Tuesday, November 1, 2011

We go nuts in this country over sex scandals

Once again I'm reminded of how nuts we get in this country when it comes to sex scandals. I haven't written much about the latest one concerning Cain because the truth is that from what I've read so far we know nothing - other than that a settlement was reached with two women who made claims. From that paltry bit of information, we have people on both the left and right going nuts about this one.

For example, there are folks on the right who are making ridiculous claims yet again about a "high tech lynching." I'm going to let Chauncey DeVega handle that one.

The history of African Americans is a plaything for the Right and black conservatives. They pretend that Dr. King would have supported them, that the Democratic Party is a plantation, and black people are zombies and brainwashed fools--as opposed to a radically democratic and revolutionary people whose struggles have forced American democracy to live up to its potential and creed. Thus, the use of the phrase high tech lynching by conservatives, and their black lapdogs, is in no way a surprise.

A lack of surprise at their abuse of language, and distortion of history, is not a defense; nor is it an excuse. Herman Cain is not being lynched--be it by "high tech" or "low tech" means. Black conservatives are not being lynched--be it by "liberals" or other black folks.

If conservatives are willing to evoke the ancestors, and a very dark, twisted, and troubling history to make a cheap political point, they ought to be willing to look into the face of the very legacy and reality they reference.

Go read the rest of his piece - and check out the visuals that ought to be a reminder to folks about the cheapness of their political pot shots.

But I have to say that I'm also not thrilled with the way the left is handling this one either. We are supposed to be the champions of "innocent until proven guilty." And yet we see headlines like this one from the self-identified champion of women's rights at Daily Kos: Herman Cain re-remembers amount of hush money paid to employees.

I don't know if any of you have ever participated in settlement negotiations, but I have. Because of that, I'm deeply offended by the assumption that a settlement payment is the equivalent of "hush money." Many people who are otherwise innocent participate in plea bargains or settlement negotiations in order to avoid both the risks and costs associated with court trials. Like it or not (and believe me, I HATED doing it) its a fact of life in our current justice system.

So the truth of the matter is, and I know many folks don't want to hear this, but we have NO idea whether Herman Cain is innocent or guilty of sexual harassment. That reality has absolutely no bearing on the fact that he is a joke of a candidate for the presidency. As progressives we don't need to go there to defeat him. Doing so puts us right in the gutter with the kind of politics we hate when it comes from the right. And I'm not interested in going there.


  1. I've been feeling much the same about this whole scandal. And personally, I don't think having a purity test for candidates is a good thing. Especially when it seems like the media gets to decide who has to resign and who doesn't. Or who is done for and who isn't.

  2. Thank you! I agree I both counts. I don't want to go there at all with these allegations about Cain (and the right can rightly accuse the left of hypocrisy given the general support on the left for B. Clinton). But I feel equally strongly that the right's use of the term "lynching" to describe the criticisms coming Cain's way are offensive and wrong.

  3. EL - I agree. We might stop for a minute and consider how we're likely being "played" in all this by none other than folks like Karl Rove.

  4. Monala - I already saw Eric Erikson of "Red State" making that claim of hypocrisy on the left in relating Cain's situation to Clintons. But that's just nuts too. I get REALLY angry when folks can't make the distinction between consensual sex and sexual harassment!

    Anyway, its all just another example of how almost impossible it is to have a sane conversation about sex and politics.

  5. RE: Clinton. I wasn't referring to the Lewinsky scandal, which I agree was consensual (and therefore, should have been off-limits). IIRC, he also had some sexual harassment charges leveled against him from his pre-Presidency days.