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The outstanding talent of your daughter finally earns her an audition for a major motion picture. You’re so proud, you could burst. But then she suddenly returns home, tearfully reporting that when she was called to a business meeting with a major film executive, he was naked and, as he gripped her breasts, he told her she had to give him a massage or she would never work in the industry again.
Your daughter goes to the police, or the corporation, or the press, and…nothing. A lawyer shows up, offering cash if your daughter will sign a paper promising she will never talk about her incident. She can’t warn other young hopefuls. He threatens her. She signs. It’s a procedure. She is simply the latest victim.
Disgustingly, the incident isn’t unusual. Similar incidents have happened to young women for years, decades—in the film industry, on campuses, in the military, with a business/reality/political star, and so on and so on and so on. Similar incidents happen to young girls AND boys in churches and in youth groups and on sports teams. Why? Because some men (and women) enjoy the sensation of domination. Because our society looks away from domination of the vulnerable, if it can. Don’t rock the boat—especially if the boat is profitable.
Even if the victims have the raw courage to go to the police or the courts or the media to tell their stories, they find little justice. Why? The perpetrator doesn’t work alone. He (and sometimes she) is backed by paid attorneys, unwritten agreements, and—most powerfully—by the traditions of the society. “Look away from the nasty. It’s none of your business. They probably asked for it.” I can’t count the number of people I’ve encountered who don’t want to know facts because bare facts are too disturbing. But that doesn’t prevent those same people from having opinions based on…whatever feels nice. Meanwhile, people such as journalists who dig too close to ugly truths are threatened with lawsuits, career damage, and sometimes death.
One ironic effect of the current flood of lies and deception coming from the government, unscrupulous pseudo-journalists, and fake Americans from Eastern Europe is we’re finally talking about lies that were never secret—just inconvenient. We started with absurd Russian lies masquerading as American “patriotism,” and now the Band-Aid is off. We can talk about all sorts of lies. We can talk about the conspiracies to keep minorities in their place. We can talk about police brutality and those who cherish assault weapons over human life and women and children being treated like playthings.
On the RACHEL MADDOW SHOW, reporters such as Jodi Kantor and Ronan Farrow speculated that the reason a powerful man like Harvey Weinstein is facing some kind of justice after all these years is he’s weaker than he was before—has less influence. Perhaps we can prosecute priests and evangelical predators because the Church is less powerful. We can expose the foibles of government because citizens have lost their awe of government leaders and old institutions. Many Americans can tolerate truth now—even truth that stings.
In his TV series THE STORY OF US, Morgan Freeman reminds us that it isn’t armed rebellion that brings the biggest change. It’s the people who choose the path of peace. For example, regular Americans send money from personal bank accounts to help the people of Puerto Rico because we can see for ourselves that our leaders—and even some of our medical teams—don’t care about Americans who don’t have clout. We can see many of our “representatives” don’t care about us. We know it’s time for us to stop pretending everything is fine. We need to create a fresh, more loving, and honest world. Light destroys vampires. We have to step into the sun.