The Ethics Quiz from 2013, “Peter’s Problem,” that I have re-posted in its entirety below has come circling around like boomerang, in a different context. Then, singer activist Peter Yarrow of Peter,Paul and Mary fame was being attacked by the political Right, which argued that his participation in a political campaign event for a Democratic Congressional candidate was proof of that candidate’s poor judgment. Yarrow, as we were told by PBS when it raised fund by showing Peter,Paul and Mary concerts, had answered a knock on his hotel room door naked when two teenage sisters, 14 and 17, stopped by in 1969 to seek an autograph. The 14-year old got a lot more than his signature. Yarrow was eventually charged with taking indecent liberties with a minor, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three months in jail. President Jimmy Carter pardoned him in 1981.
Lat week, Yarrow’ s past (he was 31 then; he’s 81 now) caused one of his appearances to be cancelled, but this time it wasn’t those Puritanical conservatives complaining about Yarrow’s “if it feels good, do it” sexual misconduct (which most of Yarrow’s younger fans in the Peace and Love Era didn’t think was misconduct at all), but the Left’s #MeToo furies.
Yes, Peter Yarrow and his critics have boarded the Harvey Weinstein Ethics Train Wreck.
Since that rollicking night in 1969 , Peter Yarrow has solidified his folk singing and progressive activist status without further public blemishes, and having him associated with an event has usually been regarded as a positive, not a negative, feature when progressives and their causes are involved. John Kerry had him sing at his wedding. Bill Clinton featured him at an Inauguration. He has collected lifetime achievement awards like little Jackie Paper collected painted wings and giant rings.
Last week, however, the Colorscape Chenango Arts Festival, which had had described Yarrow in its advance publicity for his participation in its annual September festival as one of “America’s longtime favorite musicians and performers,” canceled his appearance, saying in a statement…
“Some members of our community expressed concern, and after further investigation and careful consideration the decision was made to remove Yarrow from the music schedule.”
In the 2013 post, , I criticized Yarrow’s apologetic statement at the time, which was tainted by rationalizations. His statement last week was much better: Continue reading