The higher profile and more in the public eye you are, the higher the chance that someone will throw some mud at you (even anonymously, in some cases!) and that it'll stick, and there will be nothing you can do to repair the damage.
When you live by your public image, you die by your public image. Your rise likely happened in the same way as your downfall.
You can't have your cake and eat it too, you can't reap the benefits of being a public figure but complain about the drawbacks. You're, after all, Caesar's wife.
Not really, the rise usually happens after years, or even decades, of paying dues and hard work.
You don't build a career in anything, journalism, comedy, whatever, by just one gesture. At least most don't.
>You can't have your cake and eat it too, you can't reap the benefits of being a public figure but complain about the drawbacks.
First of all, this doesn't happen just to "public figures". A person can be fired from their non public job for saying something wrong on social media, without having ripped anything
Second, this doesn't make much sense anyway. One should be able to "reap the benefits of being a public figure" while still complaining about the drawbacks if the drawbacks are detrimental to society and kill public dialogue A actor, for example, can be a public figure without giving license to be stalked.
Public figure means their job is to make movies for public consumption, not that they have to suffer any BS paparazzi. There's no inherent tie between one and the other.
The suggestion to also "bend over and take the drawbacks" would only make sense if the "benefits of being a public figure" were obtained in a way that called for those drawbacks (e.g. celebrities being famous because they purposefully stir trouble and put on shows for the media).
Sure, but it happens because of your public image, always with a "big break" or a "breakthrough".
> At least most don't.
Actually, most do. There is almost always the one big break, where you are launched into the public's view. It is a step function.
Pick a number of artists, and look up their career, for most of them you'll easily find their "big break".
> A person can be fired from their non public job for saying something wrong on social media, without having ripped anything
Sure, but that's a different topic. I'm focusing on the public-figure part of it.
> Public figure means their job is to make movies for public consumption, not that they have to suffer any BS paparazzi. There's no inherent tie between one and the other.
Oh, there is, and plenty of it, the relationship between the "fame industry" (magazines, publications, etc.) and the public figures is a symbiotic one.
And the more you rely on the fame industry to fuel your growth, the more you're exposed to its risks. It is a deal with the devil.
There are, however, public figures who simply avoid the fame industry. They are harder to find, and have a harder time succeeding, but they are there (Daniel Day-Lewis, for example).
You seem to have the stars in mind, which are a tiny minority of working musicians (and even less so of working actors, even less so for journalists etc). The majority of working actors have slowly building careers and never have any great breakthrough.
Stars are not the only ones targeted in such e.g. "tweet-hit-mobs" though.
For Weinstein, as the counterexample, it seems like the public accusation was necessary to get the regular wheels of justice to turn.
And to add the argument that is almost as tired as yours: “Innocent until proven guilty” is for punishment by those with the monopoly on violence, i. e. the state/the courts.
If I can not watch a comedian because I don’t find them funny (which is, unfortunately, not a crime), surely I can skip their HBO special because I believe their accusers?
It's a legal requirement for the state/the courts, but it's a just and fair principle that the rest of us should still strive to embrace.
to make a contrived example: suppose you have a friend that several other people accuse of stealing. none of them can prove that he stole from them, but each of them lost their wallets at separate gatherings where he was present.
you might not find this sufficient cause to confront him or cut him out of your life, but you would probably be a little more careful where you leave your wallet when he's around.
This strikes me as socially unhealthy behavior. In the case described, one of two things is true:
1) The accusers are right, and your friend is a theif. You've implyed that if this were the case, you would confront them and/or cut ties with them (which is reasonable).
2) Your friend is being falsely accused of a serious crime by several people. In this case, he needs your support and trust more than ever.
In neither case is continuing to hang around him as normal, with added caution against his potential theivery, a useful behavior. If he is a theif then you continue to associate with a theif and to put youself at risk of theivery, albeit with some reduced risk on account of increased caution. If he is not a theif, then it's likely that your guarded actions and internal scepticism will be picked up on, and that your friend will notice that you doubt his innocence, which may well hurt your friendship.
That all said, I agree that "guilty until proven innocent" doesn't apply in the scenario that you described. This is because there is "trial". You assume innocence while trying to uncover the truth. So in your scenario, you would assume that your friend is innocent and investigate the wallet disappearances, question the accusers and accused, track down addition witnesses and character witnesses, before finally passing your personal judgement. From there you can confront/cut out the theif, or sympathise and emotionally support the falsely accused.
things are rarely so clear cut in my experience, especially when you only have the resources of a sole private citizen at your disposal.
my "contrived example" is actually lifted from a similar experience I had in college. I found it pretty suspicious at the time, because the gatherings where the other people lost their wallets were quite small. ultimately, I acknowledged privately that I could not conclude one way or the other, so publicly I defended my friend. at the same time, I was always a bit more careful of my stuff when we were hanging out (no idea whether they noticed this).
my point is that there is a difference between taking punitive action against a person and taking protective actions towards oneself. my position is that there is no inherent contradiction in being too uncertain to punish but certain enough to protect yourself, provided that it does not unduly harm the other person.
Of course. But TFA asks: does it follow that everyone should be deprived the HBO special?
Edit: to be clear (I’m concerned about being seen as 100% supporting any position) my position is that if there is enough demand, a presumed minority outcry can be ignored safely (Facebook).
You'll have to find not only another company but also another cable provider and, in the most extreme case, another guild of comedians in case if they decide to boycott your channel.
Derrick Rose lost over a million dollars in sponsorship dollars, Kobe Bryant lost over a million too. The list goes on and on.
All those people lost a large amount of money, and reputation was seriously hurt by one accusation.
Oh no, the poor guy might now get the occasional dirty look from some people as he fills out his lifetime appointment to the highest and most powerful court in the nation. The agony!
