I Have kept silent for the most part about the sudden spate of sexual harassment accusations coming out of Hollywood and Washington DC. Yes, I blogged about how no one should be surprised about Hollywood. The casting couch has been one of the most well-known secrets for decades. Politicians acting the same way is nothing new either. A study of the history of some of the presidents of the last half of the 20th Century should prove that. Eisenhower’s military driver was supposedly his mistress at one point (I say supposedly because I have not researched it or verified reports). Kennedy was, to be blunt, a womanizer. Then you have LBJ and if you, like me, are a Texan, you’ve heard all sorts of rumors about him. I could keep on, but I won’t.
Here’s something to think about. Things have changed. There was a time when the media not only turned a blind eye to such behavior by our politicians or other “notables”, now they only do so in a selective manner. We’ve seen that already with regard to Harvey Weinstein and, more importantly, with the allegations Corey Feldman has made of late. If someone like me, who takes little notice of what goes on out in the glitz of Hollyweird has heard the rumors, you know the media. When those rumors went beyond the casting couch to grown men and women abusing minor children, where was the media? Where was it when Feldman and others started talking about this years ago?
Now the latest lynching — er reporting — party revolves around sexual harassment allegations being laid against politicians, some elected and some running for election. There are also those against men who haven’t held office is decades but now, suddenly, behavior supposedly occurring decades ago is being brought to light.
The latest allegation to be made public happened yesterday. Sen. Al Franken, former comic (at least he thinks he was), has been accused of inappropriate behavior a decade ago. Unlike most of the other allegations leveled against others, there is a photograph of him reaching toward a sleeping woman’s breast and mugging for the camera as he does so.
The reaction to this revelation hasn’t surprised me. He’s apologized and sworn that he will cooperate with an ethics investigation. Dowd has tried to spin Franken’s actions as not being harassment or abuse because he was “joking”, or some other equally stupid explanation. I have no doubt that sort of justification by a Republisan would have been met with derision. But Franken is one of the darlings of the party.
Here’s the thing. I don’t like the way this country, and especially the so-called journalists, have decided it is all right to not only conduct trial by media but to presume guilt until proven innocent. Worse is the tendency of all too many to assume one is guilty based not on the cicurmstances being alleged but on what their political party happens to be. It doesn’t work that way, folks. If you want to be taken seriously, you need to turn the same hard look on those you agree with politically that you do on those sitting across the aisle from you.
If you sit there and condemn President Trump for what some women say he did and if you also believe he should step down as President because of that, you should hold Franken to the same level of accountability. Conversely, if you are lighting the pitchforks to go after Franken, you sure as hell should be doing the same with every other man — and woman — who stands similarly accused.
But how about doing something novel? How about not deciding on a man’s or woman’s future based on allegations and innuendo? How about letting them face their accusers. Instead of having tear-filled press conferences with Gloria Allred sitting there feeding the accusers their lines, let them sit before an ethics commission or, duh, a court of law and be subject to cross-examination?
I do not automatically doubt a woman who claims she has been abused or harassed. Far from it, in fact. But I also don’t subscribe to the idea that we have to automatically believe them. I worked in law enforcement long enough to have seen situations where a man was accused of crimes by a woman, crimes he did not commit.
I am also tired of certain people who have been the most vocal in the cries for condemnation against many of those currently being accused of harassment or worse also being the ones who defended Bill Clinton and did their best to eviscerate his accusers. Yes, I’m looking straight at Hillary and those who did all they could to protect Clinton to the detriment of those who leveled accusations of sexual misconduct against him.
We are on a very slippery slope right now, one we need to take a hard look at before we go any further. Yes, these accusations need to see the light of day. Yes, the voters have the right to know about them. But the men and women being accused also have the right to defend themselves. They have the right to point out possible motivation for such accusations to be made. We, the public, can only reach an informed decision abut the validity of the accusations after we know both sides of the story.
Besides, if you want me to take your concerns about Moore or any other conservative politician seriously, you have to take mine about Franken and Biden and Clinton seriously. In other words, apply the same standards to both sides of the political spectrum. If you don’t, you are not helping the women’s movement. You are, in fact, harming it by making it nothing more than a political agenda tool.
But I’ll go one better. Every one of those men and women who have been harassed or assaulted need to file criminal charges where they can and civil cases. I have no use for anyone who takes advantage of someone else, especially if they have used their “position of power” to do so. However, every person who has falsely alleged harassment or abuse, no matter what the reason, needs to face judgment and punishment as well. This issue is too important and too pervasive not to hold to this. We don’t want those who cry “Wolf!” make it where we don’t believe someone when they come forward with a valid accusation.
Most of all, we need the media to quit playing favorites and get back to reporting the news, not trying to make it or manipulate it.