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Saturday, November 25, 2017

Why the Moore-Trump approach to sexual assault is so toxic

It is beginning to look like the Harvey Weinstein revelations have initiated a deep and far ranging sea-change in women's acceptance of sexual abuse and misconduct. What may have been awakened by the sexually abusive bragging of criminal misconduct by a candidate for the presidency and the United States, and then proven by more than a dozen women who bore witness against him, has turned into a tsunami with the charges against Roy Moore, Kevin Spacey, Al Franken, John Conyers, and so many others, most not nearly so famous.

This social transformation is likely to require an extended period of social introspection and change to right the many historic wrongs. Donald Trump and Roy Moore have exampled one way of dealing with these allegations - deny, deny, deny. Al Franken has exampled another - admit past wrongdoing while asking for further investigation and forgiveness.

Moore, Trump, Fox News et al, have taken the tack of demanding harsh punishment for Franken, based on his admission of guilt, while opposing any for Trump or Moore based on a presumption of innocence flowing from their denials no matter how strong the evidence against them is. For example, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said
"I think in one case specifically Sen. Franken has admitted wrongdoing and the president hasn't. I think that's a very clear distinction."
We have all heard Trump admit to a practise that most would call sexual assault, but we are suppose to give him a pass because he doesn't see it as wrong.

This is a very dangerous tact to take at this historic juncture.

The message to men who may have been guilty of sexual misconduct in the past is: Whatever you do, don't admit it. If you do you may be summarily and severely punished. It's much safer to hide behind the presumption of innocence and force your accusers to prove their case in a court of law. It will likely never come to trial, for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is statute of limitations.

While recent headlines have highlighted the news about the "rich & famous," the problem of male sexual misconduct is one that is rampant throughout society and is one that affects people of all strata. Most cases will never come to trial or even a legal conclusion. Only the worst or most famous cases will. If society is to get through this sea change so that humanity can rise to a higher plane with a minimum of bloodshed and a maximum of healing, the process must look a lot more like the "Truth and Reconciliation" process which South Africa went through than the Nuremberg Trials.

That being the case, Al Franken has shown us the way forward and is to be commended for his honesty. This is the example all men who know they are guilty of sexual misconduct should be encouraged to follow. A spirit of forgiveness should also be encouraged. If the abused woman isn't demanding punishment, who rightly should?

Moore, Trump, Fox News et al, claim they are demanding punishment for Franken's admitted past deeds. As a practical matter they are demanding punishment for Franken breaking the code of silence and admitting to his bad past acts. They also example how to avoid that. Given the scope of the social wrongs that must be corrected, this position is a very dangerous one. Their example encourages men to fight these changes by denying past bad acts for fear that any willful admission is the surest path to punishment.

Moore, Trump, Fox News et al, are taking their approach for self-defensive and partisan political advantage, but they are also advocating social policy at this world historic juncture of the relations between the sexes, and it is very toxic social policy.

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

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1 comment:

  1. "Demanding punishment for Franken breaking the code of silence..."
    Bang on perspective that never crossed my mind.