Sweeping scandal could do good
The scope of sexual misconduct allegations happening these days is truly amazing. It’s far from over, we believe, but it’s stunning how many mighty have fallen in such a short time, especially since the recent accusations against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein triggered the #MeToo social media movement.
We think it’s a good thing, and long overdue. We believe it will deter such behavior in the future, and we hope it will lead to a more responsible, respectful society.
This broom is sweeping all kinds of bad actions into the same pile. They are not all the same — rape is worse than groping, which is worse than lewd comments — yet all are alike in that they violate other people.
This is, in part, a product of normalizing pornography, “Fifty Shades of Grey,” strip clubs and the like. People must get real about the intoxicating qualities of using such things. It is self-gratification at others’ expense, filling our minds with thoughts that violate other people’s dignity. Yes, many people enjoy such things in moderation without acting them out on unwilling people, but many do — just as alcohol use leads to drunkenness, with all its risks. If you must use them, do so warily.
Meanwhile, as we watch this wave sweep the country, we can’t help but compare the reaction of government to that of media companies. Many people like to beat up on the media, and it’s true that many major national media companies turned a blind eye to sexual misconduct for many years. But now they have quickly investigated and dismissed some of their top talent, including broadcast celebrities such as Matt Lauer, Garrison Keillor, Charlie Rose and, previously, Bill O’Reilly and Roger Ailes.
Government moves more slowly.
For instance, U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., is accused of using the power voters conferred upon him to harass women sexually, and then of using taxpayers’ money to cover it up. That’s similar to the case of New York state Assemblyman Vito Lopez, D-Brooklyn, who was accused of harassment by many female staffers, some of whom were paid hush money out of state coffers by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
Conyers is among the most senior members of Congress, having been elected first in 1964. He is so well-respected by many in his party that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called him an “icon” of women’s rights.
But one of those rights is to be free of harassment. Conyers is accused of a pattern of it. In 2015, for example, his office allegedly paid $27,000 to quiet complaints by a woman who said she was fired for rejecting Conyers’ advances.
His fellow lawmakers should waste no time in investigating allegations against him. If they are found to be true, Conyers should be booted off Capitol Hill.
And then there is our nation’s president, Donald Trump, who was caught on tape in 2005 bragging about using his celebrity power to forcibly kiss women and even grope their genitals.
“I don’t even wait,” he boasted to a television host, perhaps not realizing a camera was still running. “And when you’re a star, they let you do it; you can do anything.”
And yet, knowing that, the American people elected him as our leader.
No, this national reckoning is not over. It may get more complicated. Hopefully it leads to something resembling morality.