Plus #MeToo at MIT.
This is an excellent article. I read both the Unheard and Common Sense pieces and your take is spot on. Thanks
What makes these claims of harassment and sexual misconduct so difficult is the stakes that we attach to them. We're asked to choose between two scenarios: helpless woman remorselessly violated by cruel, lecherous monster, or decent, innocent man vindictively destroyed by manipulative witch.
As with most things, I suspect that there is often a more resonable middle ground. The counterclaim describes what sounds like a completely different person relative to the picture painted by colleagues interviewed by Suzy Weiss. It would seem there's no way to reconcile the two.
Yet it's entirely possible that this man has certain personality traits which rub some people the wrong way and yet which other's barely notice or even like and make him seem fun and relatable. It's possible he acts very differently under the influence of alcohol. For that matter, it's possible that his accuser does also, so that she legitimately doesn't appreciate in her more sober moments the things she is capable of doing and fully consenting to when inebriated. Even removing alcohol from the picture, modern science is learning some disturbing things about the fallibility of human memory, and the ways in which we often unconsciously retrofit the past to suit the present, that should give us all a bit of humility about the value of individual people's testimonials to past events - especially when the complex emotions surrounding sexual relationships are involved. (For those interested, Malcolm Gladwell did a fantastic 3-part series on memory in his podcast "Revisionist History" - the most memorable episode being the final one titled, "Free Brian Williams".)
The question is, is there a place where we can perhaps be sympathetic to this woman's perspective without exiling the accused from polite society? Where we can imagine that things might legitimately seem one way from her perspective and her recollection than from his? Can we embrace the "Rashomon" of life where it seems we have irreconcilable accounts of reality, and actually learn to withhold public judgement and allow people's private disputes to remain private? Because what we have right now is the kangaroo court of public opinion, and I doubt any of us would want to have our future depend on that jury.
Charlie's stunned reaction a year ago to learning of the Tulsa massacre bespeaks the worth of a little wokeness. I learned of the atrocity quite late, in 1987. . .Excessive wokeness is pernicious. Excessive anything is pernicious, or likely to be. Ms. Young, wow yet again, I think the Ayn Rand piece was marvelously evenhanded. Theresienstadt, (sic) Katyn Wood, The Holodomor. We can all learn. Public relations in wartime. . . . Good God. Thanks.
Thanks Cathy for penning such a thoughtful Sunday morning shot. Uncle Joe is far from perfect but I am proud to have him as my president.
I used to be a big fan of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, but I am now very suspicious of her ideology. She and her husband are both deeply against the illiberal left, but seem to be okay with the extremists from the right, at least I am not seeing enough criticism from them.
Perhaps it is time to admit that "we" don't really understand the presidency. They campaign as if they can pass laws, but they really can't. On the other hand, when in office, their real value shows up when "shit happens." Ronald Reagan had many weaknesses, but he handled the USSR very well. Bush II failed his test when he let himself be pushed into the Iraq War.
Obama showed his courage by letting the bank bailout go forward. Ideologically, he should have prosecuted the bankers, but he did not - knowing that prosecution would simply have collapsed our financial system.
Trump failed his test with COVID. If you need the details - well you are behind the curve here.
So we have Biden. Decent to a fault, but also able to understand what COVID required, even if the idiocracy remains wedded to a narrative that has freedom on one side and safety precautions on the other.
Biden also had that balls to get out of Afghanistan - despite the advice of careerists all around.
Then we have the Ukraine. Biden handled this as a master. Restoring NATO after the predations of Trumps toxic presidency.
And yes, Biden can't pass legislation. Should we continue the falsehood that presidents are responsible for the legislative branch?
I have no idea if Sabatini is guilty or not and this part of the article went on and on but in the end just showed neither does Cathy know if he is. So what was the point? Seriously? Closest Cathy came to getting to the truth was stating she read 2 opposing articles and personally concluded one of them was closer to the truth! Seriously? Convinces me of nothing. What a waste of space today writing that drivel. I do hope Sabatini isn’t sent to the trash heap, if it was just one occurrence and consensual at that. If he’s innocent, he should sue all involved for his job and to save his reputation.
I do thank Cathy for acknowledging Biden’s speech in a positive light, except I have no idea about what she claimed was conservative (vs Left?) in it. It all seemed just plain American.
Excellent piece on Biden - is it too much to ask of an American President to be compassionate and truthful without being political. Clearly not as Joe shows. Don’t know who the last President was who could do this - but sure wasn’t Orange Man. Sometimes there are more important things than the price of gas.
I’ve read the Weiss piece and other sides arguments - if you’re 80% right and the other is 20% right then I’ll go with the 80. Thanks to Bari for exposing the Hitler youth of academia.
Cathy, it takes a special kind of talent to write an article about Biden's speech at Buffalo where 10 people were murdered for being black because the gunman was full Great Replacement rhetoric being spewn by Conservatism, Inc and Republican leaders and turn it into a screed against Democrats.
Posting positively about Bari Weiss was just the cherry on top.
A special talent indeed.
I read the Unherd article and have for a long time agreed with some of her points. That said, not sure republicans would be too thrilled with democratic support of her ideas. Read comments section for the usual republican rhetoric and inability to think outside the maga box. Lots of false equivalencies. I do think Dems should drop race as a culture war and political campaign agenda. My guess doing so will bite them in the butt for a minute, but better in the long run. It’s clear they really are not helping advance black Americans, so why keep using a poor strategy. Adding: Biden’s speech was good. I know I am in the minority, but I usually love Biden speeches. Short and to the point without self-indulgent monologues.
"the annals of MeToo overreach"?! What does that mean? Too bad Cathy Young wasn't available to help out Al Franken, eh?
I only read the intro to the counter claim, but this read to me like a standard employer sexual harassment claim of creating a hostile workplace, at a minimum. Yes, all of those institutions will fire someone for creating a hostile workplace.
Cathy...think you 'hit the right note' about what Biden had to say. Props.
Two excellent columns, Cathy. Thank you for giving us a heads up re Biden’s speech. We all can use more compassion. Even though a Democrat and fiercely Anti-Trump, I am a confirmed Centrist and hope I speak for the Silent Middle. Last summer my son thought I had become too wound up in a Democratic Political Bubble and got me to read Bari Weiss. The columns in Common Sense are thought provoking. In my opinion, the Left-Wing Democrats are alienating Independents. Manchin was correct putting the brakes on last year’s BBB. It was too large and poorly written. Last night we had dinner with three solidly old line Republicans. Interestingly we were united in desires to address methane from factories, concerns about how much energy windmills supply, where they are placed and the effects of plastics on/in our oceans and ourselves. However bring up a name of a Democrat and they turned off. Why don’t we just Try not to constantly publicize the rabid ends of our political spectrum? Plenty of good ideas can be agreed upon and written into bi-partisan Bills that could be passed. This is why I enjoy both your writing, Cathy, and also read Bari Weiss.
I know nothing about the specifics of the Sabatini case. But professors sleeping with students, or postdocs, or even junior faculty whose careers they could impact, has been common for a long time.
Biden doing what Biden does best. We need more Bidens in politics. :)
Reaction and over-reaction to claims of sexual misconduct, police brutality, and so many other things, obviates the need to not rush to judgment. The "truth" is rarely at the extremes, but rather, lies somewhere in the middle. Lives are often ruined over things that are reported without context.