Al Franken, Bill Clinton, and the End of Silent Complicity

December 7th, 2017

Al Franken left all of us Democrats in an untenable and unseemly position — to have to again and again attempt to make distinctions between the relative severity of various forms of sexual misconduct.

“Well yeah, that was bad, but this other thing’s worse…”

I for one am sick of differentiating between forced kissing, unwelcome touching, groping, over the clothes, under the clothes, how old the victim was, and outright rape. All of it is wrong, and all of it signals your unfitness for leadership or power.

Yes, there are different moral magnitudes between these actions, obviously. But if you do any of these things — any of them — you must be stripped of your power. Go away and write a book or whatever.

I agree with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and 38 other Democratic Senators who yesterday called for the resignation of Senator Al Franken. With eight accusers now on the record we’ve reached a tipping point. I unequivocally believe the women. Period.

This is the signal we must send to all victims — that we are moving into an era of reckoning. Despite outliers like serial sexual assaulters Donald Trump and Roy Moore, Democrats are leading us toward a significant cultural shift. This is no time for waffling or equivocation.

Let us be clear and unambiguous. We believe the women. Period. There are three things that cannot remain hidden for long — the sun, the moon, and the truth.

It is never the wrong time to do the right thing.

And yes, let’s talk about Bill Clinton. As we await Al Franken’s likely resignation this morning, I feel my thinking changing. I will no longer defend Bill Clinton. After years of making excuses for him, I’m done.

The conspiracy of silent complicity ends now.

This is how we tear down the misogynistic patriarchy — by tearing down all of it. We either treat each other with respect, dignity, protocol, and decorum, or we forfeit our rank and privilege. Period. I’m done covering for confused (or worse) men just because I like their politics or their body of work.

The Roy Moore thing has brought this all to a head for me. 71% of Republicans in Alabama believe that all of Moore’s victims are lying. That it’s all some sort of left wing conspiracy. And now I hear Democrats making exactly the same claims about the Al Franken case. Stop. Just stop. Do you even hear yourself?

We need to create a culture where victims matter more than perpetrators, where doing the right thing is more important than winning.

Let us usher in a new era, an era characterized by dignity, respect, and trust. When victims of sexual misconduct are brave enough to come forward, believe them. And when eight women come forward and accuse a Senator of misconduct, that Senator should be stripped of power and sent home. Even if it’s Al Franken.

Peter Bolland

Peter Bolland is the philosophy and humanities department chair at Southwestern College in Chula Vista, California where he teaches world religions, Asian philosophy, world mythology, and ethics. Bolland is also a columnist for both Unity Magazine and the San Diego Troubadour. An award winning singer-songwriter and poet, Bolland draws on the world’s wisdom traditions as a frequent lecturer and performer throughout the San Diego region.
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