I have, as previously stated, not bathed in this story as many have over the past few weeks. Still, I am fatigued from all that I have read or seen about it and can only imagine how utterly exhausted someone would be if they clung to every item about it. There have been a number of well written pieces throughout the drama which I have found particularly respectful in tone and interesting in viewpoint. Before I close out my own musings I thought I’d take a few minutes and put them down on paper, so to speak.
On September 22 Bret Stephens of The New York Times published an op-ed piece titled, “This I Believe”. A somber, honest meditation on the simultaneously grave yet vague nature of the then evolving situation I thought he did a fantastic job of laying out the inherent dishonesty of those that had already reached unshakeable conclusions regarding Dr. Ford’s allegations. By October third he had reached a place of (in my opinion) understandable anger concerning the behavior of the left in this country, without having changed his uncertainty with regard to the underlying accusations. I’d sum it up if I thought I could do anything but mangle it. The columns, like those that follow are easily accessed online and if you haven’t seen them yet I heartily endorse spending the little time that it will take to look them up. In addition to Stephens I found Nicholas Kristof (October 4th) and David Brooks (October 5th) contributing pieces on consecutive days that expressed different perspectives without taking the opportunity to cheap shot anybody just for having committed the sin of holding a differing viewpoint. Again I doubt I could do their work any justice in writing about it in detail; find it and read it. There are other examples available of members of the media who haven’t actually lost their minds since mid-September. Heather Macdonald, Megan McArdle, Andrea Peyser have all been a source of sober enlightenment for me and I can’t recommend their work, both specifically and on a more general basis, strongly enough.
For me the saddest part of all of this is most likely to be a deepening of the already chasm-like gaps between different segments of our society. I guess that was the front runner of outcomes, if not an absolute inevitability. Part of that is the fundamental, if unpleasant tribal nature of human interaction. Aside from the differences of sex there are issues of class warfare involved here. Not wanting or needing to add to what at this point must be seven figures worth of words written in this vein I can only state the obvious. Despite the DNA level of inculcation many if not most of us have been subjected to regarding this approach to social interaction it’s not doing us any good as a nation. Saying that it’s just a part of us needs to become unacceptable as an excuse. It isn’t okay. More important it isn’t okay to limit one’s stance to simply saying it isn’t okay. This is now a legitimate zeitgeist issue and (God help us) it isn’t going to change for the better without a ground-up cultural refusal to continue to engage in it. As I have aged I have grown more comfortable with trying to counter emotion with empiricism in my casual interactions. Meating heat with ice, if you will. Lest I come off as someone with delusions of grandeur let me offer the following: I’m not all that good at it. Just better than I was, or could hope to be if I didn’t at least try and remind myself of what an embarrassment I’ve been in the past. The most valuable action any of us can take is in challenging our own assertions, even before we question someone else’s. When we retreat from that sort of discipline it’s a very quick trip back to the jungle, cognitively speaking.
Over the past three weeks, or so, we’ve had ample opportunity to see the worst of this crap on display from people representing every facet of the confrontation. When I thought about one particularly illustrative example of this egregious behavior my mind kept circling back to a peripheral episode involving a quote from Emily Lindin. Ms. Lindin is a columnist for Teen Vogue as well as the head of UnSlut, a site promoting gender equality. During all the recent excitement a few old Tweets of hers began to re- circulate in which she came off as, well, an asshole. Seeing as how I can not conceive of a context in what follows would be acceptable I think it easier and no less instructive to simply run through her greatest hits. “Here’s an unpopular opinion: I’m actually not all that concerned about innocent men losing their jobs over false sexual assault/harassment allegations.” “… the benefit of all of us getting to finally tell the truth + the impact on victims FAR outweigh the loss of any one man’s reputation.” “Sorry. If some innocent men’s reputations have to take a hit in the process of undoing the patriarchy, that is a price I am absolutely willing to pay.” Well then, where to begin. I suppose the first thing to concede is that there may be a diagnosable personality disorder here. I speak with absolutely zero clinical authority but referring to someone else’s loss as something you are wiling to endure smells like a good place for a non-colloquial use of the word narcissism. The reader might find some of this funny but I’m not attempting any levity here. What’s most troubling about this is not anything else that might escape the pull of the ugly black hole that is her mouth. She is, at the end of the day, just one sad human being, albeit one with an unfortunate level of public exposure and the resultant weight on social media that conveys. What I think of that makes me cringe most badly is her heightened profile at a terrible time. For most people that now have some awareness of her, she and her bilious prattle are going to become inextricably linked to the #METOO movement. To begin as a way for women who had undergone all manner of abuse to find a safe platform from which to tell their story and somehow be seen as sharing common ground with a vile pile of shit like Ms. Lindin, is not a direction I would think the women who had the courage to first speak out would like to see things go in. I won’t be linking them and I hope no one else does. But plenty of people will. And I’d be very surprised if the Emily Lindins of the world might not take an ugly pleasure in that. It’s hard to look at all that has happened and see better days ahead.