Sen. Al Franken made it quite clear that his resignation was not an admission of guilt. I, however, am inclined to believe that when a substantial number of women step forward to allege inappropriate behaviour, there’s something to it. I’m nervous about what some people have called the flattening of discourse on sexual assault, which conflates things like rape and child molestation with boorish behaviour, not that bad behaviour is acceptable. I hope we can talk more about that.
As well, what counts as proof and how we ought to fairly align the offence with the punishment should be topics for further discussion. While I appreciate that it is always important to respect women who make the difficult decision to come forward, I suspect that simply “believing her” without some sort of due process is a slippery slope we should consider with a degree of caution.
As for Senator Franken, the election calendar was as much responsible for his downfall as anything he might have done. Democrats need to take the high road and need to be seen doing so. Next week’s election in Alabama, and the mid-terms next year will provide a chance for Democrats to argue that America can do better and no shades of gray, or opportunities for counterattack, should be allowed to diminish the force of that meassage.
Let’s give the last word to the former funny man himself.
I, of all people, am aware that there is some irony that I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office, and a man who has preyed on underage girls is running for the Senate with the full support of his party.
You’re right, Al. But you still have to go.