Furthermore, no matter how much his wife trusts him, she will still have doubt if he really raped that woman, and he is going to have to live with his kids and wife for the rest of his life also.
I would value my reputation, my legacy, the views of my kids and wife to be far more important than being supreme court justice.
For that matter, what did Woody Allen lose? He has still been making movies.
So if an accusation is repeated "again and again" it's true?
You either punish and forgive your citizens, or else you admit that you're going to oppress them forever.
I agree that the stigma around committing crimes is too strong and that we need to allow pathways to redemption. But people need to be brought to justice before they can be redeemed, and what we see now is a reaction to that mostly not happening.
The case against Louis CK is purely that of abuse of power which is seen as a "white" crime as opposed to physically restraining someone. The distinction is important because "white" crimes are generally seen as better crimes and indeed when I started writing this comment I too felt it was ridiculous to hold Louis CK to the same standard as Bill Cosby.
I'll end like a broken record though. We in the software industry like to do "blameless postmortems" add they like to say in devops culture. However, as soon as we walk away from our jobs, we become the same primate as everyone else. Maybe we shouldn't blame the abuser. Maybe we should not blame individual district attorneys or prosecutors for failing to prosecute cases or for acting tough on cases that simply had no common sense not. Maybe we should not blame individual police officers for waking into someone's apartment and shooting to kill claiming they thought they were in their apartment and the person was an intruder.
Maybe we ought to treat the root cause of the problem — huge inequalities of power. But how?
Removing the Electoral College would be a good move.
Increasing and broadening the base of the estate tax would be a good move.
Increasing the highest bracket of the income tax would be a good move.
This isn't intended to be political, those are very specific policy actions clearly designed to reduce the inequalities of power by a) giving citizens more power, and b) taking power from the rich, and particularly from the rich who believe there is profit in supressing the people.
The value of a vote in Idaho would be equal to the value of a vote in Miami. Yes, that's what I mean. The system has clearly been corrupted in the other direction, where oligarchs have purchased, for very small sums, leverage over politicians from these population-small electoral areas. Maybe we could at least make them pay real money.
Anyway, the electoral college is a 200+ year-old compromise meant to get the individual states to sign up for the union. At some point we should realize that 18th century geopolitics is not really relevant any more.
And yes, people living in Siberia should have a say in politics and not have their opinions nullified by Moscow. Not everyone will or wants to live in an urban area and it's a feature of the system that their will is equally represented.
Btw, I don't think Utah is a small state :) It's the 13th largest by land mass.
How many railroad workers, miners, and other working class laborers in Utah vote Republican, despite the fact that they would stand to benefit far more from Democratic policies? Why do they do that? Is it possible that certain well-funded actors with access to media markets have exerted "nudge"-like influence over their thinking for decades? Is it possible they're relatively isolated from the world and operate to a degree in the fearful state of being that isolated humans tend to develop?
Do you really think it's well-funded actors and the media making conservatives vote against the party that supports abortion? Nope, they're voting in their own interests to see policies that are meaningful to them get enacted. It doesn't matter if you or I disagree with them, they're not brainwashed by the media, they're just living by their own code of ethics.
> Increasing the highest bracket of the income tax would be a good move.
How many times do we have to go over this? This would just make more companies and very wealthy individuals move their operations overseas or evade taxes. Income inequality is often a natural part of a large, growing economy like the United States.
Furthermore, I don't even view income inequality as a problem. Poverty is a problem. People having more money than other people isn't. We should focus on eliminating poverty, not eliminating rich people.
There are coherent economic arguments for defending your second paragraph, but that's not what's being proposed here. Do you acknowledge that wealth redistribution through progressive taxation can increase the quality of life for those in poverty? If you reject that assertion, why?
That could start by simply giving minor charity to your political contemporaries. It doesn't even need to be intentional - you just do more favorable business with like minded people. As they accumulate more wealth and success they do the same. Eventually you end up with a faction of the rich and anyone they can buy who may not align ideologically (in contemporary terms, I guarantee the modern rural republican voter does not care about import tariffs on specific goods in the way the shareholders of Nestle do) but don't contradict what the rich care about, which is making more money, by any means, and using the government as a means.
This seems to happen in every country, but it is pronounced in the US because of its wealth inequality. Russia is in many ways are peer here in how grossly unequal wealth distribution is, and there is an observable curve of nations the world over between how unequal their wealth is and how much the capital owner class controls policy.
This isn't speculation, its observable reality now and for the last several centuries of contemporary capitalistic republics. Even the US was founded in large part by aristocrats who weighed the risks and saw waging war as more practical than trying to buy influence in parliament. Its how human society has structured itself for millennia, since we invented the first currencies, its been the providence of the rich to buy the kings good graces. And buying influence is wholly antithetical to democracy.
The capacity to accumulate wealth is a necessary danger and corruption of society to enable growth and innovation. That doesn't mean you ignore the consequences of having it, or at act like just because it has upside means it has no downside. The fact the conversation isn't even about mitigating them is more a sign of how futile attempts to save democracy in the US, maybe even the entire west, are in the face of globalist billionaires who already have way more influence over humanity than half the membership of the G20.
As a species we cannot stop the corruption of money and power. The only way to mitigate the capacity for those who have to use it to corrupt institutions is to insure that all vested parties have similar ability to corrupt. That doesn't mean you don't let anyone have wealth - it does mean that if the rich have so much and the poor have so relatively little then we know who calls the shots. There might be many poor and few rich, but what matters is that the collective influence of the many isn't outweighed by the fortunes of the few. Right now, especially in the US, it most certainly is.
Also, I think that people with more money should have more of an influence in this country. Not a big difference, but rich people frankly matter more. They have more money, and pay more taxes (or they should).
In reality I highly doubt that campaign funds have that big of an impact on who wins the election, simply because Hillary Clinton spent significantly more money than Donald Trump and still lost. In addition, Hillary Clinton spent an enormous amount more money than Bernie Sanders, and Bernie gave her a run for her money.
