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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Things I think about other people's thoughts

Kevin Drum is absolutely correct that Roy Moore and Donald Trump survive sexual-misconduct allegations while Al Franken is going down. And the difference is that Franken owned it and apologized, while Moore and Trump dig-in and deny. Even Drum's counter-example, Harvey Weinstein, is explicable along the same lines--Weinstein was a prominent Democratic donor and supporter, so the left disowns (because he is an asshole predator) and the right disowns (because he is a Democrat). But Bill O'Reilly received a massive buyout and is still influential in Republican circles.

Neil Buchanan is absolutely correct about how modern eyes view old movies, including Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid and Pretty in Pink. Of course, many John Hughes' movies do not hold-up well.  Sixteen Candles is obviously problematic for Long Duck Dong. But the sexual politics are abhorent. The male hero (Jake) both announces that he could sexually assault his passed-out-drunk girlfriend, is encouraged to do so by the other male lead (Geek), then sets the Geek up to do it himself. And I have long thought about The Breakfast Club, in which a one-day detention was imposed for bringing a gun to school (brain) and for bullying and assaulting another student on campus (jock)--both of which would merit suspension, if not expulsion, in these zero-tolerance times. And Bender (the burnout) threatens to rape and later sexually assaults Claire (the princess) when he is hiding under the table. All of this is presented as an elaborate courting ritual.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on November 22, 2017 at 11:27 AM in Culture, Howard Wasserman | Permalink


The real question is, if there was a picture of Roy Moore doing to a sixteen year old girl was Franken was doing, would Drum, Wasserman, et al. still be trying to sweep it under the rug?

I think not.

Posted by: YesterdayIKilledAMammoth | Nov 23, 2017 1:29:45 PM

Drum says, correctly, "This is hardly an ironclad rule." His "rule" works once we make exceptions for the incidents that don't fit the rule.

Posted by: anon | Nov 23, 2017 1:09:25 PM

"And the difference is that Franken owned it and apologized, while Moore and Trump dig-in and deny."

Franken's supporters also are less willing as a whole [there are the usual strong supporters on both sides, some here dubious about, e.g., references to some big reveal coming before it actually happened from a right wing type on Twitter] accept this sort of thing.

If multiple people came out, including with one or more photographs, Franken's supporters -- in part because of the things that make Franken copacetic to them -- would be more likely to believe the accusers even if he denied it. The response from him very well might be deemed not good enough, but especially the long form Facebook post was much better than the likes of Trump/Moore and other abusers. If Franken was the type to simply deny deny, his supporters would like him less.

Posted by: Joe | Nov 23, 2017 12:20:30 PM

"there was a picture of Franken sexually assaulting a woman and no picture of Moore doing so"

A picture is worth a thousand words and all but even Moore has not really denied a certain core of the allegations ("I asked their parents" etc. admits to the basic teenage thing that many find cringe worthy) & if there was a picture of Moore doing what Franken was doing ("sexually assaulting" = posing with hands over her person in a way loads of Franken supporters say is clearly wrong) I doubt that would turn things. People who are well willing to admit he did what he was charged in doing STILL support him. Why exactly would a picture on the level of Franken change their minds?

Posted by: Joe | Nov 23, 2017 12:13:00 PM

Well, YIKAM, I'm still a bit mystified about your notions of what constitutes substantive discussion.

Is it when you put words in the mouth of another? Is it when you ignore the actual words of another?

When you do that cutesy little racism smear-by-association thing to someone?

If you want people to take you seriously, you should try engaging seriously instead of leading with these internet "gonna PWN YOU" type tactics. They make you seem, well, downright non-serious.

Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Trolling (and Mammoth Hunting!) to you, too.

Posted by: concerned_citizen | Nov 22, 2017 4:38:15 PM


I'm not outraged. And for the record, you still refuse substantive discussion, so I'll just say happy trolling and we'll both have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted by: YesterdayIKilledAMammoth | Nov 22, 2017 3:41:37 PM

After a week in which a few left voices have finally challenged the evasion of the donkey in the room on this issue, it takes a special level of unawareness to write this:

"There’s a partisan issue here, but there’s also, for lack of a better phrase, an asshole issue as well. If you’re fundamentally a decent human being, like Franken, you apologize. Then you get investigated. Then you might resign, because lots of your fellow decent human beings think you should.

But if you’re an asshole, not only do you deny the charges, you do your best to smear the accusers. That’s what Moore and Trump have done. This gives your fellow assholes the cover they need to back off while they 'wait for more evidence.'”

Bill famously stuck to "deny, deny, deny," until DNA made it impossible. Smear the accusers? It was an art form, with an entire team of smear artists.

I firmly condemn Trump, Moore, and all harassers of all parties. But any discussion that excludes Bill at this moment is either clueless or, worse yet, deliberately evasive. And that's being both partisan and an a**hole.

Posted by: BillClintonIsARapist | Nov 22, 2017 2:53:29 PM

Oh, YIKAM, I'd much rather begin with your propensity to invent things others did not say, ignore things they did say, and to manufacture your outrage on those bases. Don't you want to "engage" on those things?

Also it was very nice of you to toss in the obligatory-but-oh-so-oblique-not-really attempt to link my comment to the making of racist jokes.

Is there a Godwin's-type award category for such accusations?

