Sexual Harassment, Cancellation Culture, Anonymous Accusers, And Placido Domingo

A report last week revealed that nine women accuse towering opera figure Placido Domingo of sexual harassment.  None of the accusations have been investiaged or substantiated, and only one of them isn’t anonymous. Yet two American institutions, the Philadelphia Orchestra and the San Francisco Opera, immediately canceled their upcoming concerts with him, giving the now-familiar “safe environments” explanation. None of. Domingo’s many upcoming scheduled performances in Europe were canceled, however, as sponsors took what the New York Times calls  “a wait-and-see approach,” or what used to be known in this country as “Let’s not punish someone based on unsubstantiated  accusations alone.” Or fairness. Due process. The Golden Rule.

There are countervailing factors pulling every which way. As I understand it, #MeToo  and “Time’s Up” insists that female accusers must be believed, unless the accused is the black, Democratic Party’s Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, or the harassment is caught on camera repeatedly, as in the case of the Democratic Party front-runner for President. In the arts, these allegations have had mixed effect. Conductor James Levine has not performed in public since he was fired by the Metropolitan Opera last year after accusations of sexually abusive and harassing conduct were substantiated in an investigation, but when Pixar chief and creative muse John Lasseter was fired for being a serial hugger (rather like that Democratic Party front-runner) he was rapidly snapped up by a rival studio that gave him as much power and more money. Go figure.

There is the anonymous factor: it is my long held position that an anonymous accusation relating to the workplace should be regarded as no accusation at all, meaning that there has been one allegation of sexual harassment against Domingo. An accused individual cannot address claims when he doesn’t know their source or facts. I have been the target of false anonymous accusations—not of harassment—in my career, and as a manager in various businesses and associations, I told staff that unless they were willing to go on the record with an accusation of wrongdoing, I didn’t want to hear it. It is too easy to destroy careers and reputations with false accusations with no accountability attached.

The other issue is the multiple accusation factor. In sexual abuse and harassment, there are no one-time offenders unless there has been a massive miscommunication. The typical scenario is that a single accusation triggers several, often many, more with near identical facts. This is why I did not believe Anita Hill and Dr. Blasey-Ford, and why I did believe Bill Cosby’s many accusers.

Timing is also important. Ancient accusations of sexual misconduct—I would say anything more than five years old is dubious—arriving after memories have faded, evidence has vanished and seemingly timed to do maximum damage to the accused should be treated with skepticism and a presumption of  bad will, especially when the accused is a public figure.

And yet… Continue reading

Will CNN Have The Integrity To Fire A Partisan, Incompetent, Black, Gay Host?

Of course not. But if it comes to a point where that is the dilemma, attention must be paid.

From Fox News (you wouldn’t expect CNN to report this story, would you?):

The former boss of a bartender who earlier this week filed an explosive lawsuit against CNN host Don Lemon, accusing the newsman of a strange, sexually charged assault, told Fox News he witnessed the incident and corroborated his onetime employee’s claim.

In an exclusive interview, George Gounelas, who managed Dustin Hice at the Old Stove Pub in July of 2018, detailed what allegedly occurred on the night of the bizarre encounter at Murf’s Backstreet Tavern, which is located in the prestigious Hamptons area east of New York City. Gounelas is named in the suit filed by Hice.

Lemon, through CNN, has vehemently denied Hice’s allegations.

“Dustin worked for me as a bartender [and] we went out after work one night. We were standing there and he said, ‘Hey, that’s Don Lemon,’” Gounelas said. “Murf’s is a place you go to drink after you’ve been out drinking. We had just gotten off of work. So that’s why we ended up there, because we worked in the restaurant business. So by the time everything is done, we can only hit a late-night spot.”

Hice approached Lemon to strike up a conversation but the newsman declined, according to Gounelas, who said he and Hice then offered to buy Lemon a drink, which the CNN host also declined.

Gounelas said that a few moments later, Lemon came up to them. “Don Lemon has now come around the corner and is standing face to face with us. There is a beam, a pole, in the place. Don’s standing up against the pole, face to face with Dustin, I turn around and I’m standing right there between the two of them,” Gounelas said. “He’s saying, ‘So you like me? Is that why you’re bothering me?’”

Hice responded, “Nah, man, I just wanted to say, ‘What’s up?’” according to Gounelas.

Gounelas told Fox News he couldn’t recall what Lemon said verbatim, but it was “along the lines of, ‘Do you like me? Is that why you’re bothering me, because you wanna fuck me?’” Gounelas said Lemon appeared “pretty drunk” when he confronted the duo at the wee-hours watering hole.

