Morning Ethics Warm-Up, Oh NOW It’s Veterans Day, 2017: Notes On A Witch Hunt, More Moore, And More

Good Morning!

(And thanks for your service, your sacrifice, your guidance, pretty much everything, dad.)

1 In the last 24 hours, Actress Ellen Page has accused director Brett Ratner of sexually harassing her on the set of “X-Men: The Last Stand;”  Richard Dryfuss, whose son was one of the recent accusers of Kevin Spacey, was accused of exposing himself to LA writer Jessica Teich as part of regular harassment while they worked on a TV show in the 1980s (Dreyfus: “: “I emphatically deny ever ‘exposing’ myself to Jessica Teich, whom I have considered a friend for 30 years,…I did flirt with her, and I remember trying to kiss Jessica as part of what I thought was a consensual seduction ritual that went on and on for many years. I am horrified and bewildered to discover that it wasn’t consensual. I didn’t get it. It makes me reassess every relationship I have ever thought was playful and mutual.”); ER star Anthony Edwards accused producer and writer Gary Goddard of in a Medium essay of molesting him when Edwards was a child, and  George Takai, “Sulu” to you, was accused by a former male model of groping him in 1981.

NOW can we call it a witch hunt? If you want to kick a successful Hollywood figure’s career in the groin: accuse him of sexual misconduct! If your own career is flagging and you would like some publicity, and interview, and some ink, accuse someone of sexual misconduct! Do it fast, before someone else dredges up a story about you turning a blind eye to a friend, mentor, or another powerful figure’s misconduct. By all means, don’t make these accusations in formal settings and in a timely fashion so they can be proven or disproven, and so the accused has anything resembling due process and procedural fairness. No, the objective is to simultaneously signal, as quickly and loudly as possible, your #MeToo status, place yourself inextricably in the victims camp, and do maximum damage. By guaranteeing that all of these juicy accusations are lumped together in the media’s feeding frenzy, the legitimate accusations are indistinguishable from the dubious ones.

Quick! Board the Harvey Weinstein Ethics Train Wreck before it leaves the station! And be sure to drag someone on board with you!

2. Waiting 30 plus years to make a public, previously unrevealed accusation of sexual misconduct that will do maximum damage to the accused while ensuring that, guilty or not, that individual cannot convincingly defend himself, should be reserved for only the most egregious examples of serial sexual predators, like Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, and, apparently, Kevin Spacey.

3. George Takai is a an example of how unjust the current mania is. A minor cult figure in the “Star Trek” fan base, Takai had emerged as a champion of gay marriage and built a career resurgence, doing TV commercials, speaking engagements and picking up cameo roles in low budget films. That’s all probably dead now. He provoked this late and fatal hit on his reputation by what his accuser, Scott R. Brunton, wrongly thought was hypocrisy.

Here, via the Hollywood Reporter, is  how Brunton came to attack Takaei now, 37 years after “Sulu” allegedly sexually assaulted him in Portland while playing the role of The Sympathetic Predator:

Brunton claims that he met up with Takei years after the incident in Portland, Brunton’s current home, while the actor was there on a book tour. “I wanted to see him,” Brunton says. “I always wanted to ask him — I just felt really betrayed. I thought I was a friend and here I am later, just another piece of meat. So I called him up at the hotel — I figured out which hotel he was at — and he said ‘Hi, Scott. I remember you.’ I wanted to ask him why. We met for coffee, and I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. It was just too uncomfortable.”

Brunton says he considered going to the media with the story for years, but he assumed no one would take him seriously. “Who’s going to believe me? It’s my word against his,” he says.

Brunton’s reasoning changed after the Harvey Weinstein scandal, and specifically when Takei spoke out regarding allegations leveled against Kevin Spacey.

