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.

Shut up, Katie Hopkins

I’m not terribly familiar with Katie Hopkins — she’s more of a British affliction — but I did run across her writings a while back, when she was busy advocating for the outright murder of immigrants. She is not a nice person at all. Now she has stepped into the Roy Moore story. Anyone care to guess what her position is? No? You can’t get your brain down to that level? OK. Here’s her two cents:


If you take 40 years to remember how upset you were at 14, you are not a victim. You are a weapon #RoyMoore

What if you have a 40 year history of harassment? Why is that to be ignored, while Katie focuses on the victim?


Not all girls are innocent at 14. I was pleasuring my boyfriend harder than a Russian gymnast working a pole (Capital P optional) #RoyMoore

I assume she consented to her wild sexual escapades — good for her — and that her boyfriend was of her age, and not 20 years older. If the targets of Moore’s unwanted advances had boyfriends and the beginnings of a romantic life and normal desires, how does that make being hit on by a creepy old guy suddenly acceptable? That Katie Hopkins clearly was not “innocent” at 14 does not mean that it was open season on teenaged Katie by anyone who wanted her.

Hopkins, by the way, has one of those verified accounts with Twitter — she has the little blue checkmark next to her name. Presumably she won’t have it for long, since Twitter is finally cracking down on handing out that acknowledgment to spokespeople for hate, a club in which Hopkins is a prominent member.

A history of violence

Here we go again. Another murderous rampage: a gunman murdered his neighbors, then went driving through town, shooting at will. He attacked an elementary school, shot some children, and wandered around looking for more targets before he was killed himself. As usual, there’s something in this guy’s history that isn’t association with an Islamic terrorist group, or being black, or being crazy. He had a history of threatening, abusive behavior.

Tehama County Assistant Sheriff Phil Johnston said the shooter was facing charges of assaulting one of the feuding neighbors in January and that she had a restraining order against him.

Johnston did not comment on the shooter’s access to firearms.

Johnston declined to identify the shooter until his relatives were notified, but he confirmed the gunman was charged with assault in January and had a restraining order placed against him.

OK, this seems to be an obvious rule to me: if you can’t play nicely with your toys, they get taken away from you.

Someone beats their spouse, threatens to kill their neighbors, waves a gun around to intimidate someone, engages in stalking, gets a restraining order against them, the first thing the police ought to do is show up at their house with a list of their registered weapons (and all of their weapons will, of course, be registered) and tell the abuser that they have to surrender them until they learn to be nice. The privilege of owning a dangerous tool that can kill people is suspended when you demonstrate an inclination to use it for violence. Zip zoom bam, it’s automatic and swift and is just part of the process of keeping the peace.

Notice: if you’re one of those lawful gun owners we hear about, there’s no problem for you. You’ve got a handgun that you own under the illusion that it will help defend your home, you have a few rifles that you use for duck and deer hunting, there’s no concern that you’ll lose them, unless you’re the kind of assdumpling who likes to threaten people when you get drunk, or thinks smacking around your wife and kids is a right of your manhood. You get in fights? You can’t be trusted with a deadly weapon.

I expect responsible gun owners will gladly support more severe laws requiring confiscation of weapons from individuals with a history of irresponsible gun use and violence against their fellow citizens. Right? Right? The NRA is probably drafting legislation for this simple improvement in our laws right now.

A self-reflection exercise

I’ve been thinking about the recent surge of awareness of harassment, and wondering if I’ve been as flawed as the people being accused. There’s been a bit of introspection going on here.

And my conclusion is no, I’ve not taken advantage of women…or anyone, for that matter. I’ve never casually fondled anyone, I’ve never tried to pressure anyone into sex, I’ve never threatened anyone into serving my whims, I’ve sure as hell never raped anyone. I’m not saying this to pretend to be some paragon — I think I’m pretty ordinary, and I suspect most guys consider respect for others’ autonomy to be the norm. But I also say this as someone who was born in the 1950s, so forget that bogus “oh, that’s just the way we were back then” excuse. I’ll also point out that, for example, when Roy Moore was haunting the Gadsden Mall, most people seemed to think that 30 year olds trying to pick up teenagers was awfully skeevy.

