    Oh, and one more thing: That middle paragraph only applies to Congresspeople in this moment in time. Anybody else, any Congresspeople when our lives aren’t immediately hanging in the balance, fuck em all.

  43. iiandyiiii says

    Doing the right thing on sexual mistreatment of women will be the politically wise thing in the long run. Society will be right on this eventually. The Democrats could go along with this progress (they could be progressive!), or they could lag behind for short and medium term political concerns. Doing the right thing, and having utterly zero tolerance for sexual mistreatment, will be smart politics in the long run, even if it causes some pain in the short run.

    And even with all that, leaving Franken in the Senate will cause a lot of short term pain. There would be a long ethics investigation. More women might come forward. And meanwhile, Roy Moore and other Republicans would more easily get away with terrible treatment of women and girls, and they’d do terrible legislation while the focus is on Franken. If he resigns now, none of that happens.

  44. Matrim says

    I know it has been brought up, but I think it bears repeating. Going by the photo, which appears to be what Tweeden is going by as well, Franken didn’t grope her, he pantomimed groping her. It’s still gross, it’s still degrading, and it’s still unacceptable, but it’s a far cry from actually grabbing her.

    I honestly don’t know if Franken should resign or not. My initial reaction is that he probably should, it was a really stupid thing for an adult to do, particularly to someone who he was at odds with, and it’s offering a smokescreen for folks like Moore, but I also get the perspective that purging people who admit their failing will simply make people less likely to own up to them.

    Damn, this really sucks.

  45. kupo says

    My concern is that we only have an all-or-nothing response: you fuck up, you’re totally out.

    When it comes to sexual violence I think you should be out if you fuck up. If he told a joke in poor taste (he probably has) then maybe we can discuss degrees. But this is sexual assault.

  46. Ed Seedhouse says

    The thing that has happened in Canada a few times is for an M.P. convicted of a criminal offense and expelled from Parliament is that s(he) runs in a byelection for the position they were expelled from and, if they are elected again (and it has indeed happened) then they get to be the M.P. until the next election.

    Don’t know if that is feasible in your strange and byzantine electoral system.

  47. kupo says

    Also,

    The only alternative is if you’re going to tell me that there’s a good contingent of progressive non-asshole men in line to step up and serve. I’m beginning to doubt that such beings exist.

    Why is this the only alternative? Do women not exist?

  48. says

    You comment is more than funny enough to elicit a laugh, but I find I am just too damn depressed about the state of humanity (especially the penis owning and operating segment of it). It is firmly in the ‘too close to the truth to be funny right now’ column for me I’m afraid.

    Bag of Spiders in 2018!

    The only alternative is if you’re going to tell me that there’s a good contingent of progressive non-asshole men in line to step up and serve. I’m beginning to doubt that such beings exist.

    Or – crazy scheme – encourage, support, and elect a lot more women.

  49. unclefrogy says

    they’d do terrible legislation while the focus is on Franken. If he resigns now, none of that happens.

    that is wishful thinking because the only thing keeping them from doing terrible legislation now is that the margins are kind close and the proposed legislation is even too bad for some of the Republicans now.
    being focused on Franken may distract the media but the voting members of congress are still going to be voting members.
    uncle frogy

  50. says

    I know it has been brought up, but I think it bears repeating. Going by the photo, which appears to be what Tweeden is going by as well, Franken didn’t grope her, he pantomimed groping her.

    It doesn’t bear repeating. It’s one still photo, and even in it it’s hard to tell how much contact there is; she was fucking asleep; according to her account, he had been going at her (drawing devil’s horns and tails on her picture when they were doing signings) since she rejected him earlier; in that context, this looks more like an attempt to denigrate and sexually humiliate her; he was enjoying it – probably his idea; and he did it with the complicity of at least the cameraperson (I’m going to assume that was another guy, who thought it was fun). It’s like PG revenge porn.

    It’s beyond creepy and gross, and in many ways worse than the alleged forced kiss.

  51. John Morales says

    After doing some reading about this I noticed that another adduced “excuse” is that, because she was wearing layers of clothing/armor, it was not true groping. Really.

  52. says

    Doing the right thing on sexual mistreatment of women will be the politically wise thing in the long run. Society will be right on this eventually. The Democrats could go along with this progress (they could be progressive!), or they could lag behind for short and medium term political concerns. Doing the right thing, and having utterly zero tolerance for sexual mistreatment, will be smart politics in the long run, even if it causes some pain in the short run.

    Tweeden said she was inspired to tell her story after her station interviewed Jackie Speier,* who talked about her own and others’ experiences in Congress. She also talked about the rigged system for sexual-harassment complaints at the Capitol and how $15 million has been paid out in settlements from taxpayer money on behalf of nameless harassers (who get taxpayer-funded lawyers) over the past 15 years, and also how there are at least one Republican and one Democrat currently serving who have known histories of sexual harassment. A reporter working on this tweeted today: “What I’ve learned in the past few weeks: Sexual harassment is rampant on Capitol Hill. Few people are immune, even lawmakers. Abusers are well known, but good luck getting victims on record or on background. My heart breaks for all the stories I’ve heard. But keep them coming.”

    Franken needs to be held to account, but a) the process has to be completely overhauled and b) the public needs to learn a lot more about the others currently serving who’ve been accused of similar or worse actions. Then let the chips fall…

    * Just want to point out once again that she was shot five times and left for dead for 22 hours on a runway in Guyana when she went as a congressional staffer to investigate Jonestown.

  53. says

    After doing some reading about this I noticed that another adduced “excuse” is that, because she was wearing layers of clothing/armor, it was not true groping. Really.

    Gah.

  54. Ed Seedhouse says

    I think Dems shouldn’t step down until the Thugs at least start admitting that the women are telling the truth. It doesn’t seem fair to me that one side can get known abusers elected while the other side must un elect theirs.

  55. kupo says

    It doesn’t seem fair to me that one side can get known abusers elected while the other side must un elect theirs.

    Are you fucking kidding me? It’s unfair of us to hold our elected leaders responsible for their actions because some other people don’t? What kind of toddler tantrum is this? And women just have to keep getting abused and watching their abusers rise into power?

  56. says

    This isn’t about moral equivalence — it’s about showing that Democrats will not tolerate violating a woman’s consent, even in ways that are less terrible than what Moore or Trump did. I’m saying we should have much higher standards, and actually live by those standards, even when it hurts.

    The Senate as a body should have a single set of standards, and they should be fair and compassionate toward victims. There is every reason to push for accountability, but no reason to make Franken a test case for Democrats alone.

    The Democratic party should be ahead of this, setting the standard, and showing that this is the way our society should behave. And that the Republicans clearly don’t care about consent, since they repeatedly support violators of consent. We need to be better — not for short term politics, but for long term party strategy, as well as just doing the right thing. Losing a great talent like Franken is a very small price to pay; keeping him will do much, much more harm to the party, both in the short term (a long investigation with possibly more accusers coming forward), and the long term (not being the party of zero tolerance for violation of consent).

    No way. No different rules for different groups. (The last thing I want to do is abandon women who work for Republicans. That Republicans no longer get to not “care about consent” is a major goal of the current activism.) I don’t think rhetoric like “zero tolerance” and “much higher standards” is helpful at all. Focus on changing the complaints process, publicizing the offenders, and setting out a public system of accountability. This does not exclude holding Franken accountable, but puts his offense in context. That’s how the Democrats can be ahead of this.

  57. Ed Seedhouse says

    “Are you fucking kidding me? It’s unfair of us to hold our elected leaders responsible for their actions because some other people don’t? ”

    Did I say that? No, I didn’t. And at my age I’m not fucking anyone.

    You are, it seems to me, committing the old old fallacy where the imagined perfect drives out the feasible good but not perfect. We ( well you actually since I’m Canadian) can hold Franken responsible in various ways without giving the Nazi’s free reign in the congress.

    I’m sitting here up North (actually south of much of the USA) aghast at what’s happening, and I think you are somehow unable to look at the big picture. These are not normal times, these are Heinlein’s crazy years and I prefer a sane asshole to an insane one and think you should too.

  58. Holms says

    On the plus side, Republicans and conservatives can’t say jack shit about him, at this point. Not after who and what they’ve been defending.

    You’d think that, but you’re forgetting that they are Republicans. They have made it abundantly clear that they will completely reverse themselves on any matter of policy or morality, depending on which party the offender belongs to.

