Newsflash: Men Are Jerks

(Not all of you, maybe, but most of you, at least sometimes.)

We may be reaching a danger zone where the #metoo and #believewomen movements could collapse into a morass of bad faith and overzealousness. Now we’re hearing from a woman who claimed Al Franken grabbed her behind while they were posing for a photo (the photo doesn’t show his hands) and NYT White House correspondent Glenn Thrush has been suspended because he is accused of behaving boorishly toward and making a clumsy pass at a woman colleague in a bar.

If true, this is not okay. However, it’s not in Harvey Weinstein territory. I fear we’re about to be hit by a wave of increasingly picayune charges aimed at famous men, many of which will be unprovable, that will dilute the movement. And these also will have the effect of inoculating more serious offenders. People will just stop listening, or believing.

As for Thrush and Franken — let the punishment fit the crime. Bring back stocks, I say. Make an example of them. Let them be held up to public humiliation. Let us pelt them with tomatoes and call them names for awhile. Once they are thoroughly chastised, send them back to work with a warning that future bad behavior will not be tolerated.

In other words, send a message to all the men who haven’t been accused yet. It might improve their behavior.

Update: Charlie Rose.

24 thoughts on “Newsflash: Men Are Jerks

  1. Beware, what goes around comes around. Some women are bitches, some of the time. (But #notallwomen…)

    I believe the women, most of the time, but I don't believe the politics of shame and denial; it's perverse, it's corrupt, it knows no innocence, to be accused is to be condemned, it rewards the worst offenders, it's about power not justice.

    As for sending a message… I predict that the message received will be to institute the Pence Rule: rich and powerful men should never meet a woman unchaperoned. This rule efficiently protects men and shuts out women.


  2. "increasingly picayune charges aimed at famous men, many of which will be unprovable, that will dilute the movement"

    We'll sure who didn't see this coming, you can't have a movement on twitter, it is eventually going to collapse from the weight of anonymity. Unfortunately the thoroughly sourced reporting of the WAPO Roy Moore story will get washed away with the bullshit, we are in perpetual 5th grade! If you in public life don't take any pictures with someone unless both your hands are visible!

  3. Sexual harassment – by either sex – is reprehensible and unacceptable.  And yes, men are much more likely to harass, than women.

    I'm glad that our society is starting to finally feel that women can openly talk about this subject, and not be chastised or given a black mark for "telling like it is."  I also think we need to also take a look at this time as to what the harassment was, who did it, under what circumstances, and then develop a scale upon which we can place offenders.  And then figure out some consequences

    By this, I mean, we need to seperate the creeps from the .predators, and then also figure out what sort of punishment should be meted out..  

    All predators are creeps, but not all creeps are predators.

    Right now, it appears that Franken is a creep. (barring, of course, still more egregious examples).  And Moore certainly appears to be a predator – maybe not anymore, but earlier in his life, when his hormones weren't affected by age.  Harvey Weinstein is the very definition of a predator and serial rapist.  Other men and women who have harassed will fit somewhere on that scale.

    We can't fire or demand resignation from EVERY single person accused of harassment.  Proving harassment is obviously very, very tough.

    And there WILL be false accusations!

    And as a result, we we need to figure out how to judge harassment from someone either over-reacting, creating something from whole cloth, or trying to malign someone for personal, political, career, revenge, and/or other reasons.

    Predators need to be exposed and dealt with seriously ASAP.  Firing, or demanding resignations it seems to me to be more than entirely appropriate.  So may long jail sentences.  And, of course, civil suits should always be an option.

    Creeps need to be admonished, counciled, given therapy if needed, and then carefully monitored.  If they  backslide and continue to be creeps, then maybe they may not be mere creeps, but borderline or full predators.

    All in all, this is a tough subject.

    But it's about time sexual harassment is talked about out in the open.  And along with that, we need to have honest discussions about this subject.

    So, let the discussions begin!

    Sorry about the long post.  But this subject is too serious for one of my usual short gags.

  4. I agree. We tend to be jerks at times but we can work or grow out of that condition. I feel compelled to give thanks to my wife whose love, patience, hard work and understanding helped me realize what a jerk I really am.

