The Warlock Hunt

Claire Berlinski (who we almost got to have coffee with in Paris a year ago), on #MeToo and if it’s gone too far:

If you are reading this, it means I have found an outlet that has not just fired an editor for sexual harassment. This article circulated from publication to publication, like old-fashioned samizdat, and was rejected repeatedly with a sotto voce, “Don’t tell anyone. I agree with you. But no.” Friends have urged me not to publish it under my own name, vividly describing the mob that will tear me from limb to limb and leave the dingoes to pick over my flesh. It says something, doesn’t it, that I’ve been more hesitant to speak about this than I’ve been of getting on the wrong side of the mafia, al-Qaeda, or the Kremlin?

But speak I must. It now takes only one accusation to destroy a man’s life. Just one for him to be tried and sentenced in the court of public opinion, overnight costing him his livelihood and social respectability. We are on a frenzied extrajudicial warlock hunt that does not pause to parse the difference between rape and stupidity. The punishment for sexual harassment is so grave that clearly this crime—like any other serious crime—requires an unambiguous definition. We have nothing of the sort.

…In recent weeks, I’ve acquired new powers. I have cast my mind over the ways I could use them. I could now, on a whim, destroy the career of an Oxford don who at a drunken Christmas party danced with me, grabbed a handful of my bum, and slurred, “I’ve been dying to do this to Berlinski all term!” That is precisely what happened. I am telling the truth. I will be believed—as I should be.

But here is the thing. I did not freeze, nor was I terrified. I was amused and flattered and thought little of it. I knew full well he’d been dying to do that. Our tutorials—which took place one-on-one, with no chaperones—were livelier intellectually for that sublimated undercurrent. He was an Oxford don and so had power over me, sensu strictu. I was a 20-year-old undergraduate. But I also had power over him—power sufficient to cause a venerable don to make a perfect fool of himself at a Christmas party. Unsurprisingly, I loved having that power. But now I have too much power. I have the power to destroy someone whose tutorials were invaluable to me and shaped my entire intellectual life much for the better. This is a power I do not want and should not have.

Yup. Read the whole thing.

[Update a while later]

The wandering eye is just part of the human anatomy.

Yup. We can control our behavior and fidelity, but it’s really hard not to look.

Plus, the up side of office flirtation.

And so far, so good for Claire.

[Monday-morning update]

Are women really victims?

Feminists of my mother’s generation resisted furiously the claims that women were too timid, too fragile, too neurotic and too easily upset to function in the public sphere. They won this battle. Sisters began doing it for themselves. Women took their places alongside men in boardrooms and political arenas, on lecture hall podiums and in operating theatres, in courts of law and in armies.

This is currently under threat from a cultural shift within feminism which has shifted the aim from female empowerment to status-by-victimhood. It threatens to undo the progress made for women, valorise fragility, discourage resilience, weaponise victimhood and fatally undermine gender relations. It’s not good for women to be treated as fragile victims rather than competent actors in the public sphere. It’s not good for either sex for men to become afraid that talking to women, complimenting women, criticising women, flirting with women or touching women in friendly greeting could destroy their careers and reputations.

You don’t say. One of the women who tells their story is my friend Amy Alkon.

[Update a few minutes later]

Judith Curry relates her own experiences in the context of the climate debate:

If you see ‘misogyny’ everywhere (even from other females!), then perhaps you need to step back and reflect. What is being objected to is not your gender but your behavior: your attempt to gain fame and build a career based on ‘victim’ status, your unfounded attacks on serious and responsible scientists in your field, and your irrational statements and general intolerance of anyone who is not in your ‘club’. This negative reaction to your behavior is not sexual harassment (or any kind of harassment) or discrimination.
Climate science has developed a perverse incentive structure that seems to reward this kind of unethical, bullying behavior — and I’m seeing more and more female scientists taking full advantage of this.

Unfortunately true. There are a lot of women in space and tech that I follow on Twitter, but I avoid getting into political discussions with them.

[Tuesday-afternoon update]

Sarah Hoyt: The sexual-harassment frenzy is madness, and must stop.


[Wednesday-morning update]

Can we be honest about women?

