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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 11/24/17

Why Franken is different

Message Daily Kos

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By Yahzi

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.)
Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.)
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There is a fundamental difference between Al Franken and every other case currently being discussed. This difference has been ignored or glossed over, but it is absolutely critical.

The difference is power.

Franken's alleged crimes were not abuses of power. They were (at worst) abuses of consent. Tweeden consented to a kiss, even if she didn't like the way he did it. All three women accusing him of grabbing their butts consented to a hug -- they asked him for a selfie, they invited him to put his arm around them. They may not have liked how he did it, but he had their consent first.

This is fundamentally different from every other case. Franken is not using his power to compel or coerce. He has no power over these women. He is not pushing interns into the closet or rubbing up against women in the elevator. He is not using his position as an adult to manipulate teenagers. There is no fear here. In every single case, the physical contact was consensual.

Perhaps it is true that he used their consent in unwanted ways and made them uncomfortable. But that is fundamentally different than making them afraid.

Franken could not destroy their careers. He did not and could not threaten them physically. In every instance, he was interacting with a peer who had as much power over the situation as he did. When people interact as peers, there will be mistakes. But making people uncomfortable is categorically different than making them afraid.

We can and should expect women to stand up for themselves when they are uncomfortable. We do not expect them to stand up for themselves when they are afraid.

If we turn this movement against being afraid into a movement against being uncomfortable, the movement will die. Because discomfort is a part of adult life. It is fear that we are fighting against; it is abuse of power that is the problem, not rudeness. It is assault and harassment that we hope to stop, not unwanted expressions of sexual interest. The idea that we will remake society into a world where no one is ever exposed to a sexual proposition they don't want is simply childish. It would also be sexless, because neither gender is equipped with mind-reading abilities. If people are going to make offers, sometimes they will be rejected. That's just statistics.

As someone else said in a different context, prison should be for people who make us afraid, not for people we don't like. You don't have to like Franken's grabby hands. Fine! Don't ask him to touch you, and he won't. What more can you ask for?

Nothing. The answer is nothing, because if you demand perfection, you will get nothing.The target of this attack is not Al Franken. It is the movement itself. It is outrage over sexual misconduct they want to disgrace and destroy, by making fear equivalent to discomfort, thus discrediting every case as snowflake fee fees. Franken is just a bonus.

We must recognize and defend the difference. People have a right to make you uncomfortable. They do not have a right to make you afraid.

*Note: I don't think Franken did anything wrong. I think Tweeden has changed her story from when it actually happened, and I think the other women are simply accidents. But that is irrelevant to this argument.

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