On the one hand, it seems punitive, vindictive even, to put Sen Franken and Louis C.K. in the same categories as Harvey Weinstein and now Charlie Rose… and others… I’m still coming to terms with Bill Cosby. I grew up with Cosby, Fat Albert and all the albums, movies and everything. I was a huge fan. But, I think, in any ranking of predatory behavior Cosby is the absolute worst: drugging the victim is a straightforward predation: bypassing any and all will of the victim rendering them absolutely at his mercy, helpless, and which seems to me, as much as anything, an obvious act of viciously pre-meditated wrongdoing.
I don’t think Franken or Louis C.K. premeditated anything, nor do I think either of them capable of rape. I think Franken thought he was being funny and think Louis C.K. has serious mental health issues (I’ve long thought this about him… I think he’s been very depressed for a very long time, and I’ve thought this since well before the allegations… paradoxically, it’s one of the things that may make him so funny…). Don’t get me wrong: the behaviour of both Franken and C.K. is unacceptable and I’m not excusing it. But there are degrees of crime and of the retribution deriving from the crime. Franken and Louis C.K. should not be given a pass… but does that mean they should face the same retribution as Weinstein or Cosby? It sure seems like some people want to throw them all in one bucket.
On the other hand, to what extent, if any, does the unacceptable, but unpremeditated, behaviour of Louis C.K. and Sen Franken either allow somebody like Weinstein or Cosby to go that much farther? Should we not, perhaps, add to their crimes the crime of aiding and abetting Cosby? Weinstein? Rose? Sorta the ‘broken windows’ theory of sexual predation… the smaller crimes enable the larger… diffusing the boundaries of acceptable behaviour?
By his main accusers account, Sen Franken grabbed her and kissed her. She pushed him away and told him never to do that again. He later took a stupid picture. He admitted to it. It’s bad behaviour but by treating it frivolously (first by doing it, and second by continuing it, while she slept, in the face of her objections), does Sen Franken, share in the blame for Weinstein, who did what Franken did, and then went much farther… ? This is a serious question.
It’s too easy to say that the problem is that the lesser behaviour goes unreported too often. That’s not on the victim, however, that’s on Franken and all the other creeps who make that calculus (report or not) feel necessary by their selfish behaviour… and by the sheer scope of all the men who do it (99.9% of all male harassers are not famous and not all that rich) more importantly, though, does that silence enable the real predators like Weinstein, Rose and Cosby? What license does such widespread lasciviousness give to actual predations? If, in curtailing the lasciviousness will we make serious progress against the predation? If so, I’m all for it.
On the one hand, I don’t want Franken to resign, because he’s a good Senator and I think he’s a good person who’s made mistakes. On the other hand, I want Franken to resign, to re-implement the notion of zero-tolerance and take away any excuse or license to the bad people who’ve been actually and actively hurting people and ruining live.