Documentation. Witnesses. Facts. Truth. That's what they're afraid of.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt

It's hard for me to accuse any women reporting sexual misconduct of exaggerating. I'm a man, and I have no clue what it's like to experience the things women go through every day. However I think I've had my tail stepped on way too many times by Republicans and I have to reluctantly say that I'm not sure I believe all of Leeann Tweeden's story. Frankly, it's almost scary to me to say that.

Earlier today, I tweeted:

Within five minutes, I found my tweet had been included in a Twitter moment entitled "Misogynists on the left attack Tweeden."

If you go through that Moment, curated by @SchenkNethery, who seems to be a totally decent person (and also hails from my former home, Brooklyn!), there really are a number of tweets in there that "slut-shame" Tweeden. But that's not what I was trying to do. Leeann has the right to pose in any magazine, or appear on any show, or express any political opinion that she wants to.

The problem is, that the Republicans just have too much of a record of figuring out ways to turn Democrat against Democrat -- that happened throughout the 2016 election and is still going on today.

There is no doubt that Al Franken, at the very least, did something inappropriate and juvenile that is barely appropriate for a comedian and certainly not appropriate for someone with political ambitions or anyone outside that realm.

He very well may have touched Tweeden there, but he clearly was not touching her in the picture. Presuming she was asleep, it's a pretty dirtbag move. There's talk that they were just rehearsing a skit and that was part of it, but still would be undignified and deserving of an apology from a grown man.

But this is all we have, other than Tweeden's word. And this is her word:

"You knew exactly what you were doing," Tweeden wrote. "You forcibly kissed me without my consent, grabbed my breasts while I was sleeping and had someone take a photo of you doing it, knowing I would see it later, and be ashamed."

If he did, in fact, forcibly kiss her without her consent and actually grab her breasts, then I believe he should resign. I'm just not sure that's the case.

Franken apologized to Tweeden, as he should have:

"I respect women. I don't respect men who don't. And the fact that my own actions have given people a good reason to doubt that makes me feel ashamed.
"But I want to say something else, too. Over the last few months, all of us—including and especially men who respect women—have been forced to take a good, hard look at our own actions and think (perhaps, shamefully, for the first time) about how those actions have affected women.
"For instance, that picture. I don't know what was in my head when I took that picture, and it doesn't matter. There's no excuse. I look at it now and I feel disgusted with myself. It isn't funny. It's completely inappropriate. It's obvious how Leeann would feel violated by that picture. And, what's more, I can see how millions of other women would feel violated by it—women who have had similar experiences in their own lives, women who fear having those experiences, women who look up to me, women who have counted on me.
"Coming from the world of comedy, I've told and written a lot of jokes that I once thought were funny but later came to realize were just plain offensive. But the intentions behind my actions aren't the point at all. It's the impact these jokes had on others that matters. And I'm sorry it's taken me so long to come to terms with that.
"While I don't remember the rehearsal for the skit as Leeann does, I understand why we need to listen to and believe women's experiences.
"I am asking that an ethics investigation be undertaken, and I will gladly cooperate.
"And the truth is, what people think of me in light of this is far less important than what people think of women who continue to come forward to tell their stories. They deserve to be heard, and believed. And they deserve to know that I am their ally and supporter. I have let them down and am committed to making it up to them."

A few points here. One, that's the way to apologize.

Two, he's right. Many jokes that used to be funny are just plain offensive. I thought Modern Family was so progressive a decade ago, and now it makes me cringe.

Three, he never said he did anything but take the picture.

Four, he called for an ethics investigation against himself! At a time where the Republicans control the Senate. Either he doesn't believe they'll do it, or he doesn't think they'll find that he did what Tweeden said.

There are also a few ways in which this is suspicious:

First, the easy one. Roger Stone knew ahead of time that this announcement was coming. We all know what happened last time he displayed his magical clairvoyance. Roger Stone is one of the pioneers of "ratfucking" (political sabotage that often involves trying to make someone look guilty, and commonly to cause infighting) and has never stopped engaging in such behavior since the Nixon administration.

Second, as I mentioned above, is that the picture does not exactly display what Franken is being accused of doing.

The third is the sequence of events since Franken's apology. Tweeden accepted it right away. In a vacuum, that seems slightly weird, but OK, maybe she's a forgiving person. But then consider the context (outside of #MeToo, which is a very welcome development). Roy Moore is looking to stay in the Alabama Senate race despite the fact that he can barely even deny that he's a pedophile. He's been let go by the Senate fundraising arm of the GOP. The Alabama GOP is still sticking with him, and look at their argument:

On Wednesday evening, the Alabama Republican Party Steering Committee, comprised of 21 members, met to discuss the events and circumstances regarding the December 12 U.S. Senate race.
The ALGOP Steering Committee supports Judge Roy Moore as our nominee and trusts the voters as they make the ultimate decision in this crucial race.

Let the voters decide.

After "accepting" Franken's apology, Tweeden said:

When asked if Franken should step down, Tweeden says: "That's not my call. I didn't do this to have him step down ... I think that's for the people of Minnesota to decide."
The two statements were within 18 hours of each other. Can't be a coincidence. Franken isn't up for reelection until 2020, so the voters of Minnesota can't decide for quite a while. But Moore is up in less than a month. And the Republicans REALLY need to hold that seat. This seems like "whataboutism" at its finest, and the GOP is probably trying to muddy the waters.

This is why Steve M. believes Franken should resign -- so the Republicans can't use him for false equivalence. It's hard to disagree with him, but I think Franken should hang in there.

Keep in mind, the Republicans have a history of using women in this way:

Should we give into that?

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