But conservatives should be careful about joining this. Every time the definition of rape, abuse, or molestation is brought down another notch and this new low-water mark is agreed on across the political spectrum, the prospect for a different type of harm increases. If we agree for short-term political pleasure that Franken is guilty of serious sexual molestation for an unfunny photograph taken years ago and for a sloppy and unwanted pass at a woman, then two things are certain to happen.
The first is that the difference between bad manners and rape will become blurred yet further. We live in an era when already a knee-touch can cause resignations. Are we sure that unwanted advances must now always be deemed a resigning matter? It was the late British Conservative MP Alan Clark who once, when taken to task for making allegedly unwanted approaches toward women, replied, “How do I know they’re unwanted until I make them?” Of course Senator Franken is a married man, and plenty of us may agree to look down on a married man who does such a thing. But are we absolutely certain that we want to make it into something that requires an ethics investigation and total career destruction?