Comment Of The Day: “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/17/2017: Groping And Griping”

We’re going to need a bigger black list…

It is a measure of how quickly the Harvey Weinstein Ethics Train Wreck is hurtling down the tracks that this excellent post by JutGory,  an overview of the issues raised by the game-changing sexual misconduct accusations against Senator Al Franken by  a former model, current radio host, almost seems out of date. This was the fourth Comment of the Day that arrived over the weekend, and I apologize to Jut for not getting it up sooner. Nonetheless, his analysis is excellent, and his last point is more germane than ever.

Just today, Senator Franken was hit with a second woman’s accusation, CBS and PBS journalist Charlie Rose was accused by eight women, and subsequently suspended from his morning show duties by CBS. NY Times White House correspondent Glenn Thrush was accused by several women, and the Times has suspended him pending an investigation. Best of all, some women came forward with as yet unheard allegations about the Godfather of celebrity sexual harassment, Bill Clinton himself.

In the aftermath of all this, Roy Moore’s plummeting polls are reversing themselves. If everybody seems to be doing it, some are reasoning, especially so many “feminists” and “progressives,” then why punish Moore? Everybody isn’t “doing it,”  but the #MeTooers and the news media have been so incoherent and hypocritical that it has become difficult for the insufficiently attentive to define what “it” is. Right now, nobody seems to care about material distinctions., or context, or time lapse, or even confirmation. This a real witch hunt, with previously ordinary and relatively powerless citizens sensing an opportunity to destroy careers and reputations.

Here is JutGory’s Comment of the Day on the post,Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/17/2017: Groping And Griping:

I am no defender of Al Franken, though I hail from the State that Mondale Won. I think you are right that he should not resign.

But there are excuses that distinguish him from Moore.

The timing is suspicious?

That is stupid. Everyone is coming out of the woodwork now. And, the timing on the accusations regarding Roy Moore is suspicious (with an election coming up); Franken has no similar timing issues.

It’s only one time?

Yes, and no. Franken has always been an obnoxious jerk, and this is one of many variations on that theme. So, yeah, it may have only been one time he did THIS sort of obnoxious thing.

But, in that regard, people are characterizing this as sexual assault, which I think is pretty superficial. Leaving aside the kiss and focusing on the picture, Franken’s behavior is not much more obnoxious than the many, many, many Frat-Boy style photos of a sleeping individual with a mustache drawn on his face with a Sharpie. Those are obnoxious and denigrating (and an assault), and Franken’s photo is more comparable to THAT than to Bush Sr.’s “feel-copping.” Calling what Franken did “groping” is a bit of a stretch, even if technically true. To me, this falls into the “prank” category.

This is politically motivated?

No real evidence of that. Do we know Tweeden’s politics?

We need his vote regardless?

Stupid. Conservatives need a Republican vote in Alabama, but they don’t NEED Roy Moore. Besides, in the State that Mondale Won, it is entirely likely that his vote could be replaced by someone comparable. Hell, with our record, Bob Dylan could be the next Senator from Minnesota. He is just about old enough.

I believe him, not her?

I don’t know about the “kiss.” Accounts can be very subjective. I could believe both of them. But, being as obnoxious as he is, I can fully understand her perception of him as an obnoxious jerk, and his perception that he was just being himself and playing the role as he thought it should go.

It was a long time ago?

Yes, sort of. It was 10 years ago, far more recent than the Moore fiasco and the Stacey/Rapp incident. More importantly, It was before politics, when he was supposed to be entertaining and funny.

Why did she wait so long?

Same reason as everyone else. Right now is the right time.

He wasn’t in politics then?

This is the most important for me. Roy Moore’s allegations were 30 years ago, but they were at a time when he was a public servant. The allegations are that he abused his position. There is also an ICK factor to the age difference between him and the girls involved. Also, there is a demonstrated contempt for the law in his judiciary capacity that lends credence to the fact that he would have abused his power back then, making him an unfit public servant all along.

Franken, on the other hand, was a comedian, commentator and entertainer before politics. If he has risen to the occasion (as many wish Trump would), his pre-political behavior should be judged against a different standard than Moore’s and in the context of his current role and responsibilities.

What about Trump?

