This is the worst time for cancel culture to set its myopic sights on Pepé Le Pew, because Andrew Cuomo is Pepé Le Pew. I believe the women’s accusations of sexual bullying are credible. I also believe that in his own mind Cuomo’s done nothing wrong: They were all “old enough.” As far as we know he wasn’t so reckless as to actually expose himself. And last but not least, hey, all he was doing was expressing his affection! To women who didn’t want it.
Pepé Le Pew debuted in 1945 as an animated character in Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons. An amorous French skunk, Pepé relentlessly pursues a female black cat who often sports a white stripe on her back—usually from squeezing under a freshly painted white fence. She never wants anything to do with him. A typical cell frame shows Pepé clutching her, his smooching cartoon lips extended out as she averts her face in disgust and uses her paws to push him away, recoiling from his offensive odor. Because he’s a skunk. And he thinks she is one too. Which is Pepé’s version of “you’re old enough.” The smitten skunk blithely persists oblivious to the fraught feline’s discomfort, not to mention his own cross-species faux pas. But this doesn’t matter because . . . I am irresistible, non?
Non! Pepé, who was to appear in the upcoming film Space Jam 2 alongside LeBron James, was recently “cancelled” after a New York Times columnist complained that he “normalized rape culture.” Ever-vigilant administrators of “woke culture” took umbrage at the image of the female cat (women) being subjected to unwanted sexual advances. Their solution is to erase the reality of unwanted advances by simply erasing images of them, even though the cartoon context mocks Pepé’s behavior. Do they think presenting it in comical terms diminishes the seriousness of sexual harassment? Cuomo and his ilk have inflated egos that hinder them from seeing things through the eyes of others; but the best way to deflate a predatory ego is to laugh at it. The Pepé Le Pew cartoons ridicule these churls. This is a good thing. Or do cancellers think that the mere image of a female being treated this way diminishes women? We are treated this way, and simply erasing depictions of it won’t erase the reality. But “woke” society is getting rather good at erasing things, isn’t it?
So, let me get this straight. In January 2019 Cuomo was hailed as a champion of women for signing legislation allowing viable babies that survive abortion to be killed. A little over a year later he signed an executive order that sent elderly people still infectious with Covid-19 back into nursing homes, and when thousands of them died his poll numbers continued to go up (and did not significantly change with the subsequent revelation that the true number of deaths was twice as high). But chasing the proverbial secretary around the proverbial desk . . . now that’s going too far! That’s what it took to make Cuomo’s poll numbers plummet, which is what it took for his colleagues to turn on him. I’m not diminishing the importance of calling out arrogant sexual behavior towards women. Indeed, how a man treats women says a lot about his character, especially how he will behave when in a position of power. And dealing with uncomfortable sex scenarios should not be an accepted component of any work environment. But what society lets slide, and why it lets it slide, is as telling as what it chooses to address.
The governor claimed that the 2019 “reform” bill codifying Roe v. Wade in state law was needed to protect women from Republicans in the White House whose “goal is to end all legal abortion in our nation.” He threw in some theatrics by lighting the World Trade Center in pink to celebrate it. However, it’s absurd to claim that the abortion right is endangered, because even if the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, which is extremely unlikely, all that would do is return jurisdiction to the states. Abortion has been legal for 48 years now; men and women well into middle age have grown up with it being readily accessible. How many states would be likely to outlaw it again? Maybe South Carolina and a few others. But certainly not New York. So, Cuomo bravely slew a dragon that doesn’t exist for political points (and perhaps to guarantee a renewable supply of fetal tissue for research, which is, after all, a growing industry).
Why do women fall for this? Because even the mere thought of abortion being illegal terrifies them. The dukes go up and the mind shuts down. If any real progress is going to be made on the pro-life front this fear must be respectfully and compassionately considered. Many women who would never have an abortion, even those past childbearing age, support abortion rights with a blinding passion because they cannot, will not, go back to the time when once a woman becomes pregnant it becomes against the law for her to make decisions about her life. She goes from Citizen Jane Doe to Incubator. True, it’s not just her life about which she’s demanding to have a “choice.” And although conventional wisdom says she of all people should be acutely attuned to this immutable truth, maybe in flawed humanity that immutable truth is easier to digest when either you’re not the one who’s pregnant or your pregnancy doesn’t present a conflict. I just don’t think abortion will ever be resolved by law alone, and making overturning Roe v. Wade the single focus keeps the dukes up and the mind shut down, turning women into single issue voters. Politicians like Cuomo know this, and use it to help put their abortion “reform” bills in place.
On March 3, 2020, state lawmakers passed a $40 million coronavirus relief bill. The fine print permitted an enormous expansion of Cuomo’s executive powers. He could now “suspend [specific provisions of] any statute, local law, ordinance, or orders, rules or regulations, of any agency” with just the stroke of his pen. Cuomo’s directive on nursing homes, issued that same month, showed the deadly consequences of autarchic unchecked executive action. Had Cuomo’s female accusers come forward sooner, perhaps some red flags would have fluttered and legislators might have declined to give the governor such sweeping authority. (Last month, they voted to limit Cuomo’s power.) Maybe these women were intimidated by pandemic-mode imperatives, or so grateful that Cuomo “saved” abortion that they let him slide. Everyone let him slide.
But Pepé Le Pew! He’s the one to rein in. Can’t let that cartoon monstrosity slide! Who will cancel culture warriors point their bony incriminating fingers at next? Someone they think challenges their despotic and self-righteous shortsightedness? Another despicable character that doesn’t afford their sacrosanct myopia enough dignity? Psst. Mr. Magoo. Watch your back!