John Oliver had a wonderful show recently discussing the logical fallacies employed by Donald Trump whenever he’s challenged on his numerous falsehoods. One thing to watch out for (and not just from Trump) is false equivalence.
This has been the season for bringing misogyny into the open. Beginning with Harvey Weinstein, a parade of dumbshit men like Roy Moore, Lewis C.K., Charlie Rose and others have been exposed for their misogynist, sexist, and degrading behavior towards women.
Overall, I say right on. These men abused the trust of the women who looked up to them. Some, like Moore, crossed a moral line (if not a legal one) in chasing teenage girls. The transgressions all have different shades but overall they consist of a man abusing his power or authority over women and/or girls.
This brings us to the case of Sen. Al Franken (D-MN). Franken has been accused by LeeAnn Tweeden of an unwanted sexual advance, saying Franken aggressively kissed her during a rehearsal of a USO sketch they were both doing:
He repeated that actors really need to rehearse everything and that we must practice the kiss. I said ‘OK’ so he would stop badgering me. We did the line leading up to the kiss and then he came at me, put his hand on the back of my head, mashed his lips against mine and aggressively stuck his tongue in my mouth.
I immediately pushed him away with both of my hands against his chest and told him if he ever did that to me again I wouldn’t be so nice about it the next time.
I walked away. All I could think about was getting to a bathroom as fast as possible to rinse the taste of him out of my mouth.
I felt disgusted and violated.
No photos exist of the kiss in question and Franken remembers it differently.
I hated to think that Franken was a scumbag the likes of Moore and Rose. He’s always seemed like a good, upstanding guy, those Minnesota values still strong in him. Over time, though, I had to conclude that this was something different.
According to Tweeden, she and Franken were rehearsing a kiss that was scripted into their sketch. It was no surprise. It was no unwanted advance. They were both acting. This was something they had agreed to do. You can debate the intensity of the kiss, sure, but it was in the script.
Secondly, Franken held no power of Tweeden. He was not her boss nor was her career hanging in the balance if she refused his kiss (which, as I just pointed out, was part of a sketch). In 2006, Franken was a minor celebrity at best. He was a former SNL writer, a bestselling author, and a radio host on Air America, a struggling liberal talk show network. Though I like his SNL work, no one would mistake Franken for a comedy industry titan, able to make or break careers.
Thirdly, let’s take a look at the photograph Tweeden says shows Franken allegedly groping her. Franken is not even touching Tweeden. He couldn’t touch her if he tried because she’s wearing a flak jacket. Tweeden nevertheless claims he did:
I couldn’t believe it. He groped me, without my consent, while I was asleep.
I felt violated all over again. Embarrassed. Belittled. Humiliated.
How dare anyone grab my breasts like this and think it’s funny?
On this USO tour Tweeden has been shown to be open to grabbing, if not being grabbed herself, as a photo of her on stage shows her helping herself to a big ol’ handful of guitarist butt.
Was Franken’s photo in bad taste? Possibly. Was there any contact? Not according to the photo. It looks to me like everyone got chummy and now that suddenly has become a problem for Tweeden.
It is a false equivalence to compare Franken’s actions with the likes of pedophile Roy Moore or misogynists like Weinstein, Rose, or Louis C.K. For those who want to wag their finger at liberals for allegedly turning a blind eye to Franken’s actions just because he’s a liberal, too, get real! Franken’s alleged misdeeds have been blown totally out of proportion and don’t compare to the actions of the others.
I’m disgusted with bad behavior of Weinstein, Rose, and Louis C.K., who are all liberals, and will freely say so. Not painting Franken with the same brush, though, has nothing to do with liberals protecting our own and everything to do with weighing the evidence.