Tag Archives: sexual abuse

Et tu, Al?

Updated below (on Friday, November 17, 2017)

In the current climate, it was only a matter of time before someone I really have liked and respected was going to be outed as having acted sexually inappropriately in the past. This time, there is photographic evidence:

Franken gropes the accuser while smiling

That’s Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota apparently pretending* to grope a sleeping woman (radio newscaster Leeann Tweeden) during a U.S.O. (United Service Organizations) tour in the Middle East in 2006.

From his expression, he fairly clearly thinks that it’s pretty fucking funny. Of course, it isn’t, which he has acknowledged, and he has apologized for his inappropriate, immature, abusive, disrespectful act, and Tweeden has stated that she accepts his apology and that she doesn’t believe that he should step down.

To me, that’s pretty much case closed.

More disturbing to me than the frat-boy-level photo above is Tweeden’s allegation that Franken, under the guise of rehearsing a skit that he wrote that (rather conveniently) required him to kiss her, kissed her forcefully against her wishes (and gave her tongue, she adds).

Such unwanted contact constitutes sexual battery, in my book, but Franken said that “While I don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit as Leeann does, I understand why we need to listen to and believe women’s experiences.”

He immediately added: “I am asking that an ethics investigation be undertaken, and I will gladly cooperate.”

So: This contact between Franken and Tweeden happened in 2006, before Franken became a U.S. senator in 2009. (And in Tweeden’s own words, “Franken had written some skits for the [U.S.O.] show and brought props and costumes to go along with them. Like many U.S.O. shows before and since, the skits were full of sexual innuendo geared toward a young, male audience.” That’s some context, and context matters.)

The New York Times reports that “Ms. Tweeden said that no one else witnessed the [alleged forced] kiss, and she did not tell the tour’s organizers [about it].” (Indeed, Tweeden’s own words to this effect are here.)

Franken couldn’t have been convicted of sexual battery at the time even if Tweeden had gone to the authorities, because they apparently have different versions of the same event that no one else witnessed. Legally, it seems to me, that’s pretty much that.

It seems to me that absent a felony conviction, which should disqualify anyone from becoming or remaining a U.S. senator, it’s up to the voters of Minnesota to decide Franken’s fate when he comes up for re-election in 2020, assuming that he decides to run again.

It’s probably safe to say that any hope that Franken might have had about running for president in 2020 is dashed — even though “President” Pussygrabber bragged about grabbing women by the pussy and still became “president” — but I refuse to write Franken’s political obituary today. I believe that he can come out better and stronger for this (and that yes, hell — who knows? — he still might become president one day).

No, I don’t condone sexual harassment of any kind, from non-body-contact sexual harassment, such as making unwanted sexual remarks to taking a photo of yourself pretending to grope someone sexually to exposing yourself to someone who doesn’t want to see your goods, to actual body-contact sexual harassment, such as actual groping or forceful, unwanted kissing.

But nor is it productive to take the stance that we should utterly fucking destroy anyone who has misstepped.

That self-righteous revenge-seeking goes beyond justice and becomes a crime in and of itself; that is, to assert that those who can be redeemed cannot be redeemed, but must be destroyed for the rest of their lives, is to commit yet another type of violence against the human spirit.

P.S. Two more things:

One, there seems to be a definite double standard where Democrats and Repugnicans are concerned. Again, “President” Pussygrabber in 2005 bragged, on tape, about grabbing women by the pussy and kissing them without their consent, and yet that was A-OK with enough voters to allow him to take the Oval Office.

Two (which is related to one), what U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama has been accused of, especially the under-aged shit, is much worse than what Franken has been accused of (and was photographed doing), but even for a backasswards, right-wing piece of dog shit like Moore, I would say that absent a felony conviction — that is, he had had his day in court and was found guilty by a jury — it still would be up to the voters of Alabama to decide whether or not to send him to the U.S. Senate. (And then the Senate could, I understand, refuse to seat him, although I’m not sure of all of the legalities on that.)

But let’s not compare Al Franken to Roy Moore (or to “President” Pussygrabber). Franken so far has had one accuser, who was an adult at the time. Moore thus far has had at least eight accusers, some of whom were under the age of 18 at the time of their reported events.

Update (Friday, November 17, 2017): Leeann Tweeden said this on “Good Morning America” today: “I didn’t do this [publicize Franken’s actions of 2006] to have him step down. I think Al Franken does a lot of good things in the Senate. You know, I think that’s for the people of Minnesota to decide. I’m not calling for him to step down. That was never my intention.”

