The Thinking 

National Hysteria

November 30, 2017

GARRISON KEILLOR IS the latest celebrity accused of sexual misconduct. It wouldn’t be surprising if the accusations of crude behavior were true, given his personal history, but what is astonishing is that his career is publicly tarnished with no due process. [Notice how the stories include few details, as opposed to the many details about Harvey Weinstein.]

What happened to presumed innocence? Brendan O’Neill writes:

Of course we all have our private thoughts on the guilt or otherwise of the accused. But when tens of thousands of these thoughts come together in a mass public verdict, we behave like a mob. And we have a direct effect on the exercise of the presumption of innocence in a legal setting. How is it possible to guarantee a fair trial for any of the accused now that Twitter-echoed whisper campaigns have pronounced their guilt? Good luck finding a cool-headed jury for this stuff.

Maybe every man accused of sexual misconduct is, in fact, guilty. But what if a few did nothing wrong? What if just one man is innocent? If one day you’re accused, my guess is you’d rather like it if I gave you the benefit of the doubt.

— Comments —

Jane S. writes:

Laura writes: “but what is astonishing is that his career is publicly tarnished with no due process.”

That is because the powermongers in today’s world are employers. They have no regard for goods like due process. They don’t have to. The workplace is opaque to outsiders. Employers rule like god-kings. They are beyond reproach.

People would be even more astonished if the ways employers can tyrannize you were openly discussed. You don’t have to actually do anything wrong to be disciplined. They can discipline you for the tone of your voice. For the look on your face. They can discipline you for the same thing, over and over again, as many times as they like. They can discipline you for some alleged wrongdoing you may or may not have committed years ago, as if it is the defining moment of your entire career.

As the sexual misconduct witch hunt continues, watch how all the focus will be on the accused and whether or not he is guilty and to what degree. Employers, and the power they have to ruin your life, will not come under scrutiny. They’ll keep getting away with it. They always do.

Laura writes:

It’s interesting that there is not comparable indignation about violent urban rape.

Jane writes:

Due process is something Americans take for granted, partly because we do not realize how exceptional it is.

In countries where the law is based on Napoleonic Code (i.e., countries that were occupied by France during the Napoleonic Wars), there is no presumption of innocence. You are guilty until proven innocent. The burden of proof is on you. You can be sued, fined or even imprisoned for saying something offensive. Who gets to decide what’s “offensive”? The offended party, of course. Guess who usually gets the better end of that deal.

The lacrosse team members at Duke University who were falsely accused of rape are a horrifying example of how easy it is to throw out due process. If it hadn’t been for a diligent and persistent blogger who kept the issue in the public eye, and a brilliant defense attorney, those boys would have been indicted for crimes they did not commit.

Laura writes:

Good points.

S.K. writes:

One thing I have to wonder, regarding your post on Keillor: who defines “sexual misconduct”? Why does whoever defines get to define it in the first place? How do they come to such conclusions (latest PC fashion perhaps)? Is much of this misconduct simply bad approaches? The rules seem to be “puritanical,” as the virtuous people would say.

Laura writes:

The difference between crudeness and criminal behavior has been blurred.

Jane adds:

The point I would like to make is that sovereignty has shifted to the new ruling class, employers.
I’ve read that few laws nowadays are made by ratifying a bill in Congress—the way we were taught in school. They are mostly promulgated and enforced by executive agencies staffed by non-elected officials.The sexual misconduct smear campaign is an example. While high-profile public figures are being brought down, the same thing is happening to ordinary men all over America. Any company that wants to cut back on payroll by off-loading older male workers has been handed a way to do it, and look righteous doing it. We won’t hear about it. The media doesn’t care.

There’s a statute of limitations for most crimes. It includes sex-related offenses. It’s the sort of thing you look for in an enlightened legal system.

Now it’s being tossed on the trash-heap. See how easy that was? Employers have that kind of power. No one has the courage to stand up to them. People don’t fear going to prison. They fear losing their jobs.

Jane continues:

You have posted many news stories about mass shootings and what-not, advising readers that these were staged by the media.

I will go out on a limb and argue that the sexual misconduct inquisition has been staged, by the media, in service to their masters–the new ruling class: employers. It’s a new season of the reality TV show “You’re Fired!” starring–guess who? Coincidence? We think not!

There’s another issue here too.

Laura writes: “The difference between crudeness and criminal behavior has been blurred.”

It goes way beyond that. Christ commanded us to forgive. Because He knows how much we don’t want to. God doesn’t command us to do stuff we usually do anyway.

In a mature society–i.e., one where people believe in divine authority–if you have a gripe against someone, you tell them about it. They ask your pardon and you forgive. Even if they don’t ask your pardon, you forgive. So ends the matter.

In an atheist society, the authorities can find something you did wrong in the past and make it the defining moment of your entire existence. It is already common practice in the workplace. Watch how it will spread.

I cannot stand Matt Lauer, absolutely cannot stand him. But I do not picture him as a sexual misconduct perp, no way.

He was co-host of NBC’s most profitable franchise, the “Today” Show. But he had been around a little too long. His boss wanted to fire him and replace him with someone with more hair. They wanted to do it without alienating viewers. The sexual misconduct hysteria gave them the perfect cover to do that.

Laura writes:

A plague of sexual harassment isn’t surprising in a heavily sexualized culture. There is a lot of crude behavior and sexual impropriety, but the interest of the media in the issue is something else.

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