In an interview The Hollywood Reporter ran today, Norm MacDonald (of SNL fame) spoke about several sensitive issues, like Roseanne’s racist comment fallout and the #MeToo movement. Unfortunately, MacDonald defended the former — along with Louis C.K. — and then made some very complicated comments on the latter.
I’m happy the #MeToo movement has slowed down a little bit. It used to be, “One hundred women can’t be lying.” And then it became, “One woman can’t lie.” And that became, “I believe all women.” And then you’re like, “What?” Like, that Chris Hardwick guy I really thought got the blunt end of the stick there.
The model used to be admit wrongdoing, show complete contrition, and then we give you a second chance. Now it’s admit wrongdoing and you’re finished. And so the only way to survive is to deny, deny, deny. That’s not healthy — that there is no forgiveness. I do think that at some point it will end with a completely innocent person of prominence sticking a gun in his head and ending it. That’s my guess.
Oof. There is a lot to unpack from these comments. First of all, MacDonald isn’t completely wrong and he definitely isn’t right. The default setting of denial that crops up every time a man in power is accused of sexual assault or misdeeds is absolutely unhealthy. It’s not good for the perpetrator to lie about their misdeeds in order to continue holding an obscene amount of power over their victims. It’s damaging to the accuser and to the person who assaulted them because neither will have the opportunity to move on from that crime and its long-reaching fallout until the truth is revealed. It also allows the perpetrator to uphold their position in the industry or job that gave them the power to sexually accost women and/or men, compounding and spreading the damage.
As for forgiveness being all but non-existent, that may be true. However, no rapist, assaulter, or harasser is guaranteed the right to forgiveness from the public or their victim. They may be innocent until proven guilty in the eyes of the law, but the rest of us make no promises as to accepting a known abuser back into the fold. There are consequences for actions and sometimes that means a penance can never be fully repaid in a manner that satisfies society or victims. The best way to avoid being shunned from the public eye and social events is don’t sexually assault people. It has nothing to do with forgiveness or what happened with others. It has to do with the choice to invoke power and privilege in order to sexually lay waste to another person — something that should never have a model for public forgiveness.
MacDonald is obviously biased because of his friendship with people like Louis C.K., but even that doesn’t fully color his more asinine comments about #MeToo. He’s happy that a movement of women and men who have had their lives ruined by sexual assault and harassment have slowed their public shaming and naming of abusers. He’s unhappy that it no longer takes hundreds of accusers to begin an investigation into claims. He’s unhappy that all women should be believed when they come forward with stories of humiliation, manipulation, career-ending choices to refuse to engage in sexual encounters with men in power, and suffering. He’s dead wrong in feeling that believing all women is too far.
One person assaulted is one person too many and the light should always be aimed directly at those that seek to hide in the silence and darkness they are afforded by people who choose to ignore the plaintive cries of victims. He’s clearly afraid of losing the status quo of white men standing atop the rest of us, reaching down often to slap us back into place on the ladder that has always held them aloft. He’s not telling us anything new, but he’s giving more fuel to the fires that stoke every survivor to fight for justice and every minority to drop-kick the ladder out from under the over-privileged and powerful that seek to hold them down.
So thanks, Norm. Thanks for proving why we need #MeToo and stoking those coals waiting to light up the rape culture still running rampant and ruining lives.
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