She also apparently said of the bullshit comparison of “President” Pussygrabber’s actions to Franken’s, “His [Pussygrabber’s] issues — that’s a whole other thing.”

Yup. More than a dozen women thus far have accused Pussygrabber of having perpetrated sexual harassment to sexual battery.

Sadly, I’ve seen, among others, Slate.com’s otherwise thoughtful and intelligent Mark Joseph Stern and the progressive group Justice Democrats both call for Franken to step down immediately. (And in an e-mail that I received, the Justice Democrats also called for Franken to be replaced with U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison by Minnesota’s governor. I admire Ellison and I supported him for the chair of the Democratic National Committee, but he should run for the U.S. Senate if he wants to be a U.S. senator. Denying Franken due process and summarily replacing him with Ellison is not what I’d call justice or democracy, Justice Democrats!)

We all need to take a deep fucking breath and not be even more outraged than the actual victims are and therefore call for even harsher punishments than they are calling for. (And no, let’s not say that part of the victims’ victimization is that they’re just not outraged enough and that they are too forgiving, so we need to “correct” that. Jesus fucking fuck.)

And yes, as both Stern and Justice Democrats and many others have argued, we who are left of center don’t want to be called hypocrites on the subject of sexual harassment and sexual assault and sexual battery.

But we also need to take each case on its own (each case can vary widely in severity) and not lump all of the cases together, or collapse the many different kinds of sexual violations into one big generic sexual violation because we don’t feel like dealing with shades of gray.

And if we claim that we care about justice, then we need to give the accused the chance to explain him- or herself — and/or to be investigated as fairly and impartially as possible — instead of immediately calling for his or her head on a silver fucking platter so that we can try to look cool by keeping ahead of the news cycle.

Nor should our No. 1 concern be what the fucking Repugnicans will think. They never fucking care what we think, which is why they “win” elections even when they lose them, such as “presidents” George W. Bush and Pussygrabber both did.

*To grope someone is to touch him or her with your hands, and while the incident in the photo widely has been described as a groping, to me it appears to be Franken pretending to be groping or pretending to be about to grope the sleeping woman. Not that even pretending to do so is OK, but it’s not as bad as actually groping. There are levels of bad, for fuck’s sake.

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Moses Farrow testifies in the court of public opinion

As I already have indicated, I agree with Slate.com legal writer Dahlia Lithwick’s assertion that the Mia Farrow-Woody Allen family feud never should have been put before the court of public opinion, but Slate.com today also reports (hypocritically?) today that People magazine reports that Mia Farrow’s and Woody Allen’s other adopted child, Moses Farrow, who is now 36 years old, recently said this to the magazine:

“My mother drummed it into me to hate my father for tearing apart the family and sexually molesting my sister [Dylan Farrow, who now is 28 years old]. And I hated him for her for years. I see now that this was a vengeful way to pay him back for falling in love with Soon-Yi. … [Keep in mind that Mia Farrow and Woody Allen waged a nasty court battle for the custody of both of their co-adopted children, Dylan and Moses, and so it’s not like Mia Farrow had no reason to lie about Allen’s treatment of either child.]

“Of course Woody did not molest my sister. She loved him and looked forward to seeing him when he would visit. She never hid from him until our mother succeeded in creating the atmosphere of fear and hate towards him.

“The day in question, there were six or seven of us in the house. We were all in public rooms and no one, not my father or sister, was off in any private spaces. My mother was conveniently out shopping.

“I don’t know if my sister really believes she was molested or is trying to please her mother. Pleasing my mother was very powerful motivation because to be on her wrong side was horrible.”

Before members of the pro-Mia camp leave me a nasty comment, let me make it clear that I am not asserting that because Moses Farrow says that his sister Dylan Farrow was not molested by Woody Allen, Dylan Farrow is lying or is mistaken or confused about reality.

While I suspect that Moses is telling the truth — and his version of the facts of that fateful day are very different from the version that Mia Farrow and Dylan Farrow tell — when it comes down to it, I still just don’t know. It’s not impossible that Moses is lying or is mistaken or confused about reality. 

However, Dylan Farrow got to have her testimony in the court of public opinion, so it’s only fair that Moses Farrow also got to testify in the same court, and Moses’ testimony, whether you tend to believe it or not, sure makes the whole picture a whole lot grayer, doesn’t it? I mean, he was in the house. I was not, and neither were you.

