The ugly echo chamber of Hannity and Breitbart is why women wait so long to report abuse

“All I know is that I can’t sit back and let this continue, let him continue without the mask being removed.”

.. Their reward for this public-spirited bravery?

To be smeared as liars.

To be the objects of vicious criticism about their private lives — their marriages, divorces, and bankruptcies.

.. This incident happened almost 40 years ago, goes the outraged refrain. Why are these women only coming forward now?

.. “She did not go to them — they called her,” Corfman’s mother, Nancy Wells, told Breitbart.
.. We were meant to recoil in horror, I guess, at how Post journalists committed treasonous acts of journalism. Yes, they persuaded their sources to go on the record, sometimes by making the case that there is a greater good to be served.
“Neither Corfman nor any of the other women sought out The Post. While reporting a story in Alabama about supporters of Moore’s Senate campaign, a Post reporter heard that Moore allegedly had sought relationships with teenage girls. Over the ensuing three weeks, two Post reporters contacted and interviewed the four women. All were initially reluctant to speak publicly but chose to do so after multiple interviews, saying they thought it was important for people to know about their interactions with Moore. The women say they don’t know one another.”
.. Fox News’s Sean Hannity brought the network’s legal analyst, Mercedes Colwin, on his show to blast women who accuse powerful men, saying that they mostly do it for the money.
.. Then, bringing the trashing full circle, Breitbart offered the Sinclair-owned station a megaphone with this headline: “Alabama ABC Affiliate Can’t Find One Voter Who Believes WaPo Report about Roy Moore in Man-on-the-Street Segment.” (Speaking of journalism basics, it’s almost always pointless to stick a microphone in front of random people who often have only heard the general outlines of a developing story.)
.. Of course, it’s not The Post’s credibility that’s really under attack here. It’s that of the women themselves, who had the courage to be named, quoted and shown in photographs.

Opt Out of the Lesser of Two Evils

The atheist Christopher Hitchens used to argue that religion was useful for getting good and conscientious people to do wicked things. Politics can be used in the same way. Those two candidates could only have advanced so far because American politics is so tightly wired to our fears and hatreds. Why would anyone decent support either of them — unless on some level you feared and hated the other side?

.. Asked if he could unequivocally state that he never dated a teenager when he was in his thirties, Moore replied: “It would be out of my customary behavior.”

.. I’d like to advance the political case against letting fear and hatred lead us to consistently lower our standards and lend our support to the ambitions of less and less worthy people.

.. First, there is is the argument from credibility. Every social conservative who supports Moore is increasing the cynicism of American society and justifying widespread skepticism about the sincerity of Christian belief among conservatives. People are reminded frequently that Christian conservatives once demanded that Bill Clinton resign in shame for carrying on an affair with a White House intern. Now some of those supposedly godly men, or their sons, defend Moore’s predation of teenaged girls on the grounds that even a child predator is better than a Democrat. This instrumentalism will eventually make it impossible for social conservatives to defend any of their preferred policies.

.. The country won’t give consent to pro-life laws if they have good reason to suspect their advocates are insincere. And the public will shrug at the abrogation of religious liberties if it thinks these amount to privileges for hypocrites.

.. You cannot be a good citizen of your country if your immediate political interests outrank every other good in the commonweal. And You cannot be a good citizen of your country if your immediate political interests outrank every other good in the commonweal. And citizenship requires some self-abnegnation, even some risk. Advancing a man of Roy Moore’s character to the Senate worsens public life in obvious ways.

  • He’s unethical.
  • He flouts the law.
  • And he is peculiarly holier than thou.

Telling yourself that “this is war, and in war you have to make less than ideal choices” is a great way to excuse the destruction of your charity and the lifting of restraint, with collateral damage to your integrity.

.. Choosing the lesser of two evils is a fantastic way to prepare yourself to do worse and worse evils. And following it to the end is a bitter fate indeed. The worst tragedies of recent history were driven by masses of people giving in to existential fear and hatred. There are many alive today in Central and Eastern Europe who made themselves into Fascists or Communists in order to resist or avenge the Communists and the Fascists. But the names we remember and revere are often those who carefully and bravely stood apart.

We’re All Mad Here: Weinstein, Women, and the Language of Lunacy

“He has demons.” The language of madness is the last resort for a society that can no longer deny the evidence of structural oppression and violence.

