Woody Allen recently received a Golden Globe lifetime achievement award for his work in films. Nick Kristof (citing allegations by his friends, the Farrow family, that Allen is a child molester) insists Mr. Allen's contributions to film shouldn't have been recognized -- because honors should only go to the "unimpeachably honorable." Kristof further claims (correctly, I believe) that, when awards go to those accused of heinous acts, it causes pain to their accusers and labels the accusers as liars or inconsequential.
I'm not writing to proclaim Mr. Allen's innocence or guilt. But to ask -- since we honor so many of the great and good with scandalous pasts, why not Mr. Allen?
Woody Allen is in the purgatory reserved for prominent people accused, but not exonerated or convicted. His neighbors in purgatory include: Bill Clinton, Clarence Thomas, some Bishops and Cardinals of the Catholic Church (for their role in the pedophilia scandals), and many more. I'm not even listing the dubious third world oligarchs and politicians who clog the conference circuit, receiving awards and public acclaim. It would take a Dante to do literary justice to these characters.
Bill Clinton's a prime example. Almost every week, he receives some award or honorarium. Yet Mr. Clinton admitted to an affair (in embarrassing circumstances) with an intern young enough to be his daughter, and has been accused by several women (lowly members of the 99 percent) of sexual harassment, offering career advancement for oral sex and even rape. Bill Clinton paid almost $1 million to settle a sexual harassment claim, admitted to telling lies under oath to hide his activities, and has been disbarred. As Democratic Senator McCaskill commented -- "He's been a great leader but I don't want my daughter near him."
Even Mr. Kristof has called Bill Clinton dishonest, sleazy and a man with egregious personal failings. But in August 2013, Kristof congratulated Mr. Clinton when he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, without any anguished discussions about honor. No one, except a sycophantic Clintonian toady, could call Bill Clinton "unimpeachably honorable."
Mr. Kristof complained that Woody Allen's lifetime achievement award meant the Golden Globe: "sided with Allen, in effect accusing Dylan [Farrow] either of lying or of not mattering". But that's clearly Mr. Kristof's message to the women who complained about Bill Clinton -- that they're liars or their sufferings don't matter.
Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton and their minions called his accusers: liars, stalkers, trailer park trash, fantasists, fame seekers, part of a giant right wing conspiracy, narcissistic loonies, criminals and much worse. Yet, many of those -- who insist questioning the Farrow version of events facilitates a rape culture -- raised no objections about the treatment of Bill Clinton's women accusers. Ronan Farrow tells us a woman's word in these matters shouldn't be questioned. But Mr. Farrow hasn't spoken up for the women Team Clinton trashed. Instead, he glowingly praises Bill Clinton's honesty -- despite Mr. Clinton's disbarment for lying under oath in connection with his sexual harassment trial.
We're told we mustn't honor Woody Allen -- because of the pain it causes the Farrow family. Imagine how painful it must be -- for the women Bill Clinton trampled on -- when he's publicly honored. Why no empathy for them? Why no publicly choreographed moment of anguish for Mr. Clinton's accusers when the Clintons receive awards? Well, the women Bill Clinton preyed on are members of the 99 percent, and don't have friends like Mr. Kristof to publicly champion their cause.
If Woody Allen had been accused by his maid's daughter (with the same fact pattern, no charges ever filed, the event happened 20 years ago, etc.) -- many of the great and good rushing to ally themselves with the Farrow family would be silent (except, perhaps to hint the maid's family was seeking money or publicity).
I sympathize deeply with Dylan Farrow, who is clearly in pain. And I have tremendous sympathy for anyone who has been harassed, bullied or molested -- particularly if they are among the weak and their tormenters are among the powerful.
But the angst about Woody Allen receiving an honor for his film work reeks of hypocritical double standards. When it comes to honoring powerful accomplished people accused of preying on the 99 percent -- we do it all the time.
Steven Strauss is an adjunct lecturer in public policy at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. Immediately prior to Harvard, he was founding Managing Director of the Center for Economic Transformation at the New York City Economic Development Corporation. Steven was one of the NYC leads for Applied Sciences NYC (Mayor Bloomberg's plan to build several new engineering and innovation centers in NYC), NYC BigApps and many other initiatives to foster job growth, innovation and entrepreneurship. In 2010, Steven was selected as a member of the Silicon Alley 100 in NYC. He has a Ph.D. in Management from Yale University, and over 20 years' private sector work experience. Geographically, Steven has worked in the U.S., Asia, Europe and the Middle East.
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