To be clear, this post is not about North Korea (though it well could be). One cannot imagine what “dotard” and “rocket man” (Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un) will do. This is a very dangerous time, led by very dangerous men.
Rather, this post is, once again, about the weaponization of Sex in America. If you’re reading this, I don’t need to fill in the blanks. You know them.
So, yesterday, Matt Lauer and Garrison Keillor joined the fallen. And they are front page news. There will be the usual clucks of righteousness.
There may be someone out there who thinks that all of this just happened through some painful overnight revelation by victims.
Rather the revelations are strategically timed, from data gathered over many years, just waiting for the right moment to light the fuse and disrupt and confuse…and sow and nurture fear (“am I going to be next?”).
As a good friend of mine, senior citizen female, said the other day (with her permission to share): “… by the time someone is old enough to run for president (or another higher office), they likely have “history.” (Either that, or they haven’t lived much – in which case, they’d probably not be a candidate in the first place.) And of course, then the skeletons-in-the-closet hunters come out in force. I wouldn’t want anybody digging in MY closet, either.”
She could have said “or anything” as well, but Garrison Keillor had not been decapitated at the time she wrote.
Long and short, Sex has been Weaponized. It is useless to try to identify ground zero, or who the sleaze bags are who have weaponized it. They won’t out themselves, and will deny the credit, even if deserved. It goes back quite a number of years now. It is a useful weapon.
Of course, its value as a weapon depends on people like us to give it meaning.
It is up to us to deal with this ourselves, in our own circles.
Wednesday (before the Lauer and Keillor “bombshells”) I had occasion to dig out one of items I have kept on file, this one for the past 17 years.
This one, a sermon, is six pages, and was delivered by the minister of a prestigious St. Paul Church, who specifically wanted it shared at the time, regardless of one’s political persuasion. It seems appropriate for today. Here it is: Morality and Civility001
from Jeff: “All Administrations, I suppose, are more or less corrupt; certainly the depth of corruption this one has reached is scarcely suspected as yet, even by
1871, Whitelaw Reid, Managing editor of the New York Tribune
from Madeline: I concur, and I read the excellent sermon you included.
from Judy: I didn’t read the whole sermon, but I think he was saying that some things are immoral, others illegal, and Clinton didn’t do anything illegal. Sexual harassment in some cases is illegal. But I am convinced that Senator Franken and Garrison Keillor did nothing illegal or immoral. I am so upset that we are rushing to judgment about these fine men. What happened to due process
Yes, I have been the victim of sexual harassment. All women my age have been.
from Jeff, re Postnote: This history of that time period is very interesting.
The Republican party was splintering between the Radical Republicans (in favor of remaking the country from the South to the West in the image of the North and the Northern Midwest), and the “Liberal” Republicans who were previous to the war staunch upper class abolitionists… they were the intellectual elite and some of the financial elite and were in favor of the return of the Gold Standard, ending Reconstruction in the south and allowing a return to stable White controlled states there, and were anti-immigrants as they saw immigrants as a power block for corrupt politicians, they also in concert with wishing for a return of white control of the South were in favor of restricting suffrage (and that worked pretty well for them in the South)
Democrats were split as well… between those that were the old Confederates, some urban Democrats particularly in NY city who aligned with Tammany Hall and German and Irish immigrants; and Democrats of a Jeffersonian/Jacksonian type, mostly rural in favor of paper money, inflation and the sanctity of the small farmer and small businessman.
from Florence: I’m perplexed by how Trump seems to be walking away free from his transgressions. I look to the machine that got him elected. The article you shared affirmed that. Thank you!
Response to Florence, from Dick: First, Trump is much too useful to the radical right wing; and if he goes, we’re left with Mike Pence who’s even more useful in the longer term, especially with court judges. Second, his entire history is to countersue, and any potential litigants against a very wealthy man who has teams of lawyers who challenge everything know how hard that is.
