The Widdershins

Posts Tagged ‘sexual abuse

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Happy third week of 2018 Widdershins. It is less than 3 weeks of the year. Dump is about to celebrate 1 year in office. The rest of us will drink (more.) Or in my case eat more chocolate because it’s the only thing getting me through each day. But the good news is that Dump’s physician evaluated me and declared me 6’9” and a lean mean muscle machine nurtured by chocolate and sugar, burgers and fries.

Let’s put Dump aside for a minute (or 3 years) and I wanted to mention a story that has gotten very little coverage – and it really really should get a lot more considering the sheer scope of it.

Larry Nassar was a doctor with the USA Gymnastics team and Michigan State University. For decades he attended to female gymnasts. And he molested them. More than 150 – one hundred and fifty – women have come forward accusing Nassar of raping them when they were under his medical care when they were children. One victim, confronting Nassar at his sentencing, says she was 6 years old when he first abused her. Even someone with just passing interest in gymnastics and the Olympics would recognize some of Nassar’s victims: Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas and McKayla Maroney.

Also worth exploring is the subject of how Nassar was able to get away with this for decades. He didn’t get away with it alone. He had enablers. People who knew – colleagues – who looked the other way. ESPN has an article discussing some of Nassar’s enablers.

Remember when the Jerry Sandusky story broke? It was huge. As terrible as that was, this story of Larry Nassar is so much bigger and getting a fraction of the coverage. I wonder if there’s a reason?

In other horrifying news – what will today bring? Are Republicans really angry at Bannon for refusing to answer their questions after the White House instructed him not to? How hard are they going to huff and puff before they stop the charade? Is Wendi Deng, Rupert Murdoch’s ex-wife, really a Chinese spy trying to curry favors with the Dumps via Javanka? Did she have an affair with Tony Blair which ended his marriage? Did she marry Murdoch for love? Wall Street Journal broke the stories earlier this week, which is extremely meta! (OK, WSJ didn’t speculate whether Deng married Murdoch for love, that was me.)

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Harvey Weinstein is a very important man in Hollywood. As the co-founder (with his brother Bob) of the film production company Miramax in the 1980s (named after their parents Mira and Max), and then of The Weinstein Company in 2005, they (with Harvey as the real creative force) have produced and/or distributed some of the most recognizable and prestigious films of the past 30 years. The list is extraordinary for just two men from Buffalo: The English Patient, Shakespeare in Love, Cinema Paradiso, The Piano, The Crying Game, Good Will Hunting, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Queen, The King’s Speech, Pulp Fiction and every other Quentin Tarantino movie, Scream, There Will Be Blood, No Country For Old Men, Aviator, Chicago, Muriel’s Wedding, Madonna: Truth or Dare, Amelie, My Left Foot, Vicky Christina Barcelona, Bullets Over Broadway, Clerks, Bridget Jones’ Diary, The Hours, Sling Blade, Life Is Beautiful, Fahrenheit 9/11, Dogma, etc. He also produced Broadway shows like The Producers, The Color Purple, La Cage aux Folles, Bernadette Peters’ Gipsy, The Addams’ Family, Al Pacino’s revival of Glenngary Glen Ross. And one of TV’s most famous shows: Project Runaway.

Look at that list! It’s understandable why this story has become so huge in the news and entertainment industry. Harvey Weinstein is a cultural giant. Whether or not anybody outside of the entertainment industry truly cares is a different matter. The larger story of a powerful man sexually abusing women for decades (famous women to boot) and getting away with it is an important one. Coming on the heels of exposure and falls of Bill Cosby, Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly, Weinstein is another reminder that these men have existed for many years – and continue to exist now. Perhaps Louis CK will be next, who knows. These men exist in every industry, not just entertainment. Does this put the fear of god into any of them? I don’t now… I fear not. Beyond the reaction to Weinstein himself, the reaction to the women has also been shocking. The media’s demand that Hillary Clinton comment, and that Meryl Streep’s comment wasn’t good enough, is a perverse cycle of blaming victims. The story has stopped being about Weinstein abusing women and now it’s more about “what do famous women think about Weinstein abusing women?” It’s sick.