I don't like where this is going
Judgment from the Court of Public Opinion theoretically shouldn't exist but many people get away with things that they shouldn't. Especially wealthy and famous individuals who can have things swept under the rug. So, yes, people take it on themselves instead to call people names, and yes it gets abused.
And unfortunately, this is how it always goes. A group, heady on their newfound power, decides to take it a little further, and then a little further, dialing back the threshold to provoke their righteous fury.
And this is why anti-vigilante laws exist.
In order to fix this, we first need to address the sweeping issues within our justice system. Until then, the societal stigma game will continue at an unrelenting pace.
Edit: what I took literally here is that if you knew someone admitted to sexually assaulting their direct reports within the past year or two, and you didn’t hire them, you are personally on the hook unless you can prove you didn’t hire them for another reason?
In a tangentially related issue, as I've stated before, there is a definite problem in America with regards to ex felons who are treated like second class citizens for the rest of their lives. But that's a more complicated social attitudinal problem to solve.
I'm trying to understand your exact point that there should be laws against this phenomenon where someone has been designated a pariah. Who should be punished, and for what behaviors should they be punished for, and what is the appropriate punishment for it?
And some of them are charged, convicted, even sentenced, but then get to escape their punishment anyway. See Roman Polanski as a case in point. (What's even weirder in that case is the sheer amount of people in the movie industry who used to support the guy quite overtly, even strenuously-- it's only very recently that they've had to change their tune. I guess this goes to show how cliquish instincts and dynamics can totally overwhelm our shared sense of justice.)
I’m perfectly willing to give Weinstein and Cosby another chance once they have served their time.
One was 18yo dating a 17yo (later married). The other was convicted of illegal gambling (had a poker club with people kicking in enough to cover appetizers).
Louis CK for example shows no change of character whatsoever since the allegations have come out. His abuse wasn't a single "misstep", he routinely mistreated others and objectified them to the extent that he forced his sexuality on them. It's disturbing to see him return to the same comedy routine of punching down and making sexual jokes after these confirmed allegations.
I don't demand punishment, I demand rehabilitation. And if he seriously understood the full extent of his past actions, he wouldn't just carry on.
Imagine a child abuser wanting to work as a kindergardener after coming out of prison. Sure, he may have changed but not only is the US prison system not set up in any way to actively support personal change (wardens are not therapists, the change is expected to come from within or out of fear alone) but also if he has a past of sexually abusing children and understood that, you'd expect him to not ever want to risk slipping into the old habits again that led him down that path.
So in other words, abuse allegations need not be a career-ending event, but if the allegations are truthful and you claim to seek to change your behavior, don't complain if people don't trust you when you carry on like nothing happened -- especially if your abuse was enabled by a position of power.
What's particularly off-base about this analysis is that Cosby was always creepy. She raises this idea like it's an absurdity, but anyone who saw "Spanish Fly" should have understood Cosby was a creep pure and simple. This is kind of typical of the essay - it sprays around highly contentious snap judgements like the NYRB essay by Ghomeshi being "Weak-but-still-interesting", and Farrow's allegations being "dodgy" at a disturbing rate.
Buried in there there's a decent point (or two) struggling to get out. But there's a (possibly disingenuous) blurring of people ranging from Barr though Keillor through Louis CK through Cosby (i.e. obnoxious all the way up to criminally convicted) and a blurring of consequences (are we talking about 'ostracism' or 'erasure' or 'market based companies not wanting anything to do with you any more because you suck?).
Private companies failing to continue to propagate Cosby's work is in no way analogous to being 'disappeared' by the Soviet Union. I'm pretty sure it's still pretty easy to see most of the works by these people; they aren't getting systematically purged from the libraries.
Don't mistake this as complete agreement with the article, but I'd like to make the point that I grew up with the Cosby show and really enjoyed it. I didn't think Bill Cosby was creepy at all. I was deeply saddened to hear about his crimes when they were exposed.
I think it's important to internalize that point because it shows we can be fallible in our assessments of people. I can't truthfully say I always knew Cosby was creepy after the fact. While you're saying it as though it was obvious, I didn't think about it whatsoever.
The same thing happened with Kevin Spacey for me. I was actually distraught at the fact that one of my favorite actors could do these things. And if I'm being very honest, it upsets me that House of Cards (US) was essentially ruined by his removal. I don't disagree with his removal, but I can sympathize with competing perspectives on the broader phenomenon.
I wish my manager could not rate me 'needs improvement' without running it past a jury of twelve of my peers.
"Me and the crew we're drinking Brass Monkey
This girl walked by she gave me the eye
I reached in the locker grabbed the Spanish Fly
I put it with the Monkey mixed it in the cup
Went over to the girl, "Yo baby, what's up?"
I offered her a sip (sip) the girl she gave me lip (lip)
It did begin the stuff wore in and now she's on my tip
I don't think you could say that in 2019.
This doesn't mean there isn't potentially funny jokes to be made here, as comedy can go everywhere. Some of Sarah Silverman's stuff is super-dark and still funny. But this idea that people invented the notion of "getting all upset over rapey stuff circa 2017" is ridiculous - it's just more that recently people started listening occasionally to victims.
Go watch some of that guy's old interviews and TV shows. It was stupidly obvious that he was a creep. He radiated it. I find it impossible to believe that anyone actually working with that guy didn't know.
Saville had charisma and used it to raise a lot of money for various people. It's obvious that people just looked the other way while he raped women and children for years.
Always? At all times? Congratulations on seeing it coming; you're luckier than apparently a few dozen women.
> blurring of people
Which is a worse fallacy, blurring Cosby into Louis into Keillor into Barr, or blurring Barr into Keilorr into Louis into Cosby? Or how about this: each case is different?
