The sex scandals on both sides of the Atlantic are tipping the scales of justice. The premise that innocence is assumed until proven guilty is no longer, says Peter Divey.
The sex scandal news keeps on coming on both sides of the Atlantic. Like a runaway snowball, the scandal is rapidly transforming from a snowball into a cataclysmic avalanche, enveloping all those whose misdeeds leave them stranded in its path. If you are guilty you deserve everything you get. But as is usual, the law of unintended consequences has ricocheted overall and sundry. For better or for worse.
Hollywood is remarkably reticent and non-judgemental. Everyone is ducking for cover. The goings-on at the audition couch are not new, but the tolerance of so much seedy behaviour is repugnant. And Hollywood have brought this down upon themselves. The post-Trump meltdown was latched onto by Hollywood like a drowning man clinging to a flimsy raft. The preaching and exhortations of moral superiority had become unbearable. Take the actor Chris Evans, Captain America on film, the great defender of the USA a perfect metaphor for moral and cultural superiority. God is on our side and the right will win out. But only on film. In real life Chris Evans has constantly harangued his fellow US citizens for voting for Trump. They have destroyed democracy and trampled the American dream. Hollywood knows best and he knows best. Chris Evans used his celebrity and status to demonstrate his virtue. He made sure he joined the fashionable anti-Trump left-wing crowd. Guaranteeing future employment in the greatest show on earth, the ultimate bubble. A tranquil Eden where right-wing views are banned. An odd approach which left half of Hollywood’s audiences alienated. All quiet now on the Hollywood front though. Has that moral superiority taken a big hit? The hypocrisy is baffling.
But a broader issue of the sex-scandal avalanche is that it risks enveloping not only the guilty, but innocent men too. This anti-male witch hunt is usurping the fundamental right of innocence until proven guilty. The merest scintilla of an allegation and the accuser is right and the alleged perpetrator instantly guilty. Ordinarily these accusations would have would have been dismissed as hearsay, but these are special times. The victim has to be proved wrong. Rumours and suspicion are more than enough to sweep you away. Are false allegations being levelled? Of course. The scales of justice have tipped from one side to the other.
Judge Roy Moore is a Republican candidate supported and proposed by Steve Bannon. He is standing on the anti-swamp, anti-GOP uni-party brief in Alabama. Reason enough to be hated across both sides of the political aisle. Historic allegations of sexual impropriety and abuse have surfaced and it has all descended into juvenile party politics. Moore stoutly refutes the charge, describing it is a political assassination job. He will not go away. A lawyer for one of the alleged victims has wheeled out an old yearbook supposedly incriminating Moore. It has all become complex and testy. Moore says it is a forgery. The lawyer refuses to allow the yearbook to be examined. The step-son of the accuser says she is lying. There is now talk of jail time if the forgery is proved, for the lawyer and the accuser. It is a Trump style fightback from the resilient Moore who has bounced back in the polls. This saga has some way to run as yet but the voters of Alabama seem minded to give Moore the benefit just now. Maybe Moore can survive the sex scandal avalanche?
Everything is black and white at the moment, there are certainly no 50 shades of grey. But those unintended consequences will probably leave permanent damage or societal change. Hollywood staying quiet would be a pleasant bonus for sure.