But I do remember saying, “Jeez, who’s next, Garrison Keillor?”
It was a joke. I was trying to come up with a famous person, other than Pope Francis, who would seem least likely to play the horndog with his coworkers.
And now here we are. Look: Any rich, famous man who hasn’t sexually harassed an underling? If so, please step forward; it’ll save time. The rest of you: what the hell’s wrong with you?
Something’s happening here, a wise man once said. What it is ain’t exactly clear. I think we can conclude that a great many wealthy, powerful men are swine. Probably they’re swine because they’re wealthy and powerful. They do it because they can. So much for the notion of being elite.
We can also conclude that the women who were groped, assaulted or got an unsolicited view of the rich man’s johnson decided, in nearly every case, that they were better off not doing anything about it at the time. And thus the swine were emboldened.
That’s maddening to me personally, but understandable upon reflection: powerful vs. not powerful, strong vs. weak. It’s one thing to get your ass kicked standing up to a bully, quite another to see your reputation tarred, your career in ruins.
I remember once in the eighth grade, a classmate of mine thought to grab another female classmate between the legs, a la Donald J. Trump. Her reaction stuck with me: she cursed and slapped his face, hard. I believe she scared the living shit out of him. Later, she wept. I’m ashamed to admit that it was an epiphany to me.
Maybe now we’re undergoing another epiphany, as a nation. Along with quite a bit of anxiety. The sheer volume of revelations has raised concerns about the lack of due process, and the possibility of false allegations for political reasons. No doubt there are some unscrupulous women out there who will use this #metoo moment for evil ends.
Also, I worry that a broad spectrum of behavior is being judged as a single heinous crime, where sexual innuendo and gratuitous touching are just as bad as dropping one’s trousers in a locked office and forcing sex. Shoplifting may be bad, but it is still preferable to armed robbery. Which is to say that I think Garrison Keillor is still less disgusting than Harvey Weinstein. Al Franken is way less disgusting than Mr. Trump.
But finally, there’s this: In nearly all of the high-profile cases — with the notable exceptions of Roy Moore and, of course, Trump — the accused have grudgingly admitted their misdeeds and apologized. Some have pledged to seek “treatment.” Quite a few have paid with their jobs. So this is not really a witch hunt. The accusers aren’t lying.
It’s a disheartening time in America, and this blizzard of sex-harassment charges only proves a certain rottenness at the core. But it’s good to see swine called to account, all their wealth and power rendered briefly impotent. It’s a good thing when, at long last, grown men are made to realize they can’t behave like eighth-grade boys.