[Author’s note: I write this not because I want to “mansplain” anything. I write it to clarify my own thoughts about all of this. There are so many pieces to these issues. I share it for people’s thoughts and feedback.]
My wife and I were talking the other day about Gov. Cuomo’s predicament and the issues swirling around on Twitter. A lot of folks on Twitter saw it Cuomo being “Frankened” that is, dealing with a host of allegations designed to remove a strong and intelligent leader on the Democratic side, while Republicans never step down, no matter what.
My wife reminded me that “actions have consequences”, no matter which”side” you’re on. “We’re talking about women being harassed and sexually assaulted”. Of course, she’s right…. except when she’s not. So am I, because we’re talking about at least two separate issues in this context. All issues should be talked about here. I say this because once Cuomo was accused, someone on Twitter said, “What about Tara Reid (who accused Biden during the election)?” After President Biden has given us the most progressive bill in decades, and defeated the former guy, preventing the spread of fascism here in America, I’m not willing to throw him under the bus for anything without a whole lot of proof.
So, with all of that said, let’s make clear the basics of morality, in the political sphere and everywhere else.
1) Sexually abusing, harassing, and/or raping anyone is wrong. Statistically, and sociologically, of course, it’s more likely to be a man abusing or harassing a woman. Still, men and women can get harassed or abused by any gender, any person, any preference, any anything… There are feminist theories about why these things happen, and they need to be taken seriously, but I’m not the right person to make those cases because, well, I’m not a woman. I’m also trying to be clear about proactive steps we can make.
2) Anyone who has abused, harassed, raped another person should be held accountable and face serious consequences for this because people who have this happen to them suffer for long periods after it does. It’s a big deal, and it requires big consequences in order to have justice.
3) There must be a way to fairly figure out what happened. Generally, that would be the court system, but it doesn’t have to be.
4) What justice looks like in these cases must include the victim’s idea of what it is for them.
Now, where it gets tricky…
There seems to be a conflict between politicians and the legal system. Politicians don’t seem to believe — for whatever reasons, some codified into law or regulations — that their work is too important to be interrupted by accusations, court days, etc. In short, because their work impacts a lot of people, the questions that any one person might have raised can’t be dealt with now. Good, bad, or otherwise, this seems to be the calculus for the public, the press, the politicians, and the legal system.
Also, of course, is the spectrum of charges that go under the category or “sexual [whatever]” from harassment to touching to sex with or without consent, to full-on abuse or rape or child abuse and pornography, using prostitutes and sex trafficking. All of these go under the heading of “Sexual…” Once that word is used, reaction gets heightened. Curiosity gets piqued. The press gets involved and chaos ensues.
Here, we add in what we want to believe. In this category, I will never believe that Al Franken did anything worthy of his losing his seat or giving it up. Kristen Gildebrand has stated multiple times that there’s a lot more to the credible allegations against Franken than is known, that she, too, likes Franken and misses his presence in the Senate. I don’t care what she says. Until I know differently, I will always see this as a political decision. In order to keep Sheriff Roy Moore from getting elected, Democrats required the perception of purity when challenging him, and Franken “had to go”. This is a political tragedy that did not have to happen. [Just to be clear my biases are: Franken is ok. Cuomo, I don’t want to be true, but may be. Jim Jordan and his knowledge of athletes being molested in college by their coach? Hell, yes, I think he’s guilty — but very little press coverage has been given to this. Why? I don’t know. Finally, Trump has admitted such on the famous “Access Hollywood” tapes, and — with 20 plus women accusing him of deeply disturbing behavior, some of it violent — I absolutely believe that Donald Trump should be held accountable for what he’s done. Getting into the weeds further, I believe Christine Blassey Ford that Brett Kavanaugh is guilty. I also believe that Roy Moore is a pedophile, that Al Gore hurt some woman, Bill Clinton had an affair (multiple affairs?), and that the guy that was going to be Gore’s running mate was a sick man who hurt a lot of people with his affairs and coercion].
Whether Cuomo is being “Frankened” is yet to be determined in three ways — 1) What is the motivation of the accusers at this time and place in history? Are they paid political shills or are they actually accusers? As much as I would like to believe that all accusers are actually accusers, the way politics has been played for the past 40 years, I am not sure that political operatives aren’t involved. More on this later… 2) Whether Cuomo is guilty of the same level of things that Franken was, and 3) Whether Franken was “Frankened” or if there’s more that we don’t know. As yet, we don’t know if any of those things are true. That’s a problem.
Here are my conclusions:
- There shouldn’t be a difference between politicians and elected officials. For justice to be served, there should be The Law, and it should be applied to all cases. If somethings warrants an investigation, it warrants an investigation. If it warrants a trial, it warrants a trial. If it warrants jail, it warrants jail. If you can arrest Joe the Janitor while he’s at work, you can arrest Jim the Senator while he’s at work. It’s as simple as that.
- Politics and importance to the wider community do need to be considered in case of a sexual scandal when dealing with the political side of things. It should not regarding the law.
- Accusations, investigations, etc. should not be done in the press only. If a lawyer wants to say that their client is making accusations, the first stop shouldn’t be a press conference. It should be to the law. In political circles, there may also be ethics committees and such, but each allegation should be taken seriously and the law should make a determination as to whether there’s enough to file charges. The legal system should explain why or why not. If there’s not enough “there” there, that should be explained. If the accused is innocent, that needs to be acknowledged to and by the press. If the accused is found guilty, that needs to be acknowledged by the Press. The public deserves closure on these stories. Sexuality, Violence, Politics, and the Law are all different things. They should be seen as different combinations in different systems. Each should have it’s own lane.
- Public pressure absolutely needs to be applied for removal of a politician if they actually did something wrong. If they didn’t, then more people like Al Franken — good people, to my knowledge — will be lost in the political sphere. We need real justice, not just shame, for authorities who commit crimes.
So, did Governor Cuomo hurt women sexually? I don’t know. Should the accusers be believed? Yes. But if the truth is that the person is innocent, believing a lie isn’t justice. Politicians of both parties should be dealt with the same way, and anybody who hurts people should face consequences for those, at least somewhat determined by the victim.
That’s all I can come up with for now.
Resisting in Peace,