Here is a list of famous names accused of sexual harassment on both sides, left and right, courtesy of McCall.com.
Accusations have decimated both right and left wings of politics, entertainment and journalism in recent weeks, leaving many objective commentators to wonder which “side” should be believed.
Easy answer: all accusers deserve the benefit of the doubt.
If a victim comes forward and accuses someone of rape or harassment, the default response should be to sympathize with them, regardless of whether you like the person accused or not.
Why? Isn’t it true that some psychopaths out there are capable of lying and making up stories just to get back at an ex-boyfriend or extort money from someone important?
Of course and contrary to the myth that “it never happens”, it does happen. Just read about the case of Brian Banks, an NFL player whose career was threatening after he was falsely accused and imprisoned because of rape charges.
This leads one to the foreboding question: How does one figure out a person’s guilt or innocence?
You don’t. You leave that to a jury of the accused’s peers.
A person accused of a crime will not be sentenced to jail time or forced to pay a civil judgment because of an accusation.
They will have to defend themselves against these charges at the right time and in the right setting.
But one thing the accused will not need, and does not deserve, is a job in entertainment or politics where public image means everything.
What kind of message do we send the world if accused rapists, child abusers, and sexual bullies are tolerated because of their likable personality and the pleasing scenario that they’re just too good to have done something so terrible?
Wouldn’t the logical reaction be to relieve the accused of their public position and allow them to address the accusations? Shouldn’t we let the accused person prove his or her innocence, before endorsing them as honorable members of society worthy of such love and high praise?
In a legal court, one shouldn’t have to prove his or her innocence, rather, the prosecution must prove their guilt.
In the court of public opinion, however, one should be blameless.
Free from accusation. Having come from a transparent background, a life of good relations with others, a series of relationships that were always with good intentions, always built on mutual respect.
Even among such a primitive religious society in the early Christian congregation, Christian men were not appointed leaders of the flock unless they were free of accusation (of sin). The followers simply wouldn’t believe a man whose ill reputation preceded him.
Even in such an advanced society as sexual therapy and sexology (where yours truly comes from), we adhered to one basic principle in the midst of sexual liberation.
Always with mutual consent, always without selfish manipulation.
It was the basic respect that human beings owed each other, free of such childish notions of revenge, free of all misogynistic and misanthropic thoughts. We were an advanced society, one that realized sex wasn’t a matter of life and death. It was about equal pleasure for both parties.
If one has violated the very basic principle of mutual respect and made someone feel violated, then such a person would not have the respect of the community. This is not only a progressive attitude, but a primal driving force in sentient mammal behavior. You follow a leader you completely respect, not one whose reputation has been compromised.
Unfortunately, Democrats and Republicans are so blinded by ambition to “win” the war, they cannot fathom the simple concept of “free from accusation.”
Look at how many celebrities and politicians remain controversial and yet have never been accused of rape, harassment, or even the slightest error in human communication.
- Bernie Sanders
- Tom Hanks (probably celibate, never accused)
- Keanu Reeves
George Clooney (definitely not celibate, apparently a good lay since his harem of women left very impressed)
- Paul Ryan (a prick, never accused of rape)
- Barack Obama (not the nicest guy, never accused of harassment or forced anything)
- Mr. Rogers (Ummm I’d say zero accusations, wouldn’t you neighbor?)
Religious zealots, aka Republicans & Democrats, need to realize that in the court of public opinion, the victim should be given the benefit of the doubt – meaning their accusation must be taken seriously and thoroughly investigated, regardless of the celebrity’s popularity and likability.
Let the courts decide if the crime or harassment took place. But in the workplace environment, and even among the community circle, the idea of someone selfishly exploiting someone else should be unacceptable.
Simply put: You treat people like crap your entire life, don’t be surprised if someone accuses you of harassment or even a higher crime.
Live your life with good intentions and don’t disappoint people by building false expectations in what you can do for them.
Be surprised when all you have is a large community of friends.
Late Mitchell Warren is a freelance writer and novelist. His trilogy “The End of the Magical Kingdom”, a tragic parody about abuse and harassment, is out now.