[Bumped again]

41 thoughts on “The Warlock Hunt”

  1. What’s considered romantic in a movie is sexual assault if someone says so.

    I was once arrested for sleeping on a subway because I was working long hours in Manhattan with a long commute to Brooklyn. So I dozed on the train. I was also very fat, so the tiny lady cop had difficulty putting me in handcuffs behind my back. Writing her report at the station she asked a senior officer if she should charge me with resisting arrest (in my mind the question is it’s own answer.) His reply was an appropriate, “did he, or didn’t he?”

    It’s a real problem when an accusation is not definitive. Years later I had to go from AZ to NYC to stand before a judge who wondered out loud why I was there? The reason was because it held up my FBI check for an FAA job application.

    1. Sleeping on a subway is a crime?

      Ok, wait… I can see why it might be a misdemeanor, but write a ticket. Sleeping on a subway is a crime for which you can be arrested and put in handcuffs?

      Next time, strip naked, go stand in Time Square and harass families taking selfies for not paying you to stand next to them naked.

      1. It’s only a crime if like I was wearing a suit and carrying a briefcase. If wearing torn up clothes and smelling of urine it was perfectly acceptable, The worse thing was when they released me it was after the last bus so I had to walk back to Starrett city from the jail through druggy neighborhoods in my suit. I don’t remember if the next day was a work day.

        Before subletting that apartment from my aunt and uncle, I lived on a street in Brooklyn, with Italians on one side and orthodox jews on the other. We’d all be mixed together on the train, but when we got to our stop we’d all go to separate stairs for our side of the street. I started out working 9-5, but ended up working 12-12 (that’s 12 hrs, but my boss would work me 24 if I let him, That’s how I ended up coming in at noon.)

        I was so exhausted when I got home I would get off the train at the next stop so I could walk down hill instead of up. There was even a jewish girl that would cross the street to walk me home which was quite unusually (I wasn’t fat and ugly back then and I’m sure the suit helped.)

    1. Now there are conflicting stories saying it wasn’t fake. Just parts were embellished. The fact that they waited to issue their clarification/correction until the Friday afternoon before the election says it’s all a politicized setup.

      All the people who are aghast at a Senator Moore deserve him since they’ve worked hard to get him the job. I wouldn’t doubt that all this wasn’t used in the primary because they wanted him to be running in the general because they actually believed this would be enough to throw the election to their tame Dem. The same way CNN gave Trump a billion dollars of in-kind contributions of airtime because they wanted a clown to run against St.Hillary! Are they finally going to learn that these sorts of tactics just aren’t working any more?

      1. “Fake but accurate” was bad enough when Dan Rather tried to swing the 2004 presidential election. It just as bad when Democrats and Gloria Allred are trying it this year.

        1. The real problem is decent people giving fake news the benefit of the doubt when there is no doubt. People are finally getting it.

          Donald makes it easy for people to think him a buffoon, but the fake news makes it impossible for people not to realize how often Donald is right.

      2. “Are they finally going to learn that these sorts of tactics just aren’t working any more?”

        Hopefully not yet.

      3. My understanding is that many Alabama conservative voters weren’t keen on Moore from the start. So the reasonable tactic would have been to address their concerns. Instead, a fantastical story is told with embellishments that are so obvious, you can’t help but note the uncanny valley nature of it. All so convenient for Moore’s opponent, but all to unreal and unnatural to be believed. The end result, the Alabama conservative voters rather go to the polls and vote for Moore rather than let the assholes take turns pissing on their leg and get away with it.

        1. I suspect the issues where Alabama conservative voters may have problems with Moore, the democrat is at least as bad.

  2. It’s a good read, and I added a few new words to my vocabulary. I also worry about Louis C.K. committing suicide – I was worried about it in the wake of Robin Williams suicide. Long, but worth it. I wasn’t familiar with her work until now, but I’ll drop $5 towards her new book.

    1. I also worry about Louis C.K. committing suicide

      I don’t want to see him dead but he has been a pos long before this weird jerking off stuff came out.

  3. What’s interesting to me is that young males today have already been programmed to not look at attractive young women no matter what kind of attractive visual signals they are emitting. As a boomer, I watched movies where the heros routinely “checked out” the local on screen prospects. Under the influence of puberty, it would have been impossible for me not to “sneak a peak” at an attractive female. Yet I have been with dozens of young male engineers in the presence of megawatt level sensory sexiness from attractive females and been shocked to discover they had tuned it out completely. No wonder the native population is rapidly declining.