> market based companies not wanting anything to do with you any more because you suck
More precisely: coordinated pressure campaigns to intimidate market-based companies, and a lack of pushback from the people who just want to stream some R. Kelley, but are too scared to speak up.
> in no way analogous
When platforms act in concert under pressure through culture-wide groupthink, it might not technically be Soviet censorship, but it's pretty damn analogous.
Soviet censorship involved the exercise of the hard power of the state to achieve permanent removal of the person or their imprisonment for political reasons, and the 'groupthink' attitudes referred to here involved wholesale redaction of news and the historical record. "Pretty damn analogous" is true only if we consider a slap in the face "pretty damn analogous" to murder.
When a criminal's art replicates the conditions in which he committed crimes, I would hope that the commercial and artistic value of that work would diminish considerably. I hope that the Cosby show would not be able to survive continued syndication. However it should still be thrown into the bargain bin of available entertainment for posterity.
In my opinion, deleting the Cosby show erases the chance for others to obtain that same impression.
No, the erasure is not on them; it's entirely our fault.
Our modern equivalents of the library are being purged, and you're happily cheering the flames.
No, they aren't. Not in any way, shape, or form. Private companies don't have any obligation to continue showing anything. They don't have any such 'moral' obligations at all. They aren't going into libraries and purging books.
An actual purge would be something like systemically recalling, redacting, and deleting any remaining records of art that involve Cosby. Saying this is 'our libraries being purged' is completely alarmist and untrue.
What if the libraries are privatized?
> An actual purge would be something like systemically recalling, redacting, and deleting any remaining records of art that involve Cosby. Saying this is 'our libraries being purged' is completely alarmist and untrue.
No. An actual purge would consist of removing the work from circulation and locking the remaining copies in a restricted section in the library (a giftschrank). What you describe sounds like it's inspired by the fictional total censorship regime shown in 1984  than by nonfictional examples.
 Which was probably lie even in the context of that fictional world; I wouldn't be surprised if the Inner Party actually had accurate archives kept in a giftschrank.
Then there’s a serious issue with your society that needs to be resolved independent of anything else - libraries are a public good, not for the benefit of any individual entity.
You can still go to libraries and obtain things, there is no purge or anything remotely even close happening. It's absurd to expect a private company to always offer content from now until the end of time.
Then they should relinquish their copyrights.
> No, they aren't. Not in any way, shape, or form. Private companies don't have any obligation to continue showing anything.
True, but in the world today the overwhelming majority of accesses to these things is via paying for access to it from private companies. If private companies refuse then it becomes non-available, for most practical purposes.
Not having access to a private company's catalogue is a different issue altogether.
Consider that We The People developed a legal framework for companies to exist as the existence of companies as a thing was deemed to be a net good. But what if it isn’t any more, if companies are purely focused on profits at the expense of the legal and social environment in which they exist? Then the law can be amended.
That is parallel to a company deciding to list or not list a tv show in their catalogue.
I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that the "modern equivalent of the library" is, well, the library. A quick check reveals that it is still possible to find The Cosby Show at most libraries of record.
HN seems like a generally civil place. Comments like these make it seem more uncivil, just like police patrolling "bad" neighborhoods more frequently.
You guys remember that Hacker News is a community, yes? Community members have duties to the community, and to one another, no matter how strongly they disagree.
Don't be snarky. Comments should get more civil and substantive, not less, as a topic gets more divisive.
Please respond to the strongest plausible interpretation of what someone says, not a weaker one that's easier to criticize.
I don't think it would have compromised your message if you had been both more specific and a little more polite the first time around. Something like "Your use of 'cute' appears condescending and snarky. This is against the site rules, which you can find here <link>." I think people are more receptive to that tone anyway, and if you do happen to be accidentally overzealous, you've allowed enough room for both of you to save face.
I realise that I too should have posted this comment the first time around, and my initial reply to you (a simple quotation of the site rules I believed you to have violated) was also shallow and snarky, in precisely the same way. So, sorry about that. By way of apology, let me express that I am grateful for the excellent work you do, and that I would surely be much ruder in your position.
"Please review the guidelines" does not imply you haven't read them. That's why I say "review" rather than "read". I used to say "(re-)read" but that was clumsy. https://hn.algolia.com/?query=by:dang%20re%20read%20guidelin...
The guidelines say strongest plausible, not strongest possible. I don't see a non-snarky plausible interpretation of "cute" in that sentence.
I mean its not a very good rule, the general definition [snide and sharply critical.] could apply to most comments; but what specifically is you objection with 'cute', seems it could be taken as a compliment.
And fyi- summarizing this persons quote as 'dumb thing' could be construed as snide and sharply critical.
"Cute" is a term of affection, but it's an internet snark trope to use positive language in a demeaning way, because it makes a comment nastier when you do that. Another example is "I love how you", which is used about as often to attack someone as to compliment them (https://hn.algolia.com/?query=%22i%20love%20how%20you%22&sor...).
>It's not the case that "snark" could apply to most HN comments.
Breaks the Please don't post shallow dismissals rule.
>That's why it's a good rule for HN.
Breaks the Don't be snarky rule.
>"Cute" is a term of affection, but it's an internet snark trope
The use of "Air quotes" is the first snark trope on google. same rule you broke twice.
Now I'm not calling for you to be banned, just pointing out that you attacked a borderline case and did it with a post that borderline broke the same vague rules.
The thing is, out there in the world, you don't have to bother worrying that there's some starchy HN exceptionalism that doesn't allow you to answer something that's complete bullshit with a 'proper intellectual response'. It is a bit wearying to constantly deal with juvenelia ("Getting dropped from network TV is like being 'disappeared' by Stalin) in a fashion that would be commensurate with, say, a improper attribution of a remark from Wittgenstein uttered in the drawing room.
