In America, a fat checkbook can bestow a sense of being bulletproof.
THE YEAR IS 2017. And we're still talking about this kind of stuff? How depressing.
Hollywood super-producer Harvey Weinstein apparently has been sexually harassing (or worse) the help and budding actresses for decades. Another powerful man behaving badly with vulnerable women. It's been that kind of year, following the fall of such luminaries as Fox News' Roger Ailes and Bill O'Reilly.
Allegations from multiple women cost those men their jobs, though similar claims against President Trump seemed to have little effect with his political base.
As for Harvey Weinstein, it now seems clear his conduct was no secret. Obviously, the women knew. Some complained, but the company Weinstein co-founded did nothing about it. Some of the women were paid off, to buy their silence, but people who should have done something about Weinstein's behavior didn't.
Meanwhile, the Hollywood glitterati continued to fawn over the powerful producer with his golden record of successes. So did plenty of liberal political movers and shakers, whose lust had nothing to do with sex - they wanted the money Weinstein regularly provided. Did they know anything? Did they care, as long as the money flowed?
WEINSTEIN'S COMPANY somehow summoned the courage to fire him last weekend, after the New York Times outed the producer for years of piggish behavior. Remember, this wasn't news to the people around Weinstein. The company just cut its losses.
And there's more than a little hypocrisy as big-name actresses come forth now to say Weinstein abused them, too. It's easy to pile on after the tackle has been made. But think how many women might have been spared Weinstein's unwanted attention if someone had spoken up earlier.
In this so-called more enlightened age one would like to believe this kind of thing had been left behind. Perhaps it is less common, but where a great imbalance of power exists some will try to use it to impose themselves on the weak.
Another thought: What is wrong with men in powerful positions? When was the last time anyone heard of a woman in a powerful position trying to force herself on a male subordinate? Maybe the nation would be better served with more women at the top, since it appears they are better behaved and have higher moral standards.
AND ANOTHER QUESTION: Why are so many so willing to look the other way if an alleged perpetrator is a bigshot? Rewind about 20 years, and recall President Bill Clinton's despicable behavior with a lowly intern at the White House. Similar behavior by a night shift manager at a fast-food restaurant almost certainly would result in a firing offense, if not an arrest.
Yet remember those celebrities who mocked people who were outraged by Clinton taking advantage of the young woman, essentially rolling their eyes because "it's just sex"? Maybe that explains why so many big Hollywood names excused Weinstein's behavior for so long. Maybe it even explains why Hillary Clinton was eager to take Weinstein's money.
If America ever wants to be truly better - instead of just telling ourselves we're better - there cannot be two sets of rules, one for everyday people and another for the rich and connected. Until that changes, we're not better.
No woman should be subjected to sexual bullying by any man whose very stature suggests there could be career-ending penalties for resisting or making trouble. Weinstein apparently thought he was bulletproof - and for a long time, he was - because of his money and position. Yet again, proof that, in America, truth and justice often are for sale to those with big fat checkbooks.