Shock­ing but not sur­pris­ing

The News Herald (Willoughby, OH) - - Opinion - Cal Thomas Con­tact Cal Thomas at tcaed­i­

It should sur­prise no one that when it comes to sex­ual ha­rass­ment, mem­bers of Congress and their staffs are treated dif­fer­ently from the rest of us.

The Wash­ing­ton Post notes a law in place since 1995 un­der which any­one ac­cus­ing a law­maker of sex­ual ha­rass­ment can file a law­suit, but only if they first agree to go through coun­sel­ing and me­di­a­tion, pos­si­bly last­ing sev­eral months.

If you think that’s a dou­ble stan­dard and out­ra­geous, it gets worse. Should a set­tle­ment oc­cur — and many don’t for the same rea­son women are fear­ful of ac­cus­ing bosses in ev­ery pro­fes­sion — the mem­ber doesn’t pay. You and I do. The money comes from a spe­cial U.S. Trea­sury fund, and the pay­ments are con­fi­den­tial. In other words, tax­pay­ers are sub­si­diz­ing boor­ish, even crim­i­nal be­hav­ior to pro­tect the rep­u­ta­tions of our great lead­ers, who can’t be both­ered with the stan­dards they set for the lit­tle peo­ple they are sup­posed to serve.

The Post found that while most set­tle­ments are small — com­pared with the tens of mil­lions paid by Fox News — the amount still to­taled $15.2 mil­lion paid to 235 claimants from 1997 to 2014.

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) had it right when she told the news­pa­per, “It is not a vic­tim­friendly process. It is an in­sti­tu­tion-pro­tec­tion process.”

Is there any mem­ber of Congress who can de­fend this? If so, they should be voted out of of­fice. If not, the mem­bers should be sub­ject to the same laws as ev­ery­one else and forced to pay set­tle­ments out of their own pock­ets, and then voted out of of­fice.

Af­ter hav­ing tol­er­ated sex­ual preda­tors in their midst for decades, Hol­ly­wood is tak­ing the first ten­ta­tive steps to ad­dress the is­sue. The Academy of Mo­tion Pic­ture Arts and Sci­ences has an­nounced it will be es­tab­lish­ing a code of con­duct for its mem­bers. One hopes it will have teeth and that vi­o­la­tors “will never work in this town again.”

The en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try needs to go fur­ther. While there was much to crit­i­cize about the some­times prud­ish and hyp­o­crit­i­cal Mo­tion Pic­ture Pro­duc­tion Code that forced ac­tors to keep their clothes on and avoid foul lan­guage in films pro­duced from 1930 to 1968, it could be said that films then were mostly not com­plicit in the low­er­ing of moral stan­dards. That would come later with tele­vi­sion, which be­gan push­ing against FCC reg­u­la­tions, and then ca­ble and satel­lite TV, which have no FCC re­stric­tions. Hol­ly­wood re­sponded to their loss of au­di­ence by “go­ing low” to lure peo­ple back into the­aters.

Add to this porno­graphic films, which have done more not only to ob­jec­tify women, but also to give men who view them the idea that women are hy­per­sex­ual and wel­come their ad­vances. The so­cial con­se­quences from this filth have been doc­u­mented. They in­clude mar­tial breakups and es­tab­lish­ing a view of women in the minds of some men that no woman can — or should — live down to.

Tay­lor Swift has be­come the lat­est in a long line of fe­male singers and en­ter­tain­ers to trade an ini­tially whole­some image for trash. (Mi­ley Cyrus and Char­lotte Church are two other ex­am­ples. The U.K.’s Daily Mail pub­lished a pic­ture of Swift as a “nude cy­borg.” The song she’s pro­mot­ing is called “...Ready For it?”

Here is an ex­cerpt from her song:

You should see the things we do, baby

In the mid­dle of the night in my dreams

I know I’m gonna be with you.”

Does this sug­ges­tive ma­te­rial have an ef­fect on young fe­male and male minds? Of course it does, or they wouldn’t pro­duce it. Can it lead to sex­ual ha­rass­ment, and worse? It kills the spirit as much as a poi­son can kill the body.

The en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try has a lot to an­swer for. In­stead of tak­ing baby steps, it should take gi­ant leaps. If it doesn’t, this stuff will con­tinue, from Capi­tol Hill to Hol­ly­wood and ev­ery­where in be­tween.

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