Sexual assault and harassment isn’t funny. And it shouldn’t be political either.
The scandal now swirling around former comedian-turned-U.S. Senator Al Franken — the latest high-profile target of sexual assault accusations — neatly makes the point.
As we face a national tidal wave of sexual misconduct allegations in Hollywood, the Beltway, the media and across corporate America, we must apply the same standards to all. But too many people in positions of authority have been too eager to excuse the people they like — the ones they politically align with.
We are all equal under the law, and that principle should apply to the court of public opinion where many of these sex scandals get instantly litigated — on social media, as well as in the halls of power.
Leeann Tweeden, a Los Angeles radio anchor, said yesterday that in 2006 then-comedian Franken forcibly kissed her during a rehearsal, then groped her as she slept, while hamming it up for a photo.
On social media, that prompted a tsunami of calls for Franken to resign.
U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama — with as many as nine women alleging he abused or harassed them as teens — has faced high-level calls to exit his campaign or face expulsion if elected.
Yet Franken — as Moore himself noted on Twitter yesterday — with an incriminating photo and a hasty confession and apology, was given the benefit of a doubt, facing calls for an investigation by his fellow senators.
We were then reminded that Franken had joked about drugging and raping newswoman Leslie Stahl for a “Saturday Night Live” skit years ago.
In a New York Magazine interview in 1995, Franken was quoted saying, “I give the pills to Lesley Stahl. Then when Lesley is passed out, I take her to the closet and rape her.” Or, “That’s why you never see Lesley until February.” Or, “When she passes out. I put her in various positions and take pictures of her.”
Since when is drugging victims and raping a laughing matter?
Democrats now have another opportunity to finally show some moral leadership. The so-called “party of women” — which is also the party of serial sexual abusers Ted Kennedy and Bill Clinton, among so many others — has insisted women be believed but has refused to do so when the targets are their own. They have mocked victims and vilified them.
The American left, long willing to turn a blind eye to offenders who support its agenda and excoriate those who don’t, needs to get serious about sexual assault.