Weinstein’s Worldly Ways



                                       by Kenneth Bagnell


     It’s now about 20 years since a bright young woman named Ashley Judd began to rise in the career she had dreamed of: a Hollywood actress. It was 1997 and she’d been born in Los Angeles so close to the industry she longed for. She was an intelligent young woman, as shown by her university life, majoring in French, and also pursuing art history and women’s studies. She was a bit nervous when she had the offer of an audition for a film role. In any case, she so impressed the producers, she was on her way to a promising career. In time she even became the public face of the popular American magazine, American Beauty, which promotes Estee Lauder cosmetics. Things were going very well.

               She would never forget, that year, 1997, when she was invited to meet a great Hollywood figure, a man then noted for his gift of making film stars. His surname was Weinstein and his first name was Harvey. He was born and raised in New York, son of Polish immigrants and  Jewish faith. As early as his high school years, he began to aspire to the film industry. In time, along with his brother, Bob, they created a firm called, Miramax, a name chosen to blend his parents first names, Miriam and Max. Naturally, Ashley was enthused when she heard he wanted to meet her; after all it signalled a major opportunity for her film career.

               Unfortunately their meeting, in the suite of a Beverly Hills Hotel, became a shocking disaster she could never ever forget. According to all reports, Weinstein tried not to court her, but to force her into intercourse with such force and insensitivity, that she can’t rid herself of that dreadful night on which she was so coarsely exploited. Her memory of that night in a Beverly Hills hotel, has lead her to use much of her energy telling as many people as possible, what she was forced to do. As for Weinstein, his sexual appetite lead him to many other women for the same thing, so that, by before long, his inclination became such a frequent custom that,  it became a public issue, that in time, the whole world took note of it and has responded by rejecting him. His wife left him the very day his excessive promiscuity was revealed. Some major American papers have reported the names of the exploited women, numbered at around sixty from numerous countries.

    As usual, the psychiatrists, given their long professional tradition, have said nothing. But psychologists have spoken up. Dr. Thomas G. Plante, has done so in the profession’s recent publication, Psychology Today. Here’s what he said:  “The recent Harvey Weinstein harassment reveals how powerful and influential men can tragically and egregiously exploit young women for their advantage.  It is a cruel reminder that men in power can use their status to victimize women repeatedly and that decades can go by without these predators being caught or held accountable. Similar recent stories about Bill O’Reilly and Donald Trump, for example, have demonstrated that this pattern of abuse and victimization occurs in multiple settings when men in power have control over women who don’t.” (He has courage when he alludes to the current American President who is, of course, one of the most flawed in American history.)          

      I can’t help but wonder what the law will now do in regard to all these incidents which, as far as I can tell, were not consensual. Is what happened punishable in law? Is it? Given the large number of women, there is obvious complexity as opinions vary, both among the women, and among the legal profession. Many of the women urge the courts and the prosecutors to get busy. That said, the opinions of the women do vary a bit and there is, as yet, no uniform strategy. A major US paper, recently reported its coverage of this  “lawyer issue” and what the law will do about the matter and about Weinstein?  A US class action procedure is obviously not simple in content and clear in strategy. A spokesman  a few days ago, made this legal observation:                 “ Weinstein’s widespread sexual misconduct did not occur without the help of others…. Rather over time, Weinstein, enlisted the aid of other firms and individuals to facilitate concealing his pattern of unwanted sexual conduct…. Each participant in the Weinstein sexual enterprise had a systematic linkage to each other participant through corporate ties, contracted relationships, financial ties and the continuing coordination of activities… Through the Weinstein sexual enterprise, the defendants and their co-conspirators functioned as a continuing unit with the purpose of furthering the illegal scheme and their common purposes… .”   It ends with a statement that may send shivers down many backs: “All of whom are responsible for Weinstein’s sexual offense because Weinstein acted within the scope of his employment and/ or these entities ratified or concealed Weinstein’s conduct…”

      Well, well.  Maybe in twenty years we’ll actually know the outcome. A friend once said, “I often wonder why the language of the law and the lawyers is, well, a bit complex.” I thought of him as I read and reread the passage the New York lawyers gave the public on the Weinstein situation. For me, it recalled a passage spoken by James Madison, the American President, from 1809 to 1817. “It will be of little avail to the people, “Madison said, “if the language of the law be so voluminous and complex that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood.” That bit of wisdom came back as I read what the lawyers were saying to us all about the future of The Weinstein Sexual Enterprise.


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