Okay, now I’m really done. I don’t know exactly what that means, but it involves hiding under my bed for a while. The boogie men living under there have got to be better than what the real world is offering right now. Things are seriously messed up when Al Franken, beloved wit and aggressive voice of common sense (and Democrats), is accused of sexual assault. It’s even more messed up that there’s photographic evidence!
Before I go any further, I have to respond to reactions I’ve heard from my fellow Democrats and some self-identified liberals. I understand why they would say what they’re saying. Our country is besieged by a legitimately corrupt Republican party, headed by Mr. Pussy-Grabber himself. It’s just too much to bear to have one of the good guys, our guys, taken down. The immediate defense of Franken sounds like this:
- Leeann Tweeden is a major Trump supporter, so this might be a set-up.
- Leann Tweeden posed for Playboy.
- Leeann Tweeden was wearing a thick flack jacket when Franken fondled her breasts.
- The person who took the photo claims that Tweeden wasn’t sleeping and was in on the joke.
Let’s get all of that out of the way. I don’t care. That’s a steaming pile of Trump-hate being used to obscure the facts of the first allegation of a Democrat behaving (I’ll use this word to assuage my fellow Democrats) “badly.” My responses to the above points are:
- Every other powerful man who has been accused of some kind of sexual abuse could have been set up. That’s the nature of being powerful and in the public eye; you’re at risk. Nonetheless, this is the first time I’m hearing that excuse used. AND…Franken has apologized. If he isn’t saying it’s a set-up, why should I?
- Skin to skin contact is not a prerequisite to establish unwanted touching
- I can’t find this claim anywhere online. Maybe it was said. However, I return to point A, Franken apologized. I wouldn’t if I had been part of a group joke, would you?
Back to the real issue; I’m so damned pissed off at Al Franken I can hardly see straight. Forcefully kissing a woman is obviously wrong. It’s also ridiculous, childish, and invasive to touch her breasts while she’s sleeping. But what’s even more fury-inducing is that Franken happily participated in documenting the grope. Some pal of his took the snap of Franken holding a sleeping woman’s breasts with a big, goofy “look at me” smile on his face. It’s that facial expression that makes me want to slap him for all of eternity.
Franken’s open-mouthed “I’m so hilarious!” grin adds volumes of repellant information to the image of the breast grab. Here’s why:
Al Franken’s accuser purportedly rebuffed his desire to kiss her during the rehearsal of a USO sketch; her marked lack of desire resulted in a story with which we are all too familiar. He got angry. Franken’s ego couldn’t take the perceived slight. What did he do? He forced himself on her by aggressively, painfully kissing her and shoving his tongue into her mouth. Gross and despicable, right? But it’s the fact of the photo and the view of his grin that takes the insult one step further.
Franken’s act and facial expression while fondling a sleeping woman who rebuffed him say, “You thought you could say no, but I’m going to have the last word.” Or, as he is trying to assert, the last laugh. Because he was trying to be funny.
Franken has shown himself to be a brilliant man who has full command of his faculties. He’s the first one to call anyone out who tries to evade censure with double-talk. He has demonstrated a command of the most basic rules of ethics and knows right from wrong. Al Franken’s intelligence and moral high ground are what bury him in this instance. There’s no way for him to hide behind “I was trying to be funny.” He knows what’s funny and what isn’t. He was on Saturday Night Live; he’s a satirist for heaven’s sake.
Come on, Al. You weren’t being funny and you know it. You knew it then and you know it now. You were angry and pulled the go-to angry guy move. You not only groped an unwilling and unconscious woman to establish dominance, but you wanted to humiliate her.
What goes around comes around. You’ve humiliated yourself. And like all the other men who have recently been accused of inappropriate sexual behavior, you’re about to learn the meaning of “consequences” in a way you haven’t before.
To quote one of your own SNL character, “Don’t you just hate it when…..” you get busted for being an angry little misogynist?
For the record… Al Franken issued his statement on the matter:
“The first thing I want to do is apologize: to Leeann, to everyone else who was part of that tour, to everyone who has worked for me, to everyone I represent, and to everyone who counts on me to be an ally and supporter and champion of women. There’s more I want to say, but the first and most important thing—and if it’s the only thing you care to hear, that’s fine—is: I’m sorry.
I respect women. I don’t respect men who don’t. And the fact that my own actions have given people a good reason to doubt that makes me feel ashamed.
But I want to say something else, too. Over the last few months, all of us—including and especially men who respect women—have been forced to take a good, hard look at our own actions and think (perhaps, shamefully, for the first time) about how those actions have affected women.
For instance, that picture. I don’t know what was in my head when I took that picture, and it doesn’t matter. There’s no excuse. I look at it now and I feel disgusted with myself. It isn’t funny. It’s completely inappropriate. It’s obvious how Leeann would feel violated by that picture. And, what’s more, I can see how millions of other women would feel violated by it—women who have had similar experiences in their own lives, women who fear having those experiences, women who look up to me, women who have counted on me.
Coming from the world of comedy, I’ve told and written a lot of jokes that I once thought were funny but later came to realize were just plain offensive. But the intentions behind my actions aren’t the point at all. It’s the impact these jokes had on others that matters. And I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to come to terms with that.
While I don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit as Leeann does, I understand why we need to listen to and believe women’s experiences.
I am asking that an ethics investigation be undertaken, and I will gladly cooperate.
And the truth is, what people think of me in light of this is far less important than what people think of women who continue to come forward to tell their stories. They deserve to be heard, and believed. And they deserve to know that I am their ally and supporter. I have let them down and am committed to making it up to them.”