— James Madison
As I write a few days before you are reading this, I’m having trouble keeping up with the number of politicians, Hollywood celebrities, and reputable journalists that are being brought down for their repulsive behavior. The sexual harassment claims against men who hold power, whether in politics or in the workplace or in the newsroom, seems to have exploded since Harvey Weinstein was exposed as the monster that he is. While none of this is really shocking, what is surprising is the speed at which they are falling. It is a stunning toppling of powerful men who have abused their positions for many years.
There are a few lessons that we can learn from this wide-encompassing scandal.
1) There is no limit to the number of hypocrites in the halls of Congress and in Hollywood and in the newsroom.
2) There are many women who have suffered from abuse, harassment, or even rape, who were frightened into silence by a society that too often made excuses for the powerful. Too many excused this behavior by thinking that “boys will be boys”. This is a different time though and we are better for it. Never again should the Bill Clintons and Ted Kennedys of this world be given a pass.
3) American love sex scandals, even when they involve victims who have been severely harmed.
4) We love to defend those on our side when the scandals involve “their guy”. Whether to believe the accuser or the accused too often depends on their politics.
5) The court of public opinion can often deliver justice that is swift and effective and just when the courts of justice fail us.
These men who are being brought down have been proven to be weak, immoral characters. So why did so many idolize them before these scandals? Why are people so willing to allow these kinds of people to lead them or have influence over them? If anything, we should learn that just because someone is powerful or wealthy or famous, they are no better than the average citizen. In fact, I would posit that they likely gained their positions because of the faults, not despite them. They are addicted to power and they used this power for sexual conquests and violence. When these men have been flushed out, America will be a better country, intolerant of those who abuse the vulnerable.
We should always question the ethics of those who seek power. A more effective way to protect the vulnerable than this is to seek ways to limit the power and authority of those who lust for it. A flawed person with no power is of no consequence to us.
I know that many people are reveling in the schadenfreude that comes from seeing the powerful fall. In the midst of this glee, let’s not forget their victims, women who have suffered alone, often for many years. They are victims of evil men who abused power. Let us all be ever vigilant and ready to knock those who abuse power and position from their pedestals.
Worcester Tea Party