It feels like HN's policies against 'snark' have the (no doubt unintentional) effect of shifting the Overton window towards requiring remarks - no matter how juvenile and daft - to be met with proper and careful drawing-room etiquette. So saying stuff that's completely absurd needs to be either unanswered (and left to stink up the room) or carefully argued against (making it sound way more plausible than it is).
I understand that the slippery-slope version of my argument here suggests that anyone can meet anyone else with a torrent of personal abuse simply as a result of disagreement. That being said, I'm not 100% convinced that the right answer to someone uttering absurdities is to meet them with logical, guideline-approved non-snark.
Also: to the nice people on the subthread defending my remark as somehow not snarky, thanks, but no. I intended to be a prick here - there's no entirely guidelines-compliant interpretation of my comment. My argument above is that judicious snark is probably better, and more honest, than either masking it ("your argument is characteristic of arguments made by people no doubt considerably less intelligent than you obviously are, my fine Sir") or by pretending that absurdity isn't absurd ("Well, you see, Stalin actually made people disappear and systematically erased them from libraries, while in this case, what we're talking about is...").
The question is whether we condition our consumption of what artists produce on their moral purity.
I want the stuff, and in truth I wouldn’t be all that bothered if the director were an axe murderer.
If Sorkin wrote a play and a would be serial killer was cast as the protagonist , I will have a hard time liking the play when the actualities play out. This is probably wrong and contradicts what i wrote before because i am attributing the integrity of the play with one single actors behavior.
Its not easy. Does some one have a better way to deal with this.
The argument made by the article is that each of us ought to be able to choose our own way to deal with this. But, instead, we are denied that opportunity because publishers/distributors/editors/agents/directors/producers/newspapers/etc are "severing all ties" and going further by expunging the existence of the guilty party as far as possible.
I agree with the article. I don't think much of Roman Polanki as a human being, but I've watched most of his movies and I think many of them are spectacularly good. And, no, I don't think his movies are permeated by some kind of inappropriate lust for teenage girls. Bad people can make good art. Bad people have made good art.
If it came to light that Shakespeare had been an abusive husband, would you think less of his plays and poems? Would you support publishers if they chose to stop printing Shakespeare? What if they stopped distribution of what had been printed? What if amazon stopped selling Shakespeare?
I support your right to boycott, but I think restricting my ability to not boycott is going too far.
Shakespeare might have been a douche. He might’ve used his success in the theatre as an effective means to abuse others and get away with it. We don’t know. What we do know is that that does happen in our society—and it is a social dynamic we ought to change. This inaccessibilité of some works is a consequence. I doubt it will last indefinitely. I don’t think anyone is actually making the straw man argument Shriver is attacking on the article—people aren’t interested in saying there’s some innate connection between the moral quality of artists and the quality of their work—they’re realizing the power of popularity and attempting to bring justice to those who have abuséd that power.
Is it really a problem specific to our society that being famous/rich/talented/pretty/etc allows people to, sometimes literally, get away with murder?
> The révocation of works is not some abstract association between morals and the value of artworks as such—it is the concrete fallout of our particular situation and the realization that in our particular society wide distribution grants you some form of power that plenty of assholes have used to abuse other human beings and skirt the legal repercussions.
It seems facile to say that it's bad that "powerful assholes can abuse their power and then skirt the repercussions". I think we're all in agreement about that. In a just world, no matter how rich or famous you are, if you do the crime, you will be caught and punished. The question is: how do we bring about that world?
Our justice/legal system is a series of compromises. I think we've basically made the right compromises. I'm open to people questioning those compromises, to people suggesting new compromises or rethinking the old ones. At the same time I'm skeptical that there are easy solutions that would result in a fairer society. I also don't see a lot of what I would describe as "useful and productive questioning" on this subject.
Furthermore, some of this stuff has nothing to do with crimes at all. Roseanne Barr saying something racist is not a crime.
> people aren’t interested in saying there’s some innate connection between the moral quality of artists and the quality of their work
The comment I responded to is making this exact argument. Lots of the outrage about Cosby/Louie CK/Polanski/etc makes the argument that their work is rife with vileness.
A boycott. Don't buy the stuff.
Seriously, the core of the problem is not moral judgement (although that may be worthy discussing at a second, non-fire emergency, time.
The problem is automatic moral contagion. A publisher may make the approximate market or moral guess that it should suspend its relationship with an author. But a literary agent doing the same at lightning speed is deferring moral judgement to the amorphous crowd, the "They". And the "They" is structurally incapable of thought, let alone moral thought. The consequence is bookstores getting caught in the wave and erasing traces of the author's existence.
I never thought Ayn Rand's Fountainhead, which seemed so overwrought and sanctimonious ten years ago, had this much wisdom about human nature. Search wikiquote for some choice rambling about "second handers".
It's really badly written too, so it's a shame human behavior is making it more prescient and deeper than, say, 1984.
> But a literary agent doing the same at lightning speed is deferring moral judgement to the amorphous crowd
Is that not the same thing? Boycotts affect distributors, producers, agents, etc. Who wants to hire an agent that represents X, Y, or Z? That public radio station could leave his recordings online, and suffer the consequences of donors not donating. I can not-watch a show on Netflix that I don't like, or I can cancel my subscription.
These are the effects of a boycott.
That said, her acute pessimism about mob human behavior appears to be dead-on.
When people are destroyed with "but an accusation", it's very rare for the accusation to have been the whole of it. Roseanne, Louis C.K., Weinstein, Bill Cosby - it wasn't the accusation that destroyed these people, they had been undermining themselves for decades by hurting others. The accusation that took root only knocked out the lynchpin to the facade.