  59. Matrim says

    @49, rpjohnston

    I agree, which is why I’m leaning towards him resigning. But it’s still an important distinction. Is it acceptable? Absolutely not. Is it still sexual assault? Yes.

    @45

    I mean, it’s nice that she doesn’t think he should step down, but at this point how his female constituents feel about it should probably have more weight. Do they want someone who would do this as their senator?

    @47, iiandyiiii

    I honestly don’t think there’s a whole lot of political capital to be gained by his resignation. The damage is done, the right will flog this regardless of what he does. If he resigns it should be because it’s the right thing to do, not because it’s politically expedient.

  60. kupo says

    Oh sure, I’m the one not looking at the big picture. Because I think women shouldn’t have to just wait before we complain about being sexually assaulted, because, gosh darn it, it’s just so unfair to ask people to hold men in power accountable if those men are just progressive enough to make the dems happy. Why can’t womz just take one for the team? It’s not like good men actually exist, after all, and they’re the only alternative to bad men because, let’s face it, women can’t be leaders.

  61. Vivec says

    @64
    Exactly.
    Republicans manage to support blatantly racist policies like the war on drugs, war on terror, or the proliferation of the “Welfare mammy” myth, while simultaneously calling themselves the party of Lincoln and saying Democrats are the real racists because abortion.

  62. Matrim says

    @60 & 63, Ed Seedhouse

    I don’t think it’s “imagined perfect” to expect our elected leaders to be smart enough (if not moral enough) to not commit sexual assault.

    @64, Holmes

    Yeah, that’s the “fun” thing about the Republicans. Heads they win, tails you lose.

  63. davidc1 says

    I remember a few months back you were dreading this happen as he was one of the good guys .
    I think he should stay on .

  64. silverfeather says

    Franken needs to resign, and the Minnesota governor should replace him with a qualified progressive woman. I don’t care if this appeals to your sense of political expediency or not, and quite frankly the fact that so many people are here arguing that we should give “our” sexual harassers a pass for the good of the country is making me sick. I don’t give one crusty rat turd what the Republicans are going to do with this, or how they will twist it – decent people should have a zero tolerance policy for sexual assault. Full. Fucking. Stop.

  65. says

    @32

    Elected Republicans to the person are all bullshitters and frauds who only care power and enriching themselves. Such people bullshit and lie to get what they want. Nothing, nothing will prevent them from harping on this until the end of time. If Franken didn’t turn out to be a sexual harasser they, as certain as the sun rises in the East, would have either faked an account, continued to whataboutit both Clintons or both. These are not reasonable people. You can’t negotiate with them at all. A nontrivial portion of the Republican party exists to make sure their preferred scape goats suffer material harm. So no I’m not inclined to try to appease them in anyway.

    You later argued in the long term. We don’t have a long term to play with. We’ve already had one state turned completely into a banana republic (North Carolina) because of how successful the Republicans have frozen the Democrats out of the all of power. We have every indication that the rest of the party is waiting to do the same. If the 2018 midterms go badly, or even not outstandingly well, for the Democratic party we are looking at 50+ years of basically single party rule. It’s imperative that state houses get flipped. The Republicans will use gerrymandering, voter suppression, destroying liberal groups (ie unions and academia) etc to hold on to the reigns of power. And oh right wing media is basically a poisoned dart in the side of the body politic that will run effective propaganda cover for all of this.

    Liberalism in its board sense of limited democracy that respects the rule of law, concerned with the general welfare and respect of individual rights is facing an extinction level threat. This country cannot survive as a legitimate state with a massive electoral realignment in the next 4 years. Hell I would argue we already past the point of no return.

    I’m not about to give up any amount of institutional power given these conditions. Yes Franken is a moral monsters who by morals should resign. By war makes us take on horrible allies. Force and fraud, in war, are the cardinal virtues.

  66. John Morales says

    Mike Smith:

    Yes Franken is a moral monsters who by morals should resign.

    FFS. One thing to say he should step down (I have no prob with iiandyiiii), but this is… well, almost as if you were a provocateur.

    Moral monster, really?

    (Me, I think that he asking for an ethics investigation into this matter is a pretty good response, but then I’m Australian and so not particularly invested. And yes, I know this action has been characterised as a self-serving expectation of a whitewash)

  67. DLC says

    Why is it I feel like a waiter on the Titanic watching Benjamin Guggenheim and his secretary stand in the lounge and die like gentlemen ?

  68. DLC says

    My memory isn’t what it once was. Without altering my sentiment at 78, I offer some historical corrections. 1) it was Guggenheim and his valet, Giglio, not his secretary. 2) they didn’t stand, but sat in deck chairs at the foot of the grand staircase, sipping brandy and smoking cigars. It’s also been said that Guggenheim and his valet helped several women and children into the boats before the end.

  69. silverfeather says

    SC (Salty Current) @75

    Ah, more “zero tolerance” rhetoric.

    Sorry that my use of the phrase “zero tolerance” as shorthand for an idea we should all understand bothers you.
    Is zero tolerance too harsh? It is kind of a buzzkill. Maybe decent people should be less strict about taking people who sexually assault out of positions of power. We could make it okay to sexually assault others on Monday/Wednesday/Friday, or like, every other weekend? Maybe we can just say it’s okay for men on our side to do it without consequence, but not Republicans… wait… all snark aside – we’re doing that last one now aren’t we. Go team.

  70. Azkyroth, B*Cos[F(u)]==Y says

    Sorry that my use of the phrase “zero tolerance” as shorthand for an idea we should all understand bothers you.
    Is zero tolerance too harsh? It is kind of a buzzkill. Maybe decent people should be less strict about taking people who sexually assault out of positions of power.

    Maybe decent people should prioritize minimizing harm, rather than maximizing our own sense of righteous purity.

    It’s easy to be a “Doomed Moral Victor” when it’s other, more vulnerable people who will be, for the time being, doing the actual Doomed-Being.

  71. John Morales says

    [meta]

    silverfeather, I love how you elided SC’s second sentence in your quotation.

    (So informative!)

  72. methuseus says

    @PZ

    Now I learn that Tweeden is conservative and works for Hannity…which explains, perhaps, why Franken treated her contemptuously, but does not justify it. But it also tells me that Franken was a dumbass with poor judgment to place himself in the hands of an enemy.
    And now I’m leaning towards preferring that he resign, and does it quickly.

    I massively take issue with this. So he worked with the “enemy”? so that means he has to resign? He should have “known better” I guess? That is repugnant. It comes across as you trying to invalidate what his accuser said. And no, I don’t think she’s lying.
    Franken has always tried to engage with the other side. That’s one of the reasons I have always liked him. I still like him in many ways, but know that what he’s done is reprehensible and only somewhat forgivable. He should be censured in some way, and be subject to the rules that do, or at least should, govern things like this. He should only resign if there’s no relatively quick way for Congress to investigate and punish him.
    As someone said above, it would have been better for the country if Nixon had been impeached rather than resigning. Ford’s pardon was a really big mistake in my mind. That seemed to be the beginning of the Republican slide into getting away with everything no matter what. And now we have Republicans resigning because they did something bad, but then it gets covered up in the news since “they’ve gone away now.”

  73. John Morales says

    I massively take issue with this. So he worked with the “enemy”?

    You should be aware, the instant I read this and compared it to the actual claim (“But it also tells me that Franken was a dumbass with poor judgment to place himself in the hands of an enemy”) I deprecated your opinion as uninformed. No point addressing the rest after such an egregious exhibition of misunderstanding.

    And I’m not the only not particularly-stupid person reading you.

    (FYI, ‘placing oneself in the hands of the enemy’ ≠ ‘working with the enemy’, no matter how you torture the concept)

  74. Azkyroth, B*Cos[F(u)]==Y says

    I massively take issue with this. So he worked with the “enemy”? so that means he has to resign? He should have “known better” I guess? That is repugnant. It comes across as you trying to invalidate what his accuser said. And no, I don’t think she’s lying.

    Y u no read for comprehension?

  75. methuseus says

    I guess my reading is completely wrong. I am not allowed to have an opinion about how it reads. Thanks. I’m out and not returning to this discussion. It doesn’t matter that I said a whole hell of a fucking lot more, but you are as bad as any Republican taking one little grain to try and invalidate the whole thing. Thanks for that. Been happening to me my whole life. I’m used to it.

