Everyone is a number in this dystopian near-future where cameras track your every move. Score above 90 and you’re set for life. Score below 75 and you’re on your own, kid.
I’ve been struggling with my own feelings and opinions on the subject of Woody Allen’s alleged abuse of his daughter Dylan. Like everyone else, I wondered what Cate Blanchett would (or wouldn’t) say about him when she won her inevitable Oscar. I’ve read others weighing in with their opinions, their theories, their advice. None of it has shed a single ray of light.
I’m a big fan of Woody Allen’s movies. I think I’ve seen every single one. His are the only movies I always see in the cinema on the first or second weekend. I even enjoy the not-so-great ones.
Some find it easy to separate the artist from his art. They can love Annie Hall while hating its creator. I can’t do this. I can’t enjoy a man’s work if I know that he is, or was, an abuser of children. That’s a line I can’t cross. In this blog I have written at length about child abuse–condemning both the Catholic Church for its enabling and cover-ups as well as Roman Polanski and his apologists for their glib acceptance of his brutality. But these were easy condemnations. In both cases the perpetrators admitted to the acts–even if they believed themselves above the law.
With Woody Allen it’s different. And this is what makes it so troubling. There is a desire to politicize the issue–to make it about patriarchy, or about privilege, or about the vulnerability of celebrities to false accusations. We might get angry at Cate Blanchett or Diane Keaton for implicitly taking Woody’s side by saying kind things about him in public–and thereby furthering Dylan’s victimization. Or we might get angry at Mia Farrow or Ronan Farrow for continuing to attack Woody on Dylan’s behalf, despite the fact that
I’d rather have justice. But justice requires evidence. And this being the type of crime for which there is rarely a corroborating witness, there is little evidence to work with.
I find myself falling back on the fact that Woody
In her open letter published in the New York Times on February 1st, Dylan Farrow asks: “What’s your favorite Woody Allen movie?” She then goes on to describe how he sexually assaulted her. The implication is clear. You might be able to separate the artist from his art. But you shouldn’t.
I agree. I just don’t know what to do about it.
*Thanks to Justine Larbalestier (@JustineLavaworm) for reminding me that Allen was not, in fact, cleared of the charges, but rather a decision was made not to press charges. There’s a difference. It doesn’t change my angst over the whole thing, but still it’s legally different. And whenever possible in a case like this, it’s important to get the agreed-upon-facts-on-the-ground straight.
In light of the Pope’s recent decision to step down, I have been revisiting my all-consuming rage over the Church’s conspiracy of enabling and protecting child rapists within its midst. I’ve re-read a number of articles that came out in early 2010 when a new rash of particularly disgusting threads of this hellacious quilt came to light. What strikes me today, nearly three years later, is that so little justice has been dispensed.
Let’s be clear about something first and foremost. The scandal to which I refer is not the actual rape of children by individual priests (though that is scandal enough), but rather the decision by members of the Church hierarchy to cover up these crimes, transfer known rapists to new parishes they knew would be awash in fresh victims, and openly and unabashedly prioritize the reputation of the Church above the welfare of children.
Here’s a portion of a document that then Cardinal Ratzinger sent to the Oakland Diocese regarding child rapist Father Stephen Kiesle:
Keep in mind that the “petitioner” whose young age Ratzinger was so anxious about, was not one of the victims Kiesle tied up and raped (who in this particular case were eleven and thirteen) but rather Father Kiesle himself who was the tender age of 38.
Kiesle went on to rape again and again and again.
It strains the boundaries of my humanity to comprehend how such a moral calculus was made, how Cardinal Ratzinger could have so brazenly disregarded the welfare of children whom he had to know would fall victim to this serial sadist.
But what depresses me anew is the fact that Ratzinger is now resigning voluntarily from his position as Pope, rather than being dragged from that office in disgrace to face prosecution in any number of jurisdictions. I, like some of the journalists who actually exposed these crimes, was naively under the impression that bringing them to light would motivate people and their legal representatives to take action.
I was wrong.
The truth doesn’t matter. It is merely raw material to be molded and shaped according to our emotional needs. Or ignored if that suits us. We are not, as I once naively believed, a truth-seeking species. We are a comfort-seeking species. And for reasons I can’t fully fathom we are more comfortable with continuing to endanger children than we are with bringing their institutional victimizers to justice. We don’t even bother to dispute the facts. (They are indisputable.) We simply turn away.
Shame on all of us.
What’s that you say? Nothing good to listen to? No worries, check out the new Cycler audiobook, narrated by the epically talented Melissa Strom (who plays Jill) and Maxwell Glick (who plays her alter ego, Jack). These two really bring the story to life. So head on over to audible.com and snag your download. You can listen to a sample for free!
Oh and check out the new cover too.
And stay tuned for the sequel, (Re)Cycler.
The most disempowering belief in the world is the belief that we can not change things, that there will always be tragedies of the magnitude that occurred in Connecticut yesterday. But yesterday did not have to happen. We could have prevented it. We chose not to. All of us. We allowed assault weapons to be distributed freely to our citizenry knowing, as any sane, reasonably observant person must know, that some not insignificant percentage of our citizenry is mentally unstable. It’s no use throwing up our hands now and saying “Well, what could we have done? The young man was obviously sick. It wasn’t the gun that killed those beautiful children and their teachers. It was that man.” But we knew he existed. He exists in every town, every city, every state. And our response to this knowledge? To arm him. Not merely with handguns. Not merely with hunting rifles. But with military grade weapons that can kill dozens in seconds.
We did that.
All of us.
And we can change it too.
But only if we stop taking the coward’s way out. Yes, the NRA has money and members, but they do not cast your vote for you. If you vote for a politician who supports the easy availability of assault rifles, then you enabled this crime. Own up to it. And make a change. Let your elected leaders know that you will no longer tolerate the status quo. Our children are too precious. And we have lost too many of them. It’s time to step up.
I couldn’t help but notice the sheer volume of grace displayed in the face of political defeat by my pro-Romney friends. Maybe I just have awesome friends. Because, unfortunately, that grace is far from universal. In fact, there seems to be a whole lot of rage out there, much of it stemming from some pretty big misconceptions about Obama supporters.
Fear not, I’m here to dispel these misconceptions.
1. Makers Versus Takers
2. Moral Relativism
3. Tax and spend
4. Hating capitalism
So there. That’s who we are. Perhaps we’re not as different from you as you thought we were. Perhaps there are things we can learn from each other. We’re all in it together, so the more we can find common ground, the better.