As to whether the author is actually a terrible person who has been hurting people for decades or not, I don't know, but that specific line definitely describes these people. They are exactly the sort of person whose lives get destroyed over an accusation - because they've built up enough previously-obfuscated proof to go with it.
rosanne barr is a good example. the author of the article goes into minute detail over the tweet that ended her show, yet somehow doesn’t have a word to say about the decades of her bad behavior that preceeded it.
Furthermore, most people are not perfect. You can find a bad history for anyone i.e. James Gunn. That does not make an accusation destroying someone's career okay.
> Suppose for a moment that this Tobuscus guy was indeed unfairly maligned — i don’t know, but hey, could be.
That is why false rape accusations are so bad. You have to preface this by saying you don't know if he is a rapist or not, when there is physical evidence that proves he didn't, but the accusation is more important than the evidence.
Cosby's "lovable american Dad" character is incongruous with the crimes he committed and that really does diminish the work.
Rosanne's charcter is flawed by design along with the rest of the realistic family. Throwing in racism (or stupidity, if she didn't intend it in a racist way) fits just fine with the character and does not diminish the great series that it was.
I'd argue that it is congrous, but maybe in a different sense than you meant. It's in the very fabric of our culture to be two faced, because presentation is valued so much more than content. From that perspective, the rapist lovable american Dad is a cartoonish embodiment of this.
There's little difference between the left and right these days, they've moved so far extreme that their underlying philosophies have started to align.
One such is mob like bullying of corporations, and hysterical outrage. Be it Nike & Kapernick, or __corp_advertizer__ and Ben Shapiro, tribalism and herd behavior have been amplified by the internet. That has unleashed baser instincts of retribution, and when network effects and scale do to retribution what they do to the viral spread and adoption of Uber or Facebook, all hell is unleashed on the afflicted, regardless of the gravity of their crime.
The internet was supposed to free our minds, not pile-on the moderately guilty, at scales VCs salivate over.
I just hope that they can get out of this polar ideological warfare mindset before it goes too far. They may have lost the moral high ground, but they're still far removed from a rogue state. There's a real danger from Russian cyber campaigns to divide and confuse. These are far more dangerous to national security than the IP theft China engages in. Certain nations would love to help America fall from grace.
Just as it’s the consumers choice to refrain from consuming its the distributors choice to refrain from distributing—publishers aren’t some beacons of moral and political neutrality—they’ll do whatever benefits the bottom line. To hold them to this weird demand that they be neutral and toss public opinion aside is predicated on a much different reality than the one we occupy. Changing the nature of distribution is a separate economic and political issue.
On the whole, this is a pretty infuriating article. So-called artists should not have some sort of special moral immunity—that’s precisely the problem that’s finally being solved with some of these banishments—and yes it is a problem initimately tied to the popularity and avilabilty of their works, as this is what gave them a veneer of invincibility in the past. It’s not some simple situation in which these people would have been served justice regardless—the dispatch of justice in these cases is often hindered by the artist’s success and notoriety.
Common approaches to morality weigh the bad more highly against the good. And yes the ideas and actions behind the art matter. The extreme logical extension of this argument is that you should be able to enjoy nazi artwork in a sort of epicurean way without having to admit of any of the implications enjoying such work might suggest and basically putting history, reality, and thought aside while you indulge in whatever it is about the work that appeals to you—it’s a very shallow, one dimensional, solipsistic and childish approach to comprehending and consuming art.
McCarthyism never died, it just went moved leftwards.
Similarly to how the kind of puritanism and moral hysteria that got the Hayes code and "warning stickers" on CDs, thrives on under a progressive guise today.
Punishing people for association is a common means of striking fear into the people who don't care one way or another about your movement (most of the population doesn't care strongly about most issues) and getting them to at least half hardheartedly act as a force multiplier for your vocal minority.
I'm sure you can imagine why a business owner in 1870 Alabama might not want to get caught selling to black people or a white tradesman may not want to take on a job for said business or a publisher in 1922 might not want to publish a book by someone who's known to be a communist.
I'm sure we'll look back on it the same way we look back on the red scare. Regardless of whether the goal is a good one or not these sort of witch hunts where a majority of the population is kind of uneasy about how extreme they are almost never look like good ideas in hindsight.
IMHO, here's something devilish about seeing societal injustices, pretending it's futile to fight back, but then pleading for society to spare the art from their rampage. If we're going to let this be the new status quo, then protecting the art should be the least of our worries.
You can still get copies of Mein Kampf, how's that for deplatforming.
The point isn't to erase people from history, but to stop rewarding, glorifying and shielding them.
Teachers get fired for being in a porn video in college while literally shooting someone innocent dead without another valid threat leads to no repercussions.
Cynically it seems power makes you less culpable instead of more and the extent of "morality" is what you do with genitals instead of anything else. And those outside the norm are more culpable to the extreme of "should have been superhuman". It is a deep seated stupidity and evil.
> whether she can enjoy
But really, her point is a more selfless one:
> whether we can enjoy
> pretending it's futile to fight back
Does Shriver engage in such pretense? Or is this a strawman?
It also helps that the definition of being "a true communist" is sufficiently vague to turn pretty much any situation in either direction.
Yet Rod Liddle and Jeremy Clarkson continue to have a successful career, Trump makes it all the way to the white house, and netflix is filled with highly successful 'controversial' comedians.
So new mechanisms for generating attrition will always find more fans (the underdogs) than opponents (the top dogs.)
In those milieu, everyone - even filthy rich producers, is expendable. Though expendable connotes a sense of usefulness, so maybe disposable works better.
I'm not biting.
If we're talking about artists' misbehavior, let's take a well-known example. Plenty of comedians continue to talk about the importance of Bill Cosby as a comedian, and to rate his influence up there with Richard Pryor, George Carlin, etc. These comedians profess this publicly, and I can probably find various examples from people like Seinfeld, Norm MacDonald, and many others. AFAICT it's crystal clear to their audience what they mean when they assess his comedy albums. In no way has his comedy gone down the "memory hole."