  76. John Morales says

    methuseus:

    I guess my reading is completely wrong. I am not allowed to have an opinion about how it reads. Thanks. I’m out and not returning to this discussion.

    You’re not guessing it, you’re just realising it.

    How you imagine me and Azkyroth telling you you have misunderstood what was written in any way suggests you are “not allowed to have an opinion about how it reads”.

    Instead of running away, you could either dispute or acknowledge our claims, instead of being passive-aggresive about it.

    It doesn’t matter that I said a whole hell of a fucking lot more, but you are as bad as any Republican taking one little grain to try and invalidate the whole thing.

    (sigh)

    First phrase of your sentence, I cannot dispute. Second phrase (the conclusion) however is unwarranted from its implicit premise; first phrase is undisputable because, since your extended commentary is based on a misunderstanding, it is perforce uninformed and is only indicative of your thought process — but your second is a <non sequitur>

    Please consider whether there is “an attempt” to invalidate what you said vs. whether it might be the case that you are being told what you said is based on a fundamental misreading.

    Thanks for that. Been happening to me my whole life. I’m used to it.

    You want pity or you want encouragement?

    (I can give you either, depending)

    Look, you’re posting in the very early hours blogwise; don’t imagine I represent this blog when I write.

    What I can say is that, if you care to engage in good faith, the commentariat will follow suit.

    (It’s not always a pleasant experience, but it’s a genuine one)

  77. John Morales says

    [Apologies, I screwed up formatting and stuff above. Hopefully it’s still sufficiently cogent]

  78. silverfeather says

    Azkyroth, B*Cos[F(u)]==Y @81

    Maybe decent people should prioritize minimizing harm, rather than maximizing our own sense of righteous purity.

    It’s easy to be a “Doomed Moral Victor” when it’s other, more vulnerable people who will be, for the time being, doing the actual Doomed-Being.

    Lol, do you want to tell me I’m virtue signaling next? Righteous purity? Whatever.

    There are some issues on which decent people should not compromise, because further normalizing the behavior is the greater harm. Making excuses for “our guys” and ignoring predatory behavior has consequences for more than half of the population. It continues to reinforce to other men that this crap is okay and it continues to silence victims and drive them out of their industries so that the predators can rise up the ranks. In this particular situation your resistance to holding a man in power accountable for his abusive behavior is especially baffling because a fucking democrat would be appointed in his place. The dems aren’t even losing a seat out of this!

    Franken could show the country that he means what he says or he could say whatever he thinks will allow him to hold onto power and show the country that the dems are hypocrites when it comes to their own. Why not put a qualified progressive woman in his seat instead? That would actually mean something.

  79. methuseus says

    @John Morales:

    Instead of running away, you could either dispute or acknowledge our claims, instead of being passive-aggresive about it.

    When I’m dismissed without any thought it really pisses me off. I grew up with everyone doing that to me from a very young age; I guess I have issues with that. You are more guilty of misunderstanding me than I am of PZ. How can I dispute or acknowledge your claims when your claim is that I completely misunderstood and yet you didn’t try to help me understand. *That* is tantamount to a dismissal of my opinion.

    So, the reason I worded it how I did is that, no, Al Franken didn’t “place himself in the hands of the enemy”. He took a job with the USO to entertain troops knowing full well he wouldn’t necessarily be with people he agreed with politically. Also, PZ suddenly changed his tone when he found out she worked for Fox. In 2006 she worked for Fox Sports Net, which has never been known for being right-wing as far as I know. Today she is more on the Fox News side, but you couldn’t know that was where she’s going to end up back in 2006. Also, for working with someone from Fox he needs to resign, but when it was just a random woman PZ didn’t know for sure if he should resign or not? That means PZ is going into the same jingoism he hates with Republicans.

    Now, I don’t know if I’m glad I actually came back to look for a reply or not, I just hope you actually give my thoughts as much thought as I give yours.

    You want pity or you want encouragement?

    I don’t want or need pity. Encouragement is fine if it’s actually heartfelt. A few seconds of actual thought would be appreciated, trying to understand why someone thinks something rather than having a knee-jerk reaction.

  80. silverfeather says

    John Morales @82

    [meta]

    silverfeather, I love how you elided SC’s second sentence in your quotation.

    (So informative!)

    Yeah, okay player. The word “rhetoric” as it is commonly used is closely tied to the idea of verbal manipulation without authenticity or substance, which is a pretty offensive way to characterize a sincere argument. That was how I read it, that was what I was responding to, and that was what I quoted.

  81. John Morales says

    silverfeather, thank you too for your response. It demonstrates you are engaging.

    (Be aware that rhetoric is the art of persuasion; manipulation is but one mode, and it was part of the Trivium in days gone by — and if you’re familiar with the concept, you will understand the further concepts of ethos, pathos and logos. Are you aware to which you appeal?)

    To the point: zero tolerance allows for no gradation whatsoever — every offence is the worst offence, there are no lesser offenses. Do you seriously imagine this is a good philosophical position, or do you seriously think it’s a good pragmatic position.

  82. Matrim says

    @90, methuseus

    As I understand it, Franken working a USO tour with her wasn’t “placing himself in the hands of the enemy,” but posing for that stupid photo absolutely was. It’s gross that he did it at all, but it’s gross and incredibly foolish to do it to someone who might have a vested interest in knocking him down a peg. It’s like stealing a car vs. stealing a car in front of the cops; it’s wrong either way, but one way demonstrates a serious lack of self awareness that is obviously going to bite you in the ass.

  83. silverfeather says

    John Morales @93

    (Be aware that rhetoric is the art of persuasion; manipulation is but one mode, and it was part of the Trivium in days gone by — and if you’re familiar with the concept, you will understand the further concepts of ethos, pathos and logos. Are you aware to which you appeal?)

    To the idea that rhetoric is the art of persuasion: that is not how it is currently most commonly used, and as I stated above, I read and responded to the current common usage.

    To the Trivium you refer to: nope, don’t know it.

    To the point: zero tolerance allows for no gradation whatsoever — every offence is the worst offence, there are no lesser offenses. Do you seriously imagine this is a good philosophical position, or do you seriously think it’s a good pragmatic position.

    For most things of course I wouldn’t advocate a zero tolerance policy. As I stated above – there are some things on which a decent person should not compromise. What do you suppose is the correct amount of sexual assault that we should accept from our leaders? Seriously. Is a little bit of slavery acceptable? What about just a teensy little touch of child molestation – like, over the clothes? You know, for a good cause.

    As I mentioned above, this conversation is especially frustrating because the democrats won’t even lose the seat if he resigns! Yet every time it’s the beloved in-group dude that’s sexually assaulted someone I have to listen to “my” group (atheists, liberals, humanists, insert male-run group here) explain why this guy is different, and we should try to understand him/ what he did wasn’t so bad/ but he seems so nice/ the victim might be lying/ he didn’t know it was wrong/ but he apologized/ he’s from a different time/ he couldn’t have done that/ he’s too important to lose/ he isn’t actually touching her breasts in the photo/ the country will collapse into ruin if we don’t keep this man in power! If you couldn’t tell, I am sick of this shit.

    I liked Franken too before this. He could still go on to do meaningful things with his life. He could learn and grow and change from this experience. But he shouldn’t get to do it as a senator.

  84. snuffcurry says

    It’s gross that he did it at all, but it’s gross and incredibly foolish to do it to someone who might have a vested interest in knocking him down a peg.

    Stop acting like a fucking baby, hand-wringing about the other side winning. Her politics don’t even matter here. She’s handled this with dignity and proportion. She doesn’t want him to resign, unless other victims come forward. She’s accepted his apology. This was not a set-up. And, prior to this, Franken had spoken warmly of their time together as colleagues (and, ick, called her “beautiful”) in a speech about DADT. You’re acting exactly like every right-wing apologist, trying to find a technicality that erases what he did by pretending the victim is tainted.

    It’s like stealing a car vs. stealing a car in front of the cops; it’s wrong either way, but one way demonstrates a serious lack of self awareness that is obviously going to bite you in the ass.

    This is such a deeply disturbing thing to say, that what’s important is that he got caught, not that he did something awful and humiliating in the first place. And women are not inanimate objects; don’t compare us to cars and the violation of our bodily autonomy to theft.

  85. says

    I’ve not been in a political party since I left the Republican party in college after I stopped being a clone of my parents. I’ve never been a Democrat because of issues like torture complicity and whistle blower abuse. I feel disgust no matter which party I vote for, it’s only a matter of degree.

