Breaking the Silence… with Caution

SilenceBreakersTime Magazine broke tradition this year by having a group instead of a person of the year.  In a compelling article about the “Silence Breakers.”  The article focuses on women galvanized around the hashtag “#MeToo” which is breaking the silence of sexual harassment worldwide.

Hurray for the courageous who are exposing these dark acts.  Scripture; Galatians 3:28, 1 Tim. 5:2, and James 1:27, has been crying out against this for 2000 years.

That being said; here are three gnawing concerns:

#1 The potential haziness of accusations.

When exactly, does an interchange move from innocent to an overt act?  It seems even lawyers aren’t sure.  Consider this excerpt from Time’s own article:

Jonathan Segal, a partner at the Philadelphia law firm Duane Morris, who specializes in workplace training, says he hears that confusion in the conversations men are now having among themselves. … ‘I wonder if I should tell someone they look nice, I wonder when it’s O.K. to give a hug, I wonder when I should be alone with someone in a room,'” he says.

This uncertainty can be corrosive. While everyone wants to smoke out the serial predators and rapists, there is a risk that the net may be cast too far. What happens when someone who makes a sexist joke winds up lumped into the same bucket as a boss who gropes an employee? Neither should be encouraged, but nor should they be equated.

 

#2 The potential of too much power to the accuser.

Just looking at the present fallout, it is true that any victim’s life has been tragically damaged, but the life of the accused is also damaged, simply by the allegation.

 

History has proven that an inordinate amount of power to the accuser is as dangerous as the guilty above the law. The Inquisition; the witch-hunts of the 1700’s; the blacklisting in the McCarthy era all destroyed countless lives, on mere allegations.

 

Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not equating the legitimacy of the “Me Too” movement to these events, I’m just pointing out a potential danger.  In each case, there was a toxin in society to be removed at all costs.  It was incredibly easy to accuse, and it was nearly impossible to defend against the accusation.

 

#3 The current presence of mob justice.

In our day, the entire planet can be webbed together as one virtual mob.  With the lack of true connection, this mob is devoid of any mercy.  It is relentless and cruel. In 2015 Monica Lewinsky gave an eye-opening TED Talk.  Reflecting on her experience after the Clinton scandal, the summary reads:

‘”Public shaming as a blood sport has to stop,” says Monica Lewinsky. In 1998, she says, “I was Patient Zero of losing a personal reputation on a global scale almost instantaneously.” Today, the kind of online public shaming she went through has become constant — and can turn deadly.’

 

This is really not a political or even social issue, it is foremost a question of human nature.  The Apostle Paul lists the traits of our fallen nature, and sexual immorality heads the list.  But what haunts me is what’s further into that list; “they are whisperers, haters… unforgiving, unmerciful… (Romans 1:29-31)

 

So, here’s the rub: If the crime and the reform come solely from the same human nature, isn’t it possible that we might simply end up trading one evil for another?  ~Anyway, it’s certainly food for thought.

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