The common, petty failing was not participating in such behavior, but looking the other way. There was too much deference to male authority, which was given by default, and preserved an imbalance of power. We didn’t do the kinds of things these horrible people have done, but we were at worst made uncomfortable about them, and our only action was to avoid confronting those people. Don’t rock the boat. Don’t confront the harasser, and don’t meet the eyes of the woman who is being mistreated.

I remember my sins of omission. I was in the locker room when the high school jocks were bragging about the things they did to their girlfriends and casual hookups, and I just got dressed and left as quickly as I could. But I knew the people they were talking about, and I liked them as people, and I did not defend them. So that talk flourished.

I’ve been oblivious. There have been several occasions where I blithely suggest that my wife just do some particular thing, and she looks at me like I’m insane, and explains that I can’t possibly expect her to walk alone in that dark parking garage late at night. There are many behaviors I take for granted as normal and safe that are exercises in reasonable fear for women. That’s a lack of empathy, an ongoing insensitivity that hinders my ability to see how the world works for others.

I’ve been cavalier about some situations — I’ve been light-hearted and tried to be amusing about common sexual situations that, for men, are just opportunities for fun, but for women, are opportunities to be harmed. It’s taken too long for me to realize that that little chuckle wasn’t about my nice joke, but more an attempt to defuse a situation, or to conceal what they were really thinking, which was “what an ass.” I can at least say that I’ve been getting better — I’m sure 20 year old me was even worse — and that I’m aware that I can be better still.

I think, though, that the biggest sign of progress and the best hope we have is that increasingly we are acknowledging that it’s not enough to not do bad things, we also have to openly oppose others who do bad things. We also have to listen when we are criticized.

This poster ought to be grounds for impeachment

Here’s the state of the American government:

Louie Gohmert displayed that on the floor of congress — an uninterpretable tangle of lines and random words and odd logos, all with the intent of somehow indicting Hillary Clinton in a non-scandal. This is where we’re at. Louie Gohmert, in the running for the dumbest person in congress. A bullshit chart. A ridiculous conspiracy theory. And we’re helpless — we have no mechanism for prying the reins of power out of the hands of dangerous idiots.

Just another company boss

Trouble for Tesla and Elon Musk: workers are complaining about racist coworkers, and agitating for a union.

Jose Moran—who claimed to be an employee at the Fremont factory—wrote a scathing critique of the facility and his employer, alleging “excessive mandatory overtime” and low wages. He said that he and other employees were considering unionizing and had reached out to UAW for help.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk told our sister site Gizmodo that Moran was paid by UAW “to join Tesla and agitate for the union.”

And what is wrong with that? If conditions are unjust, then rallying workers to form a union is exactly the right thing to do (also, even if conditions are relatively just, forming a union to give workers a voice is also exactly the right thing to do. You are never wrong to form a workers’ union.)

But now the story going around is that Musk has fired some of those rabble-rousers for urging unionizing. That makes him a 19th century villain in my book.

But worse…you know those complaints about coworkers freely throwing around racial slurs? Musk has a suggestion for dealing with that, too.

Part of not being a huge jerk is considering how someone might feel who is part of [a] historically less represented group, Musk wrote in the email. Sometimes these things happen unintentionally, in which case you should apologize. In fairness, if someone is a jerk to you, but sincerely apologizes, it is important to be thick-skinned and accept that apology.

Jesus.

Different suggestion: if you discover that you’ve got racists working for you who are disrupting the other workers, fire the racists. It’s that simple. If you’re able to fire people for union activities, you must have the power to fire people for naked bigotry. Why aren’t you?