Op-ed: The human turkeys

This Thanksgiving, better known as Black Friday Eve, we have revised the tradition a bit: We are serving and carving up the turkeys who are allegedly total pigs, those engaged in sexual assault or otherwise swinelike actions.

 

Many of them are finally being called out for their barnyard behavior. While male gobblers are commonly known as Toms, this breed of grabbers is variously called Harvey, Roy, Mark, Al, Charlie, Bill (the former POTUS: Poultry of the United States) and so many other names — including, certainly Donald, the current POTUS. There’s nothing paltry about The Donald’s exploits in this regard. He’s even bragged about them. What’s unfortunate, though, is that everyone is being roasted to the same degree without anyone really taking into account the severity of the differing offenses.

Some of those whose names have surfaced for lesser sins have become, to continue with my tired animal metaphors, sacrificial lambs. They are mashed together with others accused of rape or assault. All of them, the delinquents and the degenerates, are then stuffed into the same bird and crammed into the same oven for their trespasses, no matter how grievous the violation. We will need to gain some perspective about not just the severity of the wrongdoing, but whether some of the accused are being caught up in a kind of sexual McCarthyism where we cannot sift out the honest charges from those that are dishonest or simply misunderstandings. As it is now, all us guy turkeys are stewing in our own juices, wracking our brains to remember when, if ever, we’ve crossed the line, which still is not clearly defined.

Let us be clear though: Most of the stuff that has been recently in the news is way over that line. It is not OK for guys to grope women’s private parts. That’s a crime when it is not clearly invited. It’s either rape, in the extreme cases, or sexual assault. Nor is it permissible to force contact with the male private parts. That, too, is a crime. All such offenses are particularly heinous when they involve a child. It’s also contemptible when those in power force themselves on someone whose career depends on not antagonizing the employer or self-appointed mentor. All of this would seem to be obvious, but it has never been considered unacceptable until now.

So the glare certainly has called attention to the age-old problem of men’s objectification of women. And yes, even with reports of same-sex assaults, this is largely males mistreating females. It dates to the beginning of time.

I have no doubt that at the first Thanksgiving in Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1621, before everyone had finished with the party, some guys among the 140 or so celebrants had touched some women in inappropriate ways, or worse. Never mind that they were Puritans. As we’ve discovered in the Roy Moore case, and in the president’s cases, religious zeal is, uh, trumped, by political expedience. Of course, we should be fair and remember that the same double standard applied to the case of Bill Clinton. Even now there is debate about that, but it’s simple: In retrospect, what’s good for the gander on the right is good for the gander on the left. We can’t be too chicken to admit that it’s an overarching societal problem if we are going to finally scratch away at it.

By the way, you will pleased to know that Wishbone and Drumstick have been rescued by President Trump from the fate that awaits most real turkeys. Continuing a tradition that dates back 70 years, POTUS has pardoned the two, meaning they will not be slaughtered. Still it’s going to take more than a presidential pardon to do away with mankind’s offense against womankind, particularly since President Trump is accused of being one of the perv perps. Maybe we will make progress, though. That would be something for which we could be truly thankful.

Bob Franken is a longtime broadcast journalist, including 20 years at CNN.

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