I worked at Miramax back in its heyday of 2000 in a very unimportant position. Shakespeare in Love was in production (code name: Project Plague.The Lord of the Rings (code name: Jumboree) was just a script collecting dust in the closet, soon to be sold to a different studio, though the brothers retained their producer credit. What everybody knew about Harvey then is that he was an awful bully. His emotional, verbal and sometimes physical abuse of employees (throwing things, like a phone or a book) was known to all. In the 1990s Premiere magazine (now gone) published an article about the worst people in the industry to work for. Harvey competed for the top spot with producer Scott Rudin (also producer of some of the best films of the past few decades like Clueless, Regarding Henry and Wonder Boys; as well as huge Broadway shows like The Book of Mormon.) Rudin is gay and I have no doubt there are many demons there which perhaps some day will also land on the front pages of newspapers. But Harvey did more than just produce big movies, he dominated the industry in a way no other film producer had in decades. He inspired awe and fear from other studio heads because of his knack for picking remarkable films and turning Oscar campaigns into both an art form and a brutal contact sport. He was a throwback to the old, golden Hollywood age when studios developed, nurtured and made stars, and then reaped the rewards: people like Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, Gwyneth Paltrow and Quentin Tarantino were synonymous with Miramax, and they owe big parts of their careers to Harvey. Without Weinstein turning Good Will Hunting, Shakespeare in Love and Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction into cultural phenomenons, it’s very likely they would not have turned into the superstars that they are today.

While Harvey’s explosive temper and rage were known by all, his sexual deviancy was better hidden. I had heard jokes about prostitutes. But anything beyond “paid companions” was not widely discussed at the time. So Meryl Streep’s comment that she didn’t know – which so many have attacked her for – is quite credible to me. One must also realize that celebrities – often through no fault of their own – live in a bubble. There are people in their lives who protect them and make sure they are uninformed. One example: One day Ben Affleck came to the office and the producer I was assisting who had an Israeli poster of Good Will Hunting on his wall. The writing was in Hebrew. Affleck said: “Oh that’s so cool! I’ve never seen that!” When he left 20 minutes later all hell broke loose as about 5 assistants spent two days trying to find another copy of that poster. Affleck didn’t now, he didn’t especially want it, but we turned the place upside down looking for another copy of the poster because Ben mentioned in passing that it was cool. Taking care of celebrities this way is an entire industry in entertainment. When I hear about celebrities being difficult I almost don’t blame them. Can you imagine what being treated this way can do to your brain?

As the media descends on the women in the industry, it’s obvious why people like Gwyneth Paltrow didn’t speak out against him in the first place. It wouldn’t just be a matter of telling someone and it’s over. No, look at the way Harvey’s victims are being treated by the press. They are torn to shreds. I wouldn’t have said anything either. Paltrow describes how Weinstein abused her before she became a star and it seems that only the interference of her then-boyfriend Brad Pitt saved her.

When Mr. Weinstein tried to massage her and invited her into the bedroom, she immediately left, she said, and remembers feeling stunned as she drove away. “I thought you were my Uncle Harvey,” she recalled thinking, explaining that she had seen him as a mentor.

After she told Mr. Pitt about the episode, he approached Mr. Weinstein at a theater premiere and told him never to touch Ms. Paltrow again. Mr. Pitt confirmed the account to The Times through a representative.

Soon after, Mr. Weinstein called Ms. Paltrow and berated her for discussing the episode, she said. (She said she also told a few friends, family members and her agent.) “He screamed at me for a long time,” she said, once again fearing she could lose the role in “Emma.” “It was brutal.” But she stood her ground, she said, and insisted that he put the relationship back on professional footing.

Even as Ms. Paltrow became known as the “first lady of Miramax” and won an Oscar for “Shakespeare in Love” in 1999, very few people knew about Mr. Weinstein’s advances. “I was expected to keep the secret,” she said.

Besides Paltrow, other actresses openly accusing Weinstein of assaulting them are Angelina Jolie, Rosanna Arquette, Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan, Mira Sorvino, Asia Argento, among others.

Though she never mentions Weinstein by name, Tori Spelling wrote in her book in 2009 that a refusal to do a nude scene in a Miramax film led to the studio nearly cutting her out of the film altogether, and turning her starring role into a cameo.

It’s also important to note that while the NY Times might claim to have brought Weinstein down (along with a near-contemporary report from The New Yorker, which includes an audio recording of Weinstein harassing an Italian model; Ronan Farrow wrote the story for New Yorker because his bosses at NBC refused to air it), Times are also the paper that helped keep Weinstein in power for so long. They killed a story in 2004 about Weinstein, as detailed by the author of that story and founder of The Wrap, Sharon Waxman.

I also tracked down a woman in London who had been paid off after an unwanted sexual encounter with Weinstein. She was terrified to speak because of her non-disclosure agreement, but at least we had evidence of a pay-off.

The story I reported never ran.

After intense pressure from Weinstein, which included having Matt Damon and Russell Crowe call me directly […] the story was gutted.

I was told at the time that Weinstein had visited the newsroom in person to make his displeasure known. I knew he was a major advertiser in the Times, and that he was a powerful person overall.

But I had the facts, and this was the Times. Right?

Wrong. The story was stripped of any reference to sexual favors or coercion and buried on the inside of the Culture section, an obscure story about Miramax firing an Italian executive. Who cared?