    If the Democrats take Franken’s abuse of power seriously the stench will at least not get worse. If they choose political convenience over justice I will hate the Democratic party more and be less likely to visibly support them and less likely to avoid speaking badly of them during elections. I like seeing Democrats squirm with discomfort in this area. They have much to squirm over. Time to take actions that result in less squirming.

    Has anyone considered that holding Franken accountable can be supportive of the current election sweep that features people who are normally suffering from abuses of power?

  86. thirdmill says

    I think it’s possible to say *both* that sexual harassment is totally unacceptable under any circumstances — a point on which I think everyone here is in agreement — and *also* to leave open the possibility that someone for whom it was out of character, and who has repented of it, can be given a second chance. If it turns out that this was an out of character, isolated incident — and of course we don’t know that yet — then I’m willing to cut him some slack specifically because he’s taken responsibility and repudiated what he did. Unlike Trump and Moore, he’s doing what he can to make it right.
    Giving people second chances encourages them to stop doing the bad behavior, and that’s a good thing. Making them pariahs tends to create other social problems. At this point, I could support some lesser Senate discipline, assuming this does turn out to be an isolated incident.

  87. Matrim says

    @96, snuffcurry

    Eat me. I was responding specifically about someone’s interpretation of PZ’s “in enemy hands” thing. You’re taking me out of context, possibly deliberately, and missing my point entirely. I wasn’t attempting to mitigate what he did, I wasn’t insinuating that she was “tainted,” nor was I concerned about “winning.” If you’d bother to read any of my other comments, you’d see I advocated his resignation, believe there is no political capital to be won by doing so (e.g. there is no way to “win”), and have repeatedly called it sexual assault. So, I cordially invite you to go fuck yourself.

  88. Matrim says

    @96

    Oh, and double fuck you for saying my analogy was about “what’s important is that he got caught, not that he did something awful and humiliating in the first place,” when it was clearly about the stupidity of doing something gross to someone who has every reason in the world to make you pay for it. My comment reinforced that it was a terrible thing to do on principle, but how he did it also shows a shocking lack of self awareness. To put it in simple terms, it’s the difference between doing something bad or something bad and stupid.

  89. snuffcurry says

    Is this an isolated incident? Over the course of their interactions, he escalated things at least twice. It began with him writing a script for the two of them in which they kiss (which is skeevy). Then, backstage and alone, he badgered her into “practicing” the kiss, and instead assaulted her. She told him off, had to avoid being alone with him for the rest of the tour, and he retaliated twice, by disfiguring a paper photo of her and by creating the groping image when she was asleep on the plane. So you’ve got assault, plus the kind of harassment common in workplaces, where a scorned man tries to publicly humiliate and tease and undermine a woman in front of other men, reminding her she’s there for kissing and touching, not a colleague on equal standing.

    And the “I don’t remember it like that” is wishy-washy. I understand he doesn’t want to call her a liar or gaslight her by suggesting she’s “mis-remembering” something. But there are other options, like: “that didn’t happen.” That’s a statement of fact, not a judgment or an attempt to malign her character or imply suspect motives, as most abusers, once openly accused, behave. If you’re claiming transparency, demonstrate it. Show, don’t tell. And don’t wait for a dubious (and what will ultimately be a high-stakes) ethics committee review before coming, completely and once and for all, clean. And he’d better support a female candidate for whenever that seat needs filling, temporary and permanent, come 2018 or 2020. He’s just made it much more difficult for woman to get a fair hearing as a political candidate because here’s another reason politics is a dangerous profession for women (fellow legislators are predators hiding in plain sight) and both costly and discouraging (the more victims speak aloud, the more women in general are punished by being treated as dangerous goods, a la Pence’s solution, which is not to hire or interact with them lest he rape them or be accused of rape).

  90. jack16 says

    Replace Franken with confidence? With who? Mightn’t be better to be unhappy with what we’ve got? Its proper to be angry, as am I, but it seems to me that a resignation is equivalent to jumping into a can of worms.

    Jack16

  91. snuffcurry says

    when it was clearly about the stupidity of doing something gross to someone who has every reason in the world to make you pay for it

    And as I said, stop being childish and impugning this woman’s character by implying that she’s enjoying this or that he will “pay” and that she will reap some benefit. She’s not out to get him and there’s no reason to think she is. Every single person he worked with on that tour, according to him, was a right-winger. They all got along fine. You can stop the handwringing paranoia whenever you want.

    And, as for choosing the Worst Possible Victim, she’s a woman. Women lack institutional power. They’re a great target for stealth harassment because they’re rarely believed and always handwaved away as hysterical or difficult. She’s had 11 years to talk about this. The timing isn’t coincidental, no; that’s why she tagged it #metoo. Conservative women, Trump supporters, they’re not immune to sexualized violence and misogyny. She has every right to tell her story whenever she wants. And she’s brave for doing it, because the blowback is going to be enormous. She’ll suffer more than he will. Count on it.

  92. snuffcurry says

    I wasn’t insinuating that she was “tainted,” nor was I concerned about “winning.”

    You’re suggesting, like PZ did, that her being a Republican taints her credibility, so you can stop pretending otherwise, and you’re absolutely concerned with “winning.” You’re behaving as though this counts as a Republican win, and you’re not the only one. That’s what women are in these situations, balls to be bounced back and forth for possession of by men on either side. Little trump cards you use against your political foes.

  93. says

    silverfeather @ #80:

    Sorry that my use of the phrase “zero tolerance” as shorthand for an idea we should all understand bothers you.
    Is zero tolerance too harsh? It is kind of a buzzkill. Maybe decent people should be less strict about taking people who sexually assault out of positions of power. We could make it okay to sexually assault others on Monday/Wednesday/Friday, or like, every other weekend? Maybe we can just say it’s okay for men on our side to do it without consequence, but not Republicans… wait… all snark aside – we’re doing that last one now aren’t we. Go team.

    Stop mischaracterizing my comments. I’ve never said anything like this. If you’re talking about or to other people, then talk to or about them (it would help if you directly quoted rather than summarized their words). I’ve called in this thread for efforts to identify harassers and assaulters across the board (see #57 above), an overhaul of the system by which harassment and assault are handled in the legislature, and a single set of standards to which everyone (including Franken) is held in the Senate regardless of party.

    Simply calling for any Democrat who’s accused of or has admitted to any offense to resign immediately in the name of “zero tolerance”* while accepting that Republicans likely will not is politics by one-sided gesture. It does little to address the systemic problem, fails to hold everyone to the same set of standards, and lets down the people who are victimized by Republicans.

    * And I shouldn’t have to point out that calling for a system of accountability that recognizes that some offenses are more serious than others and warrant more severe consequences (and vice versa) is not the same as saying that all but the most heinous offenses should be tolerated or ignored.

  94. Matrim says

    Again, fuck off. Neither I nor PZ were saying anything about her credibility and you know it. And no, again, this has nothing to do with anyone winning. If anything, it has to do with losing. Franken losing the respect of fellow progressives, progressives losing who they thought was a decent representative, and women for having yet another guy in power committing abuse. There is no political victory here. The only “sides” in this who can win are abusers and the abused. The abusers have been largely winning, here’s hoping that this recent tide of open discussion and naming names changes that.

  95. says

    As I understand it, Franken working a USO tour with her wasn’t “placing himself in the hands of the enemy,” but posing for that stupid photo absolutely was. It’s gross that he did it at all, but it’s gross and incredibly foolish to do it to someone who might have a vested interest in knocking him down a peg. It’s like stealing a car vs. stealing a car in front of the cops; it’s wrong either way, but one way demonstrates a serious lack of self awareness that is obviously going to bite you in the ass.

    Matrim, you need to drop this distasteful line of reasoning. You seriously seem to be suggesting that you’re angry with him for choosing his victim poorly such that he was more likely to get caught. FFS! We should want people to get caught! Also, not that an also is needed here, it doesn’t make much sense in this case. She had the photo for 11 years and didn’t come forward when he was running for office, she spoke out after hearing a Democratic congresswoman talk about the issue, and she’s shown no signs of political vindictiveness.

  96. Saad says

    PZ, #28

    People were talking about Franken for president. I think this kills that possibility for him.

    Unlike the orange rapist. Running as a Republican gives you such a leg up on the opposition. Your party voters hold you to much lower standards so you can get away with almost anything. It’s Republican privilege.

