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An exception to refusing to destroy sex pests’ careers

When I heard on Thursday that a man's career was at risk over something he had possibly done to a woman in the past, I thought this was an enormous shame. But then I learnt that this man was Al Franken, and my views changed considerably.

By God, people should live by their values, by God! That is what I feel now.

Usually I hate it when a beloved, opinionated television man has to deal with women complaining about his behaviour, and I am willing to pay out up to infinite sums to silence them because who can say what motivates these people to spin such wild tales? Probably they just want to get more irate, misspelt e-mails than they do at present and enjoy the special honour of never having their names mentioned on Fox.

But now I love it. More of this, please! Before, I used to have a vague conversion factor where you needed, I think, at least 26 female testimonies before you could even start to feel the vaguest shiver of doubt in your mind, but now, I say, one will suffice. Let her speak. I will listen.

There was a time when groping seemed, you know, fine, almost presidential, but now — well, I see the error in my belief. My belief was that punishing people for groping would only hurt people of one party. Now I realise this value can cut both ways. So I believe women now, it turns out.

Over the numerous years I have had my television show or other personal media platform, I have used it to call into question the credibility of women time and time again. But this woman just seemed extra credible, after I learnt who it was that she was talking about. I know that just moments ago, when a woman made a statement about something a man had done to her, I was demanding six separate handwriting analysts to study the writing in a yearbook and urging that cryptological gurus and experts from Vienna be called in to question her. But you have to understand, I agreed with that man. He shared my values. Well, some values. He shared a selective reading of the Bible that resonated with me and a selective respect for the Constitution that — well, he had the right letter next to his name.

Please do not tell me who the President is, as I think I will be disappointed. Or maybe not. The bright side of not pretending that you respect women as people is that when you fail to do it, no one is surprised or disappointed. If you consistently maintain that women are a sort of shiny, bewildering object that is handed out to you when you amass sufficient money or power, one that may eventually be useful as a container for potential humans but otherwise does nothing but emit an irritating buzzing noise whenever its mouth falls open, you don't have to worry that you will ever face consequences for mistreating one. Except that maybe someone else will have to pay out money on your behalf while your career continues, untroubled.

No, the trouble with having values is that occasionally you are asked to uphold them, and this can be quite inconvenient.

Far better to espouse none whatsoever and cynically invoke the other team's values against them.

Al Franken ought to do the chivalrous thing and rise from his seat. So that a woman may take it? Well, slow down.

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day. She is the author of A Field Guide to Awkward Silences

Downfall: Al Franken's reputation is in tatters after groping allegations (Photograph by Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

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Published November 18, 2017 at 8:00 am (Updated November 18, 2017 at 12:04 am)

An exception to refusing to destroy sex pests’ careers

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