Perhaps the anti-harassment movement should expand to also promote the fact that people's work (or person) should not be damaged merely by association?
‘Around 2007 I attended a dinner at @Harvard during which someone told me about a professor who was flying to New York, and to some island, to visit a millionaire. With that millionaire, I was told, he was raping girls. "Everybody knows" they said..‘
Again with the parallels to Harvey Weinstein. All the happy, smiling people photographed with him also scrambled to distance themselves once the allegations reached a critical mass, but they all knew all along what he was. And as long as it suited their interests they were perfectly willing to look the other way.
I'm asking sincerely, I've not deeply read into this (or the Epstein story). I just always suspected that rich and influential people would generally be able to keep secrets under wraps.
I guess I just think it's kind of odd to assume that everyone who ever posed on a photo with Weinstein knew he was a rapist. That's quite a far stretch of "guilty by association"
Oddly enough, this is largely the argument which was used from the 19th century through the 1990s to bar Communists and homosexuals from government and military service, and most privileged positions in business. It now seems to have hit the cis hetero community, hard.
There may need to be a widespread opening of books. Because if "they" have it -- where "they" is whatever adversarial power or authority you care to name might be, it's pretty certain that Home Team also have a strong idea of the same facts, though are less disposed to utilise them, generally.
This also raises an interesting characteristic of information and pervasive surveillance. It's already beyond bad for the ordinary public who can be scammed, harrassed, defrauded, or coerced through legal or business threats. There's little reason to think that anyone who is in a position power is immune, and very probable that they're even more subject to such surveillance, if not outright baiting.
And whilst I've my own theories over which political stripes are more involved in this, at least presently, I've got a very strong suspicion that none can claim to be fully comprised of innocents.
Which could explain numerous elements of both oddly cooperative behaviour and failure to respond.
Barbed wire is effective without being lethal, through knowledge of repeated pain.
It's depressing too to see how many people Epstein influenced and was associated with. It's impossible that none of them knew about his sex abuse "habit." I guess it's just like with Ponzi-like financial bubbles and cooked corporate finance (e.g. Enron and now apparently GE): when the money is flowing people go along and don't ask questions. It seems to be even deeper though. I wonder if humans have a cognitive bias where when we're getting money/resources from someone we "un-see" things that could damage that relationship?
There's a character I've read about over in the UK named Jimmy Saville that seemingly got away with serial sex abuse (of virtually all ages) for his entire life. Same explanation apparently: he raised and donated a lot of money and generally threw a lot of money around.
Don't assume it's merely about the money. Many people respond equally well to offerings of sex servants...
Money definitely influences peoples' perceptions and actions - if it didn't, we wouldn't have such societal institutions as salaries, bail, alimony, tax incentives, and campaign donations. People who don't play the reciprocity game ("if I give you something, I expect at least friendly relations") rapidly find themselves socially isolated.
> So thank you for all the kind words about bravery. Truth is I’m privileged enough to afford to be brave. For those of you who love the Media Lab and want to see it sail through these rough waters, please take time to reach out to people who may not be able to be as visible in their next steps. Make sure they’re doing okay. Support them whether their decision is to leave or to stay. So many of my colleagues at the Media Lab right now are hurting, and they need your support and love too. Hope we can redirect some of that love folks are sharing with me to them too.
I'm not, professionally, interested in its research direction so I don't pay attention to its research really. :: spreads hands ::
The Media Lab has a long history of innovations that you've probably heard of: E-ink, Formlabs (3D printers), RockBand/GuitarHero, the touchstick on IBM Thinkpads, OLPC, Lego Mindstorms, and Scratch were all developed there.
(I worked on all three projects.)
That's pretty good for an organization with a budget of $75M and a permanent staff of 80. I'd be hard-pressed to think of an organization of similar size that's had greater impact - maybe YCombinator or Stanford's CS department. Bell Labs was orders of magnitude bigger - in their 1970s heyday they had 24,000 employees and a budget of around $6B in today's money.
EDIT: Bell Labs started out with 4K employees so it was always an order of magnitude bigger.
Maybe Media Lab is the biggest innovator for its size. I don’t know if that means much though if it is. Bell Labs gets brought up probably because their influence and what they’ve done far far exceeds the budget and head count advantage.
