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Turning Perpetrators into Healers

Koehler, Robert

Publisher:  CounterPunch
Date Written:  22/12/2017
Year Published:  2017  
Resource Type:  Unclassified

Innocent people -- or "innocently guilty" people, like the junior senator from Minnesota -- often get unfairly hung out to dry. Should he have to resign? Who among us (Roy? Donald?) hasn't committed worse transgressions? And shouldn't a person's positive achievements be factored into the severity of his punishment, at least when no permanent damage has occurred?



I get the outrage, which is a release of decades — centuries — of the hopeless despair of so many women, who have been powerless even to stop, let alone get justice for, sexual abuse, harassment, assault. We live in a deeply problematic and unfair world, but suddenly social awareness has solidified around the wrongness of sexual abuse, so much so that powerful men are feeling the sting of accountability for stupid and cruel behavior that until recently seemed consequence-free.

I get that Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, who has long stood up courageously against the sexual assault that permeates the U.S. military, led the way in calling for Franken to resign and calling for zero tolerance of all forms of sexual harassment.

But I also get the counter-outrage: the support for Franken (including “feminists for Franken”); the calls for him to reconsider his resignation; the outcry that zero tolerance for minor transgressions, sexual or otherwise, is morally simplistic and can quickly devolve into destructive self-righteousness that only makes matters worse; and the demand for some sort of due process, e.g., convening the Senate Ethics Committee to consider the accusations against Franken.


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