On Oct. 29, Anthony Rapp, an actor starring in the latest Star Trek series, claimed to BuzzFeed News that Spacey sexually assaulted him while he was a minor in 1986. Spacey later apologized and came out as gay in response. “When power is used in a non-consensual situation, it is a wrong,” Takei said of the Spacey claim in a statement to THR on Oct. 30. “For Anthony Rapp, he has had to live with the memory of this experience of decades ago. For Kevin Spacey, who claims not to remember the incident, he was the older, dominant one who had his way. Men who improperly harass or assault do not do so because they are gay or straight — that is a deflection. They do so because they have the power, and they chose to abuse it.”

Brunton says he found Takei’s response infuriating. “I don’t want anything from him but an apology,” he says. “I am sure he’ll disown all this, I don’t know, maybe not.”

Thus because Brunton didn’t have the courage or sense of fairness to confront Takai privately when they met for coffee, he feels justified to perform a media ambush now. Why was Brunton infuriated by Takai’s statement about Spacey and harassment? That wasn’t hypocrisy. That was a man showing that he had learned that he was wrong 37 years ago.

4. I can’t quite bring myself to make Sean Hannity an Ethics Hero, BUT…Hannity, who immediately leaped to Roy Moore’s defense following the Washington Post’s discovery of four women who say they dated him when they were teens (and he was a middle-aged assistant district attorney, AND one of his dates was a really young teen, as in illegal), interviewed Moore on his radio show, and shocked everyone by getting Moore to grill himself like a suicidal salmon.  The full transcript is here.

It’s clear that Moore thought Hannity would be a sympathetic ear and toss softball questions. It is also clear that Moore isn’t very bright, and was inadvertently trying to break the record previously set by Gary Condit for making himself sound as guilty as possible while denying his guilt. Moore’s answers were contradictory, and Hannity nicely baited the Alabama Senate candidate by asking the same questions more than once. “These allegations are completely false, false and misleading,” Moore said initially. Then shortly after that, Hannity asked, “Let me ask you this… you do remember these girls;  would it be unusual for you as a 32 year old guy to have dated a woman as young as 17? That would be a 15 year difference or a girl 18. Do you remember dating girls that young at that time?”

“Not generally, no,” Moore answered. “If did, you know, I’m not going to dispute anything but I don’t remember anything like that.”

I sure would remember dating a teenager when I was 3o.

Then immediately after saying he doesn’t remember, Moore had this exchange:

HANNITY: But you don’t specifically remember having any girlfriend that was in her late teens even at that time?

MOORE: I don’t remember that and I don’t remember ever dating any girl without the permission of her mother. And I think in her statement she said that her mother actually encouraged her to go out with me.

‘I don’t remember dating any teenage girls, but when I did, I always had their mothers’ permission.’

Then Moore unequivocally denies the alleged contact with a 14-year-old “date,” insisting that there is a vast liberal conspiracy against him, though not in so many words.

Gee, why don’t I believe him? Why would anyone believe him?

5. I have now read repeated statements in the news media, by pundits, and on Facebook that Moore is a pedophile. Fake news. How hard is it to check a dictionary? A pedophile is sexually attracted to pre-pubescent children.

6.  And now, on a lighter note, here’s what Bill Maher said last night on his HBO show:

“I have to say, I gotta defend my tribe here a little bit—liberals versus conservatives—because certainly sexual harassment is absolutely the one thing we see now is totally, truly bipartisan (maybe the last thing that is),” said Maher. “But no liberal defended Harvey Weinstein or Kevin Spacey, who might be going to jail. Anthony Weiner is in jail. Louis C.K., we hear this week, did horrific things. Compare that to Trump and Roy Moore. We arrest our alleged rapists—they elect them. I mean, there’s a pig in the White House.”

Isn’t that funny?

  • No one defended Harvey Weinstein? The Hollywood establishment and Democratic stars sidn’t defend him; they lauded him, endorsed him, and enabled him, all while almost certainly knowing exactly the kind of man he was and exactly the  way he treated women. When Weinstein became a pariah, of course nobody defended him….even fellow harassers.
  • I remember when liberals were the ones who insisted on due process and Constitutional rights, and now Maher—just like Black Lives Matter!–says that liberals believe mere allegations justify arrests.