> Did they already know about the things he was doing when they took the money?
Clearly yes: "Joi asked me in 2014 if I wanted to meet Epstein, and I refused and urged him not to meet with him." The first cases against Epstein were in 2008 and Epstein's reputation has been well known since then.
Our culture has gotten to the point where an accusation is enough in the court of opinion. It’s good that these issues have brought awareness to places where victims have been otherwise minimized in the past, or have been proof less of the action despite it happening. And that’s a tough thing. But occasionally these accusations are proved to be false. I think we’re getting carried away here, at least as far as Minsky goes.
That's true. On the other hand, out culture was for far more decades (nay, millennia) to the point that people could not care less about such accusations, and the power figures could do whatever they liked...
Also, it wasn't just an accusation in the "court of opinion", but a deposition to an actual court.
"In a deposition, Giuffre, née Roberts, claimed she was trafficked to MIT professor Marvin Minsky, who died in 2016 at age 88, as well as former Maine Sen. George Mitchell, ex-New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and money manager Glenn Dubin, whose wife, Eva, is an ex-girlfriend of Epstein’s."
Still, it's not proven and I'm against the "court of public opinion", at least in more shallow cases (e.g. Woody Allen). But here it's at Weinstein and worse level.
I can see some fake-victim badmouthing a powerful figure to bring them down. Or to blackmail them. Or for revenge (e.g. from a bad relationship, etc). So I'd understand it if e.g. it was fake accusation just against one person.
But it seems too much for a fake-victim to name names of several people, and powerful people at that, on top.
It's the very out-of-left-field-ness of the allegation that makes it seem credible.
Pinker, while not as famous as dershowitz, is also a public figure - he's published several pop sci books and also makes the rounds on various morning shows (to promote his books).
Minsky was purely an academic - as far as I know he never published pop books and only spoke at academic conferences. he's much much further down the list.
Furthermore this was admitted into the record as sworn testimony, lying being punishable by perjury laws. And note she gave the deposition before epstein committed suicide (so conceivably she could've proven to be lying). Who are you to cast doubt on criminal procedures simply because it suits some narrative of yours about perceived witch-hunts?
> Minsky was purely an academic - as far as I know he never published pop books and only spoke at academic conferences. he's much much further down the list.
This is not even accurate. Minsky was the oracle of AI, the head of the MIT AI Lab. He influenced AI from the 1950s to the 1990s. Any pop article about AI might quote or interview Minsky. And what is 'Society of Mind' but a popularization, widely read?
> Furthermore this was admitted into the record as sworn testimony, lying being punishable by perjury laws.
Oh, well, that settles it. I'm glad we had this discussion about critical thinking.
Incidentally, for all your huffing about witch hunts and perjury law, I would point out that she could easily be telling the truth. The deposition only claims that she was told to have sex with Minsky, and not, as far as any media coverage I've seen goes, that she actually did, and Greg Benford states he was there and that Minsky turned her down: https://pjmedia.com/instapundit/339725/
i am not. your point is that since he was a famous academic his name was as easily recognizable as dershowitz and pinker, who are generally famous.
>What would be valid evidence of truth would be something like a third party (like, say, Greg Benford) confirming it.
sorry that's not what we as a society has deemed sufficient proof. though you are welcome relitigate literally all of common law dating back to the magna carta though if you believe it should be otherwise.
>Minsky was the oracle of AI, the head of the MIT AI Lab. He influenced AI from the 1950s to the 1990s.
means literally nothing to general public and therefore doesn't substantiate your claim.
>And what is 'Society of Mind' but a popularization, widely read?
i concede this one. i was not aware of this book.
>Oh, well, that settles it. I'm glad we had this discussion about critical thinking.
so do you then doubt all depositions or just the ones that implicate oracles of AI?
>The deposition only claims that she was told to have sex with Minsky, and not, as far as any media coverage I've seen goes, that she actually did, and Greg Benford states he was there and that Minsky turned her down: https://pjmedia.com/instapundit/339725/
my point was only about the validity of her testimony. yours (initially) was the defense of minksy.
