[Sorry, mates. No pictures again. Some topics are too important to trivialize. We'll get back to the funny stuff again soon... I hope.]
Throughout grade school – and even into high school – the common threat from the young Captain’s teachers was, “This will go on your permanent record!”
Back then we laughed. We were pretty sure such a thing did not exist. But even if it did…
“Oooooh, my ‘C’ in typing class will follow me the rest of my life!”
Flash forward 40-some years.
Is it possible that ubiquitous “permanent record” really exists?
It apparently does for politicians and celebrities.
On Thursday, Leeann Tweeden, now a sports commentator, wrote a blog accusing Senator Al Franken of forcibly kissing her without her consent during a rehearsal for a USO tour in 2006. A photo has also emerged of Franken appearing to try to grope her while she slept on the return flight.
Franken says he doesn’t remember the rehearsal the same way Tweeden does, but he publicly apologized to her. The photo, on the other hand, was obviously staged by Franken, and it is difficult to interpret any other way.
Yes, Tweeden was wearing a flak jacket, but she appears to be asleep… obviously not in on the “joke”.
And in today’s climate, even the appearance of sexual assault can permanently tarnish a person’s reputation.
Now, some are inclined to give Franken a pass. After all, this all happened before Franken entered the Senate. He was a comedian back then. Now he is one of the brightest, most well-respected Democrats in the Senate, and with Trumpf in the White House and a Republican majority in Congress, every vote counts.
But others insist we must hold Franken to the same standard that he and other Democrats are trying to apply to Right-wing Republican Roy Moore in his bid for a Senate seat from Alabama. Moore has been accused of sexual harassment / sexual assault by six women now, with one being a minor at the time. Moore was not a Senator at the time, although he was an assistant district attorney.
Some even want to bring President Clinton back into this discussion. But his affair with Monica Lewinski in 1998 was consensual – despite the power issues; and Clinton was ultimately impeached for lying about the affair. He settled a sexual assault suit by Paula Jones, but other allegations against Clinton did not stick and he left office with a high job approval rating.
Captain’s Note: The Captain wonders why Clinton didn’t just say, “Yes, I had an affair. It’s none of your damn business.” But alas, 20/20 hindsight…
Others want to bring President Trumpf into the argument. He, too, has admitted to sexual harassment / sexual abuse of many teenage girls and women, as well as adultery. And he is unrepentant. In fact, he brags about it! But he was elected President anyway.
“The people have spoken.”
Like Bill Cosby before him, or even Harvey Weinstein, Al Franken grew up in a different culture. New York night life, the Playboy Mansion, Studio 54, Hollywood – it was all so different back then.
Captain’s Note: Franken has previously admitted to using cocaine while a writer for Saturday Night Live, quitting only after John Belushi died. That didn’t stop him from being elected to represent Minnesota – MINNESOTA! – in the Senate.
But the same argument could be made for Moore, who also grew up in a different culture – Alabama, the Bible Belt, a very conservative / fundamentalist Christianist culture, in which an older man dating a younger woman is not only acceptable but praiseworthy. And Alabama still seems willing to send him to the Senate.
So if one can overlook the transgressions of Franken, why not the transgressions of Roy Moore?
Franken has admitted the incident in 2006 happened, and now looks upon it as “shameful”. As a comedian, he thought it was funny. As a Senator, he now realizes it wasn’t.
Moore, on the other hand, continues to deny the accusations against him, even though the number of women coming forward grows almost daily. He still insists he is the guardian of God’s Law and the representative of God’s will on earth.
And therein lies the difference.
At a very basic level, the Captain believes rules should apply evenly. If we are going to tie Republicans to the mast and flog them for their indiscretions, then we must do the same to Democrats who commit the same offense.
But the Captain also believes in grace and forgiveness.
Which is why they call me “Captain Love”.
And who doesn’t want grace and forgiveness? Many of my generation have been heard to say, “I’m sure glad there weren’t cell phones and Facebook around when I was a growing up!”
I’m still hoping no one finds my “permanent record”. There is likely to be more there than just a low grade in typing class!
As all these allegations of sexual misconduct continue to arise, the Captain has been racking the ol’ brain to remember who might accuse me should I decide to run for Congress.
The Pirate Party, of course.
I can think of about a half-dozen possibilities – although most of them were consensual.
Or were they?
But forgiveness must come first from the person wronged. And that begins with confession, repentance, and an apology. Only then can we begin to offer grace.
Captain’s Note: Perhaps there should be another “Me too!” campaign, this time for men to publicly admit that they, too, have sexually harassed / sexually assaulted a woman.That might move along the national discussion.
Since the Weinstein allegations just a month ago, dozens of celebrities and politicians have been accused. None has had his day in court, but in the “court of public opinion” they have all been found guilty. Lives and careers have been ruined.
The Captain is not among those calling for Al Franken’s resignation. He has done an admirable job while in the Senate – even standing up for women’s rights. Professionally, he should be judged by his work, not his past.
As we all should.
I pray he will be given a fair hearing as the Senate investigates these allegations. Perhaps a censure is in order.
But we desperately need intelligent, caring people like Senator Al Franken in public service.
Roy Moore, not so much.