By Fred Owens
"I've looked on a lot of women with lust. I've committed adultery in my heart many times." So said Jimmy Carter in 1976.
Everybody cringed. It was TMI back when people didn't call it TMI.
The word is almost archaic -- Lust! Lust! Such a solid Shakespearean word. Lust!
Jimmy Carter wasn't being challenged or questioned about this. He faced no accusation or allegation. He volunteered this -- Lust! - because he wanted people to know that he was more than just a peanut farmer from Georgia. He was more than just a Sunday School teacher in a Baptist church.
No, he told us all, even though we really didn't want to know -- that he had lust in his heart.
Jimmy Carter was one of the guys after all.
Lust was a great word. Today we say objectify, which is an ugly technical word. I would never objectify a woman. No sex appeal in that, no erotic tension.
But lust! How many times did Jimmy Carter want to do the Al Franken thing, or the Donald Trump thing? He had the same urge. A little grab here or there. Who's going to mind? The thought ran through his head, and not just once, but every day, and many times each day, for his whole life since he was 14 until his old age.
I'm always hearing that men ought to express their feelings -- they shouldn't keep them inside. Express your feelings, they say.
No way. The prisons are full of men who expressed their feelings. "I got mad so I shot him." "I stole the car because I wanted to have it." "I grabbed her because she looked sweet, and maybe I should have asked, but I didn't."
You say these guys didn't hear it right. They were not supposed to act out their feelings, they were supposed to Ver-Ba-Lize them.You know, talk.
But you don't understand. You think that feelings and words just go together naturally, and maybe they do -- for you.
But some of our feelings don't have words. Not in the English language, not in Spanish or French. You think talking is magic. It isn't magic, it's just talking.
Jimmy Carter managed to stay out of trouble. He was never accused or alleged or rumored to do anything untoward. There are no women "coming forward" to tell their story about what he did.
The women did not come forward to tell their story about what he did because there was no story and he didn't do it. So he denies nothing because there is nothing to deny, and he apologizes to no one because there is no reason to apologize.
But Jimmy Carter thought about it, he wanted to do it, he came really close to doing it a few times. That close. And he could have gotten away with it. That whisp of hair in the air near his face, when she came a little too close. It would have been so easy, so natural.
Tax reform or tax reform disaster. I haven't got a clue. There is hardly a man or woman in this country who is as poorly equipped as I am to discuss this subject.
However, I am reading the Iliad, in a new translation by Caroline Alexander. My son Eugene gave this book to me as a gift. His name is Greek. "Eu" means well or good, and "genos" means birth or identity. Put these two Greek roots together and you get "eu-genos" or Eugene.
I can understand Homeric Greek, but I cannot decipher the tax code.
The only reason I bring up these topics is because it gets me off the question of sexual harassment. This scandal will haunt our halls right through the Christmas holidays. Some people understand the tax code, some people understand Homeric Greek, but no one understands sexual harassment -- there are no experts. Your guess is as good as mine.
The Ten Commandments of Love, as Revised.
1. No means no. Well, it's supposed to mean no, and when it does mean no, then it means no. But does it mean "no not now" or "no not ever" ?
2. Yes means yes. This is the gold star and the green light. But yes has an expiration date, it does not ever mean yes anytime, in fact it usually only means yes right now.
3. The victim is blameless and innocent. It is never her or his fault. No question of appearance or past behavior will be entertained, This is one of the new absolutes. Absolutes are somewhat jarring. Absolutes are not dependent on context. They are very judgmental in fact.
4. The victim is telling the truth and should be believed. This is not quite so absolute. The victim may not be totally accurate in recollection, but the testimony is still credible.
5. Gender is a social construct, and there is no fundamental difference between men and women, except when men are behaving badly.
6. Flirtation and sexual harassment are very like one another, but you're supposed to know the difference. Here are two examples that can serve to explain that difference. Think of Jimmy Carter, previously mentioned. He never flirted or harassed. Not once.
And then think of Bill Clinton. He flirted and harassed all the time. It was a sliding scale.
Bill Clinton, aka "happy hands", was charming and very popular, He was elected for two terms. Jimmy Carter was dull and sanctimonious. He only served for one term, to be replaced by Ronald Reagan who was a lot more fun.
Oh God, now I'm trapped. I'm a Democrat. I will die a Democrat, but I have to say that the Republicans win this one.
Let's review the results.
Jimmy Carter, never flirted, never harassed, one term.
Bill Clinton, always flirted and sometimes harassed, two terms.
And the winner -- I hate to say it -- is Ronald Reagan, who did flirt and had the handsome smile, but he never harassed. So Reagan sets the good example. Except ketchup is not a vegetable and you have to be past forty to get that joke.
That's only six commandments. Four more commandments will be issued by the Committee and in due time you will be notified.
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