Acknowledge the bad done by those like Al Franken, but see the good, too
Dec 21, 2017 at 9:55 AM
A zero-tolerance, #metoo culture that ignores the good done by people who have also done bad is unjust.
An eternal philosophical question is addressed by Salman Rushdie in his work, The Golden House: Can one be both good and bad? Of course we humans know the answer to be yes. In these Alice-In-Wonderland times, however, if ever you have erred, you are apparently forever bad. Zero tolerance — so commendable at first glance — demands punishment duly and somewhat precipitately delivered without regard to the severity of the crime and with no recourse to address the accusations. Admitted boorish and gross behavior is equated with alleged pedophilia and actual, but more stunningly, boastful proclamations of sexual assault.
The #metoo movement is a long, long overdue injunction to address and redress the ugly culture of sexual harassment. But revolutions by their very nature have inequitable and unintended consequences. My sister senators have come to a much too facile solution to a much too complex problem. To be sure they are to be applauded for their swift race to the moral high ground, but is there no redemptive value in one who, past sins notwithstanding, has devoted his later life to the betterment of not only his constituents but of the concerns of all U.S. citizenry? Is he to judged more harshly than the man who, stating the last time America was great was during slavery, has devoted his life to knavery; or to the man who indeed merits zero tolerance but is awarded the people’s White House? (It is a further irony that Sen. Al Franken has staunchly supported women’s rights.)
The pervasive, ages-old system of the debasement and exploitation of women must be finally and permanently exposed and expunged. But the punishment of accused perpetrators must fit the crime. Furthermore, unmasking the long, endless list of male rogues will not in itself be the cure-all, especially since targeting the mighty, though so financially rewarding to headline writers and so satisfying to consumers, ignores what lies below.
No solution will be possible without just and truly human resources to which women can turn without fear of reprisal.
We are both good and bad. For the good to prevail certainly demands admission, contrition and amelioration. In the case of Senator Franken, the scales are heavily weighted for good. Censured? Maybe. Ousted? No.