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Give Al a break — they were just jokes

June 5, 2008 - Kevin Sweeney
The political scarabs working for the Minnesota Republicans have apparently grown tired of rolling up and flicking little balls of dung at Al Franken about his tax situation and instead have found a more fertile pile — Al’s career as a comedy writer.

Eight years ago Franken wrote a satirical essay about pornography for Playboy Magazine. Republicans, and a few Democrats, are shocked — SHOCKED — that someone capable of such foul humor could now be seeking the office of U.S. Senator. They are demanding he apologize for this terrible indiscretion.

Now they have found a Saturday Night Live staff meeting in which Franken reportedly proposed drugging and raping CBS news reporter Leslie Stahl.

“This is sick, sick, sick. To gleefully propose humor that makes light of date rape drugs and to joke about how one will take a prominent news anchor — drug her — and rape her — and then take pictures of her while she is unconscious — is horrendous and terrifying,” said state Representative Laura Brod, in a news release sent out by GOP scarab Mark Drake. “To the thousands of women in this nation who are raped and sexually assaulted, the prospect that a man who made his living joking about these things would be a United States Senator must be horrifying,” Brod said.

Let’s be clear. Franken made his living writing jokes and performing for Saturday Night Live. A lot of that humor was off-color, maybe even objectionable. And the brainstorming that took place in writers' meetings was probably much worse.

But Franken’s sense of humor is not what this election is about. It is about his sense of injustice at what the Bush Administration has unleashed on this country over the past seven years. Which is worse, making jokes about date rapes, or authorizing torture and degradation of Iraqi prisoners suspected of being terrorists? Which is worse, writing an essay for Playboy or sending this country into a quagmire of a war without really knowing what we were doing at the cost of thousands of lives and billions of dollars?

For every obscene joke Franken may have told, the administration has committed perfectly serious obscenities in the name of national security. So let’s cut Franken some slack on his comedy career and focus on the serious issues.


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