The 2005 investigation stemmed from a mother bringing her daughter to the police station after she had been at Epstein's mansion. And the evidence included over 50 underaged girls, before the prosecution dropped it to two counts and then one count of assault... and NOT for lack of evidence. The girls' high school report cards were found in his house.
The man was a pedophile and a predator. The fact that anyone was willing to associate with him in any capacity after 2008 is just insane. In 2009 the flight logs were leaked and the smart people in that list cut contact. Anyone who continued to associate with Epstein after that did with the full knowledge of what he was, because people would actively reach out to them to ask about it.
But in terms of Marvin, we don’t know what his involvement was. Only an allegation in court. And from what I know about Marvin, I wouldn’t assume he would do research on someone like that before deciding to attend a dinner. More importantly, it’s completely inconceivable in my mind that he actually was involved any extra martial affairs, let alone a sex trafficked prostitute. He once told me “what’s the point of a body? We should all be heads on top of a cart.” He was already super old at that point. So to combine his higher plane of existence with the lack of hormones from an old age, it just seems extremely improbable to me.
I feel bad for all the woman involved with Epstein. He’s clearly done some really terrible things. But let’s not take down the character of others (who aren’t even alive to defend themselves) solely based on an accusation.
We aren't discussing insider trading or possessing controlled substances.
You would have to decide if you find it immoral to accept a donation from a specific person, based on your own moral code and how the person behaves and live with that.
"You have to personally decide what's moral" isn't a very good response when a crowd is gathering to punish someone.
No, but the charges merit diligence. The facts and circumstances of Epstein's settlement, even knowing nothing more than the suspiciously-short jail time, should have raised red flags.
Unless there's an official register of everyone who attended each type of party, which seems unlikely.
Of course they're allowed. It's a free country.
We're discussing how reprehensible it is, and we focus on certain kinds of felons (not some guy who once did a victimless burglary or a DIU), and also on cases where they didn't just "accept donations", but visited the felons to their private lair...
In the Age of Outrage, yes, even though it's stupid.
I think this whole thing has turned into a witch hunt / mob assault on anyone who has had any ties to Epstein. The attitude of many of the comments seem to essentially suggest that if one has been at the same party as epstein sometime in the past, such person must be a child molester.
Now people are falling over themselves trying to one up each other on who can display the most moral outrage.
It is an example of how public discourse has degenerated to the point where we are attacking people first and refusing to ask even some basic questions before branding someone as guilty by association.
(edited out "come on it is ridiculous" as it seemed unnecessarily inflammatory)
Sure, you can associate with whomever you want to, but the media highlighting the fact that notable people continued to not only be friendly with, but often appear to be in the pocket of financially, someone rather heinous is not really a "witch hunt".
(Especially considering many of the allegations are of using this financial power as a pawn in a larger blackmail operation means those financial ties do have to be investigated)
> Odd take - almost all of the stories are about people who ended up engaging extensively with him after he'd already been convicted of being a sex offender.
When I engage with people I often don't do a search on them. Even if I did, I'm usually not fault someone for a past mistake; assuming I think they have changed.
That being said, I think the OPs take was that simply funding or working with a research group, doesn't make the research group guilty by association. Perhaps some investigation is warranted, but if you're doing research you're typically not going to turn down funding. How many research groups take funding from the DoD to literally build weapons to kill people?
That's likely worse than this association. I don't think that was the MediaLabs purpose, it was an unfortunate relationship.
It’s a sad reality, and we’d probably be better off it wasn’t reality, but high-profile academics need to be aware of it.
As the linked post suggests though, building the relationship wasn't without warning in this case (as in, he asked Ito not to take the meeting due to the history involved).
An unfortunate relationship, but I don't believe the outrage is unwarranted (or, as implied by the OP, merely virtue signalling).
> Now people are falling over themselves trying to one up each other on who can display the most moral outrage.
> It is an example of how public discourse has degenerated to the point where we are attacking people first and refusing to ask even some basic questions before branding someone as guilty by association.
The gist I get from OP's comment is that they are more frustrated with the generalized trend of "outrage culture", and referenced this Epstein story as a current example (despite being an ill-fitting one).
OP's point would probably resonate better with a different example, though the sentiment does bring up an interesting tangential conversation.
