Op-ed: Shocking but not surprising

  • Tuesday, October 31, 2017 11:46am
  • Opinion

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 victim-friendly 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:

“In the middle of the night, in my dreams

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.

Readers may email Cal Thomas at tcaeditors@tribpub.com.

More in Opinion

Alaska Chief Medical Officer Anne Zink promotes getting immunized with the flu shot this winter. (Photo courtesy Alaska Department of Health and Social Services)
Immunize when you winterize

An annual flu shot plus the COVID-19 vaccine protects Alaskans and our health care system, too.

(Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Dunleavy’s first act as governor was unconstitutional

That’s according to a ruling by Senior U.S. District Judge John Sedwick.

This Aug. 3, 2021, photo shows Juneau International Airport.  The Federal Aviation Administration shared recommendations on Thursday for improving aviation safety in the state. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: How the FAA will improve the margin of aviation safety in Alaska

Alaska depends on aviation more than any other state…

Central Peninsula Hospital is seen in Soldotna on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Voices of the Peninsula: Perspective of an educator in a ‘high-risk’ group, part 2

During some of the darkest days of my time in ICU, it was obvious where we all live is a special place.

Lawmakers havereturned to the Alaska State Capitol for a fourth special session. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Revenues should be determined before more PFD spending

The governor believes the dividend drives the entire calculation. Sadly, he has it backwards

Ronnie Leach. (Photo provided)
Point of View: For Domestic Violence Awareness Month, #weareresilient

At the onset of COVID-19, we expanded our services in a way to ensure COVID-19 consciousness.

Rep. Don Young talks during a June 2021 interview with the Empire. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion:Where’s Don Young when America needs him?

Once upon a time, avoiding political controversy was completely out of character for Young.

Peter Zuyus
Voices of the Peninsula: Seniors appreciate vaccination efforts

To those who have worked to encourage vaccination we say: Be proud, you are, in fact, saving lives.

Jackson Blackwell (courtesy photo)
Voices of the Peninsula: Carbon dividends are the bipartisan climate solution

By levying a gradually increasing price on carbon, U.S. emissions will be slashed by 50% in 15 years.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy holds a press conference at the Capitol on Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Juneau Empire file photo)
Dunleavy: Facts Matter

Political opportunists care more about spreading political untruths than accepting the facts.

Steve Hughes. (Photo provided)
Voices of the Peninsula: We are all victims of COVID-19

It is disturbing to hear, as a triage nurse, the many reasons cited for not getting a vaccine that are based on misinformation.

Opinion: LGBTQ+ Alaskans deserve respect and dignity

Like every state that lacks equality, we need federal protection.