WELL-MEAN­ING MEN TOO HAVE A VIEWPOINT

The Gulf Today - - OPINION - BY TOD ROBBERSON

SCIENTISTSHAVEINALLYDISCOVERED a cure for that dreaded con­di­tion known as Male An­swer Syn­drome. It’s called the #Metoo move­ment. Men, it’s now our turn — to shut up. A lot of folks prob­a­bly think that’s a good thing, but be care­ful about what you wish for.

In the na­tion’s mad rush to ac­cuse, con­demn, con­vict and out­cast any­one who has en­gaged in sex­u­ally un­ac­cept­able be­hav­ior, we also are shut­ting down an im­por­tant dis­cus­sion that still needs to take place, one in which men must par­tic­i­pate. A lot of men want to speak out in sup­port of women, but in this at­mos­phere, they don’t dare.

Just ask Matt Da­mon. He was forth­right enough on Dec. 14, dur­ing an in­ter­view with ABC News, to warn against lump­ing all trans­gres­sors into “one big bucket” with­out re­gard to nu­ance or dis­tinc­tion. “There’s a dif­fer­ence be­tween, you know, pat­ting some­one on the butt and rape or child mo­lesta­tion, right?” he said. “Both of those be­hav­iors need to be con­fronted and erad­i­cated with­out ques­tion, but THEY SHOULDN’T BE CONLATED, RIGHT?”

I don’t hold all Hol­ly­wood ac­tors in high re­gard con­cern­ing their in­tel­lec­tual and po­lit­i­cal in­sights, but Da­mon strikes me as smart and thought­ful. He mea­sures his words care­fully.

Doesn’t mat­ter. Team Amer­ica: Word Po­lice quickly ar­rived with guns blazing. We haven’t heard a peep from DA­MON SINCE. HE KEPT A LOW PROILE at the Golden Globes fes­tiv­i­ties. He du­ti­fully dressed in black like all his other fright­ened male col­leagues but stayed away from the mi­cro­phones.

Just be­fore Christ­mas, mem­bers of my fam­ily were de­bat­ing what movies TO GO SEE. I PRO­POSED DA­MON’S NEW ILM, “Down­siz­ing,” and was in­stantly put in my place. As I cast my eyes down­ward in shame and si­lence, I was in­formed that Da­mon de­fends sex­ual abusers. “Down­siz­ing” was nixed in my house­hold as a movie-going op­tion, no mat­ter how good the re­views.

Mul­ti­ply that by a few mil­lion, and that’s Da­mon’s pun­ish­ment. Be­cause our na­tion is now in Au­toshame Mode, “DOWN­SIZ­ING” WAS OFICIALLY DOWN­SIZED. Barely 10 days af­ter Da­mon’s ABC in­ter­view, the Hol­ly­wood Reporter said “Down­siz­ing” was ra­dioac­tive at THE BOX OFICE.

What other ac­tor wants to risk that fate? Pub­li­cists told The New York Times’ Cara Buck­ley that men at­tend­ing the Golden Globes “were PROB­A­BLY TERRIIED OF MAK­ING MIS­STEPS on the world’s stage. When ev­ery word men ut­ter ... is pored over, parsed and of­ten harshly crit­i­cised, si­lence is of­ten the best op­tion.”

In truth, Da­mon’s words weren’t rad­i­cally dif­fer­ent from those of other ob­servers, in­clud­ing women, on the na­tional stage. In the Times op-ed page, critic Daphne Merkin wrote that she ex­pected stars to show up at the Golden Globes and du­ti­fully toe the #Metoo line. “But pri­vately, I sus­pect, many of us, in­clud­ing many long­stand­ing fem­i­nists, will be rolling OUR EYES, HAV­ING HAD IT WITH THE RELEXIVE and un­nu­anced sense of out­rage that has ac­com­pa­nied this cause from its IN­CEP­TION, TURN­ING A BONA IDE MO­MENT of moral ac­count­abil­ity into a se­ries of ad hoc and some­times un­proven ac­cu­sa­tions.”

Lib­eral Amer­ica has a way of adopt­ing group­think not as a heart­felt ex­pres­sion of sol­i­dar­ity and em­pa­thy but rather as an in­vi­o­lable re­quire­ment. You will sub­mit to the group­think of the mo­ment — #Black­lives­mat­ter, #Metoo, #Hil­laryclin­ton, #Feelthe­bern — or Team Amer­ica: Word Po­lice will blow your ca­reer away. In the name of keep­ing the troops in line, they will oblit­er­ate all no­tions of free speech and thought. Con­ser­va­tives couldn’t be hap­pier watch­ing this feed­ing frenzy.

Did Al Franken de­serve to be lumped in with Har­vey We­in­stein among the ranks of most-wanted sex­ual ter­ror­ists? No. But his crit­ics weren’t in­ter­ested in his de­fense. Franken’s ca­reer as a US se­na­tor is now over.

I have not been sex­u­ally vic­timised by a per­son who had power over me, so I can­not claim to know how that feels. I did ex­pe­ri­ence two times in my ca­reer when ex­tremely pow­er­ful peo­ple abused me pro­fes­sion­ally. Had I cho­sen to come for­ward, I prob­a­bly could have ex­acted a large li­bel set­tle­ment from one of those prom­i­nent peo­ple. I could have ru­ined the ca­reer of the other.

But in the process, I feared, I would de­stroy my own ca­reer. So I kept silent. And I have hated my­self ever since.

What I went through com­pares not even slightly with the pain and hu­mil­i­a­tion that count­less women have ex­pe­ri­enced at the hands of men who had power over them and abused or ha­rassed them sex­u­ally. Yes, now is the time for them to speak out and be heard. Any­one who doesn’t have some­thing to con­trib­ute to the con­ver­sa­tion is best ad­vised to lis­ten qui­etly.

But please, if a few well-mean­ing men dare to ven­ture a con­struc­tive viewpoint that isn’t 100 per­cent in line with the cur­rent group­think, must they also be au­toshamed? Thought­ful peo­ple don’t de­serve to be de­stroyed in the name of going af­ter the guys who re­ally de­serve it.

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