The Weinstein story has certainly opened a can of worms. It seems his profligacy at seducing unwilling female wannabee starlets has no end as the stream of new 'victims' expands across the world daily. Where did he get all this energy from we might ask ? If the stories are to be believed then most men would have long since expired by now, but not Mr Weinstein, the unyielding, energised and obviously highly influential Hollywood mogul who must have had a standing order in place with the furniture manufacturer making his casting couches.
The serious side to this is, of course, that privileged individuals have no right to manipulate aspiring actresses (or any other profession) into activities that they don't want to engage in - either then or now. Yet most of these aspirants did. If we take the naive approach we might ask 'Why did they agree to engage with Mr Weinstein ?' for few seem to have manoeuvred themselves away from the predator for fear of career damage. And that's the crunch. Hollywood has that lure, that special something that ranks higher than anything else in certain individuals eyes and any price is worth paying to make it into the big-time in Hollywood. That's the power Mr Weinstein wielded way back and continued to employ right up to the present day, so we are told. Wrong it was and is, but it is culturally predictable within the artificial world that Hollywood made itself into, and judging by the collateral exposure of a now endless stream of male performers it seems likely that, barring a few moral souls, most men in the Hollywood network did something inexcusable to a female colleague.
The wider story now is way beyond whatever Mr Weinstein and his chums might have done. Every public figure within our own parliamentary system is being daily rocked by revelations of historical, unwelcomed physical contact. Michael Fallon, the Defence Secretary has been obliged to resign, Damian Green the de facto Deputy PM has being forced into taking a libel action and there will be likely much more. There is a virus here, something that is not just the extension of the Weinstein story but something more malevolent, almost orchestrated. We might not yet fully understand what is in play but it seems reasonable to imagine that something or someone is pulling strings.
The question is now, 'What is the right response, the right reaction to all these revelations ?' The police cannot possibly investigate all incidents and even if they had that resource, what could they actually prove ? When two individuals are engaged in an act that one, allegedly, promotes, and the other, allegedly, resists there is the legal position of one word against another being judged. Without confession or a third party witness there is no legal position that can reasonably be taken. The result of that scenario is that character destruction and career destruction are the weapons to be used by the plaintiff's. The legality of doing that in the public domain has yet to be judged but the real effect is buzzing all around us, day after day. Weinstein and likely many others who've been exposed in the last few weeks will probably suffer irreversible career damage (whether the allegations are true or not). Many will say that that is a good thing, but in truth it does us little credit as an evolving society. The Court of Public Opinion has been summoned, sworn in, instant judgements made and their verdicts delivered, damning - irrespective of evidence, credibility or any other rule of law process. No defence, no mitigation, no challenge to accusation, no platform to use to defend - and before anyone gets too exercised by this train of thought, the US and UK constitutional right in the application of the legitimised Rule of Law is that all who are accused have the right to defend themselves. Murderers and terrorists are afforded that privilege and our societal norms should enable any accused person the right of reply.
This commentary is not a platform for excusing or in any way defending abusive behaviour - what is fundamentally wrong will always be wrong - but it is raising the significant issue of contempt for constitutional law, one of the central tenets of most Western democracies. Once we start to abuse these fundamental rights then we start to erode the very fabric of how our societies are structured and sustained. Taken to the extreme you end up with anarchy (the very objective of organisations like Isil). Our societies may not be perfect and there is much to change as the world changes its views, values and codes of conduct, but it is the road to ruin if we let wild and often mendacious public opinion spill over into this frenetic and almost 'guillotinesque' (my invented word) condemnation without recourse. If we are to claim the moral high ground over, say, terrorist organisations and cultural beliefs then we must show ourselves worthy of claiming that status by behaving in ways that demonstrate our abidance to our Rule of Law. Without it, we will succumb to the mob. And we only need a quick glance back into history to see where that leads.