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Member since: Wed Nov 17, 2004, 03:00 PM
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the delicate issue of when does this new focus on sexual transgressions become a witch hunt

I know this is a difficult and sensitive subject, including for progressives, as any discussion of sexuality and sexual transgressions is intimately bound up with concerns about human rights and feminism. But I think that the issue to be raised here is becoming increasingly glaring, and it seems that progressives are utterly unready to deal with the political problems posed by the seemingly unstoppable juggernaut of "me-too" as it plays out in the context of the MSM and US politics

First off, there is the notion that any treatment of 'crossing the line' in the sexual sphere (far unlike the treatment of eg the disabled, as one who has been on disability for more than 20 years, where 'transgression' and even cruelty are tolerated in a way that these other concerns are not), when brought out into the public sphere of US politics and of both the mainstream media as well as progressive fora, in anything less than absolute terms, of "zero tolerance" is bound to be treated, at least by some, as trivialization or talking down of an all-too-long ignored area of unaccountable abuse. That there has been massive and systemic sexual abuse -- the long tolerance of serial offenders like Bill Cosby and Ray Moore and Harvey Weinstein testifies powerfully to this truth -- cannot be seriously denied or ignored by any progressive.

But at the same time, there is serious danger of the "witch hunt" in this sphere that Woody Allen warned of several weeks ago. For example, there is the case of Al Franken, who some have difficulty clearly distinguishing from Ray Moore. It is not merely that the two are obviously not equivalent. Sen Franken, though hardly the staunchest of left progressives (eg on the Iraq War, to those in the peace movement familiar with his politics at the time the movement was most active, and he had a radio show will remember) but he is among other things, a major voice in the Senate on many threatened issues, and possibly the leading advocate & defender in Congress of net neutrality -- something absolutely imperative to free speech and the so-called "free marketplace of ideas" in our society. Even after a single person stepped forward, describing concerns in the context of a USO tour where sexual boundaries (including as observed by the accuser herself, according to some sources based on YouTube), longtime Democratic activists I know were insisting that he needs to step down. The idea was that somehow Democrats couldn't raise the issue of a serial child molester like Ray Moore if the albatross of Al Franken's misdeeds hung around their necks. Now with numerous others accusing him of hand-to-ass contact during photo posing eg at the Minnesota State Fair, it is quite likely that progressives will throw him under the bus. Fortunately MN has a Democratic governor, so this situation doesn't have the implications it might have in other states.

On one hand, Donald Trump, facing a veritable tsunami of major and credible accusations, and not merely offensive speech but serious violations of rights and privacy was (almost) elected president in '16, staunchly backed by the RW evangelicals who formed a huge proportion of the core of his electoral base -- I say ALMOST elected as the GOP managed to steal the election, based on extremely cogent reports from Greg Palast that have been ignored in the same mainstream media and Democratic Party that, while utterly craven about that concern hiding in plain sight, fill the media world with stories like the concerns raised about Al Franken. And there are surely going to be others to come. While the rightwing -- Donald Trump, with little likely impact on his standing from it, staunchly continuing to back Ray Moore -- largely unites behind even the most egregious offenders, progressives can't wait to apply a 'zero tolerance' principle, essentially immune from criticism as any questioning is anti-feminist or even misogynist, to throw any and all transgressors on our side of the aisle under a bus. There is no doubt in my mind that if Franken were a Republican, he'd have nothing to worry about.

Woody Allen was on to something. Progressives need to discuss it. And just as we recognize how outrageous it is when conservatives fail to see that sex offenders need to be treated rationally and not as monsters to be kept permanently from the mainstream of society, the inability to see grades of concern, as we do on so many other things (Bernie Sanders ran a candidate supported by most progressives including myself, his longtime support for the F-35 notwithstanding) is potentially crippling to progressives as a whole. Al Franken stepping down or not running for re-election may do women much more harm than any sexual transgressions he is alleged to have committed. But it's a "matter of principle" (the zero tolerance argument). But that kind of thinking is like a political neutron bomb, that destroys progressive strength while leaving RW politics largely unaffected -- or even strengthened! -- except (MAYBE) in the MOST egregious and extreme cases, and even the political impact of those in RW venues is seriously in doubt

Much more to say about this, and no doubt hostility will flare up in many quarters. But the discussion must be had
Posted by cloudythescribbler | Thu Nov 23, 2017, 02:34 AM (15 replies)
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