Barefoot and Pregnant

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Mongrel
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Re: Barefoot and Pregnant

Postby Mongrel » Thu Nov 16, 2017 9:46 pm

Yeah, I think I want to boil it down to the key points.

- Franken did it, and he did it by abusing the power he held over Tweeden.

- When confronted, Franken admitted in full to doing it and apologized for his actions. The apology was accepted and the victim has expressed no desire for Franken to lose his job.

- Franken has not yet proposed any other additional means by which he could take responsibility.

- TA is correct in that a violation is a violation. Sexual assault is sexual assault - regardless of severity we'd agree that once something is "over the line" (which is usually consent) then the victim will feel the violation of a sexual assault. However the criminal justice system does make some distinctions in severity and punishment because to some extent society does too. I don't think we can COMPLETELY ignore that. There's still a difference between "you crossed a line" and "you crossed a line beyond which you are effectively irredeemable".

- In considering the latter half of the previous point, one important factor is if this was a crime of opportunity, which an ordinary person might have in moments of weakness and which are far more common (these are also compounded by the permissiveness or lack thereof of society at the time) or a pattern of systematic exploitation, which indicates far more serious (and dangerous) moral and character failings.

- So far, no other women have come forward yet to establish this as a pattern of behaviour. If so, this is plainly much worse and a greater indictment of Franken's character.

- The ten years which have passed since the crime do not excuse or lessen it, but they do raise the prospect that Franken has changed as a person, either by genuinely learning better or by simply keeping it in his pants, nor do we know if he re-offended more recently. Again, if there are other victims, their coming forward would be crucial.

It seems to me that at least some left-leaning folks want Franken to resign in order to reassure themselves that they are in fact "the good guys" (not meaning anyone here - I trust you guys to think a little more deeply than that), but given the various points above, I'm not actually sure if the near-reflexive response of "Franken should resign" is correct. It may well be! But I don't feel comfortable immediately jumping straight to that.

I'm mostly interested in what is just. Just for Tweeden, just for Franken, and just for the constituents who voted for Franken without any knowledge of Franken's failings.

So far, I think Tweeden herself has the fairest suggestion, that Franken should be subject to an ethics enquiry, which may or may not result in his ejection from the senate (assuming you could collect enough congresscritters for the committee who could be trust to at least be more or less impartial).

tl;dr:

He did it. The crime is real. He pleaded guilty (in the court of public opinion). He apologized without qualification to his victim. The apology was accepted, but that does not mean further consequences are not appropriate. If they are, I honestly can't say if his losing his present job is the most appropriate consequence. More information would certainly help us make a determination.
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Re: Barefoot and Pregnant

Postby Mongrel » Thu Nov 16, 2017 10:27 pm

In related news, there's been a watershed wave of accusations against scores and scores of state lawmakers in the past week or so:

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Re: Barefoot and Pregnant

Postby TA » Fri Nov 17, 2017 12:44 am

It's nice that his victim is able to forgive him and go past this. He needs to resign anyway.

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Re: Barefoot and Pregnant

Postby Mongrel » Fri Nov 17, 2017 1:50 am

TA wrote: He needs to resign anyway.


A glib tweet does not an argument make. Nor am I saying the acceptance of an apology absolves Franken at all.

Virtue-signalling internet lynch mobs continue to make me extremely uncomfortable, no matter where they lie on the political spectrum.

Nobody here is using dodges like "bare minimum zone". In fact I think calling what Franken did "minor" or some other handwavey analogue disregards the impact of what he did to Tweeden. But "No person who has ever sexually assaulted anyone is ever ever ever fit for public office under any circumstance, period, full stop." is an absolute statement, and I pretty much never agree with absolute statements.

As I said, the relevant questions in this case are Franken's level of repentance/acceptance of responsibility, whether this is part of a broader pattern of abuse, and whether he's a different enough person from who he was 11 years ago (especially WRT to abuse of authority) to consider that. It's not like these are unanswerable questions or that answering would take an infinite amount of time.

Is there a function for senators to be temporarily replaced but with the possibility of later return? Such as in cases of illness or criminal investigation? If there was, I could get behind something like him stepping down pending a full investigation, if he could be readmitted if it was determined had genuinely reformed.

EDIT: I'm not even asking for a particularly high burden of proof either. If even one more woman stepped forward with a credible account of abuse by Franken, I would immediately be on the "He needs to resign now" train.
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Re: Barefoot and Pregnant

Postby Metal Slime » Fri Nov 17, 2017 9:32 am

Dude you're getting way too close to saying that you don't care what the victim wants and that it's about what you want now.

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Re: Barefoot and Pregnant

Postby Mothra » Fri Nov 17, 2017 11:29 am

God, Mongrel, did you just use the term "virtue-signalling" like it was a real fucking thing? And not just some shitty /pol/ way of trying to dismiss moral outcry because "they're only doing it to look good?"

Like, however you are getting beamed this 4chan/pol shit, please stop soaking it up.

