Just about a year ago, we discovered that a rich old white guy loved to brag that he spent a good deal of his time fondling women's naughty bits. HIM we elected President of the United States. Just recently, the New York Times confirmed something that a great many people have suspected for a very long time. Harvey Weinstein, another rich old white guy, took unspeakable liberties with women without THEIR consent or approval. BOTH men got away with this kind of misconduct for years. The question is WHY.
What makes this all too shocking is the fact that we are now well into the 21st Century. We have made great advances in medicine, science, and technology. But when you get right down to it, Harvey Weinstein and Donald Trump aren't much better than either Genghis Khan or Attila the Hun. Oh, they may have sported the patina of civilized human beings all right. Well, at least they didn't wantonly slaughter their victims, so I suppose we OUGHT to be grateful for small favors. But both Mr. Trump and Mr. Weinstein regarded women as sexual playthings, to be used, abused, and then discarded. How did they get away with such unacceptable behavior? They used their wealth and power as protective shields.
But then, the rich and powerful have always operated outside the bounds of decent behavior. WHY? Because we LET them, that's why. And all too often it's for good reason. Take the case of Donald Trump. More than a mere handful of women have come forward alleging rude and disgusting behavior from this country's Chief Executive. Who did we believe? Well, who occupies the White House today? It all boils down to whose word are you going to take. A rich, influential and powerful man, or some bimbo who probably just threw herself at him in the first place? He said. She said. While many believed HER, enough believed HIM to make him President.
The case of Mr. Weinstein is even more compelling. Let's say you're an actress. You're looking for work and you've heard Harvey Weinstein is hiring. Mr. Weinstein poses this telling question, "What are you willing to give me to GET that part?". Can you complain of sexual harassment, sure. But you know full well you run the risk of perhaps NEVER working in show business again! Willing to take that risk? Very few do, Mr. Weinstein depends on it!
This kind of behavior has gone on since the dawn of recorded history and before. The surprise isn't in the fact that it happens, the surprise is that it is so seldom reported. We live in a charged news environment. The technology today is such that virtually everyone can be an investigative reporter just by using their Smart Phones. And yet a deep, dark veil of silence covers the action of these sexual predators. WHY? Because, to a certain extent the wealthy and powerful remain ABOVE the law.
I'm sure some earnest, sympathetic person will remind me that sexual abuse is against the law. And it is! You can go to jail for it, especially if there's some unconsented to touching involved. That is, IF you can get a prosecutor to take the case. If that prosecutor can convince a jury of twelve people, strong, brave and true, to vote unanimously for conviction. IF the case holds up under appeal. All you have to do is ask Bill Cosby how hard it is to prove a case of sexual assault against a famous celebrity.
And so, the key word is fear. Fear on the part of the victim, who fears that the legal system, like as not, will make THEM a victim yet again. Fear on the part of the prosecutor who doesn't want to be accused of wasting the taxpayer's money on a frivolous case. Fear on the part of any witnesses who may have seen for themselves just how depraved a sexual predator can be but who fear THEY may become victims in the case themselves. Franklin Roosevelt told us we had nothing to fear but fear itself. He called that fear at that time unreasoning. Alas, that fear today is not only reasonable, it is easily anticipated as well.
The only way we can defeat that fear is to treat the rich and powerful just like anyone else. We have to learn to take these predators head on and full speed ahead, because if we don't, then the wealthy and influential will continue to prey on innocent victims while society as a whole acts like an unindicted co-conspirator!
Filed under: Politics