Friday, October 13, 2017


So former White House advisor and loyal Culture Wars footsoldier Sebastian Gorka has weighed in on the accusations surrounding Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. Mr. Weinstein has become a popular topic among culture warriors because of the well known fact that two people who happened to have voted for the same politician are alike in all other ways, including their sexuality and how they express it.

In any event, Mr. Gorka says of the accusations against Mr. Weinstein:

If Weinstein had obeyed @VP Pence's rules for meeting with the opposite sex, none of those poor women would ever have been abused.
And that brings us to the word of the day: Accomplice. Which is defined by Merriam-Webster as: "one associated with another especially in wrongdoing." In other words the so-called "Pence Rule" under which the Vice President never allows himself to be alone with any woman who isn't his wife only protects said any woman if the other people present aren't in on whatever the Vice President likely doesn't have in mind. After all, if simply sequestering oneself we enough to put paid to a tendency for sexual predation, we'd likely see a lot less sexual predation. And given the fact that Vice President Pence is likely stable and on-the-level enough that he's not a sexual predator, what his Rule mainly does for him is avoid the appearance of impropriety. And if someone does accuse him of wrongdoing, he has alibi in the other person(s) present.

But alibis don't have to be honest. And this is part of the larger problem. Put simply, sometimes people work together for a common goal. Even when that goal is illegal or otherwise socially undesirable. Jane can decide that its safe to go to Dick's house, because Tom, Harry and/or Sally will be there, but nothing prevents any or all of them from being a party to Dick's designs.

There's nothing wrong with the Pence Rule, as far as avoiding the appearance of impropriety goes. (It has other disadvantages, but many social {and sexual} conservatives are unlikely to see any of them as problems.) But for it to really work, whoever fills the role of chaperone has to be opposed to whatever improprieties might take place. So it falls short as a real protection for the other party, in that it would allow them to spend time with an untrusted individual and be secure in the knowledge that nothing improper will occur.

And that why Mr. Gorka's tweet seemed more like a cheap pot-shot in the culture wars than anything of substance. Because to the degree that Mr. Weinstein was playing the role of intentional sexual predator, he likely easily (and more more easily than seems reasonable to me) could have found a number of people willing to play the role of intentional accomplice to his plans. (I can never understand how people like this find one another, but that's likely just me.) And likely in so doing, created even more trouble for the women that he targeted, because while he-said/she-said can be a tough hill for an accuser to climb, he and he and he-said versus she-said seems even steeper.

And in that sense the what would have stopped "those poor women" from being abused was a culture that was less ambivalent about such things. It's likely that warning bells went off for someone, if not multiple someones before Mr. Weinstein selected his first genuine target. While it's possible that he shrugged, said "Yolo," and dove right into the deep end, it makes more sense to me that he tested the environment around him to, so that he understood what he was getting himself into. Whether or not people pushing back and/or expressing concern would have stopped him is debatable, but it's likely that all of this would have come out a lot sooner, likely after the first one or two episodes. Or it could have actually lead to some sort of treatment or other intervention before anything happened to anyone. Of course, there's a downside to all of this. The Court of Public Opinion can be woefully capricious in its judgments, and it's likely that a non-trivial number of otherwise innocent people would have been caught up in all of this - a system that avoids all false negatives and false positives generally can't also be one administered by everyday people (or people at all, really).

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