Yesterday, a story broke about a recording of the current Republican nominee for president with him saying some really vile stuff, from about eleven years ago. In it, he’s essentially bragging about commiting sexual assault, and the fact that his fame and power lets him get away with it. I wrote the following on Facebook, which sort of blew up a little bit:

I’ve had a lot of conversations with people about rape culture. A few people (mostly adolescent boys) have reacted with incredulity, either that such a thing existed, or that it was prevalent enough to matter.

This is rape culture. The republican nominee for president is on tape advocating sexual assault. Many of his supporters are backing him up, saying “this is just the way it is, just the way people talk”. Most of the mainstream news talking about it can only bring themselves to describe it as “lewd”. It isn’t “lewd” - he’s advocating sexual assault. And he’s still running for president. And he’s still getting wide support.

This is not some fringe thing. This is threaded through our culture. And part of that culture is heavily invested in keeping it that way. It only changes if we make it change.

When I posted this, I didn’t think about the fact that my default settings on Facebook are wide open (my approach to privacy on Facebook is that I don’t really trust the service regardless, so I don’t put anything up I’m not comfortable with everyone seeing). I presume it showed up in some search, because things got a little crazy. A hundred people I didn’t know started commenting. The vast majority of people missed the point. I ended up deleting dozens of comments, blocking tens of people making abusive or deliberately inciteful noise. I added this bit to the bottom of the post:

EDIT: A whole lot of people missing the point or making the same tired excuses. So just real quick:

1) NO not all men talk this way, think this way, or act this way. I don’t, nor do most of my friends. Expect better of yourselves and each other.

2) The Clintons are not relevant here. Yes, I agree Bill’s behavior is a symptom of the same cultural illness. That does not refute the point in any way.

3) As a Christian, the number of people supporting this behavior citing Christian messages, images, and scripture is infuriating and saddening. This is not part of any moral message I’ve ever heard.

4) Yes, I’m removing irrelevant, repetitive, or abusive comments. Someone made some comment about “the marketplace of ideas”. Some random facebook post is not that.

So a few things on that:

1) This point is the most important socially, and a reaction to the most common direct response. Lots of people came back with some version of the “boys will be boys” line, or “that’s how guy’s talk”. That’s just garbage. I don’t talk this way. None of my friends talk this way.

2) My comments here weren’t even about the voting, although clearly I think there’s implications for that. Set aside that “Bill did worse” is pretty much completely irrelevant, since he’s not running: the fact that Clinton also took advantage of his position to engage in sexual indiscretion and may have mistreated the women involved makes the point stronger, not weaker. Trump is a symptom of this problem, not the sole cause. Rape culture, and coming up with other examples sort of makes the point.

3) I did a lot of deleting for repetition and irrelivance, and for the more offensive and abusive stuff, I’d also block the poster. Doing so on Facebook involves going to the person’s page. On multiple occasions, the first thing on the person’s page was an image of Christ, pushing their followers to repost it, and claiming a Christian message. That just makes me sad. Regardless of what your religion or denomination, the sorts of things we heard from Trump are not part of that message. (I edited my response here to correct an omission on the Facebook post.)

4) This is not a freedom of speech issue. Facebook gives everyone on there a place to express your opinion. That doesn’t mean you get to co-opt every bit of it for yourself. America also provides an open forum; that doesn’t mean you can stand on my porch shouting at me with impunity.