Off With Their Heads
I did not post this when I wrote it back in December. This really emphasizes the level of my discomfort with the two sides on this issue. And even this re-post has many reconsiderations.
In retrospect, I am proud of the #metoo movement that grew out of this episode. Like the lid that the Ferguson uprising blew off the issue of police aggression and the murder of black Americans without justice served, the demand for an uncompromising response was loud and, in this case, quick. Awareness is heightened, at least, in the corporate world that this type of behavior is no longer acceptable. In our political world, I guess it takes all kinds.
Some have fallen, while others just build bunkers and fire first.
Unfortunately, we have not witnessed as swift a response for the equally proud justice movements of #blacklivesmatter, #riseup, #neveragain and, most recently, #wherearethechildren that call for just action to protect the human rights, decency and welfare of our most vulnerable brothers and sisters.
It should not be lost on us that in the case of Senator Franken the "victim" was white and the perpetrator was a liberal Democrat. We eat our own sometimes -- the low-hanging fruit -- maybe to keep us from dealing with the root of the problem.
I join in a lot of discussions about how to advance solutions for a more socially just, environmentally sustainable and spiritually fulfulling future. I know that more and more people are awake to the injustice and know that what we are seeing and experiencing is not right -- and that it cannot continue.
So far, enough of them are still hunkered down in the bunker as the shots fire over their heads from behind. But they are not shooting, so there is hope. And for that, I will keep pushing forward.
Here is the original unpublished blog, What Just Happened in the U.S. Senate, I wrote in Dec 7, 2017:
Well, I am torn.
I have gone in circles on this issue, trying to both understand and convey what I see, really, as a deep loss in the forced resignation of Senator Al Franken. Recognizing the tipping point this may represent for female empowerment, I know that I really did not want Senator Franken to resign.
He has been a great Senator. He is smart, focused, clear, hard working and fearless. He stands up for those who have been disenfranchised - including women. He has stood in solidarity with Native Americans against exploitation of their land and resources. He has presented a strong, yet often light-hearted, voice of clarity, integrity and respect. His speech on the floor to announce his decision to resign illustrated how much he treasured this responsibility and how much it has taught him. Even knowing his story, his mistakes, I do not consider him a hypocrite.
But I recognize my hypocrisy if I use this to forgive his actions, or use it to justify his stay in office. So I fully support the Senators calling out Senator Franken for his behavior toward women. Our leaders must be held to the highest standards.
But I do feel like he deserved to have his day in court, i.e., the Senate Ethics Committee. The incidents of forced kissing and touching certainly crossed a line of decency. While seeking apology, the women reporting the actions said they did not want to hurt his standing as a Senator. It is unclear if his act was more than a poorly staged and indecent joke. The ignorant, "cop-a-feel" moments are situations many women have experienced and deal with, more and more, by loudly and publicly saying "excuse me, but get your hands off my body." Or, maybe better, with a punch in their smug face.
This brings me to the lost opportunity.
Rather than run him out of town, we could have sought an open hearing and investigation of his actions and maybe learn how/if he had moved beyond this inappropriate, immature behavior. We could have used this as a teaching moment to move the red lines drawn by gender, political and, most obviously, party identity. What are these lines that allow us to maintain our "moral high ground" on an issue, rather than actually solve it? I would have liked to see Senator Franken sit at a table next to the women he harmed to talk about what he was or may have been thinking. I think a lot of us, men and women, would benefit from this type of public conversation and education on what is and is not acceptable behavior.
I was uncomfortable with Senator Gillibrand 's firebrand movement to rally the Democrat troops -- in the name of women everywhere -- to make Senator Franken an example of how men who commit sexual assault should be treated. His case did not seem culpable under that term. What about justice? What about the right to fair treatment? I have already heard descriptions of his treatment as unjust. We gave them room to launch that criticism. Truth and integrity, not emotion, should guide our actions.
Her actions did serve to shine the light on the rising power of Women of the Senate -- which I certainly support. Maybe she did not expect her tweet to take off like the wildfire it did. Maybe it was not organized as it seems. Maybe it was the tipping point for that.
But it does not seem to be changing the hypocrisy that is Roy Moore and Donald Trump. It does not seem to be working to shame Republicans to step up, or call them out as she and her fellow Democrats did Senator Franken.
I know that even a small incident is harmful and the fact that there were several women with complaints is hard to get over. The fact that the women still remember and feel violated by it is pretty damning. But for Senator Franken this was not about wielding power. It was about a lifelong comedian behaving as an immature jerk.
Senator Franken is being asked to take the hit for the sins of his male colleagues. Maybe he has to do this. Maybe, with his keen sense of sarcasm and irony, he is the right man for the job. But it does not feel right.
It is good we are having these conversations...now...
Off with his head!