Norm Haughness

Norm Haughness of Tehachapi, a philosopher and educator, wrote a longtime column for The Californian’s sister publication, the Tehachapi News.

Let’s say your father, husband or son boasts to you one day that he likes to walk up to women he meets and grab ‘em by the crotch. He’s chuckling as he says it, clearly proud of himself. “They let you get away with it,” he crows, and awaits your smiling approval.

Do you go along, give him a thumbs-up? America went along, to the extent of voting into the presidency a creep who’s on record as gloating in exactly this sick way. Some say, get over it. That’s so 2016, so ancient history. He’s president now.

Except it turns out that Trump isn’t the only such perp in government. Day after day we’re discovering more than we want to about the Roy Moores, Joe Bartons, Al Frankens and John Conyers who grope, fondle, pinch, pat, expose themselves to, and otherwise demean and violate women. Moore’s victims included children, which makes his violations repulsively criminal.

We’re also learning that powerful men in show business have been getting away with sexually deviant conduct. Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose and Mark Halperin of TV news, and Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and James Toback of Hollywood have suddenly become notorious, with more offenders probably being exposed tomorrow or next week.

Offenders in the House have been enjoying a firewall that protects them from accountability. We’re only just finding out about a 1995 arrangement that requires secrecy in handling accusations of sexual improprieties against Representatives. It also demands that victims laboriously thread a maze of delaying and obfuscating barriers to getting relief and that any payments (there have been over $15 million of them so far) never be revealed to the press. These are taxpayer-funded payoffs. They’re charging us for their dirty deeds? Whoa!

Child-molester Moore, President Trump urges, is far preferable to his opponent for the Senate seat from Alabama, because Moore will be a safe vote for tax relief for the rich and killing Obamacare. Alabama’s current governor agrees, saying, although she believes all of Moore’s accusers (including the 14-year-old he fondled while a 30-something D.A.), “I’m voting for Roy Moore.” I guess that’s taking a principled position, Alabama GOP-style.

The outcry among Republicans has been fierce: We can’t have monsters like Franken, D-Minn., and Conyers, D-Mich., in government! Unless they’re reliable Republicans. Otherwise, zero toleration. Gotta have standards of decency.

Say we go along with the GOP’s calls for zero toleration of even the relatively benign offenses of Franken and Conyers. Let’s ignore the protests of the majority of women voters who know how these two have advanced women’s causes during their terms in office. Let’s follow this strict line to its logical conclusion and go after all the elected perps who’ve been preying on women for years.

A special counsel needs to be appointed, immune to political pressures, executive or legislative, to make public the names of all the Congressmen who perpetrated all the sexual crimes and misdemeanors that our $15 million have been spent to enable. We need to investigate, indict, and bring to trial all of the politically powerful sex perverts who have been riding roughshod on women. Let’s look hard into it and determine their moral and psychological fitness to retain office. Wouldn’t that be draining a swamp!

Top to bottom, that necessarily includes finally bringing to account not only the relatively minor politicians but our self-confessed serial adulterer and sexual-assaulter-in-chief, Donald Trump.

A general housecleaning of this kind would send a long-overdue message, to men used to getting away with it, that political office is no longer a safe refuge for sexual deviants. They’re pitiable, sure, because it’s mental and emotional disability that moves them to sexually abuse women. But the behavior must be rooted out. Let treatment follow, for those who can acknowledge they need it, but at their own expense, not ours.

Norm Haughness, a relieved ex-Chicagoan, lives in Tehachapi. The opinions expressed are his own.