Wretchard is theorizing. You have to read from the bottom.

So the concept is that Hollywood and D.C. failed to hold themselves to standards, so they're kicking the problem out to us. That complicates our lives, because, well, these failures aren't really reflective of the most of us -- they're reflective of these power elites. We're being asked to take responsibility for them, which means accepting a higher degree of public overwatch on ourselves in return for exercising authority over these elites.

There are two questions to ask about this.

1) Is this right? Did the most of us have a good handle on this, such that this is really an elite problem? A partial answer can be found in the relative ease with which corporate America is disciplining wrongdoers, compared with the way that political elites are less capable of being held to standards. It could be that most of America has adjusted already; corporate elites have avoided adjusting, but are deeply exposed; and so only political elites are so far protected.

So maybe it's right. But maybe not: there are other interpretations, which I invite you to explore.

2) Is this a good deal? Ordinary citizens having power over elites is in the right lane for a small-d democratic outcome. On the other hand, a vastly increased policing of sexuality has significant negative consequences. There's a big downside to accepting a moral right to pry into our private lives. Don't forget the two rules of business:

That's a principle that's really worth defending. It's not that it doesn't admit of exceptions.

I don't particularly want to have to concern myself with these scoundrels, and I definitely don't want them to feel free to concern themselves with me. On the other hand, they're much in need of correction. It would be to the common good.

What say you all?

UPDATE: Outside of the Hollywood field, two different polls are now suggesting that majorities want President Trump to resign over being accused of similar behavior. Quinnipac, which didn't ask about Trump but about "elected officials accused of sexual harassment" found a majority even of Republicans want a resignation in such cases; 66% of adults overall agree. PPP specifically asked about Trump, and finds that a majority of registered voters wants a resignation (but not of Trump voters, who back the President staying in office). Both polls presume no trials, no recall elections at which voters formally consider the question, just straight to resignation based on multiple accusations. That suggests a very high degree of willingness to believe such charges, and to purge people from office on the basis of that belief.


Texan99 said...

I can tell you what would have happened if a man had offered me corporate advancement, or threatened me with the opposite, if I didn't give him sexual favors. He would have gotten zero sex and a lot of bad publicity. It would have been up to the organization whether he would suffer for the publicity. If not, the organization would have gotten a lot of bad publicity. It would have been up to society whether it would suffer for the publicity. My jobs would have been: say no, create the publicity, and do part to discipline either a bad guy or his bad organization if I believed it was happening to anyone else who spoke up about it.

The one thing that very clearly won't work is to agree to the bargain then complain about it afterwards. I honestly don't see how it's different from saying "I had to go along with my boss's embezzlement scheme or he wouldn't have given me a raise, and I had to feed my kids." A bad spot to be in, a bad boss, but it's still up to the worker to know when to say "no."

Tom said...

I have two points.

The first is that I'm not sure what we're being asked to do, here. We're being asked to take responsibility for them, which means accepting a higher degree of public overwatch on ourselves in return for exercising authority over these elites.

In what way do you see us being asked to take this responsibility, and in what way does that mean accepting more public overwatch on ourselves?

The second is that the administration of actual justice is everyone's business. The men about to hang the sheepherder tell McCandles to mind his own business, but justice is everyone's business.

Now, I'm not saying morality, per se, but protecting everyone's natural right to life, liberty, and property, I suppose. Stopping a murder, stopping a theft, these things are everyone's business, and the "mind your own business" line from the would-be murderer or thief is mere intimidation, not a principled argument.

Grim said...

It's Wretchard who's making the argument; my own first question is whether he's right. I'm not convinced he is, but I'll try to represent the argument I take him to be making in a fair way.

Some in elite fields like Hollywood have been subjected to a sexual exploitation that Hollywood's elite has failed to control via internal mechanisms. Even well-protected women like Angelina Jolie and Salma Hayek -- whose star status and relationships with top industry figures would have given them some autonomy compared with young actresses trying to make a name for themselves -- found themselves subject to abuse. Saying "no" wasn't good enough. Appealing to their friends in the industry wasn't always good enough either (although apparently Jolie was able to do it successfully by appealing to her husband to back Weinstein off, Hayek rejected him over and over and was still forced to include a topless scene in a movie to provide a public and ritualized sexual submission in place of the private and actual one).

So they go public. If the elite's internal systems don't work, they go to everybody else. Everybody else is now interested in the question of the heretofore private sexual behavior of industry insiders. Suddenly privacy evaporates, and everyone is exposed to a much more rigorous and formalized set of controls on their behavior. Since this looks backwards as well as forwards, it's not enough to reform now.

As Tex and I agree, internal controls are always better than external ones. The best thing would have been for the control to have been within the man, i.e., Weinstein et al. Second best would be an internal control to the elite; third best, to the industry. By the time you get to external controls, there are all sorts of negative externalities coming into play. Investors who may be quite innocent will lose their money, for example, because they invested in a company or a movie that turns out to have been headed by someone guilty of secret sexual behaviors that become exposed.

More than that, we'll all end up paying a price. That price will be the increasing acceptance of the idea that our own sexual lives shouldn't be private, but should be exposed to public judgment -- and not necessarily in a court of law, but to the judgment of public shaming based on uncomfirmed accusations.

I think that's Wretchard's basic suggestion here.

raven said...

95 percent of this could have been avoided if the miscreants had had their nosed pounded in at 14 years of age to learn some manners. Most of them have probably NEVER heard "no", in any context. They might be a terror in Hollywood bubbleland, but try molesting someones wife in a bar in Port Angeles on a Friday night and corrective action will be swift and kinetic.
Stopping boys from fighting on the playground has done a great disservice to the educational process.