    1. “Yet I have been with dozens of young male engineers in the presence of megawatt level sensory sexiness from attractive females and been shocked to discover they had tuned it out completely.”

      Because in the public school system of today in many places acting like what used to be thought of as “normal” male behavior i.e. looking at attractive women to much/long will get you censured, so they (the young males) have learned not to. Years of being under the hostile eye of male hating female public school teachers probably does that to you.

      “No wonder the native population is rapidly declining.” reap what you sow; maybe that’s what is intended I don’t know.

      1. “ reap what you sow; maybe that’s what is intended I don’t know.”

        SJWs are what happens when Soviet subversion programs run on autopilot for twenty-five years.

        The goal of emasculating Western men is to ensure there will be no-one to stop the Red Army when it rolls across Europe. The SJWs just haven’t realized that the Soviet Union has collapsed.

        1. “The goal of emasculating Western men is to ensure there will be no-one to stop the Red Army when it rolls across Europe.”

          I think it is more the feminists desire to dominate/rule; facilitated by uplifting women and denigrating/emasculating men every chance they get. Disparaging anything suggesting of traditional masculinity/patriarchy, blurring gender roles, ridiculing condemning men every chance they get. Of course the end result of doing this is to inadvertently set up your country for yes some kind of “invasion”; either in the literal sense something like your “Red Army” or what is happening in Europe right now. Unrestricted immigration to attempt to address the collapsing birth rate; precipitated perhaps by among other things declining male Testosterone levels throughout the western world (but not the rest of the world); all setting up the current slow-motion invasion of western Europe that is currently going through.

          1. Faminism is just Marxism with a cat-lady face.

            But you’re right that, by setting out to weaken the West for the Red Army to invade, what they’ve really done is weaken it for the third-world hordes to invade.

          2. You are both right since current feminism springs from critical theory and other KGB campaigns and the goal is the destruction of the American government, which is pursued through many different avenues.

            Its a shame that with the mass hysteria over RUSSIA, that no Democrats have deconstructed the roots of their own belief system.

  4. A non-sexual wandering eye “problem”: having a TV on in the room when you are trying to converse. Everybody’s eyes keep glancing over to the screen (at least that’s my experience). It’s why when I’m in a bar with a friend I always sit with my back to the TV.

  5. It’s gone too far but it’s the result of a pendulum swing. People we silent so much for so long that once it is “ok” for them to come out with their stories, everyone is horrified.

    I expect (hope) the pendulum to slow down a little. But one way or another this barrage will end.

    But before it does, if society is smart they will do 2 things:

    1) Make examples of the guilty one. Serious examples. And put in place whatever it takes put the fear of god in anyone considering taking liberties.

    – up to now there was no penalty for being a pig. That has to change. But only “convicted” pigs should be punished severely. And I don’t mean convicted in the media.

    2) Somehow, potential victims must overcome the desire to preserve their career opportunities by keeping their mouth shut.

    – When some of these pigs grabbed someone else publicly – like they are alleged to have done so at a party, for example, the victim should punch them right in the nose – hopefully breaking it. And yell and scream.

    It’s the silence that allows all this. Unfortunately once someone is victimized by a powerful person, they are put in a no-win position:

    They either shut up and preserve their career – thusly perpetuating and emboldening the pigs. And also make themselves feel guilty and terrible.

    Or they raise hell and take the hit on their career as well as risk verbal, legal and media attacks by the pig and the pig’s allies.

    I am convinced that some of these “MeToo’s” are contrived, lies, exaggerations. I have no idea what fraction of them are true. They can get away with that because the pendulum is way over to one side.

    But we have to guard against that equally (Duke Lacrosse, Rolling Stone campus rape fairytale etc).

  6. Klavan has it exactly right:

    “If someone broke the law and you can prove it, prosecute him. If someone violated the rules of his organization, eject him. Other than that, if women have forgotten the fine art of slapping a man in the face, there’s not a whole hell of a lot society can do for them. You keep silent for forty years and then ruin a man’s career with an unprovable allegation — and that makes you a hero? Not to me.
    Any woman he [Franken] grabbed should have smacked him a good one and told him to knock it off at the top of her lungs. When did women become such helpless little flowers? Slapping is a very good system of justice in these cases. Slap him, shout at him, then let the voters decide.”