  97. Saad says

    Marcus, #111

    Put women in power.

    It’s such an obvious and simple solution.

    It’s mind-boggling to see people going “Gee, who can we replace him with that we can be confident wouldn’t have a history of sexually assaulting women?!?”

  98. iiandyiiii says

    Zero tolerance means we would lose lots of old dudes and some young dudes. We probably wouldn’t lose very many women at all. And suddenly, a lot more women would feel comfortable in those halls, and coming forward, and speaking out.

    I’m very, very disappointed that the idea of not tolerating violations of consent — not even a little bit of sexual assault or consent violation is okay — is so controversial.

  99. says

    I’m very, very disappointed that the idea of not tolerating violations of consent — not even a little bit of sexual assault or consent violation is okay — is so controversial.

    You’re disappointed in a straw man of your own making. It would probably help you to read for comprehension if you quoted more fully in your responses and then replied to the actual words people have written. Nothing I’ve said advocated tolerating any violations of consent; in fact, I’ve explicitly said the opposite. Saying you don’t think a policy of “every Democrat accused of or admitting to any offense should immediately resign” is the right one is not the same thing as tolerating, or advocating tolerating, any offenses.

  100. silverfeather says

    SC (Salty Current) @106

    As I stated above, maybe don’t dismissively characterize a sincere argument as “rhetoric” if you don’t want some pushback. The rest of my comment to you was (admittedly) sarcastic and angry because the end result of your stance, whatever your reasoning, is that men who have sexually assaulted people get to stay in power. They should not be allowed to stay in power. Full stop.

    Simply calling for any Democrat who’s accused of or has admitted to any offense to resign immediately in the name of “zero tolerance”* while accepting that Republicans likely will not is politics by one-sided gesture. It does little to address the systemic problem, fails to hold everyone to the same set of standards, and lets down the people who are victimized by Republicans.

    One: This is a gross line of reasoning, and it clearly shows your priorities. Are you really trying to make the argument that if Republicans feel free to do [insert morally reprehensible thing here] without consequence than Democrats should also be able to do [insert same morally reprehensible thing here] without consequence because it’s only fair? Doing what’s right shouldn’t be a “gesture” that you only bother with once you can be sure it will be reciprocated, or once you can be sure it won’t be too inconvenient for you. That is not the point.

    Two: I am not talking about “any offense”, I am talking about sexual assault.

    Three: I am not “accepting” that Republicans won’t hold themselves accountable, it’s just pretty well documented that their politicians are generally garbage people who only pay lip service to what it means to be a good person. You want the Dems to follow in their footsteps?

    Four: What lets down Republican (and all) victims and does nothing to address the systemic problem is continuing with the godsdamned status quo that says that men who sexually assault get to be forgiven so they can rise up the ranks of power because they are just too important to lose. Their victims, on the other hand, not so important I guess.

    SC @57:

    Franken needs to be held to account, but a) the process has to be completely overhauled and b) the public needs to learn a lot more about the others currently serving who’ve been accused of similar or worse actions. Then let the chips fall…

    Talk about letting the perfect be the enemy of the good! I agree completely that the process needs an overhaul (there are so many things in our politics that need an overhaul) – but that is decidedly not forthcoming. You say that of course Franken should be held to account! Just not in a way that will take him out of power, or really impact his life, and not right now. Let’s not be too hasty. Let’s wait until the system is fixed (ha!) so that Republicans are forced to pretend to be decent as well. Ugh.

    SC @106

    * And I shouldn’t have to point out that calling for a system of accountability that recognizes that some offenses are more serious than others and warrant more severe consequences (and vice versa) is not the same as saying that all but the most heinous offenses should be tolerated or ignored.

    No. Not “offenses”. Sexual assault.
    “And I shouldn’t have to point out that calling for a system of accountability that recognizes that some sexual assaults are more serious than other sexual assaults and warrant more severe consequences (and vice versa) is not the same as saying that all but the most heinous sexual assaults should be tolerated or ignored.”
    If you don’t see how very screwed up that statement is when we are accurate with the wording, than I don’t think we have any common ground to stand on here. I am not talking about jail, or a trial. I am talking about whether our leaders should be allowed to remain in power after they have assaulted someone.

    SC @115

    You’re disappointed in a straw man of your own making. It would probably help you to read for comprehension if you quoted more fully in your responses and then replied to the actual words people have written. Nothing I’ve said advocated tolerating any violations of consent; in fact, I’ve explicitly said the opposite.

    I know the last one isn’t addressed to me, but I just have to stress that to my eye pretty much everything you’ve said has advocated for tolerating violations of consent because everything you’ve said has the practical outcome, right now, of letting the man who committed sexual assault stay in power. I don’t really care as much about what politicians say as I care about what they do. Franken could make a powerful statement with meaning by actually being accountable in an impactful way. Or he could say some pretty words to make this go away and cling to power.

    None of you very “practical” people have actually addressed my question. What is the right amount of sexual assault for a U.S. Senator to have committed before he should step down? I really want to know.

  101. says

    @77 John

    I’m not wielded to ‘moral monster.’ If you think that is far too harsh switch it to morally dubious for all I care. Given societal conditions it would take a hell of a lot for me to even begin being ok with even remotely risking a Senate seat. Like short of murder I’m likely to hold all other offenses should be censured and the like. It’s vital to the survival of America as a republic that the Democrats flip at least one chamber.

    Saad just called it “Republican privilege” the way Republicans can get away with all manners of awful stuff. While I agree it’s systemic advantage Republicans enjoy it’s self imposed by the left. The Republican base is fundamentally more (instrumentally) rational at how they treat their congresscritters. They are lazer focused on policy and only care about 1) the right words being mumbled 2) policy outcomes being enacted. They are absolutely willing to play hardball if they don’t get what they want, hence the tea party movement. The left worries, constantly, about getting “good” people in and the like. It’s a self-inflicted wound. It’s a big reason why centralist liberalism is dying and losing.

  102. says

    @116

    Under favorable conditions,? none. Under these circumstances? More cases and/or more severe than have been reported so far.

    Of all the cases that have come forward of late, only Weinstein and Cosby if senators would be sufficient for discussing removal. Even then I would suggest dragging your feet for a year and then purge them after the 2018 elections if the results are favorable.

    Politics isn’t for good people.

  103. Saad says

    Mike Smith,

    Of all the cases that have come forward of late, only Weinstein and Cosby if senators would be sufficient for discussing removal. Even then I would suggest dragging your feet for a year and then purge them after the 2018 elections if the results are favorable.

    Of all the rape apologists and proponents of rape culture that pass through this blog, you are the one who seems to have taken the longest to come out. But boy, did you come out.

    I wonder if you are willing to openly make the same statements if we replace rape/sexual assault with racial harassment/threats.

  104. silverfeather says

    Mike Smith @118

    Wow, that is truly horrible! Thanks for so clearly shining a light on what is really being debated here.

  105. Saad says

    only Weinstein and Cosby if senators would be sufficient for discussing removal. Even then I would suggest dragging your feet for a year and then purge them after the 2018 elections if the results are favorable.

    You would want to keep rapists in positions of power where they will be working alongside women. And where women of various levels of power disadvantages (some of whom are going to be previous victims of some level of sexual offense in their lives) will have no choice but to interact with them and do their bidding because Mike Smith thinks women are second class citizens whose humanity and right to safety is negotiable based on the party breakdown of Congress.

  106. ragdish says

    Should Al step down? Does saying “What Roy Moore did was lightyears worse” a valid excuse? I say no and misogyny shouldn’t be treated as a spectrum with “bad” and “worse” ends. Misogyny is misogyny. Period. Even if Moore fessed up he should still step aside. And so should Al. Otherwise you’re agreeing with Dawkins who makes comments like this:

    “date rape is bad but stranger rape at knifepoint is worse”

    That’s no different than:

    “unwanted groping of an adult woman is bad but teenage girl molestation is worse”

  107. chigau (違う) says

    The word “rhetoric” as it is commonly used is closely tied to the idea of verbal manipulation without authenticity or substance…
    Where is this usage common?

  108. says

    One: This is a gross line of reasoning, and it clearly shows your priorities.

    It does, but you’ve failed to understand them.

    Are you really trying to make the argument that if Republicans feel free to do [insert morally reprehensible thing here] without consequence than Democrats should also be able to do [insert same morally reprehensible thing here] without consequence because it’s only fair?