Yes, Trump should get a “pass” on his pre-political actions, in the sense that a public servant should be held to a higher standard. However, on the scale of comparison, from worst to “best,” I would put Moore (abused public trust), Bush, Sr. (still, technically a public figure obliged to maintain the dignity of the Presidency…assuming he has adequate faculties), Trump (obnoxious, but not a public servant at the time he made his denigrating remarks, or took denigrating actions—of course, this says nothing about his juvenile tweeting since he was inaugurated, but his tweets have not been sexist as much as juvenile); Franken (juvenile prankster pulling an unfunny prank in the long-tradition of SNL players doing unfunny things, but now a public figure that should answer for his behavior in order to maintain the public trust); Kevin Spacey/Louis, C.K/Harvey Weinstein. public figures who have no obligation to account to the public (unless in the criminal sphere, which would make Weinstein worse than Spacey or Louis, actually).

I actually feel a little bit sorry for Spacey and Louis. Yes, both are jerks, but they owe me nothing. Just as I don’t care about their political beliefs, I don’t care about their personal lives. Of course, their behavior, if not criminal, is subject to market forces and those forces are particularly unforgiving right now. Their employers are too frightened of those forces to keep them on; but, their employers may be rightfully scared of potential future liability if they act similarly in the future; they are a sexual harassment suit waiting to happen at this point. (Damn Lawyers!)

Everybody does it?

Not everybody does it. And, not “everybody” is the same. We have different standards for different people. Franken did not do this while he was a Senator, so he should not be held to the standard of a Senator.

54 thoughts on “Comment Of The Day: “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/17/2017: Groping And Griping”

  1. And now—Rep. John Conyers! He who proudly explained that he never reads the bills he votes for!

    So far, with the exception of Kevin Spacey, whom I admired as a performer, so few of the victims of the Harvey Weinstein Ethics Train Wreck are characters I would miss if they never peeled themselves off the tracks.

    • Bright side. Swamp being drained?

      You received a typical male upbringing, ya? At what point do they shoo all the women out of the room and tell guys that this stuff is okay? Is it on the day when we’re 13 and they divide the class by sex and give the girls each a maxi pad to hide in their lockers?

      • At what point do they shoo all the women out of the room and tell guys that this stuff is okay?

        In happens in the class when they teach you all about the biology of sex, but nothing about the ethics of courting, wooing, dating, and marriage. It happens on the day when the television is left on to some day time drama that shows men sleeping around with every female cast member. It happens during the evening comedies that joke about sex like it is no big deal. It happens in the commercials, especially the ones that suggest the worst calamity to hit a man is not being able to get it up. It happens in the movies, where the entire objective is to get laid before one’s youth slides away. It happens on the day when you see the magazines for women that talk all about how to blow his mind in bed, and the magazines for men that portray women as provocative objects. It happens in the home, when dad cheats on mom, gets divorced, and remarries someone barely older than you are. It happens among our friends, who brag about exploits (even if they never happened) because everyone knows you’re not living it unless you’re getting some. It happens in the songs that remind us we’re nothing but animals, so let’s just have sex. It happens in the politics, when we we’re told that we’re given “one free grope”. It happens in public, when anyone who dares to suggest abstinence as a remedy to unwanted pregnancies and STDs is crucified as a medieval, puritanical, clueless idiot. It happens when any public figure that speaks out about “saving sex for marriage” is ridiculed and laughed off the stage. It happens when we dole out contraceptives like Halloween candy, because “they’re going to do it anyway”.

        • Bingo.

          I wonder, if we really went back and contemplated traditional sexual & relationship ethics, would we go back and accept the “burdens” of a prudish society that had solid walls corralling the interactions of men and women. Would we now consider those “burdens” to be less burdensome than the burdens we have accepted as supposedly “sexually liberated” society.

          • As if popular ideas of tradition were ever the truth of lives people lived. Shall we dig out some cuneiform tablets complaining about kids these days and their loose morals?

            And those solid walls you pine for are quite real in places like Saudi Arabia. Quite conveniently for the men, it’s the women who get walled off and denied the ability to live independent lives, create their own fortunes, or even move about in public unescorted.

            So instead of that, let’s start with with two simple rules and see hw far that gets us.

            1: Don’t shit where you eat. Pretend everyone you work with is of the sex you’re not interested in. If you’re bisexual pretend they’re closely related to you. If you’re bisexual and form West Virginia, take a lot of cold showers.

            2: This one is just for the men. Don’t ever take your dick out with someone who hasn’t kissed you on the mouth first.*

            *Kisses at midnight on New Year’s, during rehearsal for a play or during a play don’t count.

