Will there be someone who walks in when everyone walks out?
Everyone is appalled by the abuse perpetrated by Weinstein. And so many speak out against it. Society needs people who don’t keep quiet in the face of it.
But there is something that bothers me – the social requirement that you speak out against somebody that you consider a friend, even if that friend betrayed your trust. Apparently you must speak out quickly and forcefully. Otherwise you are too are implicated in the crime as part of the system that made it possible.
It reminds me of Stalin’s show trials. In his case, the innocent were prosecuted, but the method was the same – friends of the accused were expected to be chief of the accusers or otherwise they were complicit in the “crime.” There is something about friendship that finds this a horrible thing.
Each of us has had a friend do a horrible thing for which there was no excuse. The last thing we wanted to do was be forced before a bright light and given a microphone to denounce them. It is not because we ourselves were not scandalized by what they had done and deeply sorry for any injured by them. But being required to do the work of the State in public prosecuting them is something else. That is not the work of family and friends. To require of them that they do this well and do it thoroughly is unhuman.
We have seen forces gather to require this of Trump’s friends and associates. We have seen Senators, Representatives, and Governors betray their trust, as well as the powerbroker of industry. And the social requirement is the same – play the role of the State and try them publicly. If you don’t, you are branded an enemy of the people.
This is dangerous for civil society. It breaks the bonds of natural friendship and makes everyone a suspected accuser who will save their own hide. It leaves no room for redemption, which is often brought about by the receiving another’s love in the midst of wholesale rejection.
The Apostle Paul, murderer of Christians, was spared by Barnabas, son of encouragement. Chuck Colson, despised hatchet man of Richard Nixon, was spared by Tom Phillips, CEO of Raytheon. Someone believes that the accused has a soul still and that the grace of God can reach down and bring light and transformation.
People are free to speak their minds publicly against an offense to civil order and decency. To require that friends be vicious, too, makes societal order a jungle and a return to the wild.