“He put his hands down his pants, inside his board shorts, grabbed his [genitals], and then came out with two fingers and, like, clipped Dustin’s nose up and down with two fingers asking ‘do you like pussy or dick?’” Gounelas said….

Gounelas said he isn’t sure if Lemon, who is openly gay, was being confrontational or simply flirting. “I guess it’s a little of both. If someone had done that to me, I probably would have punched him. But I think it might have been flirting. I think Dustin was more in shock… If someone was flirting with me like that I’d say, ‘alright man I’m not gay,’” Gounelas said. “I wouldn’t go up to a girl like that. It could be his way of flirting.”

Hice continued to work for Gounelas at the now-shuttered Old Stove Pub for the duration of the summer, where his former boss said the bartender was regularly teased about the incident.

Continue reading

Joe Biden, The Double Standard Candidate

The fact that Joe Biden is even taken seriously as a Democratic candidate for President is an indictment of his party, as well as evidence that  progressive principles are instantly alterable, optional or ready for deep freeze any time they become inconvenient.

The ethics value issue, of course, is integrity. If the Democratic Party cared about it, Joe Biden would be looking forward to spending his Golden Years playing with his grandchildren and copping feels with their baby-sitters.

That’s the threshold hypocrisy, as we know. Joe is a serial and unapologetic sexual harasser. There are many photographs online, and probably many more to be found, of him hugging, sniffing, and fondling women of all ages while they seem approximately as comfortable as if Joe were a rabid octopus. The conduct displayed is the equivalent or worse  of behavior that has caused hundreds of executives and  many  high-profile leaders in a wide range of sectors to be removed from their jobs. The Democratic Party styles itself as the party of women and #MeToo, but has been flagrant about applying double and even triple standards: witness Virginia Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax, still in office with the support of his party despite both a credible rape accusation and an allegation of sexual assault, both more serious than any of the accusations made against Senator Al Franken, a Democrat, who was forced to resign. None of the Republicans or Democrats who have been pilloried for sexual harassment carry the photographic evidence that indicts Biden, and yet there he is, topping the polls.

The Democratic Party’s hypocrisy goes far beyond harassment where Joe is concerned, however, as a recent Times article called Joe Biden Knows He Says the Wrong Thing,” itself a naked rationalization to excuse incompetence. Hmmmmm...Is this rationalization  on the Ethics Alarms list? Give me half a minute while I check…

NO!

Incredibly, Joe’s excuse, “I know I’m doing it,” has so far escaped the definitive rationalizations list! That will be remedied shortly.

Joe and his defenders regularly employ other rationalizations for his groping problem (and others), among them, #1. The Golden Rationalization, or “Everybody does it” variations “Everybody is used to it.,” “Everybody accepts it,”“Nobody’s complained before” and “It’s too late to change now,” #8. The Trivial Trap (“No harm no foul!”),#13A The Road To Hell, or “I meant well,” #19A The Insidious Confession, or “It wasn’t the best choice,’  #21A. The Criminal’s Redemption, or “It’s just a small part of what I am!,”#22. The Comparative Virtue Excuse: “There are worse things.,” #41 A. Popeye’s Excuse, or “I am what I am,”  #42. The Hillary Inoculation, or “If he/she doesn’t care, why should anyone else?,” 43. Vin’s Punchline, or “We’ve never had a problem with it!,” and #64A. Bluto’s Mistake or “I said I was sorry!.”

Sorry for the digression. Back to the Times article: I seriously considered posting the whole piece with Donald Trump’s name replacing Biden’s. How could the Times reporters write this, or anyone read it, without noticing that all the habits and tendencies being cited as Joe’s problems are the exact same proclivities that Democrats claim should disqualify Trump for high office, and all of the defenses on behalf of Joe echo the arguments of Trump defenders? Here are some quotes: Continue reading

Terrifying Tales Of The Double Standard: Lena Dunham’s Unwanted Kiss

I suggest listening to this as background as you gaze at the picture…

Sexual harassment is unwelcome sexual advances in a workplace setting. Sexual assault is an uninvited or consented to touching of a sexual nature.

Outspoken feminist/writer/actress Lena Dunham decided to spontaneously kiss walk over toher “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” costar Brad Pitt and kiss him, at the Quentin Tarantino film’s London premiere.  I’m enjoying the media accounts—more on this below— that say she “appeared” to kiss him: what else could she be trying to do? Whisper in his mouth? Eat his lips?)

The photographic evidence makes it clear that the advance was unwelcome, indeed evoking  an exchange in “Singing in the Rain”: Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 7/27/19: Updates And News!

Saturday morning came!!

At points yesterday I was beginning to have doubts…

1. A win’s a win, and right is right, but the ACLU outs itself again.  In the wake of the SCOTUS 5-4 decision to let stand the executive order reallocating funds for a wall to address the national emergency at the border and allow construction to commence, the ACLU flagged its own bias (though it is supposed to be non-partisan) by referring to the wall in a statement as “xenophobic.”

Its lawsuit was based on alleged environmental harm risked by the wall’s construction, but the use of that word, a deliberately dishonest characterization that can only mean an endorsement of open borders , proves that the lawsuit is a sham, using environmental concerns to mask a pro-illegal immigration agenda, which most of the public opposes….as they should.

Merits of the wall aside, the game Democrats are playing with this issue, calling for undefined “comprehensive immigration reform” while opposing enforcement and refusing to recognize a genuine emergency to keep the President from a political victory, is electoral suicide. (Yet most of the field of Democratic challengers have endorsed decriminalization of border breaching, which is like an invitation to invade. Madness. Even Hispanic-Americans oppose this.)

A blind pig can find a truffle or two, and on this existential issue, the President has law, history, sovereignty, the national interest and common sense on his side.

2.  A clueless harasser gets a second chance.   Neil deGrasse Tyson, the pop-culture astrophysicist who leads the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History, has been cleared to continue in his job  after the museum competed  an investigation into three sexual misconduct accusations against him. Continue reading

What Is Justice For Kevin Spacey?

 Prosecutors in Massachusetts this week dropped a sexual assault charge against the actor Kevin Spacey, in the only case against the alleged serial sexual harasser to be brought to trial. Mr. Spacey was accused of fondling an 18-year-old man at a Nantucket restaurant three years ago, one of the few of the accusations against him that wasn’t too old to try and that involved criminal conduct. The accuser’s lawyer said that a smartphone being sought as evidence by the defense  had disappeared, then the accuser invoked the Fifth Amendment after being warned that he could be charged with a destroying evidence, a felony if he had deleted contents on his phone. When the young man continued to assert his right against self-incrimination,  the Cape and Islands district attorney announced that it was dropping the prosecution “due to the unavailability of the complaining witness.” There wasn’t much choice.

Spacey’s far from out of the metaphorical woods. Around the same time as the Nantucket accusation, the Old Vic theater in London announced that 20 people had  accused Spacey  of inappropriate behavior  during his 11-year stint as the theater’s artistic director. There is another investigation in Los Angeles.

So now what? None of the allegations against Spacey have been proven, though, as with Bill Cosby, the sheer number of them leave little doubt—but still some— that he is a serial sexual predator. Spacey’s own house of cards began falling when actor Anthony Rapp gave an  interview to BuzzFeed accusing Spacey of assaulting him at a party when Rapp was only 14.  The accusation was never proven, but suddenly more stories of sexual misconduct in the workplace and elsewhere started surfacing regarding Spacey. (There is a lot about Spacey’s conduct and problems on Ethics Alarms, here.) Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Run-Down, 7/20/2019: Perry Mason, Kamala Harris, And Home Runs-On-Demand

I’m calling it a run-down because I’m run down….

1. More “phantom document” ethics. Last moth I wrote about the ethically dubious “phantom document” tactic, in which a lawyer alludes to a document he or she either does not have, or suggests a document has content it does not in order to trick a witness into recanting testimony.

I just saw the Eighties made-for-TV movie “Perry Mason Returns” that rebooted the classic series (and not so well) for an aging Raymond Burr. The great defense lawyer comes out of retirement to defend old legal assistant Della Street (Barbara Hale), who has been accused of murder. In the trial’s climax, Perry’s investigator Paul Drake, Jr. (played by Hale’s real-life son, actor William Katt of “The Greatest American Hero” fame) bursts into the courtroom and hands Perry a document, which he then holds as he asks the witness (Richard Anderson, playing a different role than he played in the original series) he was in the midst of cross-examining, “Would you like to reconsider your testimony? Would you like me to read a sworn statement from Bobby Lynch, in which he says you hired him to kill Arthur Gordon?”

The witness confesses that he planned the murder that Della was being tried for, and framed her. Della goes free! Perry then tells Della that there was no sworn statement. “I didn’t say I had a sworn statement,” he chuckles, “I just asked if he wanted me to read one.” Continue reading