For anyone living under a rock, there has been a huge wave of women coming out accusing many famous men of sexual misconduct, or worse in some cases.
The first major person to fall was Harvey Weinstein, or at least this seems to be the case that triggered the wave to follow. Morning hosts Charlie Rose (CBS and PBS) and Matt Lauer (NBC) have both lost their jobs. Senator Al Franken and Congressman John Conyers (among other politicians) have also been accused, but they have not resigned from Congress. In Franken’s case, there is a picture that proves at least part of the accusations.
As a libertarian – and I’m sure the same goes for many conservatives – it has been a somewhat enjoyable spectacle. The scandals have focused around Hollywood and Washington DC. When I say Hollywood, I am really including New York and the entertainment industry in general.
It is the politicians and those in the entertainment industry who tend to be the greatest advocates of statism. They are generally opposed to liberty, except in cases where it benefits them personally.
They are also a bunch of hypocrites. These are some of the same people who were blasting Donald Trump for making lewd or rude comments about women.
Of course, these people were already hypocrites because they gave Bill Clinton – the rapist – a pass for decades. They also gave a pass to his so-called wife who tried to smear the women who accused him. Bill Clinton was charming enough that they could overlook his misdeeds. If there is one really good thing about this whole thing, it is likely the end of the Clintons, at least in terms of political office. With the uproar now, it gets much harder to defend Bill Clinton, even though the previous credible accusations against him have not changed.
To be sure, many of the women in politics and entertainment are just as hypocritical. It would be hard to believe that none of these women knew what was happening behind the scenes. And I’m not saying it would have been an easy decision for them to go public, as it probably would have ended their careers at that time. Still, they had no problem sitting there with a straight face telling us about how we can’t elect the womanizer that is Donald Trump.
Despite the entertainment value of these people falling, it is also unsettling to a certain degree. Most of the cases are not accusations of rape, and some are not even accusations of sexual assault. Some of it is “misconduct”, which leaves open a big area for interpretation. If a man makes it known to a woman that he finds her attractive, does that become misconduct, even if it is done in a non-threatening way?
Harvey Weinstein is probably a criminal in that he used force or the threat of force against women. In many of the cases, it is more a case of being immoral or being indecent. Still, in a relative free market, there are consequences for these actions without having broken any laws. If anyone wonders how a libertarian society can punish immorality, then here is a good example.
The unsettling thing about all of these cases is not knowing where it will end. You start to get into a lot of gray areas that are not clear-cut. It is also a problem that it could be setting us up for false allegations down the road. My guess is that most of the allegations up to this point have been true, but even here I don’t really know.
It is not hard to think of a scenario where a few people get together and decide to make false accusations against someone who they detest for other reasons. This is easy to envision with future political campaigns. At some point, we are going to have to give the benefit of the doubt to those being accused, or at least apply a similar principle of innocent until proven guilty, even if there are multiple accusations. Just because a couple of women say something about some celebrity doesn’t automatically make it true.
There is one other unsettling thing about this whole thing for me as a libertarian, which I alluded to in the title of this post.
There is this widespread outrage about men making inappropriate advances on women. Meanwhile, innocent people overseas continue to die due to U.S. drone bombings, U.S. sanctions, and outright war. There are victims in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen, other places in the Middle East, and many countries in Africa.
While Matt Lauer gets humiliated and is fired from his job, Barack Obama still walks around as a hero in the eyes of the establishment media. It doesn’t matter that Obama helped starve people in Yemen, or that he caused massive death and destruction in Libya and Syria.
Maybe Harvey Weinstein will end up at trial. Maybe he will go to jail, as he probably should. But meanwhile, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, and all of the other liars are walking free. They can lie us into war and slaughter hundreds of thousands of people and destroy entire countries, yet they do not seem to be condemned in the same way that some of these celebrities are now.
Of course, this isn’t to defend the celebrities in any way. It is an issue of proportionality though. I wish society would have the same outrage at the killing of innocent foreigners as they do at men committing sexual misconduct. Of course, there should be far more outrage at the killing of innocent foreigners, but at this point, I would be happy if it got the same attention.
This is the world we live in. Still, there is an optimistic side to take. You never know what is building up in society that will all of a sudden come loose. Because of allegations against Weinstein, it caused a great wave of people to come forward out of the woodwork.
Maybe something similar will happen in foreign policy. Maybe there will be a whistleblower that triggers a bunch more to come forward. Maybe some particular incident of foreigners being killed overseas will spark outrage about all of the killings. Sometimes it just takes one thing to light a spark, and you never know where it might come from.
Let’s hope that one day we will see headlines plastered all over the place about the innocent people in the past who have died at the hands of the U.S. government with its interventionist foreign policy. These are victims who can’t speak out, but there are others who can speak out for them.