I confess that when the Harvey Weinstein allegations accumulated I took pleasure in seeing the hypocrisy of the left exposed and one of their own facing the wrath of the politically correct. As the charges were multiplied and duplicated among several other national media celebrities I also confess that it was illuminating. I was surprised that women had advanced so far in the professions and academics and this Mad Men sexism still existed to the degree that it did.
The #MeToo movement proved politically neutral as liberal and conservative abusers were treated equally.
I value clarity, but it rarely makes new friends. The passions and momentum of the movement showed little concern for clarifying what constitutes abuse. I thought Al Franken was guilty of juvenile behavior and boorish behavior, but it was distinct from the type of abuse engaged in by Harvey Weinstein. He should not have resigned. When I asked questions about where the line should be drawn, most women got angry. Aziz Ansari was accused by a date who had already had consensual sex with him. It did not get him fired or boycotted, but it did make national news.
Megan McArdle made this point in No matter what happens, Kavanaugh is being punished
About a year after #MeToo began, we still haven’t defined those rules in a rigorous, broadly defensible way. The movement’s proponents tend to seek the social and economic equivalent of extremely harsh sentences, upon the lowest standard of proof — “I believe women.”
Megan observed that harsh punishment applied randomly has little deterrent effect. If it is deemed to be unfair and selective it may even have the opposite effect. “If they are going to get me no matter what I do, then what the hell?”
Calvin was my favorite cartoon when it ran. A Dennis the Menace type child lived in his fantasy world that included a game called Calvinball, which entailed making up the rules as the game was played. In the real world we would just refuse to play such a game.
The politicization of the #MeToo has brought some clarity to the movement. It has motivated many women to address the unfairness of suspending basic rules of justice. Belief does not trump evidence.
Defending their daughters, mothers and sisters does not mean abandoning their sons, fathers and brothers. Belief does not trump evidence and justice. Accusations as a final arbiter are just sexual McCarthyism.
The Democrats miscalculated. They motivated more women and conservative men to stand up for fairness and justice than they did to defend baseless allegations for political gamesmanship. It will hurt them in the midterms. It may appease and motivate their base, but it will not attract the swing voters that determine election outcomes.
Calvinball is only played in cartoon fantasies.