Posted by: concerned_citizen | Nov 22, 2017 2:49:25 PM

Dear Concerned:

I see you've refused to actually engage even the first critique that you've defined the issue in patriarchal terms. Let us begin with this one and we will work our way through the other criticisms.

Posted by: YesterdayIKilledAMammoth | Nov 22, 2017 2:29:18 PM

Dear YIKAM, you appear to see things that do not exist.

I guess apropos for a post titled "Things I think about other people's thoughts".

Have a happy holiday break.

Posted by: concerned_citizen | Nov 22, 2017 2:24:05 PM

""It's a poor attempt at humor"... A rather disgusting position to take. ...She can feel "humiliated" but she can't speak out against it because the man did not "intend" to harass her. "

Again, YIKAM, if this directed to my comment, it is just more flaming strawmen.

Burn, strawman, burn.

Which part of my comment do you imagine says she can't speak out against her assailant?

Posted by: concerned_citizen | Nov 22, 2017 2:19:44 PM

Dear Concerned:

You state, in essence, that it is a poor attempt at comedy that happens to be an offense against her person. As a result, you put it on the same level as a poor attempt at comedy that may make fun of a person's weight or skin color. Bad, but still only a "poor attempt at comedy".

You define it according to the man.

Please at least represent your own position correctly.

Posted by: YesterdayIKilledAMammoth | Nov 22, 2017 2:17:39 PM

Apropos of your second paragraph, see this College Humor piece, "Wacky Hijinks from 80s Comedies were Mostly Rape."


Posted by: Joseph | Nov 22, 2017 2:15:03 PM

"it only counts as "a poor attempt at comedy".

YIKAM, assuming your comment is directed at mine (and please correct me if it was not), then it is more than a little strawmannish for you to claim I said it "only" counts as a "poor attempt at comedy" while ignoring "clearly an offence against her person" and "humiliating to the victim given she did not consent to it".


Posted by: concerned_citizen | Nov 22, 2017 2:14:00 PM

Two reasons you and Drum are wrong about Franken:

I don't see how Franken could deny what happened when there was a photograph of it (which he initially said was intended to be comedic!). He did, in fact, (most likely dishonestly) deny that what she said happened in their rehearsal of the skit happened, because there's no photographic evidence of that. And he also hasn't admitted that what the second gropee said happened happened, only saying that he "feel[s] badly that [the victim] came away from our interaction feeling disrespected," because there's no clear photographic evidence of that either, though it seems that the victim told her whole family the day of the groping that she had been groped. So Franken hasn't "owned it and apologized," but only apologized for the least he could get away with apologizing for, otherwise denying or failing to admit whatever he could get away with denying or failing to admit.

As far as Moore surviving while Franken is going down, if that is the case it will only be because there was a picture of Franken sexually assaulting a woman and no picture of Moore doing so; given how he's treated the other allegations of assault that weren't photographed, it looks like he would have denied all of them had there been no photograph. That said, Jones has substantial leads in most polls, and if Moore does win, he'll probably be expelled from the Senate. So his political career is done, one way or another. Franken, on the other hand, at least has a 50/50 chance of not being forced to resign, and if he apologizes adequately (which he hasn't done yet), he could very will win reelection.

Posted by: Asher Steinberg | Nov 22, 2017 2:03:17 PM

It becomes even more worrisome that people are saying a man can sexualize a woman's body and use it for a comedy prop without her consent and that it only counts as "a poor attempt at comedy". In other words, you give it a patriarchal definition--it's defined by what the man "intended". In other words, you say that the woman's body is subject to the man's intent.

"It's a poor attempt at humor". Rather than the woman's "no, he harassed me and sexualized my body for his own ends without my consent". A rather disgusting position to take. It's forcing a woman to subsume agency over her body to the intent of the man. She can feel "humiliated" but she can't speak out against it because the man did not "intend" to harass her. And because the man did not intend to harass her, there should be no punishment.

And, at the end, do you think Franken hovered his hands over her chest because he said "Right here is the line between harassment and comedy"? No, he hovered his hands over her chest because he didn't want to wake her? Why did he not want to wake her? Because he knew what he was doing was wrong.

Posted by: YesterdayIKilledAMammoth | Nov 22, 2017 2:00:25 PM

On today's episode of "our sexual offenders are better than yours".

Posted by: YesterdayIKilledAMammoth | Nov 22, 2017 1:48:14 PM

Howard, I hope that you and Mr. Drum are both wrong about Sen. Franken going down. The kiss thing is recollected differently by the parties, and the pantomimed groping photo op, while still clearly an offence against her person - a poor attempt at comedy that should even then have been recognized as potentially (likely) humiliating to the victim given she did not consent to it, still doesn't to me rise to the level of something that should now make him resign his position.

PauB, I guess you're right. In this age of progressives eating any of their own getting the #metoo applied as to them, I wonder if the calculus (and the commentary in the NYT, Atlantic, MotherJones) would not be a lot softer on Franken were there an (R) at the exec helm in MN.

Posted by: concerned_citizen | Nov 22, 2017 11:54:46 AM

Al Franken's biggest political problem from this is that the governor or Minnesota is a Democrat. If he's forced to resign, his replacement will be a Democrat which means that his colleagues from his party can be as sanctimonious as they want since it won't cost them a vote.

Posted by: PaulB | Nov 22, 2017 11:30:56 AM

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