Friday, December 8, 2017

Burning Witches Once Again with #meetoo




I’ve been silent on the Weinstein aftermath for a while because I needed to soak in the circumstances over a period of time. Still not sure if I comprehend it all, the one thing I have become sure of is that it is a conflagration well past time for ignition.

This is not current news. This is a revelation of misdeeds and horrors as old as slavery and, as we once came to our senses and outlawed slavery, its stink of racism still lingers in the air today, more than a century and a half after its demise.

My concern is that the Weinstein furor will halt the demeaning and sexual abuse of women at the top of the (presently) male pyramid, but do little at the bottom. Does anyone really believe that the fire Harvey touched off will scorch the wolf-whistlers on our streets or the likes of Playboy and Hooters?

Will it deter small-minded bosses in small offices from leering at or propositioning their employees? Do we really believe #metoo will affect the hospitality industry or change our regard and respect for women working at the bottom of our broad, male-dominated social platform?  One would hope so, but hope hasn’t stuck with us for long if the past is any guide.

Having thought that over for some time now and watched my heroes fall, I wonder if all witches are equal in this binding to the stake. A question each of us must answer for himself, so I’ll merely offer my personal feelings—not judgements, not alternatives, but feelings.

  • Weinstein is not in question. The man belongs in jail and will likely end up there.
  •  Kevin Spacey (whose work and intellect I adore) is over and through. His history is far too long and well verified.

  • Charlie Rose (the finest interviewer I’ve ever known) is gone for good as well, the charges both broad and egregious.

  • Senator Al Franken is, for me, a man of enormous dedication in the Senate, whose rather minor infractions (unwanted kisses) pale beside those of our sitting president and the present candidate from Alabama. All the same, he is gone for reasons more political than infamous.

  • Garrison Keillor gets a pass from me. The allegations as charged don’t pass my sniff-test for destroying a cultural icon.

This naturally brings us to the subject of redemption and whether redemption is possible under any circumstances. Is Witch #1 the #metoo equal of Witch #2? I think not, but may well be wrong and hence my hesitation in writing. Yet there are times to take a stand.

If one believes that the Weinstein horrors are meant to change a hundred years (or more) of the degradation of women for the better, then perhaps it’s possible to bestow redemption in those cases where change is both accepted by the accused and immediately possible to remedy. You can bet with some confidence that Al and Garrison have changed any of their behavior a woman would find offensive. 

Garrison is retired and suffers in silence the consequence of losing all credit for his 42 years hosting and writing A Prairie Home Companion. The show will be renamed, a dark day for Lake Wobegone, “where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.”

My advice to Al Franken is to run again for the Senate when his seat comes up for election, asking the people of Minnesota to forgive and return him to where he belongs. 

It wouldn’t surprise me if they chose to do so, but #metoo shouldn’t automatically remove that choice.