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Re: Barefoot and Pregnant

Postby pacobird » Fri Nov 17, 2017 1:50 pm

Virtue-signalling internet lynch mobs continue to make me extremely uncomfortable, no matter where they lie on the political spectrum.


HE IS A UNITED STATES SENATOR.
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Re: Barefoot and Pregnant

Postby Thad » Fri Nov 17, 2017 1:59 pm

It's been refreshing to see this long overdue reassessment of Bill Clinton. The guy was a sexual predator and Democrats circled the wagons for political reasons. That's fucked up, and it's good to see people ACKNOWLEDGE that it was fucked up.

Which isn't to defend the impeachment. The facts of that haven't changed: he lied under oath about an affair which, while inappropriate, was consensual, and the House voted to impeach him for THAT, under the leadership of hypocrites who were guilty of the same (Gingrich) or worse (Hastert). Fuck those fucking fucks too.

I saw a comment recently to the effect of "they overplayed their hand trying to frame a guilty man." Yeah, that sounds about right.

The only problem is that the more I think about it, the more it seems like the only person who comes out looking good is Joseph Lieberman, and that can't possibly be right.

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Re: Barefoot and Pregnant

Postby Brentai » Fri Nov 17, 2017 2:32 pm

Well, we're getting to the point now where we have to ask the same question that our parents had to ask then, which is "Does this person's personal failings really affect his (or occasionally her) ability to perform his political duties?"

And the answer now (as opposed to the general answer then for some reason) is "Yes of course it fucking does," because there's just no way you can trust a person like that to make decisions on matters of what who can do to whose body in which room, which is a thing they're expected to do now apparently.

Of course now you go from that straight to the eternal base problem of politics, which is "Okay now find me somebody who actually wants to be in politics that doesn't enjoy being covered in filth 24/7." Until we implement some kind of wonky summons system for it, you're basically stuck with...well, THIS. *waves hand vaguely at everything *

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Re: Barefoot and Pregnant

Postby Mongrel » Fri Nov 17, 2017 3:33 pm

So is it not possible to have a discussion - or even an argument - on here without everyone except maybe Thad and Brent immediately getting angry and personal about it?

For the thousandth time, I continue to agree with you guys generally. But I also like to ask questions about corner cases. And I *do* wonder about the extreme social pressure in a highly charged atmosphere to be seen as "doing the right thing", without matching pressure to figure out what the right thing really is.

I mean every single person here seems to be 100% dead sure that Franken is now completely and totally untrustworthy, and also irredeemable. That certainty bothers me a lot.

As for ignoring the feelings of the victim, she has publicly stated her feelings on the matter and I appear to be the only one here - tentatively - agreeing with her. That bothers me too. Is the assumption here that she's lying or understating her feelings? Because there's still something wrong with a bunch of random strangers making those assumptions of a person they've never met. How can that level of assumption be taken as listening to someone's feelings?

If there were multiple reports, yes, if this had happened more recently, yes, if Tweeden had demanded he step down, yes, I'd be right there at 100% "he should resign right now". I'd be 100% with you guys. I'm not worlds away here, but I sure feel like I'm being treated as if I were, and being browbeaten for it, since that's what we do to The Enemy, right?

Since no one answered my question last night, it appears you guys have nothing between censure and expulsion to punish Senators with, which seems bizarre, but it is what it is. I stand by my earlier assertion that the Senate shoulds investigate Franken to see if there's a broader pattern of abuse and expel him if the least trace of it should be found. I'd prefer he be suspended in the interim, but you guys don't actually have any means to do that, so at the very least he should be removed from all committees in the interim.
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Re: Barefoot and Pregnant

Postby TA » Fri Nov 17, 2017 3:43 pm

Do you not get that we already did figure out what the right thing really is? And that it's to kick him the fuck out? Just because you want to forgive him his sexual violence because it wasn't really that bad doesn't mean we all have to weigh it in the balance. And again, no, his victim stating that she accepts his apology does not absolve him in the slightest. He's still unfit to hold office. This is a very easy standard to meet, and it's really not asking much to expect people to meet it.
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Re: Barefoot and Pregnant

Postby Thad » Fri Nov 17, 2017 4:05 pm

(replying to Brent, didn't see new posts.)

I think you're conflating two different things.

Which, to be fair, is what the Clinton impeachment was all about: pivoting from an investigation of sexual harassment allegations by Paula Jones to impeachment over a consensual relationship with Monica Lewinsky.

"It doesn't affect his ability to do his job" is a reasonable defense for an extramarital affair, but not for harassment. As in most things, consent is key. (There are some pretty serious questions about consent in any instance of a boss propositioning a subordinate, and I'm not sure I can come up with a greater power imbalance than intern / President of the United States. However, Ms. Lewinsky has never described the affair as anything but consensual and reciprocal, and I take her at her word.)

It wouldn't be accurate to say that the affair was a victimless crime; it was hurtful to his wife and daughter. But it's categorically different from the harassment and assault allegations by other women, which were numerous enough to conclude that at least some of them must be true.