The more information that you have, the better, and Moses Farrow’s public statement certainly adds more information, is another important piece of the puzzle, but the puzzle never was ours to (try to) put together.

As Lithwick puts it:

Welcome to the Court of Public Opinion. We have continued People v. Bieber (2014) so that we can instead relitigate Allen v. Farrow (1992). To be perfectly clear, the court must state upfront that in the Court of Public Opinion there are no rules of evidence, no burdens of proof, no cross-examinations, and no standards of admissibility. There are no questions and also no answers. Also, please be aware that in the Court of Public Opinion, choosing silence or doubt is itself a prosecutable offense.

She adds that

… the Court of Public Opinion is what we used to call villagers with flaming torches. It has no rules, no arbiter, no mechanism at all for separating truth from lies. It allows everything into evidence and has no mechanism to separate facts about the case from the experiences and political leanings of the millions of us who are all acting as witnesses, judges, and jurors. …

The Court of Public Opinion is a wonderful place to be heard, to test new ideas, and an even more gratifying place to tear apart those whose opinions offend us. It rarely brings about justice for the parties in a lawsuit, however, because the Court of Public Opinion is usually more about us than them. …

Indeed, as I have said, Farrow v. Allen (1992) has served as a national Rorschach test. (Indeed, if you read Lithwick’s full piece, she remarks about our “our woefully anti-woman, anti-victim culture,” so even she apparently has skin in this game. [I consider myself to be a feminist, too, but to point out that we have an “anti-woman, anti-victim culture” sure gives the appearance of taking a side, doesn’t it?])

And just saying, as I have said many times now, “I don’t know” whether or not Woody Allen molested his adopted daughter Dylan is enough for many if not most members of the pro-Mia camp to attack you as a misogynist pedophile-lover, if not a pedophile yourself.

This ugly national drama reminds me much of the plays (and the films) “The Crucible” and “Doubt.”

Shame on us for not having risen above this shit already.

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Woody Allen must be presumed innocent

Those were the days, when it was about the art…

The Mia Farrow-Woody Allen fight has become unseemly. Actually, it reached the unseemly point a while ago.

I put Farrow’s name first because she appears to be the one who wants this fight the most, and because she seems to be using her children, natural and adopted, as her weapons in her long-running family feud with Allen. My understanding is that she has been doing this for many years now.

I was sexually abused by a family member, so I don’t need to be told that I am minimizing sexual abuse. I am not.

My central problem with the Farrow-Allen fight is that if you peel away its layers, at its core appears to be Farrow’s hatred of Allen, which probably is mutual. The core of the fight does not seem to be any real, good-faith intention to educate the public about the problem of sexual abuse.

The core intention of Farrow and her surrogates, such as her son Ronan and now her daughter Dylan, seems to be to tell the world, “You think that Woody Allen is so fucking great? Ha! No, he’s a child molester!”

And maybe Allen did sexually abuse adopted daughter Dylan Farrow when she was 7 years old in 1992, as alleged. (While Mia Farrow and Woody Allen never married in the more than 10 years that they were together, they did adopt two children together, including Dylan.) But as Allen was never even criminally tried for such an act, we have to presume him innocent until and unless a criminal court deems him otherwise.

It’s possible that Allen is guilty as charged, but it seems to me that it also is possible that, as Allen’s attorney has posited, Mia Farrow, in the throes of a messy breakup, planted the idea in the young Dylan Farrow’s mind that Allen had sexually abused her. (“In my view she’s not lying; I think she truly believes this happened,” Allen’s attorney is quoted as having said of Dylan, adding, “When you implant a story in a fragile 7-year old’s mind, it stays there forever; it never goes away.”)

Indeed, if it’s true that a home video that Mia Farrow shot of the young Dylan asking her (grilling her? I don’t know; I haven’t seen the video) about the alleged incident is full of in-camera edits (starts and stops), it certainly indicates that some off-camera coaching by mama went on.

In any case, absent a court conviction, the Mia Farrow-Woody Allen fight, in my book, remains unresolved, and because we just don’t know what did or did not actually happen, because we were not there, it’s pointless to take a firm side in the fight, and it seems to me that male-phobic women of course are going to knee-jerkedly side with Mia Farrow and that female-phobic men of course are going to knee-jerkedly side with Woody Allen; it’s yet another Rorschach test, in which the individual sees what she or he is predisposed to see.

