The year of handsy men

It isn’t just that Louisville Metro Councilman Dan Johnson is alleged to be a man who can’t keep his pants up or his hands to himself, it is that he’s from a lineage of bad male behavior that includes being handsy, rapey and always, especially if you’re a white guy… getting another chance.

Johnson is accused of having some of the above and, yet, he was given another way out, a plea “proposal” offered by Council President David Yates that allows him to continue to serve on Metro Council.

Back in the spring, fellow Council Member Jessica Green, accused Johnson of squeezing her bum. He’s claimed that he didn’t do it, and then he apologizes for it, because it was the fault of getting a picture taken, and all manner of other really dumb bullshit.

Basically Johnson kind of admitted to being grabby and thought his apology would save him.

Oh honey, no. #SorryNotSorry.

There should be no easy out on sexual harassment anymore.

Now, just before the Council is set to decide whether to boot him, Johnson gets… another chance.

Under the plea deal, Johnson, “would have to admit to transgressions and wrongdoing, and agree there’s enough evidence to remove him,” the Courier Journal reported.

“It would also only allow him to be inside City Hall 20 minutes before and 10 minutes after any meeting. And he could have no contact with any council member except by phone or email.”

Sure, it isn’t a reward but it certainly isn’t a punishment. Dan Johnson would continue to be Dan Johnson, and his propensity to be inappropriate would be only tempered, not eliminated.

The thing is, it isn’t just Johnson.

Just in the past month, we’ve seen rape and sexual harassment reports on movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Peyton Manning, etc. The list seems endless — the behaviors are nothing new. Men have been behaving badly for far too  long.

Ultimately, Dan Johnson did not accept the plea, according to WHAS11.

So why the hell did Yates even offer?

Perhaps Yates feels some desire to help out an old colleague. Perhaps Johnson is pitiable enough to deserve it or maybe, just maybe, Johnson is like too many men in power. They always get a second chance.

What then should be the remedy for the women he’s accused of assaulting? The removal trial is set to begin Nov. 1. Yates has said that 14 of the council’s 26 members have to vote for a removal.

The prolonged nature of this case renders it nightmare material for any woman who’s ever been assaulted or sexually harassed… basically all women. No woman wants to spend endless hours rehashing the events of harassment.

That Dan Johnson keeps getting chances is outrageous. That David Yates continues to offer these opportunities is perhaps even more outrageous.

Why David?

Dan Johnson doesn’t need any more chances. He, like all of his handsy brethren need to learn boundaries and keep their mitts off the bodies of women who aren’t interested in their touches or advances.

Truly. Hands off, boys.

Also it would be good if Johnson and his cohorts would learn how to better lie about inappropriately touching someone. I mean, really, at least lie creatively so we don’t get bored with your excuses.

Of the Jessica Green incident, Johnson said, “I am sorry you felt I improperly touched you inappropriately on purpose and that I was laughing when I said it was not on purpose.”

Spacey blamed his inappropriate advances toward a 14-year-old boy on “being drunk.”

Several other unique excuses have been offered by men accused of these crimes and each time it is less and less likely that they are true or that they should be in any way believed. Men are running out of excuses.

It would seem that 2017 is the year that we make significant strides in dealing with handsy fellers who have been given golden tickets away from repercussions for too long. I’m not particularly hopeful, but at least the lights are coming on and the roaches are scattering.

I’ll reiterate: Johnson needs to be off the Council.

If the trial makes it happen, then, yes, but I wish this could have been over sooner. He bears the sick legacy of how masculinity in America has developed into a pathological state that puts women in danger.

Locally, the poster boy for the saggy groper brigade is Dan Johnson, but he isn’t the only one and certainly male baby boomers aren’t the only dudes involved in sexual harassment or worse. Plenty are younger.

Remember Chris Thieneman, the guy who wanted to run for Congress and was charged and convicted of wanton endangerment after wrestling over a cell phone with an ex-girlfriend? He was also accused of choking her.

He wasn’t Grampy the Grabber, as is claimed of Johnson. He was young, powerful and found a way to get slapped on the wrist.

He received a $500 fine.

Coincidentally, he was represented by Steve Pence aka Rick Pitino’s attorney.

I’m not sure what the lesson from all of this Johnson mess is for most of us.

What I do think the lesson needs to be for Metro Council and local men is to keep your pants up, your hands to yourself and your mouth about the business.

About the Author

The year of handsy men

Erica Rucker is LEO Weekly’s Arts & Entertainment Editor. In addition to her work at LEO, she is a haphazard writer,  photographer, tarot card reader, and fair to middling purveyor of motherhood. Her earliest memories are of telling stories to her family and promising that the next would be shorter than the first. They never were. You can follow Erica on Twitter, but beware of honesty, overt blackness and occasional geeky outrage.

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