By John Krull
INDIANAPOLIS – Wrong is wrong.
Movie mogul Harvey Weinstein’s abominable conduct with women has – justly – unleashed an outpouring of condemnation. The revelations of his long and sordid history of harassing and even sexually assaulting what seems like every female with whom he came in contact has cost him his job as the head of independent film powerhouse The Weinstein company, his marriage, his reputation, millions of dollars and, perhaps in the days ahead, his freedom. (There’s no statute of limitations on rape in New York.)
John Krull, publisher, TheStatehouseFile.com
All of this is as it should be.
Weinstein did wrong.
He degraded and terrorized other human beings.
He should be held accountable.
He should be punished.
Because wrong is wrong.
What’s intriguing – well, to be truthful, troubling is the more accurate word – about Weinstein’s belated rendezvous with something resembling justice is how some people, depending upon their other allegiances, have responded to it.
Conservatives and partisan Republicans have taken great satisfaction in pointing out Weinstein’s record of contributing to Democratic political candidates and liberal causes, while pointedly refraining from condemning any similar such conduct emanating from, say, the White House. One conservative cartoonist/columnist even drew a cartoon showing Weinstein occupying a sewer at roughly the same time he penned a love letter to President Donald Trump, who boasted in the now infamous “Access Hollywood” tape of sexual assault and has been accused of sexual harassment or assault by more than a dozen women.
This sort of selective outrage is nothing new.
Nor is it confined to one party or the other.
Years ago, I remember shaking my head at the glee with which progressives and Democrats greeted the downfall of former U.S. Sen. John Tower, R-Texas.
President George H.W. Bush had nominated Tower to serve as secretary of defense. Tales of Tower’s womanizing and drinking derailed the nomination.
Liberals and Democrats took satisfaction in Tower’s defeat and in spreading stories about his transgressions, blithely overlooking the fact that everything that had been said about him – and, quite a bit more – could have been said about one of their icons, U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Massachusetts.
A few years later, during the battles to impeach and remove from office President Bill Clinton, partisans defended his sexual involvement with women other than his wife while condemning similar transgressions on the part of Clinton’s antagonist, U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Georgia.
And vice versa.
In each case, ideologues and partisans determined right and wrong not by the transgressor’s actions or the consequences for those who suffered because of them, but by party affiliation.
They forgot that wrong is wrong, regardless of who does it.
I’ve often thought that many of the things that divide us as a nation would diminish in significance if we just could remember that truth – that wrong is wrong – and if we focused less on whether the person who does wrong wears a donkey or an elephant pin.
I’m appalled that Harvey Weinstein terrorized women, unchecked, for as long as he did. The fact that he is a Democrat neither increases nor diminishes my anger and disgust.
I’m also appalled that the president of the United States could brag about forcing himself on a woman – and then blithely dismiss it as “locker room talk.” The fact that too many people – too many men – accept that description appalls me, too.
I’ve been an athlete for more than 50 years. I’ve been in and out of a lot of locker rooms. Yes, men do talk about women in those settings, sometimes in admiration, often in confusion.
But no man in my memory has boasted about grabbing a woman against her will.
Because that’s not locker room talk.
That is wrong.
And good men, Republican and Democrat, know that.
If anything has become clear these days, it is that more of these good men, Democrat and Republican, must condemn and rebuff this kind of behavior, regardless of who commits it. They must let the Weinsteins and the Trumps of this world know this isn’t acceptable – and that it isn’t just “locker room” stuff.
Because it isn’t.
Wrong is wrong.
John Krull is director of Franklin College’s Pulliam School of Journalism, host of “No Limits” WFYI 90.1 Indianapolis and publisher of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.