I don’t side with either Farrow or Allen, although I do find it unfortunate that Farrow probably will be remembered more for her messy breakup and post-breakup fight with Allen than for her acting — and she turned in some great performances. She might be remembered as the actress who was bitter because her ex found much more post-breakup fame and success than she did, and it’s too bad that that casts a pall over the art that she created.

And yes, I do tend to believe that art and intra-family squabbles and other interpersonal and intrapersonal problems should be kept separate. Art is beautiful and intra-family squabbles and interpersonal and intrapersonal problems are ugly. Art belongs in public for all to see; intra-family squabbles usually belong within the family.

No, I’m not suggesting that the actual victims of sexual abuse at the hands of a family member keep quiet about it. Of course they should not; and the sexual abuse of minors always should be reported to law enforcement authorities. And Dylan, now 28, certainly has not been silent about the allegations against Allen; she recently penned a piece about them for the New York Times, which she began thusly:

What’s your favorite Woody Allen movie? Before you answer, you should know: when I was seven years old, Woody Allen took me by the hand and led me into a dim, closet-like attic on the second floor of our house. He told me to lay on my stomach and play with my brother’s electric train set. Then he sexually assaulted me. He talked to me while he did it, whispering that I was a good girl, that this was our secret, promising that we’d go to Paris and I’d be a star in his movies. I remember staring at that toy train, focusing on it as it traveled in its circle around the attic. To this day, I find it difficult to look at toy trains.

Dylan concludes her piece like this:

What if it had been your child, Cate Blanchett? Louis CK? Alec Baldwin? What if it had been you, Emma Stone? Or you, Scarlett Johansson? You knew me when I was a little girl, Diane Keaton. Have you forgotten me?

Woody Allen is a living testament to the way our society fails the survivors of sexual assault and abuse.

So imagine your seven-year-old daughter being led into an attic by Woody Allen. Imagine she spends a lifetime stricken with nausea at the mention of his name. Imagine a world that celebrates her tormenter.

Are you imagining that? Now, what’s your favorite Woody Allen movie?

The slam against actors and actresses who have worked with Allen, as though they were firm advocates of the sexual abuse of children, is gratuitous and unfair and ultimately sadly pathetic, and Dylan’s piece still seems more aimed at undercutting Allen’s stature and fame than anything else — giving her the appearance of being her mother’s long-standing pawn — and, having read Dylan’s piece, I still cannot say with confidence whether Allen actually sexually abused her those years ago or whether Mia Farrow, in the throes of a rampage over a messy breakup, really fucked up the young Dylan’s mind.

And you cannot either.

Because you were not there, either.

Until and unless something were to happen, such as Allen issuing a videotaped deathbed confession (without in-camera edits…), the only fair, logical answer to the question “Did Woody Allen sexually abuse his daughter Dylan?” that I could have as I type this sentence is: I do not know. I was not there.

I hope that he did not, but I just don’t know whether he did or not.

In the meantime, I do, to at least some degree, separate a work of art (or attempted work of art) from the personal life of its creator. For instance, to my recollection I haven’t read any of Ernest Hemingway’s novels (I know — I’m bad…), but if I did read one of his novels, I wouldn’t be thinking the whole time, “This guy was a drunk who killed himself; he was a real fucking mess, so all of his writing is trash.”

No, I would judge a Hemingway novel by its own merits, and I do that with Woody Allen’s films.

Some of Allen’s films are pretty good; some of them are pretty bad, especially compared to his better films.*

The Mia Farrow-Woody Allen breakup and post-breakup warring (very apparently instigated mostly if not entirely by Farrow) is, to me, outside of that fact.  

*I will answer, seriously, Dylan Farrow’s snarky concluding question, “Now, what’s your favorite Woody Allen movie?”, which very apparently is supposed to make me feel incredibly guilty for ever having enjoyed any of Allen’s cinematic work — because of her alleged sexual abuse at his hands.

It is hard to pick just one Woody Allen film as my favorite, but I suppose that if I had to whittle it down, “Alice” would be my favorite.

In my top 10 also probably would be “The Purple Rose of Cairo,” “Zelig,” “Husbands and Wives,” “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” and “Midnight in Paris.” (While I loved Cate Blanchett’s performance in “Blue Jasmine,” I found the screenplay lacking. Indeed, in my book, Blanchett’s acting is all that gave that film any real value.)

Indeed, Mia Farrow and Woody Allen had, I think, a great run together; it’s too bad that it has come to the airing of their filthy family laundry in public.