So for fifty years we have been told the ladies are empowered, and men are useless bicycles, and the abandonment of all the old sexual mores was a great leap forward. And now everyone is astonished at the result?

Grim said...

I am inclined to agree with every word you just said, Raven. However, when I said something similar back when all this broke out, both Cass and Tex affirmed that things really are better -- at least where they are. So that factors into my first question: is it true that the American public, outside these elite bastions, has enough of a handle on this problem that the answer is plausibly to turn it over to ordinary public judgment?

One reason to think it might be is that, outside of these elite bastions, this kind of behavior is regularly exposed and punished. One reason to think it might not be is that the Q-poll I cited says that 47% of women they surveyed state that they have been sexually assaulted in their lives. (That could have been long ago, of course: in a survey of adults with a normal distribution, half of them will be older adults who therefore came up in the older world.)

So, again, my instincts say that you're right about everything. I'm not sure the facts back us up 100%, though. There are some questions I don't think are satisfactorily answered yet.

Christopher B said...

The key ingredient I see being left out in his analysis is how Male Feminism plays into this. It's not enough to simply say that these were men that were never told 'no'. There are plenty of those kind of men, and until #metoo (or perhaps, until WJC and Monica) a certain subset of them routinely faced public humiliation and legal sanctions over sexual misconduct. The particular groups that are facing the brunt of the allegations now got the benefit of everyone knowing but saying nothing, and I think ultimately derived their sense of entitlement, from being useful tools and mouthpieces for certain branches of feminism. What's bringing them down is their inability to deliver any benefit that would offset the cost of guarding them.

MikeD said...

I'm more concerned with the update's aspect of this. It seems we're once again in a moral panic where the accusation becomes sufficient evidence to convict. The Salem Witch Trials are normally pointed to as the seminal moral panic, but there have been plenty of others (which depending on your point of view may or may not have been justified). The Red Scare was one, the Satanic Daycare Panic of the 1980s was another. And while McCarthy may very well have been correct about Communists infiltrating the State Department, the problem with moral panics is that it empowers dishonest individuals to take advantage of the panic and settle old scores.

Frankly, an individual who resigns over accusations is (in my eyes) all but admitting those accusations are true or at least likely to be substantiated if examined. One who refuses to resign, categorically denies the accusations and is destroyed anyway (the Giles Corey types) is probably innocent (again, in my estimation; not to be confused with "a certainty"). The issue is that either the process becomes the punishment (where even proving yourself innocent brings you down anyway), or innocence becomes entirely irrelevant and you are to be destroyed merely for not accepting punishment. I worry we are already at that stage.

Grim said...

Well, I have placed a sizable but completely legal wager that Donald Trump will not be resigning any time soon. So, if that's the danger, he'll serve as a hedge against it by personal example.

(Either that, or I'll have to pay up on a bet I'm feeling pretty confident about.)

I think the polls may be less shocking that you fear. The one is a poll of 'adults,' and the other of 'registered voters.' Both groups are generally more Democratic than 'likely voters,' say. Democrats are more or less united in their disdain for Trump and their desire to be rid of him by any means necessary. So, finding that the majority of a group that trends majority Democrat would like the President to resign over this is not surprising. They would like him to resign for any reason. They've priced in throwing out any other political figures as an acceptable cost to have a principle that might compel it.

raven said...

Quite frankly, I do not trust any polls for real world accuracy. They seem to be another tool co-opted by the left. A poll can produce any result desired, much the same as "statistics". Show me the political leanings of the polling company leadership, and I will wager on results prior to the poll being taken. Axes need to be ground, you know.

Ymarsakar said...


Most Americans see criminals as being in jail to keep society safe from the criminals. I value the inverse divine justice system where criminals are in jail to protect them from being killed by certain humans outside in society.

Americans don't tolerate vigilante justice (other than some sub cultures down South or in Appalachia or mafia like cultures). So Hollywood and DC not only protects themselves and each other, those who tell everyone to 'obey the law no matter the cost', are also protecting them.

Put a bounty on the heads of evil, and cut it off. Also slap a Presidential signed pardon on each bounty. The problem takes care of itself. That's not going to get rid of the Federal Reserve, Novus ordo seclorum, or the ascended masters, but that's for later.

Ymarsakar said...

Show me the political leanings of the polling company leadership, and I will wager on results prior to the poll being taken.

Leftist/Soros abortion advocates, now admit that they fed the MSewerM zombie puppets a statistic of 10,000 deaths from illegal abortion per year. The actual numbers they had was 100-250 per year.

Well... not like Americans cared about it anyways in the end, due to Planned Profit.

Polls make Public Opinion. They do not reflect it.

douglas said...

I don't think it's so much that the "maniacs want everyone to be as miserable and paranoid as them" exactly. It's more like they are miserable, and truly believe they can fix the situation that's causing their grief- but the problem is that they don't see that their fix will make everyone as miserable as they. Remember what Lewis said:
“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

Total aside- Big Jake is literally my oldest memory. I would have been a little younger than Ethan Wayne (Little Jake McCandles), probably around four. The final confrontation scene where he's pursued by the bad guy with the machete and hides in the straw really stuck with me. I also recall my mother expressing to my father that perhaps it wasn't the best choice of movie to have gone to see at the drive in (as it apparently scared me a bit). I think I watched that scene from the footwell of the rear-facing seat of our station wagon (wagon parked backwards so we could watch from the rear). Probably time I watch it again.

douglas said...

" Hayek rejected him over and over and was still forced to include a topless scene in a movie to provide a public and ritualized sexual submission in place of the private and actual one"

There's a reason we see so much gratuitous sexuality in Hollywood movies... Funny how no one is asking questions about that though.