So far, the reaction has swept in its undertow media celebrities such as Charlie Rose, politicians such as Roy Moore, the founder and president of the Foundation for Moral Law now running for the U.S. Senate in Alabama, John Conyers, a U.S. Representative from Michigan and a Civil Rights icon, U.S. Senator Al Franken, dubbed by one critic as “a non-funny comedian,” powerful Hollywood producers such as Harvey Weinstein, and other quivering libertines still swarming in the shadows.
Conservative columnist and radio talk show host Howie Carr has introduced a new segment into his broadcast -- the perv (short for pervert) walk of shame. Carr is not likely to run out of material any time soon. Even New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has come aboard. Times change, said de Blasio. In response to a reporter’s question, de Blasio agreed with a statement made by New York U. S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand that had the Monica Lewinsky scandal occurred today, President Bill Clinton would have been forced to resign. Given Bill Clinton’s checkered past, which includes accusations of rape, it is not possible to exclude the former President from general depreciations of juvenile cupidity and female bullying.
“If it happened today,” said de Blasio, “there would have been a very different reaction. No question. I don’t think you can rework history. I think if it happened today — if any president did that today — they would have to resign.” Gillibrand, who occupies a seat in the U.S. Senate vacated by Hillary Clinton when she was appointed Secretary of State by President Barack Obama, has since softened her statement.
It would be rash of us to assume that modern libertines have suddenly become puritanical. Gillibrand is the author of a bill that would protect transgendered military personnel from being summarily discharged. The puritans of pre-revolutionary Boston would not have unblinkingly supported her bill. Harvey Weinstein, were he a U.S. Senator, would have supported the bill with great enthusiasm. Rap music will not put on sackcloth and asperse its misogynistic lyrics with ashes. Hollywood will continue its genuflections to eros. Pre-pubescent boys, confused about their gender and slouching towards “re-assignment” surgery, will continue to be featured approvingly on the front page of National Geographic.
The Greek comic playwright Aristophanes understood that eros is a disturber of the peace, as did Boccaccio and Shakespeare and, coming closer to our own day, a repentant Charlie Rose and Harvey Weinstein. We deserve Harvey Weinstein; he’s our Frankenstein. We made him.
What only three decades ago might have been considered illicit sex will not be tossed on the ash heap of history. However, senators in bathrobes may not in the near future be so incautious as to display their wares to female interns – for a while. Business manners will improve -- for a bit. Millionaire smut producers in Hollywood may for a time content themselves with obtaining sex from their trophy wives. We have miles to go before all the accusations are holstered. Both the guilty and the innocent will have their day, if not in court, then in the court of public opinion. Charges of lewd brutality are not time sensitive, and there is no statute of limitation on commentators deploring the sins of others; though it is, of course, passé to regard unwanted sexual intimacies as sins.
The U.S. Congress, as usual, has hedged its bets by creating a tax funded, post de Sade slush fund that already has paid out $17 million on 264 claims. It is difficult to view that fund as other than an insurance policy against whistleblowing women, men, boys and girls who will be further intimidated by high priced lawyers whose services the fund will purchase.
Let’s have the names of the Congressmen who have tapped the tax supported de Sade slush fund before the “me too” effort peters out. Someone should call the seven all Democrat members of Connecticut’s sainted U.S. Congressional Delegation and get them on board.