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Big gay roundup!

gay_cowboy51.jpg sexy cowboys image by shaunte1223

Gay Repugnican’s coming out gets mixed reviews 

Reaction to Repugnican California state Sen. Roy Ashburn’s having come out of the closet yesterday — involuntarily, as the result of chatter after he was arrested on March 3 for DUI after having driven away from a Sacramento gay bar — has been mixed.

Ashburn, the first Repugnican California state legislator to have come out of the closet (which tells you something about how backfuckingasswards the Repugnican Party is), received a fairly warm, or at least a not hostile, reception when he returned to the state Senate yesterday, The Sacramento Bee reports.

Homo-hating wingnuts, however, have gone so far as to say that Ashburn isn’t really gay — indeed, that no one is, that being gay is, of course, a “choice.”

Reports the Bee:

Benjamin Lopez, state lobbyist for the Traditional Values Coalition, said that the coalition’s founder, the Rev. Lou Sheldon, is offering to counsel Ashburn to help him turn away from being gay. [Because “reparative” or “conversion” “therapy” has been sooooo successful!]

“I don’t know why Roy strayed,” said Lopez, who appeared with Ashburn at [an] anti-gay marriage rally in 2005.

“I think it’s more sad than hypocritical,” Lopez said. “We hope he comes to terms with whatever is making him make a choice to be a gay man.”

Gee, I wonder if the oh-so-fucking-helpful “Traditional Values Coalition” offers black people “counseling” to help them with their “choice” to be black instead of the much more preferable white.

Not to be outdone by the “Traditional Values Coalition” (the Ku Klux Klan is the keeper of certain “traditional values” as well), homo-hater Randy Thomasson has called on Ashburn to resign.

The Bee quotes Thomasson as having said that “no one is truly gay” and that the divorced Ashburn “vowed to be faithful to his wife, then broke his vows when he chose homosexuality over his marriage.”

There’s that being-homosexual-is-a-“choice” lie again.

Google Thomasson’s image and he’ll probably set off your gaydar, too. Memo to Miss Randy: The man-lady doth protest too much, methinks.

Seriously: How many heterosexual men are fixated on homosexuality to the point that they make it their life’s work? Um, yeah…

Anyway, part of me thinks that Ashburn deserves a good ass-whupping for having been a traitor to his “chosen” tribe by having voted against pro-gay legislation for all of those years in the California Legislature.

However, for all I know, he likes ass-whuppings, and I suppose that if the penalty for coming out (even for traitors like Ashburn) is too harsh, it will dissuade others from coming out, and the more of us who are out, the better.

Et tu, Massa?

The Washington Post reports that recently resigned Democratic U.S. Rep. Eric Massa of New York is under investigation not only for having verbally sexually harassed male staff, but for having groped male staff, too — starting at least a year ago.

Maybe it’s time for Massa — who apparently has been trying to take the attention away from his apparently busy hands by claiming first that he was resigning because of cancer and then because he has been a victim of pressure to vote for “Obamacare” — to take some inspiration from Roy Ashburn and come out of the fucking closet already.

Hell, Ashburn is 55 and Massa is 50. Maybe they’re a match! Ashburn is divorced, but Massa is still heterosexually married, though. Until his wife divorces him for being gay.

Catholick sexual abuse hits close to Pope Palpatine

FILE - In this Sept. 13, 2006 file picture Pope Benedict XVI, ...

Associated Press photo

Pope Palpatine, right, and his older brother Georg, who is a priest, are shown in Germany in 2006.

It’s hard to keep up with the child sexual abuse scandals within the Catholick church, but the latest is interesting because it involves Pope Palpatine’s brother.

Priest Georg Ratzinger, Palpatine’s 86-year-0ld bro (Palpatine is 82 and his real name is Joseph Ratzinger), cops to having slapped around some members of a Catholick boys’ choir in Germany when he ran it from 1964 to 1994, and admits that he was aware of some physical abuse of the boys, but claims that he was unaware that some of the choirboys had been sexually abused, too, reports The Associated Press.

I don’t know. It seems fairly safe to me at this point to assume that at least every other Catholick authority figure has sexually abused a child at least once.

The Catholick church has not a shred of respectability or credibility left; it’s gone quite to hell.

Maybe one day actual Christianity — that is, people actually knowing and following the teachings of Jesus Christ — will become popular.

(I’m not equating the sexual abuse of children with homosexuality, by the way. I just needed a place to put this little news tidbit…)

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