  5. I'm not sure that stocks and pelting with vegetable matter is appropriate. But I'm also not sure what *is*.

    I mean… if the woman Franken had kissed had responded to the kiss by punching him in the nose, bloodying it, or breaking it (but not rendering him unconscious), and I was on a jury because *she* was being tried for assault and battery, and he agreed that he'd just given her a kiss, okay, yes, with tongue, and yes, without warning or consent, but he was just fooling around, didn't mean anything serious, my thought would be, "okay, so, he assaulted her, and she responded with an appropriate level of force to stop the assault; why are we here about what *she* did?"

    The idea that Franken should step down, *especially* with the thought that "a Democrat will be appointed to replace him" bugs me.

    (Um. Why "especially"? Because if it's bad enough behavior that he should step down, the governor's party shouldn't matter. And if it's not bad enough that he should step down, then he shouldn't.)

    One thing I really don't like about Christian mythology (NB:I don't consider "mythology" to be insulting – I use it to mean "the storys and ideas behind them, that form the body of the religion's beliefs") is the widespread notion that Jesus died because someone had to suffer – either a perfect stand-in, or all of humanity, had to suffer because of Original Sin (or even because "we all commit sins").


    The notion that "you did something wrong, so you must suffer" is ridiculous. If a child makes a mess in the kitchen, do you mess up their bedroom and make them clean it? No, you make them clean up their own mess, and warn them to do better next time. Maybe, if it was a really bad situation, they're put on kitchen cleanup for a few days to teach them how hard it is, and how aggravating it is when people make messes. That's how you make children who learn not to make messes for others to clean up. Other punishment might convince them that it's a bad idea to make a mess and get caught, which may or may not generalize to "don't make messes".

    If Al Franken is now trying to do right as a legislator; and, if he's fully aware that his history means it's not just "what will be popular with Democratic women and allies", but it's  also payback for his own behavior, that sounds like the sort of public payback that should be due. The rest is mostly between him and the individual women he wronged. There, I can't offer an opinion.

    • I don’t think anyone should resign. We need to stop saying the “r” word, or otherwise the Republicans will have a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate by spring. I was offering the stocks example in lieu of ending Franken’s career. Allowing someone to suffer some public humiliation, yes; resignation, no. This is not about making anyone suffer, but to make an example and satisfy the mobs who want his head.

      There are degrees of severity, however. I suspect what Franken did could have been resolved on the spot with a simple “Hey! Stop that!” That is not always true. Most of the time it’s not true. If you’re alone with a genuine sexual predator, telling him to “stop that” just makes him more aggressive. Those are the situations women need help with, that we can’t handle by ourselves.

  6. #MeToo is a reckoning that had to happen,  but I worry that in this supercharged partisan political environment the importance of the catharsis women feel in speaking out about their experiences of abuse does not take a back seat to political expediency.  The idea that it would only be okay for Franken to resign when there's a democratic governor to appoint his replacement is not much different than the thought that it doesn't matter what Moore did, as long as a "liberal" is not elected to represent Alabama. Of course, Moore's transgressions are far worse than those of Franken's, and I don't mean to equate them.  Nevertheless even getting into that probably sounds like splitting hairs to the women for whom the abuse was real.  And let's not forget that its not just the act of abuse put the power behind it, that a man can do this because somehow a woman is less than and deserving of it.

  7. Newsflash: people are jerks ("not all of you, maybe, but most of you, at least sometimes.")

    in the current social schema, men have significant opportunities for their jerk behavior to be expressed as sexual coercion of varying degrees of consequence. women seldom have that opportunity, despite also being jerks. work to change the social schema.


  8. All men are jerks, all women are jerks, therefore all people are jerks.  I suppose someone is jerk enough to question the logic of this, claiming an asexual somewhere who invalidates all of this and  all logic too, but who would want to listen to a jerk like that.  And that Charlie Rose.  Who would have thought.  He would have been the last on my list of usual suspects.  From his public persona, he fit the picture of the asexual exception previously mentioned.  If not that extreme at least a gentleman with consideration for everyone.  Wrong on both I was it seems, which just shows my pathetic judgement toward media personalities.  One learns every day the error of one's ways and notions.  