We’re through the looking glass now. As women all over the world come forward to talk about their experiences of sexual violence, all our old certainties about what was and was not normal are peeling away like dead skin.

.. “Back in the day we’d all heard stories about it, but… well, the people telling them were all a bit crazy. You know, messed up. So nobody believed them.”

I took a sip of tea to calm down, and suggested that perhaps the reason these people were messed up — if they were messed up — was because they had been, you know, sexually assaulted

.. The process we are going through in our friendship group and in our culture as a whole is something akin to first contact. Abusers, like little green men in flying saucers, have a habit of revealing their true selves to people nobody’s going to find credible — to women who are vulnerable, or women who are marginalized, or who are just, you know, women.

.. So who’s the crazy one now? To be the victim of sexual assault is to fall down a rabbit hole into a reality shaped by collective delusion: specifically, the delusion that powerful or popular or ordinary-seeming men who do good work in the world cannot also be abusers or predators. To suggest otherwise is to appear insane.

.. Something important has changed. Suddenly women are speaking up and speaking out in numbers too big to shove aside.

.. Now, instead of victims and survivors of rape and assault being written off as mentally ill, it’s the abusers who need help.

.. The social definition of sanity is the capacity to accept the consensus of how the world ought to work

.. Anyone who questions or challenges that consensus is by definition unhinged.

.. Suddenly, it’s Weinstein, not the women calling him a rapist and a pig, who gets to be the one with “demons.” He needs to see a therapist, not a judge.

.. What’s the word for what happens when a lot of people are very sick all at the same time? It’s an epidemic.

.. They are not able to express righteous rage without consequence, because they are not men.

.. if you had sought justice or even just comfort and found instead rank upon rank of friends and colleagues closing together to call you a liar and a hysteric, telling you you’d better shut up — how would you feel? You’d be angry, but you’d better not show it. Angry women are not to be trusted, which suits abusers and their enablers just fine.

.. This is what we’re talking about when we talk about rape culture

.. If everyone around you gets together to dismiss the inconvenient truth of your experience, it’s tempting to believe them, especially if you are very young.

.. More to the point, predators seek out victims who look vulnerable. Women and girls with raw sparking wires who nobody will believe because they’re already crazy.

.. Now it’s the abusers who are seeking asylum. Asking to be treated as sufferers of illness, rather than criminals.

.. The language of lunacy is the last resort when society at large cannot deny the evidence of structural violence.

.. We can’t pretend it didn’t happen, so instead we pretend that there’s no pattern here, just individual maladaption. A chemical imbalance in the brain, not a systemic injustice baked into our culture.

.. Lundy Bancroft, who has spent decades working with abusive men, abusers are no more or less likely to be mentally ill than anyone else. “Abusiveness has little to do with psychological problems and everything to do with values and beliefs,” says Bancroft. “Abusers have a distorted sense of right and wrong. Their value system is unhealthy, not their psychology.”

.. The abusers who are now being excused as mentally ill are not monsters, or aberrations. They were acting entirely within the unhealthy value system of a society which esteems the reputation and status of men above the safety of women. Many abusers, on some level, do not know that what they are doing is wrong. They believe that they are basically decent. Most men who prey on women have had that belief confirmed over the course of years or decades of abuse. They believe they’re basically decent, and a whole lot of other people believe they’re basically decent, too. They’re nice guys who just have a problem with women, or booze, or their mothers, or all three.

.. Right now, all around me, I see women working to support men, as well as each other, through this difficult time. It’s not just because we’re nice and it’s not just because we’re suckers, although it’s probably a little bit of both.

It’s because we know how much this is going to hurt.

.. we worry that men are too weak to cope with the consequences of what they’ve done and allowed to be done to us.

.. The threat of extreme self-harm is a classic last-resort tactic for abusers who suspect that they’re losing control, that their partner is about to leave them or tell someone, or both. It’s effective because it’s almost always plausible, and who wants to be the person who put their own freedom and safety ahead of another person’s life?

.. the bone-deep knowledge drilled into us from birth that we were put on this earth to protect men from, among other things, the consequences of their actions. We’ve been raised to believe that men’s emotions are our responsibility. Even the men who hurt us.