    No, I’m making the argument that calling on all Democrats to immediately resign while recognizing that Republicans won’t do the same creates a two-tier system for justice. We have to fight for whatever standards we agree on to apply equally in actual practice.

    Doing what’s right shouldn’t be a “gesture” that you only bother with once you can be sure it will be reciprocated, or once you can be sure it won’t be too inconvenient for you. That is not the point.

    The source of our disagreement here isn’t that I believe this, and I’ll thank you to stop putting words in my mouth or conflating my arguments with the odious Mike Smith’s. The problem is that we have perhaps a different idea of what’s right.

    Two: I am not talking about “any offense”, I am talking about sexual assault.

    It’s simply a fact that someone touching my breast or kissing me without my consent is not the same as raping me. It’s not helpful to use the term in a way that conceals these differences.

    Three: I am not “accepting” that Republicans won’t hold themselves accountable, it’s just pretty well documented that their politicians are generally garbage people who only pay lip service to what it means to be a good person.

    You are accepting it in practice, though, since you know they won’t resign under current conditions.

    Four: What lets down Republican (and all) victims and does nothing to address the systemic problem is continuing with the godsdamned status quo that says that men who sexually assault get to be forgiven so they can rise up the ranks of power because they are just too important to lose.

    Stop doing this. I’ve said several times that I think people have to be held accountable and the systemic problem has to be addressed. I provided a link to efforts to address it. You quote my words about it (disapprovingly) just below. I never said anything like this last sentence.

    Their victims, on the other hand, not so important I guess.

    Again: Stop doing this.

    Talk about letting the perfect be the enemy of the good! I agree completely that the process needs an overhaul (there are so many things in our politics that need an overhaul) – but that is decidedly not forthcoming.

    See? Here’s where you note my talking about this. It is in fact forthcoming – I linked in #106 to legislative efforts to change it that are happening right now. These are coming at the same time as more information is highly likely to emerge about other legislators. All of this should happen together: public information about offenders and processes, accountability, and systemic changes. They’re not mutually exclusive. And I’ll point out that beyond calling for Franken’s immediate resignation you’ve said nothing about addressing the systemic problem, or even responded to my link.

    (Tweeden very clearly saw speaking out about Franken as part of this larger process – she did it in response to Speier’s statements.)

    You say that of course Franken should be held to account! Just not in a way that will take him out of power, or really impact his life, and not right now. Let’s not be too hasty. Let’s wait until the system is fixed (ha!) so that Republicans are forced to pretend to be decent as well. Ugh.

    Nor did I ever say this.

    If you don’t see how very screwed up that statement is when we are accurate with the wording, than I don’t think we have any common ground to stand on here. I am not talking about jail, or a trial. I am talking about whether our leaders should be allowed to remain in power after they have assaulted someone.

    I have no idea what you’re talking about here. I’m saying there are gradations of seriousness and that some acts could warrant resignation while others might not. But even acts that don’t warrant removal/resignation should have consequences. I don’t believe that any consequences short of immediate removal equal tolerance.

    I know the last one isn’t addressed to me,

    Yes, it was.

    but I just have to stress that to my eye pretty much everything you’ve said has advocated for tolerating violations of consent because everything you’ve said has the practical outcome, right now, of letting the man who committed sexual assault stay in power. I don’t really care as much about what politicians say as I care about what they do. Franken could make a powerful statement with meaning by actually being accountable in an impactful way. Or he could say some pretty words to make this go away and cling to power.

    None of you very “practical” people have actually addressed my question. What is the right amount of sexual assault for a U.S. Senator to have committed before he should step down? I really want to know.

    This seems to be the crux of our disagreement. I’m honestly on the fence about Franken (which has, I’ll note once again, nothing to do with his politics – he’d be replaced by another Democrat in any case). What he did was terrible. The photo in context makes my blood boil. It was not rape or attempted rape. It didn’t happen while he was in the Senate and isn’t connected to his serving as a Senator. It makes me suspicious of him, but doesn’t yet establish a pattern of behavior. Tweeden has explicitly said that she’s not calling for him to resign and implied that she doesn’t think he should resign, and has accepted his apology. (This is barring further accounts that would establish such a pattern.) Reporters asking questions to his current and former staffers received this statement:

    “Many of us spent years working for Senator Franken in Minnesota and Washington. In our time working for the Senator, he treated us with the utmost respect. He valued our work and our opinions and was a champion for women both in the legislation he supported and in promoting women to leadership roles in our offices.”

    Now, there could well be other accounts emerging in the media or through an investigation that would push me to call for his resignation. But right now, as I said, I’m on the fence. I think he should be censured; I think he should be investigated; I don’t know what other forms of sanction are available, but certainly some could apply. I can see the argument for his resignation, but if that is the standard that is set it has to be institutionalized in some manner so that it applies equally regardless of party. I think that’s part of the work some of the legislators are doing now.

  109. says

    I don’t believe that any consequences short of immediate removal equal tolerance.

    That should probably read “all” rather than “any.” My point is that it’s wrong to suggest that anyone arguing for any consequences short of resignation/removal is advocating toleration.

  110. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    As disappointing as this development is, I think it is too soon to demand any sort of action from Franken beyond his apology. Franken has called for an investigation and said he will cooperate. After Franken’s treatment of Jeff Sessions, I am sure several of his Rethug colleagues are getting out their scales to weigh out the pound of flesh. There are clearly witnesses, as somebody had to be taking the picture. Tweeden has said she does not want Franken to step down.
    See what the investigation comes up with. If the investigation is unsatisfactory, we can still bay for his blood later. And maybe recycle the Franken for Pres ballcaps.

  111. John Morales says

    a_ray_in_dilbert_space:

    There are clearly witnesses, as somebody had to be taking the picture.

    Whoever took the photo was Franken’s accessory to the act, not a witness to it, not a bystander.

  112. says

    Franken’s call for an investigation is bullshit. He already said he did it so now he’s just gambling that his fellow oligarchs will pat him on the back and tell him it’s OK. What are the odds of that? He’s a member of one of the most notorious “good ole boys’” clubs in world history, which includes a bunch of shady assholes. A jury of his peers, belike.

  113. John Morales says

    Marcus, there are more aspects to that than you are considering in that comment; one is that even with a cynical attitude that it’s a gamble to be sufficiently exonerated so he can remain and progress politically, it’s a gamble that would likely backfire had there been any pattern of behaviour; another is that it establishes a precedent should other, less obvious accusations come to light for other people.

  114. Matrim says

    @110, SC

    Apparently I am not articulating my point well. I’m not mad at him for his likelihood of “getting caught” (the only anger I have about the situation is that he would do it in the first place). I was specifically addressing the umbrage someone was taking with PZ’s “enemy hands” comment and nothing else.

  115. says

    Matrim:

    Apparently I am not articulating my point well. I’m not mad at him for his likelihood of “getting caught” (the only anger I have about the situation is that he would do it in the first place). I was specifically addressing the umbrage someone was taking with PZ’s “enemy hands” comment and nothing else.

    PZ’s “in the hands of the enemy” comment had the same problem as your first one, in which you said: “I honestly don’t know if Franken should resign or not. My initial reaction is that he probably should, it was a really stupid thing for an adult to do, particularly to someone who he was at odds with,…” You both implied that the fact that Franken was so “stupid” as to victimize someone hostile to him* who would therefore be more likely to speak up made you more likely to think he should resign. (PZ said more than that, suggesting that Franken’s treatment of her might be partially explained by politics as well.) Surely you can see why his choice of victim generally and specifically of someone who you believe would be more likely to go public is not something that should factor into your thinking about his guilt or the consequences he should face. This isn’t about “stupidity” – it’s about what he did to her.

    * I might have missed a comment, but I couldn’t tell whether you were suggesting they were at odds politically or personally, or whether you were referring to the forced kiss or the photo. If personally, and you’re referring to the photo, it seems they were “at odds” because he’d assaulted her and she’d rejected him, and that this was in part revenge. And the so-called stupidity of it is totally irrelevant to his culpability.

  116. recapitulation says

    What did I miss about Jill Stein? The anti-vax label was pinned on her, but wasn’t true – so was there something else I missed?

  117. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Crap, just read she’s “anti-GMO”. That’s stupid.

    Only added to her anti-vax stance as a an idiot. One of the many reasons she wasn’t considered a serious candidate.