Finally, I’m just sure there is a prominent Democrat who was and is and is an alleged rapist. I can’t quite fetch his name. It’s right on the tip of my tongue. Who is that? Help me out here. And Bill forgot about him too, so I guess I shouldn’t feel too bad…


23 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, Oh NOW It’s Veterans Day, 2017: Notes On A Witch Hunt, More Moore, And More

    • Except for the real witch hunts, it’s usually a combination of the two. Like the Red Scare: there were a lot of Communists, but also a lot of people falsely accused of being one for ulterior motives.

      • I wonder if it’s possible to have something resembling due process in the court of public opinion, but everything I imagine ends up at individual judgement, and even worse, the only way to save your reputation seems to be to disprove the accuser by undecutting theirs (unless you’ve gone the pence route, of course)

      • “[T]here were a lot of Communists, but also a lot of people falsely accused of being one for ulterior motives.”

        I wish there were more people whose observations about the ’50s included the first clause of that sentence. It’s so tedious reading and hearing people say the whole thing was made up.

        Similarly, I think some of the phenomenon described here as a witch hunt stems from the fact there are lots of bad people in the entertainment world notwithstanding their incessant obsession of portraying themselves as being inherently morally superior to their lesser (usually financially or in terms of looks) fellow human beings.

        I would hazard to guess that during the gay rights press during the beginning of this century, we were force fed very aggressively the notion by Hollywood that gay men were not only our equals in every respect, but they were in fact our superiors. How many women actresses did we have to be lectured by about how wonderful all their gay co-workers were? Maybe the Harvey Weinstein situation broke the dam. If a guy that powerful could be confronted, maybe all the formerly young boys who’d been “laid upon” by the Kevin Spaceys of the entertainment world figured they could finally get someone to listen to their story.

        Something is afoot in and around the entertainment industry and its denizens and I think it’s only beginning.

  1. I guess this is related to the recent anything-can-be-the-subject-of-humor post: about 15 years ago, unwanted children in Congo were being cast out of their homes on the pretext of their being witches. An aid worker was quoted: “The biggest problem is knowing how to sort the real witches from the rest.”

  2. This will be the first Veteran’s Day in a looooong time that I won’t be able to call my Father-in-Law (Colonel USAF Ret), who passed away last April two months shy of 95.

    The call (with a follow-up on Memorial Day) was always to thank him for his service and participation in winning the BIG ONE, (WWII) with help from my Dear 92 1/2 year-old disabled Navy Signalman Father, and many, many others.

    My FIL was an archetypal Wisconsin farm boy. He walked on for the UW Madison Baseball team in 1940, a stint which ended abruptly after December 7th of the following year.

    He flew P-47’s and was a flight instructor for the B-25 Mitchell, he wound up training many of the pilots that participated in the Dolittle Raid.

    He lived just down the street and volunteered at the polls, affording me the rare pleasure of having him hand me my ballot.

    We were ideologically aligned, and with both of our extended families being career Lefties, (including his daughter/my lovely & long-suffering wife) this forged a very special relationship.

    The strongest word he ever used was “stinker,” which for reasons that remain a mystery, was often uttered in my direction.

    Our backyards were adjacent and when he remarried and moved down the street, that allowed his daughter to move in and discover she couldn’t live without me.

    Could be I’d lost my fast ball, because that took her 2 1/2 years to realize. Of course I asked him for his permission before I asked her for an answer; mercifully, they both said “yes.”

    We shared a first name. One of the last things he said to me was that soon being the best looking “Paul” on the block would be my burden alone; he died two days later.

    His was a life authentically well-lived, significantly, and with purpose.

    RIP With Honors. Paul. Thank you for your service, your inestimable contribution to winning the BIG ONE, for treating me like a son, & for knocking it out of the park as a FIL; things I will NEVER forget.

