Boorish, Predatory, and Al Franken

  • Posted on Nov 26, 2017

Today's Waterloo/Cedar Falls Courier column--submitted last Tuesday, and the news about Al Franken may have changed my judgement--is he really a predator after all? 

I don't think so, but he certainly carries on like a  lifelong boor.  

 Breathes there a soul anywhere who hasn’t behaved boorishly?  Doesn’t growing up mean outgrowing boorish behavior?  

 Let’s be sure we agree on “boorish.”  The dictionary defines it as “rough and bad-mannered, coarse,” and adds as synonyms “uncouth, rude, ill-bred, ill-mannered, uncivilized, unrefined, thuggish, loutish, oafish, lubberly, lumpen, vulgar, unsavory, gross, brutish, Neanderthal, cloddish.”   That pretty much covers it, though I wonder about “lubberly.”  

 How well I remember my own and others’ occasional boorish behavior, starting in junior high and running through early college and beyond.  We blurted and bumbled through bottomless insecurities, seeking distracting breaks from growing up. Those who never grew up remained locked in boorhood, not to be confused with boyhood.  

 Yes, males are more susceptible to boorishness, but females aren’t exempt. We can all remind female friends about their cringeworthy behavior.  Granted, male boors likely outnumber females by a good ten to one, and at least that much for predators.  As a former bar musician, I can testify that female boors, after a few drinks, are louder than males and just as boorish.  

 These days if we were to run for office, we’d experience a pang of fear of being exposed for the boors we were, if only rarely. This fear could well stop otherwise solid candidates from running.  

 So, let’s give us all a break.  Yes, Al Frankin behaved boorishly. I would guess that a huge percentage of those who are offended by Frankin’s grinning grab have behaved similarly, though translated a thousand different ways for each gender. 

So, hypocrites, lay off.  

If we were to learn that Al Franken acted in a predatory manner, his political career would likely tank. He deserves scorn, which he admits, and of which he’s gotten plenty. However, reverting to childish behavior at times hardly makes him a predator.  

 Boorishness can be offensive and downright hurtful, for sure.  But it can’t be prosecuted, since we’d have to arrest thousands, from Trump to troll.  And maybe we should, but we don’t yet live in a society where boorish behavior can get you arrested.  

Now, predatory behavior is different in kind. All predators are boors, but not all boors are predators. Predators are on the hunt, disregarding personal space in favor of their own gratification.  Predators undertake all manner of perverse behavior, from voyeurism to indecent exposure to sexual assault. Many predators are likely also sociopaths, and operate without concern for anyone but themselves.  

 When predatory acts are newly exposed they’ve caused major falls from the heights to the depths. Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, and Charlie Rose serve as prime examples, but more are crashing daily. 

 In contrast, Judge Roy Moore behaved like a predator, according to at least nine women, whose consistent stories stand the truth test.  Mainstream Republicans agree that he deserves oblivion, if not eventual legal action.  And what of President Trump, who behaved more like a predator than a mere boor?   

 Moore and Trump are cut from the same bolt of dark cloth.    

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