Feeding the fire is self-serving for many stories and comments once a controversial/multi-faceted story hits and the gates open. It's an easy way to get overly caught up in the weeds obsessing over the noise of a story that the signal gets drowned out. Those that have a vested interest in keeping a fire from extinguishing obviously want to add more kindling with "SHOCKING NEW DETAILS"-type stories that are less informationally relevant to the main events and more borderline conspiracy-theory or clickbait.
Edit: I agree with those who have replied, and appreciate that my question was answered with genuine effort.
How many convicted child sex traffickers get to spend 16 hours a day at home instead of a prison cell?
Getting to the bottom of these ties is important, especially given that there are many alleged crimes he didn't "do his time" for or will face potential justice for.
You can be friends with a convicted child sex offender, sure, but building close financial ties with (to the extent of essentially being a co-founder or co-host of a lot of different events) should draw some scrutiny, given there's an alleged pattern of behaviour that's been followed.
If those things aren't both true, you're not supporting someone who's done their time, you're being greedy and/or complicit.
If you've befriended a murderer who is unrepentant, who managed to avoid any real punishment because of his wealth and connections, and who is rumored to still be engaged in the things he was accused of, I'd say that's a huge moral failing on your part.
It’s hard to discern the reformed from the monsters sometimes, but the reformed still deserve another chance.
Epstein did not do his time. He did not go through any reformation process. People were willing to take his money and his professional connections even knowing his recent conviction for which his time was upcoming.
This isn't a case where someone is reformed and people aren't forgiving them. Epstein was not reformed, did not serve his time, and people were still actively engaging with him. Those people were not engaging with a reformed man. They were engaging with a predator.
I entirely agree with you that reformed felons deserve a chance after they serve their time. Epstein was not reformed and he did not serve time, therefore what chance did he deserve on account of these people?
In my state (New Mexico) Epstein had a ranch where we now know he was raping girls. But guess what? He did not have to register as a sex offender in NM because the age of consent here is different than it is in Florida (that loophole has since been fixed by our legislature.)
My point is that the sex offender laws in the US are meaningless. They encourage the public to assume that minor offenses are heinous and that major criminals might actually be minor offenders who got a raw deal.
It's the 20/20 hindsight that bugs me.
Joi Ito has a deep relationship with a child sex trafficker, people are rightfully upset.
We’ll see how much of that turns out to be true in the end. The DOJ has been very tight lipped on all of it. For the time being I’m being VERY cautious about any powerful people who associated with him regularly (or ever visited his island).
It was the same with Weinstein.
Ito accepted donations and investments from Epstein with full knowledge of his past crimes. These donations are two-way streets. The recipient gets funds. But the donor gets prestige. This is a closer, more knowledgeable and more mutually-beneficial relationship than you're acknowledging.
Well, "at the same party" might not be that ridiculous. Depends on the party and its goal.
Merely knowing/being friends with the guy though should not be reason for disgrace without further evidence of anything bad on one's part.
>It is yet another example of how public discourse has degenerated to the point where we are attacking people first and refusing to ask even some basic questions before branding someone as guilty by association.
I think the reason for the public displays of disgrace is to tell us how "good souls" they are, more so than any real concern for the victims. Most people could not care less and will forget the whole thing in a heartbeat, but they still like to participate to the collective hate ceremony - and even better when the person to hate was really an abuser!
I think being friends with a convicted child sex trafficker should be cause for disgrace. That's something most normal people would not do.
There's an equivalent version of the same sentiment that atheists can share too.
Participating in their activities, or not stopping them when they see them, is another thing, of course.
I wouldn't hold it to somebody if they befriended an ex-murderer for example, knowing e.g. they killed people in the past.
But that doesn't mean people should negatively judge anybody who doesn't respond like that, and e.g. remains, or becomes, friend with somebody who did wrong (even extreme wrong). They could stay away from them (the friends) too, but why judge them for the mere fact of being friends?
I mean, they could just them negatively in thinking that they are complicit -- but shouldn't just them negatively merely for being friends.
Pedophiles require a network of enablers to operate, much more so for high-profile cases like Epstein. If someone you know chooses to associate with a known pedophile, you should cut all ties with them. If you don’t, then you are potentially complicit in the crime insofar as you could potentially provide assistance to someone who is enabling a known pedophile.
