Posted by Curt on 30 November, 2017 at 11:35 am. 14 comments already!


Matt Walsh:

Matt Lauer, former host of the Today Show, stands accused of a multitude of sins, including exposing himself to his coworkers, handing out sex toys as gifts, and even having a special locking mechanism installed at his desk so that he could trap his victims in his office/sex dungeon.

Garrison Keillor, a broadcasting icon who has spent 40 years in the business, has also this week been accused of, and fired for, his own “inappropriate behavior.” Apparently he patted a woman on the back years ago, his hand went up her shirt slightly, and he apologized for it at the time. She forgave him, he says, but has now decided that it was assault. Maybe more accusations will surface against Keillor, but right now, as far as the public knows, that’s it.

The only thing that links these two men and their alleged improprieties together is that both are immediately assumed guilty and cast aside as dangerous predators. They will both be added to the same list — a list that includes men accused of child rape, men accused of making lewd comments, and men accused of something in between those two vast extremes — and their careers and reputations will be ruined forever. Neither will be allowed to defend themselves, neither will be permitted to tell their side of the story, and no evidence whatsoever will need to be presented against them. This is how the process works now. If you are a man and you are accused of any inappropriate behavior, of any kind, at any time, by anyone, you are guilty, you are scum, and your life is over.

I think, perhaps, we are setting a troubling precedent.

It seems that many of the men so far accused of indiscretions are indeed guilty. Some have even admitted to it. Some have denied it. One of the men, actor Jeremy Piven, even took and passed a lie detector test. He claims that three women have invented stories about him for personal gain, and he’s done what he can to achieve the impossible and prove a negative. Some of the men have been accused by hundreds of women, some have been accused by only one or two. But all are presumed guilty, all are assigned the same severity of guilt, and most have been fired from their jobs and will carry the mark of “Accused Sexual Predator” for the rest of their lives.

Does anyone else see a problem here?

As for Matt Lauer, he does seem to be a legitimate creep and a serial adulterer, at the very least. He has apologized for his behavior and implied that many of the stories about him are true or mostly true. Okay. But he also says, as several of these men have said, that not all of the accusations are correct and some of the incidents are being deliberately mischaracterized. That seems to be a relevant point. Shouldn’t we ask which accusations are incorrect? Which are being mischaracterized? Were some of the “sexually harassed” women full and eager participants at the time? Is it possible that Lauer is a pig whose piggishness is, in some cases, being exaggerated by ambitious people who want to destroy him? I’m not saying that’s the case, and I have no personal affection for Lauer whatsoever so I have no reason to hope that it is the case, but I also don’t know that it isn’t the case. And neither do you.

But we seem to be saying that none of this matters. A man who faces these sorts of allegations is expected to apologize, and if he does not apologize, if he attempts to explain, or add context, or defend himself to any extent, his stubbornness is just seen as a symptom of his guilt. Keillor denied the charges against him, and USA Today called his statement “defiant” and “weird.” What’s so weird about a guy claiming his innocence if he is in fact innocent? Have we completely ruled out that possibility?

The whole thing reminds me of the last scene of The Crucible, where John Proctor is told he must confess to witchcraft in writing or be hung for witchcraft. His choices are not ideal: either admit your guilt and be seen as a witch, or deny your guilt and be hung as a witch. Proctor chose the rope. Most of these men choose to confess. But does that mean they’re all guilty?

And even if they are all guilty, do they all deserve to be destroyed? Why are we putting sexual harassers and sexual assaulters in the same category? Why are we acting as though an incident of harassment 10 years ago is as unforgivable as repeatedly assaulting teen boys or masturbating in front of unwilling spectators?

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