Friday, November 17, 2017

Sure Hold Franken To Account Just Make Any Punishment Proportional To The Charges

Oh, those show folks.  I expect the allegations made by Leeann Tweeden against Al Franken to be put up as some equivalence to the accusations that Roy Moore sexually assaulted adolescent girls when he was an assistant district attorney in his 30s.  In fact, I'm noticing that's pretty much how National Public Radio is using the accusation in their reporting this morning.  And I expect that to sell among more people than should buy it.  We don't know if there were ever any other incidents which Franken, unlike Moore, has apologized for, if there never were the problem for Franken is that one recorded incident, people will wonder if that's just because other women aren't talking about it.  And who knows at this point. Al Franken has said that he is sorry and admits what he's accused of is sleazy, especially the stupid stunt photo of him making sleazy motions against her while she was sleeping, strapped in an airplane seat, with helmet and body armor. 

Tweeden's description of the kiss sounds to me like the kind of thing that actors might consider a joke on each other,   I've heard actors and actresses laugh about the off color stunts like that they pulled on each other during  rehearsals.  I wouldn't be surprised if there were many incidents of actresses groping male stars subtly or not in similar situations That kind of off color joke is a feature of  life among athletes, and far more.   If the kiss was Franken pulling the kind of physical joke of that sort, it was stupid to do it with someone who didn't come from the same world, exactly.  It would be stupid even with another actor.  But it's certainly not unknown even if a bit sleazy.  Modeling and sports reporting aren't exactly the same kind of show biz that Franken was involved in.  They sometimes aren't that far apart but maybe in the case of Leanne Tweeden they're far enough apart for there to be offense given where none was intended.

The calls for Franken to resign such as the one by Mark Joseph Stern at Slate is, at this point, premature and if there are no other accusations made against him, ridiculous.  It equates one or two lapses in taste and judgement with the kind of thing that Bob Packwood did, habitually, over decades, the kind of thing that Donald Trump bragged about doing to Billy Bush on the Hollywood Access tape.  If someone who is accused of what Franken is is treated the same way that would abolish any kind of proportionality in punishment for dissimilar offenses.  The idea that any and all crimes involving sex are equivalent is ridiculous and can produce a grotesque parody of justice.  That is seen in laws that put some teenage boys on permanent display as a sex fiend because they had consensual sex with their girlfriends whose parents decided to screw him in return.  Or people who may have done something similar fifty years ago but whose records have been absolutely clean ever since.  I've known of women on such lists for such incidents.  A look at your states sex offender registry can be pretty shocking and disturbing on this count.  Especially in states that don't distinguish between dumb teenagers involved in consensual sex, sometimes decades ago, with active, dangerous predators and rapists.

It also doesn't account for the fact that Al Franken, when the incident occurred, wasn't a public official using his office to prey on women, something which, according to more than one those reporting the incidents say Roy Moore did while not only a public official but an assistant district attorney.   Also, Al Franken has handled the accusation entirely differently from the way that Roy Moore did, Moore is attacking his accusers, Franken issued an apology.   Stern at Slate apparently presents Franken's apology and call for HIS OWN investigation for ethics in the most cynical posible light.

He has called for a Senate ethics investigation into his own behavior—which indicates that he has no intention of resigning quickly. Instead, he appears to be attempting to rehabilitate his reputation by expressing penance and desire to grow.

Not only is that obviously not true, any "rehabilitation" of his reputation wouldn't, under the measures he asks to be subjected to,  depend on him, it would depend on those who conduct the ethics investigation,   His continued good behavior is the only part of that which he has control of.   Does Stern want a justice system, a concept of ethics that doesn't include the ability of someone to change their life for the better and to acknowledge that?   That assumption of eternal damnation for a select number of mortal sins - and, as mentioned without any kind of distinction among sins - a souped up form of a crude understanding of Calvinist predestination, would seem to be very popular among people who write about these things these days.   I don't think they would ever be willing to be held to the same kind of standards in their own behavior, I doubt that Stern would want any minor journalistic lapses by him or his colleagues to be punished in the same way that those of Stephen Glass were, after many lies by him were published.  But, according to his own assertions, why shouldn't they be?   If journalists who seriously violated journalistic ethics were held to account, it would probably end a lot more careers than holding politicians to the standard advocated in the Slate article.  FOX, CNN, The New York Times, etc. especially "opinion journalism"  would be practically clear cut under those rules.


  1. "Does Stern want a justice system, a concept of ethics that doesn't include the ability of someone to change their life for the better and to acknowledge that?"

    Yes, he does. Let the purge begin!

    1. I hadn't paid much attention to Stern's bio or other pieces before this, I generally try to find out more about where someone I disagree with is coming from when I'm going to write about them.

      Especially among young journalists there is an odd concept of unforgivable sin and eternal damnation on matters dealing with sex which is bizarre in that it comes exactly at the same time when they also want there to be no rules - things like adults who consent to have sex while they're drunk getting to decide, days, years later that they were "raped" along side with a "right" to get sloshed and pick up strangers in bars.

      I have to say that his article last week in which he wrote about his justifiable fear as a gay, Jewish, journalist in the Trumpzi America, there is something I've been noticing a lot lately which may lead to something which I'm sure is gong to be a very controversial post. Maybe as soon as later today.

    2. Yeah, I find this very perplexing. Women are supposed to be "allowed" to be "sexual beings," but then cry "Rape!" whenever it suits them, or criticize movies/tv shows/books that depict sex because it is objectifying (usually it is), but don't dare depict women as not interested in sex because that's demeaning and inappropriate, but don't dare depict sex because that's the "male gaze," but don't leave sex out, because women are sexual beings, but don't look at women, because that's harassment, but....

      I sound like a Trump supporter or someone whining about "political correctness," but the extreme puritanism of the postures is bewildering. As you say, Franken perhaps took liberties; then again, any act of kissing that is part of a performance is necessarily an uncomfortable situation. Who doesn't remember how awkward it was in high school plays, where the whole school would talk about a kissing scene if there ever was one? We see it on screen constantly, so we're not supposed to think much of it, except we should, but does context matter? The photograph is juvenile, but if we're going to ban everyone from public life who was juvenile at one time or another (Franken wasn't that young in 2006), who's going to be left? Mike Pence?

      Spare me.

    3. The one and only time I was in a school play the teacher-director, told me I had to pick up a girl who "fainted" and she was bigger than I was, it was extremely awkward when we rehearsed it, she didn't take offense as to where my hands ended up though she well could have. Eventually, when I almost dropped her the director give up on her inspired blocking and I, by that time, resolved never to have anything to do with acting, ever again.