    The worst part of this whole thing for me is that I had to hear and see Carly Fiorina attempting to talk with authority on the subject on the parade of Sunday morning talking heads.  I know I need to be punished for the sins of those in the male jerk category who are not handy at the moment, but isn't having to watch her pontificate cruel and unusual punishment?  And really, on a scale from one to ten, Roy Moore is near 10 and Al Franken should be rated much lower.  I would add points to Roy Moore in that he denies, uses religion as a cover, and preyed on underage girls according to many reports.  I know this is hard for binary brained people to get a handle on, but both are not equally evil. They are both jerks though, but so is everyone.  

  9. They say the wild west wasn’t tamed by the Marshall Earps, but by the arrival of the women (real women, not the prostitutes).

  10. Prostitutes would argue they are real women, too.

    So would some men (but not real men).

    Just kidding.  What I meant was, there's something about the non-sexual cultural influence women have which is critical to a better-functioning society.  For lack of a better description, I'd call it a group-minded empathy which counters individualistic power ambitions.


  11. I had a epiphany come high school class reunion time. I’d always had a nagging feeling something had been seriously wrong with my class.  

    When I compared my situation with the one somebody else from a younger class had, I had an answer.  The reasons are complicated, but the lack of a strong feminine influence (or yang) in my class culture resulted in too many guys hanging out together doing mostly man cave things.  This resulted in most of us being socially retarded in important ways through most of our young adult years.  Women were more objects, less alternate viewpoints and personalities and a source of a lot of fun outside of anything sexual.  We’d missed all that.

  12. Damn! Conyers!  Who would have thought.  Then again, MLK was a known "womanizer" (gotta love that term) known for his dalliances with women.  And the point here is not to conflate consensual extramarital sexual activity with harassment, but that the up on a pedestal public personas of men do not mean they cannot be susceptible to jerkish behavior many if not most of us are.

    Paul Ryan says in the wake of the Conyers reveal that "training" is needed.  But damn, what do these guys need to be trained on?  If this training is the type of thing employees in big corporations have to sit through twice a year (which is really done not so much for the employee but to cover liability requirements for the corporation) there won't be anything shown that they don't already know, or anyone predisposed to jerkism on this level will want to stop.  Same thing for congress.

    Transparency is the answer.  Had there been the threat of exposing to the light of day, as is happening now, the actions of Conyers, Rose and similar others, there's a good chance they wouldn't have clowned the way they did. The process Congress has for dealing with this seems really designed to allow these men to continue on with barely a slap on the wrist.  Besides, where did the $17 million Conyers paid out over the years come from?  Us taxpayers.

    I’ve been a long time fan of John Conyers. He’s spoken up and fought the good fight when it needed to be fought. He’s been one of the more courageous democrats, abandoning DNC politeness and calling BS when he sees it. I don’t judge Conyers for what is essentially a human failing — far be it from me to do that. But I do condemn him for tarnishing his moral authority with this behavior. Again, damn!


  13. Today, tRUMP is pardoning two turkeys.

    Don Jr. and Eric, or Paul Manafort and Gen. Kelly?

    I bet that while doing that, he wishes he could also pardon the orange Butterball that he sees in the mirror every morning, noon, and night!

  14. I wonder when Rush Limp-pud is going to get his turn in the barrel.

    With all these accusations of past misdeeds and sexual transgressions coming to the light it makes it more understandable why Jesus was invented.

  15. I had a long post typed then hit the wrong key and lost it.  I don't feel like writing it all again, at least not now.  I just remember that Maha said once that all humans are Buddhas, but since they don't recognize it, sometimes they can be jerks.  Another wise person I know said:  Wisdom erases karma.  So my point is if these men can recognize that their behavior was hurtful and repent, they may not have to suffer.  However, if they have to suffer, so be it.  It is their life and yin and yang will eventually balance.  It is the law of the universe. 

  16. Off topic:

    I just saw an ad on TV for two new Chia planters – just in time for (The War on ) Christmas!

    There's one of Donald Trump's head – out of which the green chia(?) stuff grows – and one with Barack Obama's head.

    I'm assuming that for the Obama one, you'll need to buy fertilizer.

  17. I am not in his district, but my read is Conyers has needed to go for a while.    Hopefully he retires or is primaried.  

  18. I hate that ordinary people are held so tightly over a barrel that we're made to believe that, or even directly told that, anyone, anyone at all, who stands up for us or our interests, needs to be supported at any cost, even if they are ethically problematic, socially objectionable, morally reprehensible, or even if they committed crimes, even violent crimes. 

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