This is why anyone with a functioning moral system will negatively judge associates of known pedophiles. I’m not sure why this needs to be spelled out for you.
Did you even read my comments in these discussions (not just this subthread), and do they look like defending to Epstein and friends as to their innocence to you?
My point is an ages old point (and part of basic christian morals): love to the neighbor doesn't stop when one has been (or even is) a sinner, even if they're the worst sinner. In fact that's where it makes more sense.
That's not about befriending a criminal to participate or benefit from their crimes (which I made abundantly clear and even spelled out). It's also not about befriending a criminal and keeping quiet about criminal stuff you see (thus enabling) their crimes.
It's that if you're a friend, you're a friend. Friendship and love for a criminal isn't complicity and shouldn't be judged as such. In fact it could be the best thing that helps to make a criminal see their ways. Doubly so for an ex-criminal.
You seemed to be arguing there that we shouldn’t make negative judgments of those who choose to be friends with others who have committed “extreme wrong” which I assume includes crimes like those committed by Epstein.
That is specifically what I take issue with, and I stand by my assertion that any defense of that position in the context of pedophila constitutes pedophilic apologetics.
The mandate to “love thy neighbor as yourself” does not require Christians to refrain from making negative moral judgements of others based on who they choose to associate with.
You should be lauded for befriending a repentant murderer who has served his time and is trying to come back into society.
You should be shamed for befriending an unrepentant murderer who avoided punishment through his wealth and connections and may still be murdering today.
Until then I will feel free to assume that involved scientific celebrities like Minsky padded Epsteins shoulders for his great taste in teenage women, or even took advantage of this other interest.
It’s also depressing how all these prominent men (and yes, it’s all men because Epstein didn’t like having women around for their intellects, and because they may have figured out something was amiss) never questioned any of this, because Epstein was rich.
Thus people who accepted his money and palled around with him provided cover for him.
When people are offering money, the temptation is to not dig deeply and look away. Hopefully, this treatment of Epstein’s associates will serve as a lesson to people to not totaled gifts blindly and enable predators.
And the investigation stemmed from a mother bringing her daughter to the police station after she had been at Epstein's mansion. And the evidence included over 50 underaged girls, before the prosecution dropped it to two counts and then one count of assault... and NOT for lack of evidence. The girls' high school report cards were found in his house.
The man was a pedophile and a predator. The fact that anyone was willing to associate with him in any capacity after 2008 is just insane. In 2009 the flight logs were leaked and the smart people in that list cut contact. Anyone who continued to associate with Epstein after that did so in the fact of public castigation almost a decade ago.
Fuck, Trump was talking about him "liking girls on the younger side" in 2002- no sane person should have anything to do with Epstein any time recently.
If they never severed those connections even after all the information about him surfaced and even up to the point of his death, should they not be called out for it?
Marvin Minsky was literally called out by one of the victims as someone partaking in pederasty with Epstein's sex trafficking victims.
Is Epstein someone YOU would want to associate with, and if so, why?
The accusations are not questionable at all.
but if you have a close and long running relationship with a proven creep (of different flavors), your moral compass becomes suspect, and after it becomes public knowledge, it becomes a question of whether your association indicates approval of the bad behavior.
it's not always clearcut in private figures, but when the creep(of different flavors) is a nationally known figure, I think the onus is relatively clear... hold the person at some arms length.
I know he had an interest in transhumanism, but I still fail to understand the logic.
And of course there are always some academics (like Ito, it seems) who can serve as bridges into other worlds, by doing things like bringing him into investment opportunities.
Now that that's out of the way, here's a doozy:
Why exactly Wexner chose to put Epstein in a position to steal so much from him remains a mystery, but if you buy that Epstein was a blackmailer a reasonable assumption would be that he had something on Wexner and used it as leverage.
But if you're trying to lure people in so you can blackmail them, why would you bother charging them $20 million at the door? They can afford it, sure, but wouldn't that risk some of them saying no and thus denying you the opportunity to blackmail them?
Anyone who is apologizing for this behavior or who thinks this is a “witch hunt” may want to consider using a throwaway name, because these comments aren’t going to age well. And yes, we will remember.