            • I wonder why your response to my thought experiment requires us to consider Saudi Arabia and the ancient middle east? I don’t think your reply is worthy of comment past this point.

              • I’m happy to hear how these walls of yours will not curtail the ability of one sex to work and function in society with the other.

                  • Would you then submit, that, given earlier American and Western notions about the perils of looser male/female relationships that led to increased cultural guards placed around those relationships, that America and the West were sloping slipperily towards Saudi Arabian or ancient middle eastern practices?

                    (hint: to aid in your answer you can use the actual history of America and West that didn’t slope slipperily towards Saudi Arabian or ancient middle eastern practices, where there was a different balance prior to the “sexual revolution” that broke the balance we had)

                    • tex, I think Saudi Arabia was brought up to show that societies with “traditional sexual ethics” aren’t actually very good at protecting women from sexual assault.

                      Do you have any examples of societies which do practice traditional sexual ethics and have lower sexual assault rates than the United States? I have no idea how one would prove this, but I strongly suspect that the sexual assault rate today is not higher than it was 200 years ago.

              • The answer is somewhere in the middle. Teens should be taught not to have sex because they (and especially girls) are just not emotionally mature enough. And, they need to respect their bodies. Plus, there are safety and pregnancy concerns. These concerns are so great though, that they need to be taught about safe sex.

          • addendum just because someone will start asking about exceptions. In medical exams, nude beaches, posing for artwork and other situations where you might be expected to take out your dick and you are unsure, or you are unable to reliably read social cues, someone will come along and tell you that your genitals need to be exposed, no need to guess.*

            *This addendum brought you you by the people who when told not to catcall women on the street answer with “So what I can’t even talk to a woman now?”

        • It happens when we dole out contraceptives like Halloween candy, because “they’re going to do it anyway”.

          If there’s one thing the past several thousand years of human history has taught us, it’s that some teenagers are just gonna, and nothing you say will stop it. Teaching them about safer-sex and birth control is the wise course of action. And the ones who aren’t gonna now, are likely to do it eventually, so it don’t hurt them to know either.

          Contraceptives and condoms are wonderful things and I highly recommend that you and your partner use them every time unless you’re specifically setting out to cause a pregnancy.

          • My wife and I use a much simpler, more effective technique than contraceptives and condoms. When we don’t want to get pregnant, we refrain from sexual activity during her fertile time, and when we want to get pregnant… Well, you get the idea. It has worked marvelously so far. Two planned children, 0 unplanned children. We’ve been married for almost 10 years.

            I’m sorry, but the teaching teens about safe sex is absurd. When I was a teen hearing about contraceptives, what I essentially heard was, “all consequences have been taken away, so go at it like bunnies in spring!” Guys especially need to be taught to take responsibility and treat women with respect. Part of that respect is respecting a woman’s fertility. When you take away the fertility, you take away the respect.

            Yes, teens will engage in sexual activity. But when you condone and subsidize the activity, you get more of it. And it hurts women far more than it hurts men.

            • Pregnancy hurts young women especially with some many people trying to restrict abortion and even then it’s always better not to need one in the first place. STDs harm both sexes.

              Contraceptives and safer-sex reduce those things.

              So tell me. As a teen did you go at it like bunnies in the spring? I asusme you’re young enough not to have fallen afoul of the Comstock laws

              • As teen, I did not, but I’m not going to claim any other than moral luck on that account. I made other mistakes, though, which I deeply regret. And those mistakes are why I believe very strongly that the answer to unwanted pregnancies and STDs isn’t contraceptives, but men understanding respecting women.

                Tell me honestly. Isn’t a man with self control, who can choose to avoid sex for the sake of not transmitting STDs and not getting someone pregnant who doesn’t want to get pregnant, preferable to a man who insists that sex must happen, but it’s okay, because there are contraceptives that work most of the time?

                • Tell me honestly. Isn’t a man with self control, who can choose to avoid sex for the sake of not transmitting STDs and not getting someone pregnant who doesn’t want to get pregnant, preferable to a man who insists that sex must happen, but it’s okay, because there are contraceptives that work most of the time?

                  As a matter of personal taste? I prefer a man who does have self-control and take relationships seriously and doesn’t press for immediate sex. And I want him to have used rubbers in the past since I don’t expect or want someone to have never had sex.

