Thursday, December 07, 2017

The Day Didn't End Soon Enough

I'm afraid to look outside.  Water will be running uphill.  Dogs and cats, living together!

I know Al Franken wasn't held to the legal standard for his alleged conduct, but there's a reason the legal standard for assault (the civil tort, not the criminal statute) is "a reasonably prudent person."

Assault, as a tort, is an offensive contact.  But what does that mean?  A contact that offends the person contacted?  No, that's too subjective.  Under that standard, simply bumping someone on the sidewalk or in a store could be a civil assault.  The legal standard, then, requires that the contact be offensive to "a reasonably prudent person."  Of course, under that standard, even grabbing someone's ass during a photograph might not be assault; because the jury would have to decide whether a reasonably prudent person would consider it offensive, or simply inappropriate.

The former is actionable, the latter isn't.  And the reason for the standard is pretty much this:

“I have to say that I’m so sad and appalled at his lack of response and him owning up to what he did,” Stephanie Kemplin, an army veteran who accused Franken of groping her while he was in Kuwait entertaining the troops in 2003, said on MSNBC.

“He just keeps passing the buck and making it out to be something that we — we took his behavior the wrong way or we misconstrued something or that we just — we just flat-out lied about what happened to us,” she continued.

Kemplin made the comments when asked if Franken’s resignation is justice for allegedly groping several women. Kemplin said that his resignation does not feel like justice to her and that she would like to see him acknowledge his behavior.

“Justice to me would be him owning up to what he did and to stop trying to pass the buck onto other individuals who possibly — they did commit the same things, maybe even more heinous than what he’s done,” she said, perhaps referencing to Franken’s comment in his resignation speech that President Donald Trump and Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore have not seen the same repercussions for their alleged sexual misconduct.
Justice in the courts is not justice as defined by any one individual.  What Ms. Kemplin wants is justice, by her standards.  What I say she wants, based on her statements, is a pound of flesh; or rather, an extra helping, since she has forced Sen. Franken to resign from the Senate without, as Tom Brokaw noted, any input from the voters of Minnesota.   But as long as it's about what offends an individual, a particular individual, a person named Stephanie Kemplin, then why not another punishment atop this one?  Why not a demand Sen. Franken please Ms. Kemplin by acknowledging his behavior in words that suit her?  And then go on to please every woman who made an accusation against him in the same personal, individual manner, and then perhaps say something that satisfies personally every Senator who called for his resignation?

This is where this nonsense goes, and to say it is as implacable as the sunrise (it is) is not to say it is just and right or even sound governance.  There is a reason there is a process, and it should be held to, even if that process is only the Senate Ethics Committee.

But process doesn't always end the way we want it to, so we should discard it when convenient, right?

Yet many of those same Democratic senators who called for Franken’s resignation joined in what appeared to be a sympathetic and supportive goodbye after his announcement. Franken’s speech and the ensuing response was much more partisan than the initial calls for investigation or his resignation. Franken made the sudden deluge of serious sexual harassment allegations against him sound like a pointed hunt, with innocent civilian casualties — and the room appeared to believe him.

In the opening lines of his announcement, Franken said America is “finally beginning to listen to women about the ways in which men’s actions affect them.”

His final message: Just don’t believe all of them.
Because in this Manichean phase, there are only two options:  believe all women who make accusations, or disbelieve all of them.  The middle ground of assessment is simply betrayal by other means. The only innocent people are the women making accusations; everyone else is just someone who hasn't come forward yet (women) and those who haven't been accused yet (men).

Or something.

Anyway, it ain't justice, because "justice" always means the good guys win.  Now we just have to figure out who the "good guys" are.  But we don't need a process for that; we just know.


  1. I think that the people who figure this is the beginning of a new day when women who have legitimate complaints of sexual harassment by men are taken seriously are soon going to be proven entirely wrong. This is going to be a low point in what's going to turn out to be more of the same because the standards of accusation lack any kind of evaluation and deciding who is really culpable as accused and who isn't and that's something that will soon turn to the advantage of the privileged.

    The issue of automatic belief of accusations led to me breaking it off with a lot of people online, that is an intollerable situation.

  2. My idea was that Franken should have let the people of Alabama decide; that is, he should have announced that he would resign if they would reject Roy Moore. That way they could vote to reject both Moore and a bona fide Hollywood Liberal.

    Unfortunately I wasn't able to get this suggestion to him on time.

    Meanwhile, back on the ranch, three dead in an Aztec, New Mexico high school shooting. And I sure it wouldn't interest anybody outside of a small circle of friends.