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Female SNL Staffers Defend Al Franken. Why?

Female SNL Staffers Defend Al Franken. Why?


The senator's former colleagues seem to believe that if Franken did not personally harass or grope them, he must be a good guy.

After two women accused Sen. Al Franken of groping them, a large group of female writers and production staff who worked on Saturday Night Live with the former comedian have expressed their support for him in an open letter.

The letter reads:

We think it was appropriate for him to apologize to Ms. Tweeden, and to the public. In our experience we know Al as a devoted and dedicated family man, a wonderful comedic performer and an honorable public servant. That is why we are moved to quickly and directly affirm that after years of working with him, we would like to acknowledge that not one of us ever experienced any inappropriate behavior; and mention our sincere appreciation that he treated each of us with the utmost respect and regard.

Although accuser Leeann Tweeden has photographic evidence of Franken reaching for her breasts while she is asleep, in the letter the women refer to his actions as merely "stupid and foolish," instead of violating, humiliating, and degrading. Tweeden also accused Franken of grabbing and forcibly kissing her.

A second woman, Lindsay Menz, claimed Franken grabbed her posterior without consent while posing for a photograph.

The SNL letter, which argues that since these women were not harassed by Franken, he is not a predator and deserves our forgiveness, matches the tone-deafness of Lena Dunham's recent defense of her colleague, Girls writer-producer Murray Miller, who is accused of sexually assaulting an actress.

Dunham has since apologized, posting on Twitter, "Every person and feminist should be required to hear [women who come forward with accusations of abuse]. Under patriarchy, 'I believe you' is essential. Until we are all believed, none of us will be believed."

It seems these women should heed Dunham's belated advice. Sexual harassers do not attack every woman they come into contact with; assuming that if you personally have not be targeted by someone they have not targeted other women is a logical fallacy. It is akin to claiming that if a career bank robber walked by your bank without robbing it, he must be innocent of all other crimes.

As members from the right and left call for Franken to resign, his controversy forces the public to examine if #MeToo is merely a hashtag. Are we going to commit to believing survivors of sexual misconduct, or only those who accuse people we dislike?

Perhaps these SNL alums and Dunham should look to Sarah Silverman, a longtime mentee and friend of Louis C.K., whose acts of sexual misconduct were recently exposed.

"This recent calling out of sexual assault has been a long time coming. It's good. It's like cutting out tumors -- it's messy and it's complicated and it is gonna hurt, but it's necessary and we'll all be healthier for it," Silverman explained on her new show, I Love You, America. "I love Louie. But Louie did these things. Both of those statements are true. So, I just keep asking myself, can you love someone who did bad things? Can you still love them? I can mull that over later, certainly, because the only people that matter right now are the victims. They are victims, and they're victims because of something he did."

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Ariel Sobel