                  As a matter of policy I want condoms and contraceptives available to and hopefully used by people, and that includes teens, who have sex and aren’t seeking immediate pregnancy. And thus I want people educated about those things.

          • “If there’s one thing the past several thousand years of human history has taught us, it’s that some teenagers are just gonna, and nothing you say will stop it.”

            I’m not saying I disagree, but at the same time I kind of blinked when I read this. I mean, isn’t this the same “boys will be boys” excuse that, when we replace “teenagers” with “men,” leads to people telling women not to make waves or complain?

            Of course there’s a difference between teenagers and grown men, but… what if not accepting that excuse from teenagers is part of how they learn that we won’t accept it from them when they’re men?

            (Seriously, this is a thought experiment, not a debate tactic.)

            • I’m not sure I understand.

              That some teens are filled with more hormones than sense is an observation like it’s raining. Some teens are going to do it. They and the rest of us are better off if that doesn’t result in pregnancy or STDs.

              The decision to have sex is presumed to be mutual and thus unrelated to harassing behavior.

              • If you send someone the message “hey, we get it, your sex drive is uncontrollable. Let’s make sure it doesn’t impact your future,” and then later when they engage in irresponsible and/or illegal activity they say, “hey, my sex drive is uncontrollable. Why should this impact my future?”

                …I can’t help but wonder if these are related.

                I mean, it’s one thing to say “it’s fine if teens have sex as long as they’re responsible about it.” But pulling out the hormones/they can’t help themselves defense is, in light of recent developments, seeming like it might be kind of irresponsible of us.

                • Ahh, I see.

                  The thing is, they’re not adults. We recognize that they don’t have the level of maturity it takes to be considered a full independent member of society. They’re adult-sized but can’t vote or drink or live in their own.

                  Childhood excuses are no good for adults and in either case I’m not excusing harassment, I’m surrendering to unwise choices between consenting parties of the same age.

                  • Children do not become adults by being given license to follow their capricious whims (though some eventually do, through pain and error…most, when left with no guiding force, are juveniles in adult bodies, criminals, or maladjusted and broken).

      • You must be old. They don’t do that anymore. They didn’t even do that when I was going through school… No, when I was going through school, we got the first wave of affirmative action benefiting girls, so all the boys were ushered out of the room for an extra period of gym while all the girls were given a two hour science presentation.

        • Who gets shooed out probably has something to do with the sex of the teacher. Either way it was just a matter of being shooed into a different classroom for a talk about the messy stuff. Didn’t you get one about erections or nocturnal emissions or anything like that?

          • No, actually… Sex ed was given in grades 5, 7, and 9…. so at age 10, 12, and 14. The only ones that weren’t coed were the 5th grade classes, and I’m pretty sure it was because they didn’t want the girls to make fun of the boys icky-weird lookin’ penises.

            Fuck… I missed all the patriarchy meetings! God damn Canadian education system. No wonder I don’t know any of that shit.

            • I’m pretty sure I’m older than you. I’m about five year youngers than Steve-O based on the years he said he was in high-school. Most of the sex-ed was co-ed but the menstruation lesson wasn’t and there were also two slim books, one pink, one blue handed out by sex fill with the mysterious secrets that the others sex must never know. Of course over lunch those books were swapped around so everyone read both.

              Though for the life of me I can’t remember any of the specifics, of the books that is, I think I’m solid on how menstruation and erections work. It’s umm, Ill humors and miasmas in the air, right?

          • Didn’t you get one about erections or nocturnal emissions or anything like that?

            We were taught about this in sixth grade.

            I don’t remember ever being explicitly taught about consent in sex ed, though.

        • Is that the only one you missed? If we can narrow it down, we can get the curriculum changed. Instead of harass women, it’ll be listen up boys, remember what you learned in kindergarten? Use your indoor voice, keep your hands to yourself and here’s a new one. Keep it in your pants unless someone tells you to take it out, and then only do it if you want to. Class dismissed.

          • That’s not the job of teachers. That was part of the lesson I learned every day, from my father, who treated everyone with respect, and who would no more treat a woman like CK, Charlie or Bill than fly to Mars using flatulence.

              • Sheesh!! I just don’t get it, what drives pervs like that? If it’s a sickness, are we supposed to be understanding and allow them an Americans With Disabilities Act exemption?

                Pulling out one’s junk just defies all manner of polite decorum. “Naturism” is something completely different; participation is voluntary and the visuals are expected.

