Should This Young Man's 'Promising Present' Be Ruined Just Because He Slaps And Chokes Women (Right Now)?
Earlier this month, Aaron Coleman, 19, defeated Kansas House Rep. Stan Frownfelter in the Democratic primary by just 14 votes. Fourteen is a relevant number, because that's the age Coleman was when he committed horrific acts against young women, all during the distant past of Obama's second term.
According to the Kansas City Star, Coleman bullied one girl so relentlessly she tried to take her own life. He harassed and stalked another girl, calling her at home non-stop. And it actually gets worse.
Another young woman has posted on social media, and has repeated to The Star, that Coleman extorted her in middle school five years ago over an explicit photo of her.
"He got one of my nudes and blackmailed me with it and told me if I didn't send him more he would (send) it to all of my friends and family," she wrote. "And when I didn't send him more, he sent it to everyone I knew. I don't know how he got the picture. All I know is he's an awful person and he should not be allowed to run for anything."
Coleman admitted to all of this. He claimed he was “sick and troubled" at the time but he's “grown up a great deal since then." However, he insists on staying in the race, having broken a pledge to withdraw last week. He said in a statement: "I obviously did not expect to have my entire personal life, especially what I did in middle school, put under that kind of national microscope."
A middle-school student shouldn't expect some gross piece of shit to violate her. It's reasonable, though, to expect that this might come up when you're running for elected office. Coleman had prominent if not distinguished defenders, such as The Intercept's Ryan Grim and Glenn Greenwald, both of whom minimized his behavior as youthful indiscretions. Grim asked if we were really going to write off people "forever" for not electing them to public office five years after committing sex crimes. (Coleman actually first ran for office two years ago, at 17, when he thought he should be governor a mere three years after his two-year spree of harassing young girls and trying to bully them into suicide.) Greenwald interviewed Coleman about his "promising present," prompting him (unsuccessfully) to explain why he's redeemed himself, and wrote up their discussion with multiple explicit references to the childhood poverty that forced Coleman into a life of degrading girls, harassing them, bullying them, and extorting them. Coleman himself blamed "the excesses of feminism" for forcing him to (temporarily) drop out of the race.
The “boys will be boys" excuse has no specific political home. Conservatives argued precisely the same in defense of Brett Kavanaugh: If it happened, it was a long time ago (or just five years) and shouldn't ruin a young, white man's life who has so much white maleness ahead of him.
After days of being told by the internet that he's an irremediable piece-of-shit, worthless human & child pornograp… https://t.co/YmD8BEyuqd— Glenn Greenwald (@Glenn Greenwald)1598192115.0
What's especially vile about Greenwald's tweet is that he calls out that Frownfelter is anti-choice, as if Coleman is the white cyberstalking knight for abortion rights. Coleman, who once advised a former victim to “move on not for me but for yourself," offered a repulsively self-serving rationale for staying in the race.
COLEMAN: So I can never justify what I did to those women, and I do apologize to them from a place of remorse and shame, but words are no longer an acceptable response today.
OK, now go away forever.
COLEMAN: We need to provide safety to women in this society, which we do not currently do.
Yeah, we're going to come back around to that.
COLEMAN: I believe that we have a moral obligation to provide a life of dignity to our citizens, and I think, that with more self-respect, I would have been a better person to those women in middle school.
He shamelessly tried to connect all this to his political platform, as if Medicare for All would've prevented him from sexually humiliating and stalking girls.
Katie Hill, who resigned from Congress last year, knows something about cyber-exploitation. She points out that Coleman arguably committed serious crimes. He didn't just dip a classmate's pigtails in the inkwell. There's an obvious double standard in that Coleman's victim, whose nude photos he circulated, is less likely to ever run for office because of the incident.
When these allegations first emerged, Coleman claimed his abuse of women had "occurred only digitally." That's a weird, meaningless distinction, and it's also untrue. Coleman's ex-girlfriend Taylor Passow told GEN magazine that he "violently attacked her less than a year ago, choking and slapping her when she threatened to break up with him in December."
Passow, 21, dated Coleman for a little over a month, she said. In late December, she said, she and Coleman rented an Airbnb in Kansas City, Missouri, and were spending time in a hot tub on the property when Coleman started to pressure her into having a threesome. She had made clear she wasn't interested, "but he kept talking about it," she said. "So I said, 'Maybe I can break up with you for your birthday so you can have your threesome.'"
[ ... ]
At that point, Passow said, Coleman jumped over from his side of the hot tub, choked her, slapped her three times, and said, "Where the fuck you think you're going?" Passow said she slapped him back and pushed him off of her. She threatened to break up with him again and started to pack up her things, after which he said "good luck getting a ride home," she recalls. Coleman then asked Passow whether she was going to apologize to him.
While he doesn't admit to choking his partner — a partner who is choked once has a 750 percent increase in the likelihood they will be murdered — he admitted to slapping her. This year. And we just can't get over self-styled progressives leaping to his defense, blaming "feminists" for being mean to him. The 12-year-old girl who attempted to take her life, after he told her over and over to kill herself? Well that was a prelude to this:
That night, the two were fighting again, and Coleman told Passow that she should kill herself over text. "Air out the clip into your head," he told her on December 31. "Mag dump yourself. Do that midnight tonight. If I never hear from you again then I'll know what happened."
This is the young man whose "promising present" the "excesses of feminism" were trying to "bar forever from public life."
Coleman tried to pressure Passow into not sharing her story. He claimed he “wasn't a perfect boyfriend," as if women are perfectionists if they insist on partners who don't physically abuse them.
"I deeply apologize for any mistakes I might have made. I know I wasn't a perfect boyfriend," he wrote. "But I'm not dropping out of the race. I've been honest with the public about everything that I've done, if you want to accuse me of something, you're welcome to do that, and I'll be honest then as well. No one is perfect. I'm not gonna try to stop you if you want to tell your story to the papers or whoever, but I'm gonna make sure that story is told truthfully."
He had been honest about everything he'd done; is it his fault nobody bothered to ask him when he stopped beating his wife?
It's clear that Coleman is scum and always has been. He shouldn't hold elected office. Period. And those who dismissed the major red flags because he fought their proxy battles against the Evil Democrat Establishment should perhaps attempt to reflect. (We will be over here in the corner, holding our breath.)
Frownfelter has launched a write-in campaign to hold his seat in the general election. I don't share most of his politics, but he has my full endorsement.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."