Posted by: minnow | November 18, 2017

Good-bye, Al

The recent accusations against Al Franken are disheartening.  He was supposed to be one of the good guys. His apology suggests, if one chooses to give him the benefit of the doubt, that he might still be. And yet…holding men accountable for their behavior, making no excuses, and demanding the integrity bar remain high–especially for the men with whom I generally agree politically–is the only way I know to prove how seriously we as a society should take the issue of sexual harassment and inappropriate sexual behavior.

I do not want Roy Moore elected to the US Congress, so I must hold Franken accountable.  I wanted 45 to face charges and not be elected president for a host of reasons but in part because of his immoral behavior and highly offensive language, so I must hold Franken accountable. I did not initially support Hillary as a candidate in part because I did not want her husband, who deserved to be impeached, anywhere near the White House, again.  I thought it was right that Hart and Edwards had to drop out of their presidential runs because of sex scandals. Weiner deserved a 21 month sentence for sexting a minor. Weinstein, Louis C. K., Halperin, Spacey, and others in the entertainment industry who have harassed, raped, and behaved inappropriately deserve to be out and never welcomed back. But Franken…

I spent the first couple days after the story came out hoping it wasn’t true. I latched on to the false story that the photographer said the photo was staged. It wasn’t no matter how much I wanted it to be. Franken was one of the good guys, progressive, an advocate for women…Until,…He wasn’t.

Before Franken got caught, he’d cleaned up his act, or at least appearances would have us believe he’d cleaned up his act.  But then he got caught, hit by a 10 year old photograph and the statement from the woman he harmed. Getting “caught” rather than coming forward on his own taints his advocacy and weakens his apology.

In the last few days I’ve done a lot of thinking. I remembered countless hours debating with my politically liberal friends, those who insisted we give Bill Clinton a pass on the Monica Lewinski, Jennifer Flowers,mumble…garble…Juanita Broaddrick allegations, because of all the “good” he did for women. I thought about my own experience with sexism and how it changed the trajectory of my life. I imagined the world I want my children to grow up in–my three sons and two daughters. And, I came to a conclusion: When a person’s private behavior is unacceptable–that person’s public behavior can never be good enough to earn a pass; it is a cover story, a facade, a fraud. So, yes, Al Franken must be held accountable. He ought to suffer the consequences of his past, and prior to getting caught, unrepentant behavior.

Some people are bound to yell “Unfair!” We’ve already started to hear the “what about the Republicans” crowd.  At this point, such clamoring doesn’t hold water. Sexist behavior is sexist behavior. Harassment is harassment. Intimidation, assault, and rape are crimes. The sexual objectification of people, but especially of women, is deeply entrenched in our political and social systems. Rooting it out will not be easy nor enjoyable. Still. we must. begin. right. now. to root. it. out.

Senator Franken, you might have been on the progressive side of every issue I care about. That no longer matters. We can throw shade at a sexist culture that condones and even celebrates raunchy humor. But, if we’re going to come out of this in a better place those days are over. We can blame the fact that we live in a society that has set the behavior bar far too low for far too long, a society that has allowed men to grow up thinking they are entitled to whatever they want and whatever they can take. As true as that indictment might be–it is NOT an excuse. We must do the difficult and painful work to change. We must. Not tomorrow. Not next time. Not as soon as the other side starts to clean up their mess. Now. Here. In our own backyard. It’s time to clean out the stink.

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