Earlier this morning, radio newscaster Leeann Tweeden revealed that Sen. Al Franken had behaved inappropriately toward her during a USO tour of the Middle East in 2006. During a rehearsal for a skit that included a kiss, she says, he stuck his tongue in her mouth, and then took this picture on the way home:

Franken immediately acknowledged what had happened and apologized. This prompted the now drearily familiar round of pronouncements that he hadn’t apologized enough. “No matter what your political affiliation,” wrote Chris Cillizza at CNN, “you have to see how inadequate Franken’s first apology is.” So Franken apologized again. Oddly, Tweeden herself thought his apology had been just fine. Both of them:

No matter. Ed Kilgore thinks Franken is toast:

Franken is almost certainly going down, and the only question is whether he can somehow tough it out until the end of his current term in 2020. The odds are very low that he can, particularly since his entire career in politics and comedy is now going to come under fresh scrutiny for misogyny and/or hypocrisy.

There are two problems here. The first is that too many liberals feel that they have to respond in a maximal way to every possible incident of sexual harassment, partly to maintain their own woke credibility and partly because they want to make sure conservatives can’t accuse them of hypocrisy. The second problem is that we don’t seem to have any good way of talking proportionately about this stuff.

All I mean is this: Not all offenses are the same. Shoplifting is not as bad as grand theft. Assault is not as bad as murder. Saying this doesn’t imply approval of either shoplifting or assault; it’s merely a statement of uncontroversial fact. Likewise, not all sexual abuse is equal. Harvey Weinstein’s rap sheet includes dozens of accusations of groping, forced massages, and possibly rape. Louis C.K. masturbated in front of actresses multiple times. Roy Moore routinely chased after high school girls when he was in his 30s and appears to have aggressively assaulted at least two of them.

By contrast, Franken thought he was joking around but went farther than he should have. Once.¹ It’s no whitewash to say that this is a considerably lesser offense. But if the only response we have to any kind of sexual abuse is to insist on resignation from office and expulsion from public life—mostly to protect our own reputations—we are not acting with any sense of proportionality. We need to start. Listen to Leeann Tweeden, folks.

¹There’s allegedly a second accusation coming out later today, something that Roger Stone tweeted about last night. It is, for now, suspicious in the extreme and appears likely to be a conservative ratfuck. We’ll see.

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REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

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