If you don't believe me, go on Amazon and search for "Bill Cosby albums" and look at the ratings. Here's the first line from the first review I found:
"No matter how you feel about Bill Cosby, given recent events, and where you might fall in your beliefs, it is sometimes necessary to separate the artist from the art."
Rando review person on Amazon gets it. Does that mean I should count Rando as a voice speaking out against the dangers of "progressive orthodoxy?"
I'd much rather count Rando as a voice repeating the thing I already knew before I started reading this article.
Seems to me the author is guilty of the same fallacy as the creationist who, when presented with new sets of fossils, only sees an exponentially increasing set of missing links. (Is there a name for this fallacy?)
cough the US Constitution cough :)
The problem is probably the lack of option due to centralization of publishing (esp. movie publishing) and enormous political pressure from there.
You cannot show Cosby if MPAA or whichever organization does not agree to it, nor you can sell them. The only bet is a media library which may have an exception in copyright, until that fades away in half a century or more.
Meanwhile, zero sympathy for the people who experienced professional repercussions after being harassed or assaulted. Before you're successful, people can harm your career or discriminate against you all they want. It's okay!
Would we have a problem with replacing an unknown actor if it were discovered that they were a serial sexual assaulter of minors and minor-adjacents? No? Then why do we care when it happens to Kevin Spacey?
No, underlying all of the points in this article is that works are separate from the person who produced them, and it does us no good to erase all reference to their works for actions that are sometimes no more criminal than a stupid tweet. It turns out that, when you suppress a work that many people have collaborated on because of something one member did, a lot of innocent people lose out.
> Meanwhile, zero sympathy for the people who experienced professional repercussions after being harassed or assaulted. Before you're successful, people can harm your career or discriminate against you all they want. It's okay!
Please Google "straw man argument". You have no idea what amount of sympathy the author has for the victims; it simply isn't the focus of her article. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
I can hold entertainers to any standard I like, or none at all. I can judge them for the subset of crimes that are topical to judge them for, or some other arbitrary subset of my choosing. Or, I can take the words "gratia artis" literally.
The choice isn't "art or no art". That choice is made for us when someone decides to wield their power over someone else. Our only choice is which art we ignore: that of famous abusers or that of their victims. The "arts consumer" loses out either way.
There is an established path for group action here:
2. Pass a law that says powerful abusers are bad
3. When someone's convicted of wielding power in a mean way, the justice system will punish them by due process
4. People learn what will get punished
5. The artists you wish you could see will be less scared away
6. You get the art you want!
Notice how throughout this entire process, you don't get to tell me, of the art that exists today, what I'm allowed to read or watch or listen to.
On the other hand, cheating that hangman and bullying the platforms feels a little bit like, how to say, wielding your power over someone else.
It's not really "cheating the hangman". He's not doing his job, so we have to deal with it on our own.
Which sucks, because I agree: your proposal is way better.
Ah yes, this is how everyone starts to think after a long glut of too many superhero movies.
Criminal law has/will come down hard upon Cosby and Weinstein and such. Other alleged offenders will settle claims and lose out on future employment. Step 5 is looking way brighter in this generation than in the last. But step 3, not vigilantism, is really the best system we have for deciding between innocence and guilt.
Ultimately what's happening is just a decision that the good parts of a persons outputs don't outweigh the bad parts any more. That the acceptance of shitty behavior and the damage it does to both the people it directly affected and the damage the culture that excuses that behavior does to unrelated people isn't worth it.
It's easy to see one side of the scale, everything a Spacey or Cosby has added to culture, but it's impossible to see the other side of the scale, the things we haven't gotten because of people driven away.
(And on a simpler level fame doesn't excuse crimes no matter how much we raise people up because of it.)
So Kevin Spacey's performance in All the Money in the World is still part of the canon eh? And Louis's voice acting in Gravity Falls? No, because those performances were literally given the ol' Jones/Aaronson/Rutherford, at considerable expense.
> Ultimately what's happening is just a decision that...
I love the passiveness of this sentence. A decision is happening. Who decides? Do our gatekeepers decide for us? Or does each of us have a brain?
> ...the good parts of a persons outputs don't outweigh the bad parts any more.
Outweighing is irrelevant to the question of whether to enjoy the good. Cake doesn't outweigh death. But if you offer me cake, and we're both crystal clear on the fact that death sucks, I'll eat the cake.
The problem with that is that by continuing to cast these actors companies are inherently saying the value of their performances is greater than the cost of the bad behavior.
The whole current problem with the culture of assault and covering it up in Hollywood is because for decades it was brushed aside and the perpetrators protected. It's many decades of chickens coming home to roost.
> I love the passiveness of this sentence. A decision is happening. Who decides? Do our gatekeepers decide for us? Or does each of us have a brain?
As for this? It's a collective thing. If there's enough consumer pressure to bring Cosby or anyone else back you know someone will (hint you can still totally stream it off Amazon Prime). Vote with your money and the companies will follow, we know from their long history companies barely have morals when there's a pile of cash involved) there's no committee of people deciding who's in or who's out outside of these companies on each production.
Um. No. The Spectator is solidly right-wing - it's on the right wing of the Conservative party, in fact. A piece in the Spectator's mirror-image, the left-wing New Statesman:
They have a long-standing columnist who is cheerleading for Greek fascists:
The Kavanaugh case is interesting. It makes clear that some people want a new process for determining guilt, but nobody seems to make clear what that process should be.
A process is important because, in the face of uncertainty, we need an a priori agreement on how to settle it. After churning through the process we are supposed to unite around the result of it even of it's not what we hoped, and basically record it as a fact in the public record.
Leaving festering challenges to every fact just keeps us divided, eventually to the point everyone is working with their own set of facts.
