Even Likeable Sexual Harassers Don’t Belong in the Senate

A typical reaction to sexual harassment is to diminish and trivialize the behavior when the perpetrator is someone we value and the victim(s) does not sufficiently resemble the Virgin Mary.

Sen. Al Franken, D-MN, is being urged to reconsider his decision to resign from the U.S. Senate in the wake of accusations by a half-dozen women that he groped them or tried to forcibly kiss them. Several high profile Democrats and so-called feminists are urging Franken to remain in office and undergo a Senate Ethics Committee review of his conduct.  They argue that he supports women’s rights. He’s a valuable Democrat. A top fund raiser. He’s funny.  To paraphrase Stuart Smalley, people like him.  And, of course, some Republicans are far worse and they aren’t being pushed out. That’s all true but … so what?

Remember when powerful feminists overlooked decades of credible accusations of predatory abuse of women (and worse) by former Democratic President Bill Clinton. He too was a staunch supporter of women’s rights.  Clinton denied it all, of course, until he was forced to admit to nine tawdry encounters with an unpaid White House intern in the Oval Office. She kept his DNA on her clothing as a souvenir.

Sexual harassment will not stop until society adopts a “zero tolerance” policy that applies to the people we like.