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Member since: Wed Jul 24, 2013, 01:10 PM
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It's the hypocrisy, stupid.

The Al Franken news from earlier today bothers me. Nevertheless, I see two serious differences between the Franken and Moore situations that should be borne in mind.

1. The two men reacted very, very differently to the allegations. Franken came out immediately with what I regard as a sincere apology. He does state that he remembers things differently, but he took ownership of what happened. He even joined the call for an investigation of himself. Moore is digging his heels in; worse, his supporters are using some horrific arguments to excuse it away, as though the Biblical story of Mary and Joseph justifies pedophilia.

2. Most importantly - Al Franken is, as far as I can tell, an honest, decent, hard-working human being, but he has never held himself up as a paragon of Judeo-Christian moral virtue. He worked in comedy and television - not exactly the national hatchery for moral behavior. He used illegal drugs. I've read his books; he uses words that would normally not be associated with religious conservatives, and some of his humor is crude. He's honest and, as a public servant, patriot, husband, father, and grandfather, the Al Franken of today is a role model - but no one would look to his entire life as an example of Biblical purity. More importantly, I don't think he would ever ask us to.

Moore? He drapes himself in religion. That he was removed as chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court twice is because he put Fundamentalist Christian interpretations of morality above the laws he was charged to uphold. Moore is a class A hypocrite with the moral authority of a tapeworm, but he would have us see him as a paragon of virtue. He reminds me of the elderly woman in the movie Airplane; she's offered a drink from a flask, says "Certainly not!," and then surreptitiously snorts a line of coke.

Other differences mean less to me: that only one person has leveled allegations against Franken, versus the 9 (so far) against Moore, along with having been banned from a local mall for his predatory behavior; that at least one of Moore's victims was 14; even, for that matter, that the photo being circulated is open to interpretation. Inappropriate sexual behavior is inappropriate sexual behavior, and if it turns out that Franken groped women, he should go, ally or not. But we should avoid drawing equivalencies between Franken and Moore.

My thoughts, anyway. This whole thing is making me remember colleagues who were caught behaving in an inappropriate sexual manner, and how I responded differently to the situations depending on my perceptions of the severity of the crime and on how the accused themselves responded. One tried to rape his graduate student, and the other left cameras in bathrooms. The former remained recalcitrant and refused to admit he'd done anything wrong; the latter turned himself in to the police, then went home and committed suicide. Neither committed victimless crimes, but I still struggle with the fact that I see them differently. Maybe it's because one of them (the one who committed suicide) was a close friend, and the other an acquaintance. I'm human and want the world to conform to my own ideals.
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