OPINION — Forget Donald Trump.
Forget Kim Jong Un.
I nominate Harvey Weinstein for Time magazine’s “Person of The Year.”
It becomes an item of discussion as a result of the current rift between the president, who claims the magazine wanted to name him “Person of the Year” again, and the publication’s editors, who say he is mistaken.
While Trump certainly would qualify as a nominee for “Person of the Year” – whether you love him or hate him – he pales in comparison with Weinstein.
For the past couple months, you could not turn on the news, browse through the internet or pass a single day without hearing his name as more and more women come forward with their stories of sexual abuse.
Weinstein, of course, is co-founder of Miramax, a high-powered entertainment company that has produced some heavy film work – from “Pulp Fiction” to “Shakespeare In Love.” He and his brother then founded The Weinstein Company, another mega-power company that carried considerable clout in the industry. He even took home an Oscar and seven Tonys along the way, plus truckloads of cash, much of it paid out to women as hush money for his sexual assaults.
But, all of that is now irrelevant as Weinstein’s lurid past has finally become public and police agencies in London, New York City and Los Angeles investigate multiple allegations of rape and assault.
Over the years, Time has, for the most part, honored people who have done some remarkable things with their lives; positive accomplishments benefiting mankind; breakthrough work that has been inspirational, life-saving, life-changing.
Charles Lindbergh, Queen Elizabeth, Dr. Martin Luther King, Lech Walesa, Anwar Sadat and a number of other very powerful figures of history have earned the distinction since it was created in 1927.
Every president except for Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover and Gerald Ford has earned the title at least once.
There have been special designations over the years. Winston Churchill was named “Man of the Half-Century in 1949, Mikhail Gorbachev was “Man of the Decade” in 1989, and Albert Einstein was named “Person of the Century,” followed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Mahatma Gandhi, in 1999.
We have seen Time honor “American Women” (1975), “Hungarian Freedom Fighters” (1956), “U.S. Scientists” (1960), “The Inheritors” (1966), “Apollo 8 Astronauts” (1968), “Middle Americans” (1969), “The American Soldier” (2003), “You” (2006), “The Protester” (2011) and “Ebola Fighters” (2014.)
There have also been some highly controversial calls when Time honored, if you will, Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin (twice), Nikita Khrushchev and Ayatollah Khomeini.
The choices haven’t always been popular, but have, for the most part, stuck close to Time’s stated purpose of naming people or groups of people who, “for better or for worse … have done the most to influence the events of the year.”
And, man, has Weinstein influenced the events of the year, even though his sordid story surfaced well after the last summer sunset.
The list of men who have been accused of sexual abuse in the fallout since the Weinstein allegations surfaced is far too long to detail here. You can find fairly detailed lists and backgrounds here as well as here.
It is a shocking roster of Hollywood, media, political and sports figures – some household names, some behind-the-scenes powerbrokers.
For all of its lurid details, the Weinstein scandal has brought the dirty little secret of sexual abuse and harassment to public scrutiny.
It has empowered women to stand up and fight back, to refuse to be assaulted, abused, objectified.
I have seen unbelievably ridiculous and insensitive comments about how these women knew what they were doing, that there were monetary or celebrity benefits to keeping quiet about these predatory attacks, as they were forced to do.
If you believe this, you are a part of the problem, ignorant of the facts of the continuing trauma and heartbreak of unwanted sexual advances.
If you think so-called “locker room talk” is OK, you are a misogynist with no respect for women, morality or civility.
If you think these women are making “too big of a deal” about these experiences, stop and consider how you would feel if you were violated by one of these guys.
Millions of women and, in some cases men, posted #MeToo on social media not long ago to underscore just how much of this abuse is taking place. It is estimated that the number of responders is only a fraction of those who have endured such attacks.
It is astonishing.
It is tragic.
It has got to stop.
Whether you are a Hollywood star like Uma Thurman or a high school girl flipping burgers at the local fast food joint, you deserve to do your job and earn your way through merit, not sexual currency.
And, politicizing this outrage only adds fuel to the fire. It’s arrogance compounding ignorance.
Liberals who defend Al Franken, Bill Clinton or John Kennedy are as hypocritical as conservatives who defend Trump, George H.W. Bush or Roy Moore.
If you set your sights on Bill O’Reilly you’d better go after Jann Wenner.
If you go after Steven Segall you’d better take aim at Ben Affleck.
This has nothing to do with political ideology and everything to do with repulsive behavior.
There is a greater issue at hand here.
We’re hearing a lot right now about people of celebrity, but how many people of lesser notoriety are exhibiting the same behavior, from cops to doctors to lawyers, teachers, religious leaders of all denominations, neighbors, friends, family members?
It’s not always, you know, simply about forcing one’s self on another or groping and fondling.
Stop and think about how many times you’ve heard a disgruntled male employee complain that a woman got the promotion or raise he was after because she was sleeping with the boss.
Whether the woman was forced into such an arrangement or the words are simply lies from some jerk unwilling to admit that the woman is better qualified, it is still a violation of that woman, an attack on her character, a theft of dignity and respect.
Whether it is a Hollywood casting couch, a grope in the storeroom or an incident behind closed office doors doesn’t matter, it is still a violent act of aggression by one individual who holds monetary, professional or physical advantage over another and no less forgivable than a back alley rape.
There is, like in all things, a lesson in this of course.
We could learn to take these accusations seriously and not demean the women who come forward.
We could learn that this sort of behavior is much more common than we believed.
We could learn that party, race and religion have nothing to do with who the predators are.
Most importantly, we could learn that any sort of untoward sexual advances are unacceptable, period.
Then, and only then, will these atrocities end.
So, if Time magazine is looking for a “Person of the Year,” Harvey Weinstein and his ignominious behavior certainly earned my vote.
No bad days!
Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist for St. George News. The opinions stated in this article are his own and may not be representative of St. George News.
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