.. As the list of names grows longer, the plea for mercy on the grounds of mental illness is being deployed in exactly the same way. These guys are suffering, too. If you carry on calling for them to come clean and change their behavior, well, that might just push them over the edge. And you wouldn’t want that, would you? You’re a nice girl, aren’t you?

.. We are expected to show a level of concern for our abusers that it would never occur to them to show to us

.. I’m worried about the several men I know who have hurt women in the past and who are now facing the consequences. I’m worried about the men who are analyzing their own behavior in horror, who stood aside and let it happen, and who are suddenly realizing their own complicity — and struggling to cope with the guilt, the shame of that knowledge.

.. we can worry about whoever we like — as long as we worry about the survivors first. We were not liars, or hysterical. We were telling the truth.

.. Reframing serial abuse as a mental health disorder stashes it conveniently on the high shelf marked “not a political issue.”

.. sickness does not obviate social responsibility. It never has. Sickness might give a person the overwhelming urge to act in repulsive ways but sickness does not

  • cover for them during business meetings or
  • pay off their lawyers or
  • make sure they get women dropped from films:

it takes a village to protect a rapist.

.. toxic masculinity leaves a lot of broken men in its maw. That culture conspires to prevent men and boys from being able to handle their sexuality, their aggression, and their fear of rejection and loss of status in any adult way; that it is unbearable at times to exist inside a male body without constant validation.

.. People say that they are shocked, and perhaps they are. But shock is very different from surprise. When was the last time you were really, truly surprised to hear a story like this?

.. The truth is that a great many of those surrounding Weinstein did know. Just as the friends and associates of most sexual predators probably know — not everything, but enough to guess, if they cared to.

.. It is easier to cope with the idea of sick men than it is to face the reality of a sick society

.. I’m sure it’s not a lot of fun to be Harvey Weinstein right now, but sadly for the producer and those like him, the world is changing, and for once, cosseting the feelings of powerful men is not and cannot be our number-one priority. For once, the safety and sanity of survivors is not about to be sacrificed so that a few more unreconstructed bastards can sleep at night.

George W. Bush comes out of retirement to deliver a veiled rebuke of Trump

Bush offered a blunt assessment of a political system corrupted by “conspiracy theories and outright fabrication” in which nationalism has been “distorted into nativism.”

..  “Bullying and prejudice in our public life sets a national tone and provides permission for cruelty and bigotry. The only way to pass along civic values is to first live up to them.”

.. Just hours after Bush completed his speech, Obama also made a veiled critique of the Trump era, calling on Democrats at a New Jersey campaign event to “send a message to the world that we are rejecting a politics of division, we are rejecting a politics of fear.”

.. That Trump’s two most recent predecessors felt liberated, or perhaps compelled, to reenter the political arena in a manner that offered an implicit criticism of him is virtually unprecedented in modern politics, historians said.

.. George W. Bush was taking aim at Trump’s “roiling of the traditional institutions of the country and, in particular, demeaning the office of the president by a kind of crude or vulgar bashing of opponents,”

.. “I think this is Bush throwing down the gauntlet and feeling that this is a man who has gone too far,” Dallek said. The discretion former presidents traditionally afforded their successors “is now sort of fading to the past because of the belligerence of Trump.”

.. McCain’s critique prompted Trump to warn him to “be careful” because he is prepared to “fight back.”

.. The common thread among Bush’s and McCain’s words was a defense of the post-World War II liberal order

  • which supported strong security alliances,
  • a defense of human rights and an
  • open economic system of free trade

.. “The hallmark of McCain’s and Bush’s speeches was to try to re-center us on what have been, since 1945, these traditional ends,”

.. He cautioned at the time, however, that he would speak out if he saw “core values” at risk.

.. the unifying themes between Obama and Bush are “humanity and empathy towards the American public.”

.. Bush opened his remarks by speaking in both English and Spanish and noting that refugees from Afghanistan, China, North Korea and Venezuela were seated in the audience.

.. Bush also warned that “bigotry seems emboldened” in a passage that evoked the aftermath of the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville

.. “Bigotry or white supremacy in any form is blasphemy against the American creed,” Bush said in a line that drew the most applause.

.. “Politics are now about discrediting people by ad hominem attacks, not by argumentation,” Cohen said. Those who opposed Bush’s wars have a fair point of view, he said, but their constant “demonization does help make it easier for Trump.”