                Honestly, if their is/ever has been any society that has at best, benignly neglected, or at worst promoted, flashing one’s schwantz, I’m unaware.

                As a recovering (non-participating) mooner, my…um…targets were always acquaintances and familiar with this peculiar affliction; they’d have been surprised, nay disappointed, had they not been ”shined.”

                This was discussed here in 08/2016.


                • For whatever it’s worth. I hereby absolve you in my eyes for any adolescent mooning on your part. While such behavior is not ethical, any punishment you received at the time is sufficient and any punishment you avoided is long past the statue of limitations.

                  • “So what wagons am I circling?”

                    I was referring to the Lefties I listed, not you.

                    “I hereby absolve you in my eyes for any *adolescent* mooning”

                    I reckon with absolution in house, I ought not confirm that it wasn’t restricted to the age of adolescence, and I still suffer occasional relapses.

      • From the indefatigable Maxine Waters: (Accused serial perv John Conyers) ‘‘Has Impeccable Integrity On Our Issues’’

        Bill Clinton “paid a price.”

        Al Franken was “just a comedian.”

        (MSNBC’s Katy) Tur: “So where should we draw the line, Rebecca (Weir), for who should be publicly shamed, who should lose their job, who should lose their livelihood, and who just, um, needs, I mean, I don’t know, needs a talking-to or needs to apologize? Where — I mean, have we figured out where that line is?” (bolds mine)

        Whaddya bet you can draw that line right down the middle of the aisle?

        • What does your comment have to do with mine? The reporting was that Conyers settled a sexual harassment claim. He’s denying it, that’s the kind of easy to prove lie politicians avoid.

          • ”What does your comment have to do with mine?”

            Lefties (most, not all) often (not always) circle the wagons when it’s one of their own.

            ”that’s the kind of easy to prove lie politicians avoid.”

            You don’t say?

            • And? You prove my point. Clinton, a lawyer, chose exact words, sexual relations, to make his statement technically not a lie. He didn’t have intercourse with her.

              Not much of a fig leaf, and it didn’t help him but he at least thought he was avoiding the easily proven lie.

              So what wagons am I circling? You see me spending a lot of time defending harassment? Miss the part when i said was I was undecided but inclined toward Franken resigning?

              One person who was accused yesterday made a denial that it would be really stupid to make if the accusation is true. That makes me inclined to believe him. It could be tomorrow proof is produced and his troubles are doubled. I promise you, you won’t see me defend it if it turns out to be the case.

              • his statement technically not a lie.

                WRONG! Jeez, how many times do I have to explain that deceit, Bill and Hillary’s specialty IS lying? Using a “technically” accurate statement knowing that listeners will take it to mean what you want it to mean, which happens to be untrue, is lying. It’s just an especially sneaky form of lie, and hard to prove in a perjury trial.

                But it is still a lie.

                  • That’s called a lie. If you say “sex” and you know everyone assumes you mean all sexual relations, but you mean “sexual intercourse,” that’s an intentional misrepresentation, deception, and a lie.

                • ”Bill and Hillary’s specialty IS lying”

                  Heh, perhaps it wasn’t classified as a lie when he told it…?

                  “It’s just an especially sneaky form of lie”

                  “That a lie which is half a truth is ever the blackest of lies” Alfred, Lord Tennyson

                  In “Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign” Robbie Mook, et al, were forever trying to come up with how to reverse the one single word voters used most when describing their opinion of HRC.

                  That word? ”Liar.”

                    • Yeah, no. I can’t go along with that and quite honestly I’m surprised. Too many gay people and transsexuals need to play the pronoun game or give vague answers to get along and still maintain a little privacy.

                    • The fact that particular lie may have some justification doesn’t mean it’s not a lie. Deceit is lying. There’s really no controversy about that, just deliberate or accidental misunderstanding.

            • Ahh, there see, took two hours, he changed his story and stopped denying the settlement. Now he says he denies the actions but settled anyway.

              That I do not believe and I’ll revert back to my original comment about the swamp being drained.

      • As I just wrote, I’m bothered by the fact that any such settlements have been paid on the public dime. I am inclined to distrust Conyers, who is one Congressman who has engaged in family enrichment using his staff, and his wife is a convicted corrupt politician, but he could be the victim of a political hit job or a personal vendetta. Jury’s out on John.

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