Sunday, November 19, 2017

Liberals, don't defend Al Franken with the same arguments used by Trump, Moore, and Cosby

There are a few arguments that are continually used in defense of people accused of sexual harassment or assault. Since Leean Tweedon accused Al Franken or forcing a kiss and put out a photo of Franken humiliating her, arguments primarily used by assaulters and/or their right-wing supporters have been put forth by Franken's defenders. Suddenly the left is attacking the accuser in words used to attack every previous accuser. I find that disturbing.

I'm not arguing that Franken's actions are equivalent to those of a child molester like Roy Moore or a rapist like Bill Cosby. I'm simply saying that people should not change their evidentiary standards based on how much they like or dislike the accused. A sleazy defense of a murderer or a shoplifter is still a sleazy defense.  If you don't accept an argument put forward by Trump or Weinstein then don't use the same argument to defend anyone else.

So here's a handy table comparing the defense of Franken with the defense of various other men in hopes that this will make clear why these arguments are always bad.

The typical defense The Franken defense Just like ...
The timing is suspiciousFranken's Republican accuser was trying to create a distraction from the Roy Moore scandal. Why else would she come out with this now? If the "why now" argument sounds familiar, it's because Moore just used it, asking why his accusers have come out a month before the election. Trump expressed similar suspicions when the Hollywood Access tape came out.

Trump actually had a better argument than Franken or Moore, because sexual harassment wasn't a big part of the national discussion until Trump was accused of it. With the Harvey Weinstein-inspired #MeToo movement convincing women that their accusations might finally be taken seriously, this is exactly the time one should expect a flood of these reports.

Yes, Tweedon could be making a calculated political move, but by that logic don't we have to dismiss the claims of Trump's liberal victims as well? Are we going to have a rule that we'll only believe victims who are politically aligned with the accused?
She was friendly afterwards Hey look, here's a picture of Tweedon sitting next to Franken smiling! How upset could she have been? This is a big defense in the Hollywood cases. Weinstein and Cosby have both trotted out examples where their victims had lunch with them later, or sent them a friendly email, or worked for them again. I wanted to post a link explaining the psychology behind this phenomenon, which is quite common, but my google-fu is failing me at the moment.
It was long ago He wasn't even a senator! The Franken photo is about as old as Trump's Hollywood Access tape. Moore apparently hasn't trolled the mall for teenage girls in years. 
She's not so innocent On the same tour, Tweedon goosed a guitarist. So who is she to talk? This is pretty much every defense for every sexual crime or misdemeanor ever. Sexy clothes, raunchy behavior, kinky tastes, any sexual history whatever is used as a reason to dismiss the victim's claims. Even if you have evidence that a woman is raunchy and inappropriate and sexually charged, it doesn't in any way prove she wasn't assaulted.

It's fake  Social media is flooded with people claiming it was a joke Tweedon was in on, that she was pretending to be asleep, or that the photo was altered. They're saying this even though there's photographic evidence and Franken has admitted to posing for the picture. Disputing evidence is very popular. Moore signed the yearbook of a victim but denies he ever met her and claims the signature is a forgery. The main difference between Franken and people like Moore and Trump is he didn't start making the bullshit lies some of his fans are making for him.
It's not so bad Franken didn't do much. He's not really touching her breasts, just posing as though he is, and a forced kiss isn't like grabbing a woman's breasts.  The tough thing here is everyone has a different line. You have a right to your opinion that Franken's photo was no more than a tasteless, ultimately harmless joke, but others have a right to believe that there's nothing wrong with a guy in his thirties hitting on teens or a celebrity feeling entitled to grope every woman he meets.

I think it's fair to say any line Franken crossed was crossed further by Trump, many, many times, but if the victim feels a line was crossed, who are you to tell her it's a stupid line?