  3. I would disagree only in that the Takei allegation is one that is close to the Cosby level (i.e., Brunton claims he was drugged and assaulted – which is what Cosby’s M.O. was).

  4. Juanita Broaddrick, who was almost certainly raped by Bill Clinton, came forward publicly for reasons not too different from Brunton’s.

    As I recall, Broaddrick, like most people who are blindsided by a sexual assault from someone whose they look up to and respect, didn’t want to stir the Clinton-family hornet’s nest and expose herself to public shame and attacks. I believe she was either married or engaged at the time, and just wanted the whole thing to go away, although her friends, who walked in on her in a disheveled state after the rape, tried to encourage her to take Clinton on. She signed some sort of agreement not to prosecute Clinton, but there were still whispers going around about the rape.

    Then someone representing Bill (Hillary?) described Clinton’s many, many rape and molestation accusers as all being “discredited” and “liars” or something to that effect, and Broaddrick was all “aw hell naw you didn’t” and started speaking out about Bill’s assault with a vengeance. Unfortunately, it was too late to prosecute at that point.

    It’s not hard to imagine making the tough decision to let an attacker off the hook only because you don’t want to go through the life-changing ordeal of coming forward…but still harboring resentment and anger towards your attacker as he continues to enjoy fortune and fame…and then suddenly your molester/rapist publicly says something so outrageously brazen or hypocritical that you just can’t take it anymore and go to the press. It’s not the correct or ethical thing to do, but I can see why it often happens.

  5. 2. Waiting 30 plus years to make a public, previously unrevealed accusation of sexual misconduct that will do maximum damage to the accused while ensuring that, guilty or not, that individual cannot convincingly defend himself, should be reserved for only the most egregious examples of serial sexual predators, like Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, and, apparently, Kevin Spacey.

    How is any one victim supposed to know whether their abuser had a pattern of abuse, or whether theirs was an isolated incident? I’m not even sure they should care.

    The fact is that allegations that were made against these men were, for a very long time, not taken seriously. This gave other victims strong incentives to keep quiet.

    Now those incentives are melting away. Victims are seeing that their abusers are not all-powerful, and that coming forward can actually have an effect. If I were someone who was afraid to come forward in the 80s, or even a few years ago, I could see myself coming forward now.

    “That’s what I would do” doesn’t make it ethical…but I’m still not seeing why it’s unethical.

    • In those cases? They all knew. Cosby? It was common knowledge in Hollywood before the Dam broke—remember? A comic made a joke about it. Weinstein? Many articles have confirmed that his conduct was well-known..and it was a journalist that collected the evidence. Then the stars started saying, yeah, I knew, and I should have said something. Rapp hasn’t said whether he was prompted by knowledge that Spacey was a predator. If he was, then I give him an ethics pass. If he didn’t, then the fact that Spacey was exposed after his accusation as a predator was just moral luck. There better be a legitimate reason to hits someone with an old grievance that was never raised privately. Revenge and anger are not good enough.

  6. On 4, you are the first person I’ve seen who has said that Hannity did a good job on that Moore interview. Popehat characterized it as one of Hannity’s typical softball/Ass-kissing sessions, designed to defend Moore, and from the excerpts I’ve read I’m inclined to agree. Do you really think Hannity was intentionally “baiting” Moore into anything? Far more likely is that they are both very stupid, and did not understand how bad they were both making themselves look. You even point out that Hannity initially leaped to Moore’s defense, so it’s highly unlikely he suddenly decided to be a tough interviewer.

    • 1) Stipulated: they are both stupid.
      2) I am far from the only one who gave Hannity credit for asking questions that forced Moore to look like a fool.
      3) Your last statement is a smoking gun for confirmation bias on your part

      Hannity easily could have handled the interview focusing only on the “biased media hit job” angle, and never asked, for example, “But you don’t specifically remember having any girlfriend that was in her late teens even at that time?” I listened to the interview. Hannity sounded skeptical. A soft-ball interview is like the many interview Hillary got during the campaign that avoided asking her about her e-mails.

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