  118. silverfeather says

    SC (Salty Current) @125

    We have to fight for whatever standards we agree on to apply equally in actual practice.

    and

    I don’t believe that all consequences short of immediate removal equal tolerance.

    Yes, we have to fight for equal standards. The difference is, until that glorious dream can be made a reality I don’t think that a guy on “my side” should get a pass because Republicans do. Part of the problem here seems to be that you believe that staying in power but dealing with censure and investigation should be counted as acceptable consequences for sexually assaulting someone. I think those things are, in practice, pretty meaningless. I don’t accept them as actual consequences.

    As you say:

    This seems to be the crux of our disagreement.

    If these guys get to keep their cushy jobs and their nice paychecks and their great insurance and their positions of power to write our laws, to have authority over interns and secretaries, to make excuses for what they did and how they’ve learned their lesson, (promise!) – in what way have there been consequences? What message is it sending to other predators in congress or out of congress for that matter? How does it look and feel to women who may want to get into politics? To other current victims being abused? This props up the systemic problem that drives women out and keeps the good ‘ol boys club in charge and hurts so many others. We clearly do not see eye to eye on this.

    It’s simply a fact that someone touching my breast or kissing me without my consent is not the same as raping me. It’s not helpful to use the term in a way that conceals these differences.

    and

    I have no idea what you’re talking about here. I’m saying there are gradations of seriousness and that some acts could warrant resignation while others might not. But even acts that don’t warrant removal/resignation should have consequences. I don’t believe that any consequences short of immediate removal equal tolerance.

    Who made the argument that forcing your tongue into someones mouth and grabbing their breasts without their consent is the same as rape? It’s not helpful to use words like “offense” when one is talking about sexual assault, as it obscures and minimizes what we are discussing. I would prefer that the wording be accurate. I also want to point out that these behaviors are on a spectrum, and there are enough people that don’t fall anywhere on that spectrum at all to put some of them in charge.

    You say “there are gradations of seriousness and that some acts could warrant resignation while others might not”. Yes! I think any acts that are sexual assault should warrant resignation. Acts that aren’t sexual assault might not! This reads to me like we should somehow apply court-like standards as though we’re assessing damages to the victim (this is worse than this is worse than this is worse than that). I am not talking about convicting someone or locking him up here, and the damage of keeping him on isn’t done solely to the victim(s).

    I’m saying that being an elected representative, a lawmaker, is a privilege and a serious responsibility. Our elected officials should not be allowed to remain in power if they have sexually assaulted someone. Any sexual assault, no matter how “minor” one ranks it to be (and I believe that ranking sexual assaults is not your intent, btw, just an unfortunate outcome) in comparison to other sexual assaults or to rape, is too much.

    See? Here’s where you note my talking about this. It is in fact forthcoming – I linked in #106 to legislative efforts to change it that are happening right now.

    Yeah, okay – pardon my cynicism, but I’ll believe it when it passes. I have seen so much decent and helpful legislation just ignored right out of existence because it would cause discomfort for the existing power structure that I have zero faith this one will be any different. For what it’s worth, I really hope I’m wrong. Until it exists in an effective form, we have to deal with the current reality while continuing to fight for a better one.

    Speaking of my cynicism… this statement

    “Many of us spent years working for Senator Franken in Minnesota and Washington. In our time working for the Senator, he treated us with the utmost respect. He valued our work and our opinions and was a champion for women both in the legislation he supported and in promoting women to leadership roles in our offices.”

    also means very little to me. There are always people to defend these guys, forever and ever, because there are always people they have been decent to that for a wide range of reasons are willing to essentially look the other way.

    I can see the argument for his resignation, but if that is the standard that is set it has to be institutionalized in some manner so that it applies equally regardless of party. I think that’s part of the work some of the legislators are doing now.

    I desperately want it to be institutionalized so that it applies equally regardless of party. I will fight for that and vote for it until the day I die. In the meantime… I think I’ve made my argument pretty clear, so unless something new comes up you are welcome to the last word. We definitely disagree about the right thing to do here. Franken can most likely keep his power if he so chooses, because that’s the world we live in right now. What he (and any dems that stand with him) cannot keep is my respect or support as he goes down that road.

  119. says

    recapitulation @137: Stein msy or may not be anti-vaccine in her personal views, but she is quite comfortable with using anti-vaccine dogwhistle language. That is why she’s regarded as an anti-vaxxer.

  120. says

    Yes, we have to fight for equal standards. The difference is, until that glorious dream can be made a reality

    Stop talking about it like it’s a pipe dream. There is momentum inside and outside the legislature for serious change right now, including drafted legislation.

    I don’t think that a guy on “my side” should get a pass because Republicans do.

    No one should get a pass; we disagree about what “getting a pass” means, but I think everyone has to be held to the same standard. I’m confident, I think, that my argument would be the same if Franken were a Republican.

    Part of the problem here seems to be that you believe that staying in power but dealing with censure and investigation should be counted as acceptable consequences for sexually assaulting someone. I think those things are, in practice, pretty meaningless. I don’t accept them as actual consequences.

    We disagree. I think they’re possibly appropriate consequences for the severity of Franken’s specific actions, as does Tweeden.

    What message is it sending to other predators in congress or out of congress for that matter?

    There’s no evidence at present that Franken is a predator.

    How does it look and feel to women who may want to get into politics? To other current victims being abused?

    As I’ve pointed out, Tweeden sees it as appropriate to the nature and severity of the offense. You seem not to be aware that others might disagree with you, so you think everyone will share your response. But that’s not the case. Some women will agree with you; others, like me, could see it as (given what’s currently known) potentially a proportional response. People see that Franken’s victim is being believed and her allegations recognized as credible and serious, that his actions are being roundly and publicly condemned by members of his own party, that other sanctions will likely be forthcoming, and that he’s admitted his guilt and publicly and privately apologized. We also see that real efforts are underway to expose offenders, change the system, and create a uniform standard of accountability. That’s more important for many people than that this one man who’s been publicly named resigns or is removed.

    Who made the argument that forcing your tongue into someones mouth and grabbing their breasts without their consent

    I would say “touching,” but also that the photo was despicable for other reasons.

    is the same as rape? It’s not helpful to use words like “offense” when one is talking about sexual assault, as it obscures and minimizes what we are discussing. I would prefer that the wording be accurate.

    “Offense” is a generic word that covers actions from insult to murder. I was speaking of offenses as actions that relate to sexual harassment, misconduct, discrimination, and assault. It’s not at all clarifying to refer to sexual assault in this context without distinguishing what Franken did (or what Joe Biden does, for that matter) from what Hastert or Moore or Trump or Packwood or Ailes or Weinstein did. It’s misleading.

    I also want to point out that these behaviors are on a spectrum, and there are enough people that don’t fall anywhere on that spectrum at all to put some of them in charge.

    There are many actions that I think disqualify many current representatives from elected office.

    You say “there are gradations of seriousness and that some acts could warrant resignation while others might not”. Yes! I think any acts that are sexual assault should warrant resignation. Acts that aren’t sexual assault might not! This reads to me like we should somehow apply court-like standards as though we’re assessing damages to the victim (this is worse than this is worse than this is worse than that). I am not talking about convicting someone or locking him up here, and the damage of keeping him on isn’t done solely to the victim(s).

    Again, we disagree. I’m not convinced that the specific acts committed by Franken (that we currently know about) necessarily warrant resignation.

    I’m saying that being an elected representative, a lawmaker, is a privilege and a serious responsibility. Our elected officials should not be allowed to remain in power if they have sexually assaulted someone. Any sexual assault, no matter how “minor” one ranks it to be (and I believe that ranking sexual assaults is not your intent, btw, just an unfortunate outcome) in comparison to other sexual assaults or to rape, is too much.

    Of course it’s too much. But I am ranking them, very explicitly, and arguing that different acts warrant different consequences.

    Yeah, okay – pardon my cynicism, but I’ll believe it when it passes. I have seen so much decent and helpful legislation just ignored right out of existence because it would cause discomfort for the existing power structure that I have zero faith this one will be any different. For what it’s worth, I really hope I’m wrong. Until it exists in an effective form, we have to deal with the current reality while continuing to fight for a better one.

    I believe they need to develop, and are developing, in tandem. We can’t have a situation in which there are radically different consequences for offenders depending on party – that’s unfair to everyone. In any event, we have different opinions on how best to deal with this specific case.

    also means very little to me. There are always people to defend these guys, forever and ever, because there are always people they have been decent to that for a wide range of reasons are willing to essentially look the other way.

