Al Franken has joined the growing ranks of men accused of sexual harassment. The Democratic Senator from Minnesota was today accused by radio host Leeann Tweeden of “kissing and groping” her without her consent during a USO tour of Afghanistan in 2006.
Tweeden released the allegations against Franken on Thursday morning, along with a picture of Franken grabbing at her chest as she apparently slept. She claims Franken forced kisses on her against her will while insisting on rehearsing a skit they were preparing for the troops.
— Byron Tau (@ByronTau) November 16, 2017
In response to the allegations levelled at him by Tweeden, Senator Franken initially dismissed his actions as a joke, but later released a statement in which he said that he wished to apologize for what he had done, and submitted himself to an investigation by a Senate ethics committee.
NEW FRANKEN STATEMENT pic.twitter.com/c3puSkK9Ts
— Sam Stein (@samstein) November 16, 2017
Personally, I think Franken should resign, but if he wants to submit himself to proper channels, then I suppose that’s up to him. It’s not like there’s no evidence of what took place.
The reaction from some quarters has been mundanely predictable. We’ve had everything from partisan snide of ‘let’s see what the libs say about Judge Moore now’ (still horrific, obviously), to so-called feminist defences of ‘Republicans are never going to step down so Franken stepping down will only encourage Republicans to accuse more Democrats of being sex pests’ (bizarre), to claims that no human can do anything any more because we all have skeletons of some form in our closets (a supremely and perhaps uniquely bad take).
It’s not about having no men in government, as political geniuses like Ben Shapiro have suggested; it’s about getting rid of the men who think it is ever appropriate to force another human being into a sexual situation without their consent, and that really shouldn’t be a difficult qualification.
Personally, I don’t want to be governed by someone who doesn’t share my values of thinking it’s bad to sexually assault people. Maybe we should expect better of those who are expected to represent our best interests. If somebody is going to make a moral judgment on my behalf, as our elected representatives are frequently expected to do, maybe there should be a minimum moral standard that should have to apply.
But it’s not just Franken, though that’s the talk of the town today. Let’s not forget the women who accused the current sitting President of sexual assault and harassment in the run up to the 2016 election.
If Al Franken is going to be investigated by a Senate ethics committee, which he absolutely should be, then the President should be too, along with any other politician about whom credible accusations have been made, whichever side of the aisle they may sit on. This requires a moral consistency across party lines, something that has been sadly lacking across, frankly, decades. It requires a change in culture that can probably only be achieved by, for lack of a better phrase, trimming the fat and starting afresh.
I find myself at a loss for much more to say, other than what should be a simple ask. Can we please, please, be better going forward? It really shouldn’t be this hard not to harass people.