Why does it take two of our comedians – Al Franken and Jon Stewart – to show how there’s nothing funny about rape?
I’m impressed at the great job Al Franken has done so far. He just authored and won passage of an amendment that will stop the government from awarding contracts to companies that bar their employees from seeking legal redress for sexual assault on the job. His amendment targets Halliburton, which had a clause in its contract that stipulated employees can only use private arbitration to seek recourse – an issue that came to light only after Jamie Leigh Jones was brutally gang-raped while working for subsidiary of Halliburton in Iraq.
Franken’s esteemed colleagues? Well, 30 of them made laughingstocks of themselves by voting against the Franken amendment. I’d say that they’re the real comedians, except that there’s nothing funny about them. (With the possible exception of David Vitter.)
Jill at Feministe has the full list of senators who voted against Franken’s amendment – that is, in favor of employers who allow rape to occur with impunity. They’re all Republicans. To his credit, my Republican senator, George Voinivich, wasn’t among them. But note that John McCain voted no, to his everlasting shame. I spend a lot of time fretting about the Obama Administration’s mistakes – its tepid support for a public option, its giveaways to the big banks, its refusal to hold Bush officials accountable for crimes – but this vote reminds me how much worse things could have been under a President McCain.