There are infractions where "Does it affect his ability to do his job?" is an appropriate question to ask, and there are infractions where it doesn't matter. If Al Franken robbed a liquor store, it might not have any bearing on his ability to do his job, but it'd still mean he shouldn't be a senator.

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Re: Barefoot and Pregnant

Postby nosimpleway » Fri Nov 17, 2017 4:07 pm

I hate that I live in the sort of country where people feel like they have to ignore sexual abuse because if the Guy Who Did That Who Is On Our Side steps down because of it, there's a very real possibility that a few million people will die because the Guy On The Other Side Who Did It kept on voting in shitty public policies.

I'm cool with being angry at every part of the system that makes anyone even consider that Maybe It Was Okay, This Time.

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Re: Barefoot and Pregnant

Postby Mongrel » Fri Nov 17, 2017 4:11 pm

TA wrote:Do you not get that we already did figure out what the right thing really is?

The whole point of my even bothering to discuss this is that I disagree with this statement, so...

On balance of probability it's likely he's unfit to hold office. But the court of public opinion is a not a court of law, and I can't yet say with 100% certainty that I agree he's unfit, so I would prefer due process in this case.
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Re: Barefoot and Pregnant

Postby Bal » Fri Nov 17, 2017 4:22 pm

I'm not feeling the urge to howl for blood in this particular case, and not because Frankin is our guy, but because this particular event, in all context we have available, does not seem disqualifying to me. It was very bad indeed, but he did not leverage his power as senator to do it, as so many have, or hush it up for years, as so many have. As we stand at this moment a man who is now a senator did a bad thing that would count as misdemeanor assault at worst, and he has come clean about it.

It doesn't make it right, but I do not think at present there is enough that he should step down.

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Re: Barefoot and Pregnant

Postby Mongrel » Fri Nov 17, 2017 4:27 pm

To sort of reply to both Thad and R^2's posts:

First, I just want to repeat that:

1) He did it. There's no disagreement there.
2) There's no mortal danger here anyway because the governor of Minnesota is a Democrat who (we hope) could be trusted to appoint another Democrat. We are free to judge Franken without concerns about Utilitarianism or expediency.
3) It wasn't okay This One Time.
4) What I am questioning is the severity of punishment and Franken's fitness to hold office.

I sincerely believe that a part of justice includes the consideration of the desires of the victim - within reason.

There are of course cases where justice overrides the victim because they desire revenge, not justice, or because they're afraid of their attacker. I do not believe that Tweeden is either under duress or blinded by rage. I think she's confident and comfortable and has spoken on that basis, so I choose to take her at her word. It is also on that basis which I judge the severity of this particular crime, especially considering how violating and personal a sexual assault is compared to an ordinary assault.
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Re: Barefoot and Pregnant

Postby Thad » Fri Nov 17, 2017 4:34 pm

You know, part of why I tried to change the subject is that I think everybody's made their positions perfectly clear, and I don't see any positive outcome from continuing to state and restate them.

But if that's what you guys want to do, knock yourselves out. I'm going to lunch.

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Re: Barefoot and Pregnant

Postby Joxam » Fri Nov 17, 2017 4:41 pm

I'm not going to speak my piece or bitch about anything really specific except to say the court of public opinion is the only one that matters in this case. The presumption of Innocence is applied only to the government's need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that someone is guilt of a crime, not whether I or you or TA or anyone thinks a rich old dude should lose his very public job.

Or as the constitutional law scholar and professor Eric Segall says, "The presumption of innocence I think is gravely misunderstood, we should presume people are innocent until proven guilty when they're in court and jail time is at stake, the Government in every case should have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the person is guilty. That does not translate to me that we have to have a presumption of innocence in elections or social media conversations or when I'm talking to my favorite radio host (this quote is from last Friday's Stand Up with Pete Dominick, a radio show I listen to)."
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Re: Barefoot and Pregnant

Postby Mongrel » Fri Nov 17, 2017 4:44 pm

Joxam wrote:I'm not going to speak my piece or bitch about anything really specific except to say the court of public opinion is the only one that matters in this case. The presumption of Innocence is applied only to the government's need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that someone is guilt of a crime, not whether I or you or TA or anyone thinks a rich old dude should lose his very public job.

Or as the constitutional law scholar and professor Eric Segall says, "The presumption of innocence I think is gravely misunderstood, we should presume people are innocent until proven guilty when they're in court and jail time is at stake, the Government in every case should have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the person is guilty. That does not translate to me that we have to have a presumption of innocence in elections or social media conversations or when I'm talking to my favorite radio host (this quote is from last Friday's Stand Up with Pete Dominick, a radio show I listen to)."

Not one person in this thread is saying Franken is innocent. We're just arguing about whether he should lose his job or not.

Anyway, I agree with Thad. We're probably at an impasse which isn't worth belabouring further. So let's change the subject:

Now here's a guy I think we can all agree should be run out of office on a splintery rail.

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Re: Barefoot and Pregnant

Postby Mongrel » Fri Nov 17, 2017 4:49 pm

Also, for a little levity, Sarah Silverman just quipped that among standup comics, "Louis CK is the elephant masturbating in the room".
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