    What it means is that reporters have been questioning his present and former staffers and this is how they responded. You’re assuming that there’s a pattern of behavior for which these women are covering or of which they’re ignorant, but it’s also possible that there isn’t. It’s just the evidence we have right now.

    I desperately want it to be institutionalized so that it applies equally regardless of party. I will fight for that and vote for it until the day I die. In the meantime… I think I’ve made my argument pretty clear, so unless something new comes up you are welcome to the last word. We definitely disagree about the right thing to do here. Franken can most likely keep his power if he so chooses, because that’s the world we live in right now. What he (and any dems that stand with him) cannot keep is my respect or support as he goes down that road.

    Fine. I will say that I think “stand with him” is mischaracterizing what’s happening. You seem to mean by it anyone (including his victim) who thinks that given the current state of knowledge of his actions penalties short of resignation/removal might be more appropriate. He’s admitted guilt; people have condemned the behavior and said it’s unacceptable. That’s not standing by him in the sense that Trump’s or Moore’s followers have stood by them.

    In any case, this has been a civil and constructive exchange, which is rare on the internet, so thank you for that.

  121. says

    @Saad

    I’ll do you one better than racial hostility and deprivation. I’m queer. Name what ill treatment of queer folks you consider akin to rape and I still would not be willing to lose a Senate seat over it. It could come out that a Democratic senator forced their teenage kid into reparative torture who then commits suicide. That’s a completely depraved act. I still would be completely against any action that would endangered that Senate seat.

    If the strangle hold the Republicans have on all levels of govt isn’t broken soon the US will devolve into an illiberal democracy and than soon after a failed totalitarian state. Already North Carolina is not a liberal democracy. There’s a nontrivial chance of societal collapse happening even with the Democrats flipping the Senate. We don’t have the luxury of moral principles greater than survival. Our enemies are that evil. And our situation is that bad.

    If shielding and working with a rapist for a year or two can prevent genocide, ethnocide and other absolute horrors than so be it. It’s not a good act. It’s an evil itself but we don’t have the necessary resources to enact a moral stand.

    I will not be rounded up for a concentration camp and gassed just so some feminist can feel that they stayed true to their authentic self. We are facing that in a decade if the Republicans remain unchecked.

    You very well might not agree with me that our situation is as dire as I think it is but don’t for second believe I don’t recognize gross injustice of and unfairness of expecting women (and other oppressed groups) to remain as second class citizens until such time we can avoid societal collaspe. It IS horrible but unavoidable! Barbarians are at the gates and we must do anything and everything to protect ourselves. Force and fraud in war are the cardinal virtues. So true is caring about defeating the people who wish nothing but to do you material harm.

  122. says

    It’s not that I don’t recognize the unfair burden I’m suggesting woman feel the pain of. It’s I judge this burden far less than facing widespread corrective rape which will be a reality in America in the next decade if current trends hold.

    We are at def con 0. All discussions need to begin with the facts we are facing political excintion and enemies whose existentice is ruled by the desire to hurt people not like them.

  123. kupo says

    Name what ill treatment of queer folks you consider akin to rape and I still would not be willing to lose a Senate seat over it.

    Rape. Rape is equivalent to rape and is done to queer folks. How did you feel about Seattle’s mayor Ed Murray staying in power for so long when one man after another accused him of molestation when they were teenagers? I know, that wasn’t a Senate seat, but did that sit well with you? He did step down after reaching a critical mass of accusations and was replaced with another Democrat (a lesbian woman, to boot). Seattle didn’t suddenly turn red just because their mayor was a monster.

    It could come out that a Democratic senator forced their teenage kid into reparative torture who then commits suicide. That’s a completely depraved act. I still would be completely against any action that would endangered that Senate seat.

    So you must be totally cool with who we have currently serving as Vice President, in that case.

    But I’m not going to keep arguing because even if it’s true that you would throw your own people or even yourself under the bus over one Senate seat (which I don’t believe you would), it doesn’t matter because you’re already willing to throw women under the bus which makes you a terrible person.

  124. Azkyroth, B*Cos[F(u)]==Y says

    it doesn’t matter because you’re already willing to throw women under the bus which makes you a terrible person.

    I don’t agree with Mike Smith, but I think it’s pretty damn dishonest to characterize his position as “we should throw women under the bus” rather than “given a choice between buses, and no other choices, we should pick the lighter one with better ground clearance.”

    Whether he’s right about the “no other choices” or which is the lighter with better ground clearance is a different issue.

  125. says

    @145

    Seattle is one of the bluest areas of the country. If we limit ourselves to local office there is structural support to be able to have a higher standard than not Republican in local races. What I’m willing to tolerate depends on context.

    As gross as it is you must be willing to tolerate what your enemies do. The governor of Alabama just said she believes Moore’s victims but she’s voting for him anyway. That’s what we have to match. It sucks. But death, literal, is the other option.

    Of course I’m not OK with Pence as VP. But my problems with him go beyond gay rights. Likewise in my hypocritical example having to support such a Democrat would make my skin crawl. But if he was a reliable no vote on most Republican desires than as matter of harm reduction I have to support him.

    My position on this is not fundamentally different than the numerous ones people kept throwing up to get people to vote for Clinton. Clinton has blood on her hands because of her hawkish foreign policy. Yet as a matter of harm reduction I voted for her.

    And for the record I don’t believe this is about a single seat. If Franken is forced out I fully expect numerous other federal Democrats to become embroiled in sexual harassment scandals. No I’m not saying women are liars. I’m saying Republicans and conservatives are. I’m too the point where I’d a republican says it’s raining I’m not believing it until I see it for myself.

  126. bcwebb says

    Couple of things:
    1. This was a USO show that beauty queen Tweeden (she wasn’t hired for her acting) signed up for. These things have been half burlesque shows for horny twenty-somethings since before Bob Hope was kissing Betty Grable. A skit with her kissing Franken would be surprising by its absence. Franken wasn’t trying to get her in his dressing room, he was trying to get her to do her job. That said, Franken should still have backed off and needed to atone for his actions. The refusal to do such a skit would be like Heath Ledger signing up for Brokeback Mountain and then refusing to kiss Gylenhall because he wasn’t in to it.
    2. She claimed fear of Franken’s affect on her career in not talking until now but started appearing on Hannity and other hard right shows as soon as she started sports broadcasting years ago- this seems inconsistent with fear about her career.
    3. Franken is clearly being careful to not touch her in the photograph – it’s pantomime, not assault, and she’s wearing a 1/2 inch thick flack jacket. It’s bad joke of an instant not harassment. People do stupid things in the instant of a shutter that they regret a second later. Tweeden has a good case for sexual harassment against another person – the photographer who chose to use his power to elevate a momentary bad joke to a permanent public embarrassment by putting the photo in the trip CD.
    4. Then again, the photographer may have felt that Tweeden would find it as funny as the picture of her grabbing the ass of a guitarist on stage, also in the collection.

    We have to be conscious that the difference between boorishness and sexual harassment is the abuse of power – Roy Moore using his power as an adult and attorney while going after children, Weinstein and Spacy using their authority and clear power over others lives to coerce sexual contact. It sounds like Franken behaved badly but is not guilty of harassment.

  127. Onamission5 says

    Shorter bcwebb: “Tweeden’s fault because tradition and that’s what pretty girls are for, duh. Not harassment because joke.”

    And the parts about bodily autonomy and ongoing consent enter into your screed where, exactly?

  128. says

    bcwebb@#148:
    Franken wasn’t trying to get her in his dressing room, he was trying to get her to do her job.

    Are you saying that she’s just a showgirl and ought to have put out like a showgirl?
    Cuz that sounds like what you’re saying.

  129. John Morales says

    Franken is clearly being careful to not touch her in the photograph – it’s pantomime, not assault, and she’s wearing a 1/2 inch thick flack jacket.

    … and there it is.

  130. silverfeather says

    And now we’re up to two on Franken. Democrats: “At least our guy was only groping fully grown women against their will!” What an excellent fucking rallying cry. Go. Team.

    @Saad

    I bet it’s the majority of men in positions of influence/power.

    I bet you’re right.

  131. KG says

    The assault would be enough to justify resignation morally – although perhaps politically survivable if no more complainants come forward (as it is surely all too likely they will – is it probable that this was a one-off?). – Me@36

    Well, it wasn’t probable, and indeed, it wasn’t a one-off.

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