BTW, this is not simply a woman’s issue, though women for reasons we both know have borne the brunt of this throughout human history.
from John: Your thoughtful suggestions to deal with sensitive issues of sex and power should make many folks think. Where are we going? As a people, and as human Beings? We all need to think.
from Joyce: Excellent, Dick!
from Christine: Very interesting!
My word of the day – DISCERNMENT.
the ability to judge well.
“an astonishing lack of discernment”
(in Christian contexts) perception in the absence of judgment with a view to obtaining spiritual direction and understanding.
“without providing for a time of healing and discernment, there will be no hope of living through this present moment without a shattering of our common life”
We seem to have replaced discernment with simple “judge everyone the same-ness.” We seem to have lost the ability to judge well, to indeed no longer take time to discern one thing from another. No, it’s not the same to drink 5 drinks and drive, as it is to drink 1 drink and drive. No, it’s not the same to accidentally hit someone with your car and drive away, as it is to hit someone accidentally with your car and then stay to help. In the first example, it’s true that both include drinking and driving. But JUDGMENT is used, and we know that drinking 5 is much worse with greater effects than drinking 1 drink. In the 2nd example, it’s true that both include accidentally hitting someone. But in the first, someone drives away and doesn’t accept responsibility. And in the 2nd, someone stops to help, accepting that something happened. We DISCERN and discover that indeed, while there are similar acts here – they are NOT the same.
So take sexual harassment. I would say – No, it’s not the same to pull your pants down in front of an unwilling employee, as it is to hug someone too low and put your hand on their buttocks. While we need to take this issue seriously, I feel we also need to practice the lost art of discernment and using good judgment to determine justice in these situations, and to be able to reflect, heal and move ahead with greater knowledge.
from Catherine: I do think we are reacting to an age-old problem in an insane and unfair way, tossing aside one’s right to a proper defense and forgetting that every wrong or perceived wrong cannot be categorized as all of the same criminal degree. Worse for us, how dare MPR remove all of Keillor’s contributions to our culture? That punishes us, not him. Like all women I’ve experienced sexual harassment since I grew breasts, but as irritating and insulting as it was, most of it was not especially traumatic. It’s not reason enough to destroy lives and the future work of men who have grown up and learned better. I realize this doesn’t apply to serial creeps and child molesters. I also think that this is just as much politically motivated as anything else. We have to take this case by case and examine it all with care. I’m all for strengthening women and ending bad treatment and harassment but we don’t have to drive people to suicide.
from David: Count me among those who don’t see a conspiracy to bring down liberal (or, for that matter, conservative) men or causes. Many changes come about through the long, hard work by their proponents. Often those struggles involve decades-long work with seemingly little progress being made. Then, along comes some seminal event or moment that changes the dynamic. Rosa Parks comes to mind. Or, perhaps a better example, America’s sea change in attitudes towards marriage equality.
Alabama senate candidate Roy Moore claims that accusations against him are made up, the women are all lying and doing the bidding of the anti-religious liberals. Al Franken admits to boorish behavior recorded on film but “can’t remember” details of other events.
Are we to believe that the women making these accusations have just now decided that it’s politically expedient to come forward? Or, that they shared their stories earlier, but a lid was kept on the information until the time was ripe to bring down a political opponent?
I believe a better explanation is that the atmosphere has changed and women (and a few men) are now feeling more empowered, and safer, to step forward with their experiences. Absent evidence to the contrary, attributing political motives to their difficult decisions to come forward, sends the message that advancing our political agenda trumps our values.
Response from Dick: I think the value of this business is that there is conversation now taking place. As I’ve mentioned, I had a little head start on this, having to represent school teachers back in the mid to late 1970s and 1980s when the issue first raised its head. In these cases, due process takes a big hit. I try to keep in mind a simple fact: there are hundreds of millions of (let’s admit it) sexual beings out there, called humans, male and female. Balance that against the numbers of alleged perpetrators and presumed victims all now coming forward at about the same time. One has to wonder….