Justin du Coeur (jducoeur) wrote,
Justin du Coeur

The higher the pedestal, the likelier somebody will fall off

So we have a man who has been respected and admired for decades; who is highly charismatic and strongly opinionated, and who has spent many years with people giving him particular respect for being strong-willed; whose spiel has always had an undertone of, "I will respect you if and only if you play by my rules". And now it turns out that he's been raping women for ages? I can understand being sad and dismayed if you shared some of his views, but I can't actually say I'm astonished.

I mean, if he'd been a preacher who fit the above description, most folks I know would go tsk-tsk but not be all that surprised. If he was a politician, everyone would be saying, "I suspected all along". Doing your memetic engineering as an entertainer isn't necessarily all that different.

The point is, we collectively have a bad habit of putting charismatic people (most often but not exclusively men) on pedestals when they powerfully say something we agree with. Not only does that set us up for disappointment when we discover their secrets, I suspect it makes it more likely that they will commit serious abuses. I mean, when you tell someone, "you are Powerful and Right, and We believe in You" -- well, history says that that goes to most peoples' heads. The reality is that the Powerful are pretty good at covering stuff up, and continuing to do what they want to do. And worse, they tend to be surrounded by people who don't want to rock the boat by pointing said stuff out.

None of which is to say that every leader commits quite such terrible acts. But as a society, we really need to get better at not being enablers when they do happen. Frankly, the one silver lining in this mess is the media people who have publicly apologized for papering over the history: that at least suggests that some folks might be learning from the mistake.

(And yes, I'm assuming the accusations are at least mostly true. While I don't entirely agree with, "Where there's smoke there's fire", I do generally find that, if I can see the smoke cloud from a mile off, it's probably pretty warm over there.)
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