Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Crucifying Al Franken - NPR - Moral equivalence between rape and an unwelcome kiss?

Driving to work NPR’s Morning Edition featured an interview of Senator Abby Honold who asked Senator Franken to remove his name from the Sexual Assault Bill that he was instrumental in drafting, by NPR’s Rachel Martin who seemed more into angling for Al Franken's expulsion from the Senate than objectively reporting the story.

What I found most offense was how Rachel Martin and Senator Honold drew a moral equivalence between rape and boorish behavior.  Then a second time between predatory behavior against minors and adults on stage goofing around.  Since this story exemplifies an aspect of why the Democrat Party is so good at losing I decided to write it up this evening.

Here I reprint most of the transcript and share my response in red.

November 28, 2017  -  5:05 AM ET  -  NPR Morning Edition
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:Senator Al Franken made it clear yesterday - he is not going to resign after accusations of sexual harassment.
{Where?  At the office? No.  With interns? No.  From all I’ve heard they were in public, entertainers on a stage, a couple ass-grabs, a kiss, stupid horse play - as is the American style specially in those years.  Mind you, offensive behavior that Hollywood has been inculcating in us American men since forever.

Any other accusations of sexual harassment?  Any assaults? No.  Stalking minors? No.  Accosting minors? No. Rape? No.  

Distasteful, unacceptable, sure - but expulsion worthy?  Come on, get real Senator Honold, do you really want to retroactively condemn every man who’s ever made an offensive move? 

Ms. Martin, Senator Honold, what about the difference between predatory behavior and obnoxious behavior that's quelled with a rejection?

Al Franken has shown remorse, repeatedly.  He has a stellar reputation in the halls of Congress.  Removing him from office seems more like a Koch born and Murdoch driven distraction, more than anything else.  

NPR should be ashamed, but then truth be told, looks like Koch has gotten his tentacles deep into NPR.}
 That's led to an especially uncomfortable situation for one young woman.  
Her name is Abby Honold, and she had asked Senator Franken to draft legislation related to sexual assault. It would pay for training for police officers to learn how to better treat survivors of these crimes. Honold proposed this because of her own experience. When she was 19 years old, she was raped at the University of Minnesota. Hours afterwards, Honold was in a hospital bed when a detective walked in. …

… Her rapist was sentenced to six years in prison last year.
{Horrendous event, poorly treated, no doubt.  But what does such a vicious assault have to do with Senator Franken's acts of being piggy?
Only a political opportunist could draw a moral equivalence between rape and an unwelcome kiss or touching someone’s breast or ass.  

Seems to me another example of why Democrats keep losing with the public.  Too lost in your causes without appreciating the humanity out here.}
So that was all the background for Abby Honold when she heard Leeann Tweeden's story. Tweeden is the radio anchor who says Franken forcibly kissed her. Other women have accused Al Franken of touching them inappropriately. When she learned about this, Honold asked Senator Franken to take his name off her bill. 
How long did it take you to then realize that he couldn't have his name on your bill anymore? 
SEN. HONOLD: I made that decision pretty quickly. In this case, I had to care about the victims who may not be helped if his name remained attached to this legislation. And I reached out to his office, and we agreed that that was the best move to make.
{What about redemption?  What about allowing Al Franken to be an example of a man growing up and recognizing one’s own offensive behavior and changing it.}
NPR-MARTIN: How did you feel about having to make that decision because he had been in - so instrumental in getting you to this point? 
SEN. HONOLD: It was really crushing to have to change this up, and especially, so many of the amazing people in Senator Franken's office that I've worked with - but I'm trying to remind myself that the most important thing is that victims are helped with this legislation.
{It’s worse than that, it’s a counter-productive scorched-earth mentality.  It’s exactly how the Democratic Party keeps pushing away salt of the earth Americans.

Please don’t accuse me of justifying anything.  There are reasons worth recognizing and understanding, and learning from - this is what enables us to evolve out of thoughtless destructive and offensive habits.

You need a dose of forgiveness to help the learning and evolution along.}
NPR-MARTIN: May I ask whether or not you think Senator Franken should step down from his position because of the allegations of sexual harassment, which he has conceded?
{That would be a Pyrrhic victory.

One that will disaffect many voters when you Democrats desperately need to start figuring out how to reach us.  You forget who the real enemy is.  We need Senator Franken to remain in the Senate.  

There are plenty of other forms of less draconian punishment.}
SEN. HONOLD: I've tried to hold off from saying anything about that in particular. I can understand why people would want that. I also want to respect - you know, for example, Leeann Tweeden said that she didn't think he should resign, and so, of course, the part of me that wants to, you know, listen to victims first wants to respect that too. 
NPR-MARTIN: But I guess I wonder if the central question here isn't the trade-off that happens. You know, Republicans in Alabama will point to Roy Moore and say, yes, his transgressions are abhorrent, but we need him in the Senate to further our own legislative priorities. And while you personally, Abby, might find Senator Franken's actions abhorrent, you appreciate his support for your particular legislation, and you're not willing to call him out and call on him to step down. 
{Here yet again Martin and NPR’s (Koch sponsored) Morning Edition is making a moral equivalence between accosting minors with sexual advances and worse - and adults acting boorish.}
SEN. HONOLD: came out tomorrow and she said that she wanted him to resign, I would back her up on that because it should be up to her. I certainly think he should be investigated, and I really don't think that it's appropriate that people who support him are trying to give him a pass based on what he's done in the Senate because that shouldn't matter, you know? There are people who do good things who assault and harass others, and there are people who don't do good things who assault and harass others, and they should all be held to the same standard. 
NPR-MARTIN: We are in this collective awakening now as to the scope and the scale of sexual assault and sexual harassment in our culture - and an acknowledgement for the first time, really, of how difficult it is and has been for women to come forward. I wonder if you could just share how you have watched all of this unfold. 
SEN. HONOLD: I think it's amazing. And I know that for a lot of survivors out there, it's really hard to hear this in the news every day. But I've noticed a big shift in people in my life who maybe haven't been victims of sexual violence or harassment, and I think that that's really important that people are starting to hear these stories.
{All that be what it may, Dear Senators, crucifying a Senator like Al Franken is not the way to go if constructive substantive long-lasting change is your goal.}

Copyright © 2017 NPR. All rights reserved. 

(I’m invoking the ‘fair use’ doctrine for this reproduction.)

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