It's also interesting because there is such a process. I don't see any reason the Maryland DA can't refer the matter to a grand jury. The grand jury would either indict or not, and then I believe we could unite around that result.
No getting to edit NYRB or have HBO specials anymore is not analogous to being thrown in prison, ostracized or (literally) disappeared.
It boils down to he's saying that the suffering of any of the victims doesn't matter to him. Literally at all... More over there is a pretty deep undercurrent that that has been the attitude for a long time and that the suffering of others has been ignored for equally long.
If you want justification for removing the works of the artists then consider it a form of ill-gotten gains. Would that work of art have been made if they're crime had been revealed or convicted?
Honestly, the response here is downright frightening, and I fear for our future...
Obviously ex post facto law is bad for society. However, if an artist is receiving royalties for a work they made during which they raped several people, why should they still profit?
This should be so glaringly obvious.
A common problem when someone finishes serving their jail time as allotted by said justice system, the (much more low-key) lynch mob doesn't want to hire them just yet.
But what doesn't happen is this: the prisoner, by some stroke of luck, gets a job in a say a car factory, and suddenly everyone else in that factory should loose their job, and I'm a bad person for wanting to drive a car that the ex-felon worked on.
Now all that being said, this is probably just a pendulum swing. It looks like for decades sexual assault was shielded in the media industry - me too is overall still a positive movement IMO, it’s just important to not letting it get too far (and I think those breaking forces are already acting).
I imagine sex crimes to be really hard to proof. Because the difference between a completely legal act and one that is deeply wrong is the state of mind of two people at the time.
The justice system shouldn't convict someone if it can't be sure that the accuses really did the crime.
That would be quite a deviation from what the justice system ‘we’ (in the western world, 21st century, …) agreed on typically do: only take the money people get from a crime (frequently with a fine added), not all their money.
(There may be edge cases, for example: if I steal a million, put all it on red in Vegas, come out with two million, and then get caught, how much money should be taken from me? I can see a judge ordering me to return a million to the owner of the original million and a million to the casino. Those are the exceptions, though)
Don't build your future on the ashes of someone else's past.
The scary prospect, from my perspective, is that cultural erasure on moral grounds is not only possible, it could be inevitable and lead to a chain reaction. From the statue removal in the US (easily justifiable considering the circumstances of their placement) to the college course alteration and removal in certain South African universities (justifiable under Socially Just interpretations) to the discrediting and forced reinterpretation of scientific theory (IQ studies, intelligent design inclusion, inherent sex disparity, evolutionary genetics), it would appear there may in fact be a reduced friction gradient that isn't wholly fallacious. If some pernicious pedophile develops a cure for cancer, I'm not going to consider for even a second whether or not I am going to use it.
If the person is convicted, their assets can be siezed and they can be imprisoned. This is not the same as allowing them to continue to benefit by refusing to prosecute, which is what happened in the past.
Gill Sans, for example, created by https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eric_Gill
> His personal diaries reveal that his religious beliefs did not limit his sexual activity which included several extramarital affairs, incest with his two eldest teenage daughters, incestuous relationships with his sisters, and sexual acts on his dog.
a crime lord who makes $10mm through illegal ventures has no claim to that money once they are convicted. the money was made illegitimately, so the government can just take it. your pedophile, on the other hand, has done one great thing and one terrible thing for/to society. I don't think that means it should be the purview of the patent office to punish them. instead, why not give them a fine proportional to the offense (ie huge) in addition to jail time and let them use most or all of the profits to pay it?
Seriously... Am I even talking to a member of the free world?
Economic confiscations are supposed to take the proceeds of crime, not erase everything you've ever done and remove any chance of you earning again. Where is rehabilitation in your "justice"?
No point rehabilitating, or having a change of heart is there? May as well make the sentence for every crime or misdemeanour a whole life tariff.
Do you not trust your own justice system?
If that column involves you admitting to having sexually abused people, or making blatantly racist or bigoted statements, sure. But I fail to see how this is supposed to be a bad thing.
If such an event is so close to your normal behavior that you worry it might happen just about any day now, maybe you are the problem.
Did the fans of House of Cards use their power to subjugate?
Did Louis C.K.'s co-stars use their power to subjugate?
Did Ian Buruma's editor?
Once you cast off whatever simplistic lens you might have, e.g. "it's all about power", it turns out the world is pretty interesting and complicated. Embrace the complexity.
If the platforms didn't infantilize us, we'd be allowed to make up our own minds as to what's icky, because it turns out that not everyone has the same feelings.
Also: did anything in my comment follow the “separate the artist from the art” line of reasoning that you speak of? I'm pretty sure my comment wasn't about the naughty artists. I'm pretty sure it was about the actual victims.
Does it result in anyone deeply learning the lessons of history behind it all? Or do they just learn to keep their mouth shut?
If someone is expressing bad ideas, then you can use their comments a an opportunity to teach a deeper lesson. If they just shut up, the conversation never happens and no learning takes place.
I suspect that a lot of well-meaning people do not really understand much about racism. How could they? It's such a dangerous topic that you can't even ask basic questions without putting yourself at risk.
Maybe that's fine in the sense that fewer people are offended. But I am not convinced that such a shallow lesson will last more than a couple generations, and the "shut up" lesson creates a lot of collateral damage to the overall culture.
I'm not sure if this is a tangent or not, but I suspect there's a lot of social pressure to apologize for racist statements even when the speaker continues to hold racist beliefs.
On numerous occasions, I've tried to have reasoned debate about topics such as race, religion, etc. I've been disappointed by how frequently those discussions go off the rails when I'm arguing for the possible validity of less-than-popular positions.
Based on those experiences, I can easily see how a person would fear the consequences of not recanting certain statements about race, religion, politics, etc., irrespective of his/her actual beliefs.
That doesn't explain the Roseanne Barr / Valerie Jarrett situation.