    He even thinks Franken’s “resignation” was fake:

    “Look, I think Al Franken is a nasty little piece of corruption. I’m not even sure he actually resigned at all. I think he may have just faked it so Democrats could make a lot of hypocritical noise about Roy Moore down in Alabama. I suspect, after the Alabama election is over, if Moore loses, Franken will retract his intended resignation and it’ll all pass away. “

    1. Yes. There has to be a tangible physical or financial threshold of harm. Otherwise, this is how the Ents became childless.

    2. Gregg,

      Mark Levin thinks the same way. Two astute political observers drawing the same conclusion makes me think there is truth here.

  7. The wandering eye isn’t something that only afflicts men.

    Holding people accountable for acting like jerks is a good thing, people not just one gender. People also need to accept that some interactions might be unwanted but that also doesn’t make them criminal or worthy of destroying someone’s life. As Klavan suggests, you hold them account in that moment.

    Who hasn’t been pursued by someone when the feelings weren’t mutual? Who hasn’t made or listened to crude jokes? How many people ended up getting married after the guy was turned down more than once when asking for a date? How many people have gone in for that first kiss and been rebuffed only to see that relationship blossom? How many relationships have started from a chance encounter at a store or museum?

    We are getting to the point where normal human behavior is being criminalized.

  8. Here is the latest about Trump,

    “He took me for lunch at Trump Tower, just us two,” Huddy said on Compound Media’s “Mornin’! With Bill Schulz.” “He said ‘goodbye’ to me in an elevator while his security guy was there; rather than kiss me on the cheek he leaned in to kiss me on the lips. I wasn’t offended, I was kind of like, ‘Oh my god.’ ”

    She added that she “didn’t feel threatened,” but was “surprised” that Trump tried to kiss her.

    1. I remember when women sports journalist demanded they be let into men’s locker rooms because they needed to same access their male coworkers had. Women reporters cover male politicians started long before I was old enough to remember. But this BS keeps up, and women journalist are going to find it far more difficult to get interviews with men.

  9. The irony is that these feminists want men to behave with the values created by Christianity, while decimating the Christian culture.

    1. Well, its a bit more complicated. They want men to behave as asexual beings except at the same time they want them to behave as sexual beings. They don’t want a man who will just kiss her but they want a man who knows when to walk up and kiss her.

      Current feminism is just a mass of contradictions and you are a bigot if you don’t have the magic powers to discern what is expected at the moment or anticipating how while something is expected now, it could be unwanted days, months, or years from now.

      You would think that some smart women out there would tell these ladies that they are acting like every stereotype they claim to hate so much.

      1. Well, its a bit more complicated. They want men to behave as asexual beings except at the same time they want them to behave as sexual beings. They don’t want a man who will just kiss her but they want a man who knows when to walk up and kiss her.

        My take is that unpredictable female behavior had evolutionary value in human societies, perhaps as a strategy to keep males from cheating with other women. It may still have value today for the same reason. But such things as the above, seem to me to be a case when a strongly self-unaware woman has few constraints on such behavior. Actually, being confronted by a man who “knows when to kiss” would probably instead result in them unconsciously modifying their behavior in ways that would tend to make them more unpredictable.

        1. Confusion is simply a tool in a woman’s toolbox. Basically it gets them inside a man’s OODA loop. They simply never concede a point. They just add more trash on top.

          The only way to pin them down is off limits… physically pin them down.

          This is also why they have no perspective. If they couldn’t counter a thousand examples with one counter-example, they’d quickly run out of argument.

          1. I should add that in some cases a single counter-example is all that is logically required. I was talking about abuses that use counter-examples as deflection rather that actual logic.

  10. The problem is trying to fit insane behavior into a sane framework. It’s never going to happen.

    Just don’t take the bait.

  11. I hesitate to say more, but Sarah Hoyt is the adult in the room. Great article (I had said piece but realized in time that hypersensitivity could make that wording problematical.)

  12. I’m slowly working my way through the Berenski(sp?) essay. A rule I’ve followed for the past 30+ years is to never date a co-worker. This wouldn’t have protected me from the Michael Oreskes (NPR) situation though.

Comments are closed.