The Times’ then-culture editor Jon Landman, now an editor-at-large for Bloomberg, thought the story was unimportant, asking me why it mattered.

So now the fallout is: Weinstein has been fired from his company. The company just announced that they will have a new name shortly. (And if anybody knew everything – it would have been his brother Bob.) Weinstein’s wife has also announced that she has left him.

There are a lot of powerful people in Hollywood afraid tonight. Hopefully there are a lot of powerful men in all industries taking note of how quickly and how hard they might fall.

What’s on your mind Widdershins?

 

I have to admit, this new pope is growing on me.

ROME (Reuters) – About two percent of Roman Catholic clerics are sexual abusers, an Italian newspaper on Sunday quoted Pope Francis as saying, adding that the pontiff considered the crime “a leprosy in our house”.

(snip)

“This data should hearten me but I have to tell you that it does not hearten me at all. In fact, I think that it is very grave,” he was quoted as saying.

I am not sure where Pope Francis got this figure, as he was quoted to say that he was reassured of its accuracy from reliable statistics,but I applaud him for speaking up and admitting the problem. (Hmmm, Maybe the Catholic Church needs a 12-step program?)

The article in La Repubblica also quoted the pope as saying that there were cardinals amongst the abusers. While the role of cardinals in covering up abuse is still being uncovered, it has not been proven than any committed these horrific acts. Nonetheless, the law of averages would seem to dictate that these men are not immune from the disease. Of course, rationality is not a key characteristic of a Church which is based on transubstantiation and the infallibility of its human leader, and Vatican spokespeople are claiming that hey, His Holiness never said that!

While acknowledging that the conversation had taken place, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi issued a statement saying that not all the phrases could be attributed “with certainty” to the pope.

Lombardi said that, in particular, a quote attributed to the pope saying cardinals were among the sex abusers was not accurate and accused the paper of trying to “manipulate naive readers”.

You know what’s manipulative? The way the Church has played on the faith of its members to marginalize and silence the victims of pedophiles in the clergy. And yes, I am quite f*cking sure that there are cardinals who have abused the children in their care. The Catholic Church is full of these cockroaches who scatter at the first hint of sunlight, and the culture for far too long has been not just tolerant of, but enabling towards, these abusers.

In my opinion, the Pope should share the statistics that he’s seen, Tell it like it is, Francis. Only then does the Catholic Church have a prayer of gaining back the credibility it has lost.

This is an open thread.

Happy Easter to all those who celebrated it yesterday! Here in Noo Yawk, it was 70 degrees and sunny – better weather than we’ve had in months. We felt the renewal and rebirth of Spring as the forsythia burst into riots of sun-colored blossoms in the Park, and the pitter-patter of little tourists’ feet was heard from the Cloisters to the Statue of Liberty.

Alas, for Catholics, this season is marred by yet another horrifying round of news about priests sexually abusing children. Pope Benedict XVI is having a “what did he know and when did he know it” problem, with accusations that he covered for an abusive priest in the 80’s coming from some quarters, and accusations of more recent coverups from others. And on April 1st, the Pope’s personal preacher broke Godwin’s Law into six million pieces when he compared the “attacks” the Catholic Church and the Pope are suffering to “collective violence” against the Jews.

The pope’s personal preacher, Father Raniero Cantalamessa, in a Friday sermon in St Peter’s Basilica, said attacks on the Catholic Church and the pope over a sexual abuse scandal were comparable to “collective violence” against Jews.

Jewish leaders around the world used words like repugnant, obscene and offensive to describe the sermon, particularly, as Di Segni noted, it came on the day that for centuries Christians prayed for the conversion of the Jews, who were held collectively responsible for Jesus’ death.

“How can you compare the collective guilt assigned to the Jews which caused the deaths of tens of millions of innocent people to perpetrators who abuse their faith and their calling by sexually abusing children?” demanded Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the international Jewish rights group.

Cantalamessa, speaking with the pope sitting nearby, said Jews throughout history had been the victims of “collective violence” and drew comparisons between Jewish suffering and attacks on the Church.

“The use of stereotypes, the shifting of personal responsibility and guilt to a collective guilt remind me of the most shameful aspects of anti-Semitism,” Cantalamessa quoted from the letter.

DAMAGE CONTROL

A Vatican spokesman said the comparison “is absolutely not the line of the Vatican and of the Catholic Church.”

Hey, of course it isn’t, Mr. Vatican spokesman dude! This was only the guy whom the Pope chose to preach to him, who made this outrageous statement with the Pope “sitting nearby.” I’m sure he and the Pope have totally different views on the matter. Nothing to see here, folks, move along!

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Kellyanne Conway’s new job

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That moment when *your* pussy gets grabbed

You go gurl! h/t Adam Joseph

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