This week the New Yorker published an article by Pulitzer prize winner journalist Ronan Farrow with allegations about Leslie Moonves the CBS head. The allegations date back to the 1980’s and early 2000s.
In a striking change from the current climate in America, Moonves will remain in his current position while CBS hires an outside firm to investigate these charges. Rather than call for his immediate resignation and his symbolic head on a platter, CBS is actually willing to give credence to the claims, but verify.
What a novel idea.
Is this the bellwether of some measure of rationality being introduced to the highly emotionally charged world of “everyone’s a victim” and they should all be believed implicitly? I hope so.
For the past 20 years I’ve had a front row seat in the family courts as to how powerful being “a victim” is. We’ve created a world where allegations are treated as proof, and the accused are condemned before investigation. It’s highly unfair, immoral and damaging to everyone to have a system that ignore basic checks and balances.
My experience with this has been around the domestic violence claims that have grown so outsized in their power and impact that it is now a standard operating procedure for some family law firms to file a domestic violence case in any case. Given that the definition of abuse has become so broad, and the courts so lax in their review of applications it is no wonder that this tool is being used so commonly. Literally, if a couple EVER raise their voice with each other, it is the definition of abusive behavior.
I understand that abuse is in the eye of the victim, but that can itself be abused, and thus make the “victim” the abusive controlling partner. The courts, and the mental health industry, have worked to popularize the idea that any conflict is bad and damaging. That it is ‘trauma’ for two people to disagree and state their positions with any sort of vehemence.
Personally, I grew up in a wild, crazy, drunken, Italian/Irish/German household. Disagreements and yelling were normal. Was it damaging to me, probably, did it prepare me for a world where I’m not a special flower, where I have to assert myself to get what I want? Absolutely.
Have we become a society of pampered poodles that can’t have anything offensive said about them or we want to sue for ‘harassment’ and assault? Yes. Do I think it should stop? Most definitely.
I was speaking with a friend of mine this past week about how precious everyone has become. He told me of a case where a reporter who worked for a news outlet was suing their old employer for sexual harassment, because some of the stories they covered dealt with celebrities sex lives. I’d say I’m sorry, but I’m not, if you have a job that exposes you to the seedier side of life, and part of your job is discussing that with your co-workers – that does not create a hostile work environment. That’s the job. You knew about it when you took the position.
As a divorce lawyer I hear lots of seedy stories. My clients disclose all kinds of morally ambiguous events, hidden affairs, fetishes, different orientations, kinks and past bad behaviors they don’t want their spouses to know about. I keep secrets for a living. I knew that going in, I cannot now turn around and say that I work in a sexually harassing environment.
People who have been truly abused should be supported. They should stand up, speak out and get the help they need. People who are being accused should not be charged and convicted on decades old claims that are flimsy and time worn.
The courts should start making people prove abuse before they rubberstamp the term “abuser” on someone, and it should only be after a full hearing with due process.
We need to have a resurgence of personal responsibility and assertiveness that is not cloaked in some false victimology that results in a lawsuit and a settlement. I personally hope that we are starting to see the pendulum swing back to a commonsense understanding of human interaction.
I don’t know if Mr. Moonves is a guilty slimeball, or an easy target, but hopefully a thorough investigation will provide the proof one way or the other. I’d like to see this become the standard and not the exception.
David Pisarra is a Los Angeles Divorce and Child Custody Lawyer specializing in Father’s and Men’s Rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He welcomes your questions and comments. He can be reached at email@example.com or 310/664-9969.You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra