The most depressing part of the Cain story

Is how conservatives are just so happy to defend him.  It’s one thing to claim its a liberal media conspiracy (absurd– Obama should be paying Cain to have better advisers and funneling money to his campaign), but what’s really disgusting and depressing is that conservative attack on the whole concept of workplace sexual harassment.  Dahlia Lithwick lays it all out:

I have no idea what Herman Cain did with the two, or maybe three, or possibly now fourwomen who have raised allegations of improper sexual behavior about him. I don’t know whether any of them will come forward and run the risk of being labeled a slut for their efforts to do their jobs without being treated like pole-dancers. I do know that—asAmanda Marcotte so eloquently explained this week—the very same people who insist that we don’t know what actually happened all those years ago seem to know exactly what happened: nothing.

Sexual harassment is now nothing. Welcome to the era of gender harassment denialism. The harassment skeptics claim that harassment, like racism, used to exist but is now over…

Why not start with John Derbyshire, who put it this way in the National Review: “Is there anyone who thinks sexual harassment is a real thing? Is there anyone who doesn’t know it’s all a lawyers’ ramp, like ‘racial discrimination’? You pay a girl a compliment nowadays, she runs off and gets lawyered up.” …

Or take the legal stylings of Kurt Schlichter, who asserts that “the only things you need to file a lawsuit are the filing fee and a printer. Facts are optional. … Where sexual-harassment law once protected women from being forced to be the playthings of crude lechers, it’s been transformed to enforcing a prim puritanism that drains the humor and humanity from the workplace.”…

Rep. Steve King doubled down on this theme, calling sexual harassment “a terrible concept,” and lamenting the tendency “to define an action by the perception of the perceived victim.”

There’s even more, but you get the disgusting point.  Are we really supposed to believe that all sexual harassment victims are either A) horribly over-sensitive and humorless; or B) just looking to make a big legal score or get a great book deal by accusing a famous person?  In the conservative worldview, the answer seems to be yes (unless Bill Clinton is the alleged harasser).


About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

5 Responses to The most depressing part of the Cain story

  1. Brian says:

    It’s not the conservative worldview. It’s the view of those of us who have actually seen it in action. Reality has a way of making conservatives of people.

    When I was in the Army, we had weekly sensitivity training, which had as its constant harangue that it didn’t matter what the offender’s intent was. It was all in how another person, even a third party, perceived it. That’s actually what they taught. Steve King is absolutely right on that.

  2. Steve Greene says:

    Well then the Army was wrong– which I am sorry to hear about. The standard is most definitely not “was the person offended” but rather, would a reasonable person be offended.

  3. Obviously you don’t get how libs have one rule for them and another for conservatives.
    Where is the corroboration? Just as blacks laughlingly joke that if they don’t get their way
    they will sue for racism and women have falsely accused people to get ahead finanancially. It is a fact of life and yet I don’t defend legitimate sexism or sexual harrassment. Just ook at the cries of rape of the .Duke Lacrosse players. It was all made up for a payday and Sharpton had his face in front of tv cameras, or perhaps you don’t recall the Tawanna Brauley case where a 15 year old girl cliamed to have been gang raped by oh 15 white guys.

  4. Steve Greene says:

    It’s quite simple– given an organization has decided to twice pay out to persons who have alleged sexual harassment against a single individual, we can make two presumptions. A) These women really were the victims of sexual harassment; or B) they were lying to get money. Again, given that the NRA paid out, I think the presumption should be that they were actual victims. Obviously, far from definitive, but I will reiterate that I think conservatives way overstate the amount of sexual harassment claims that are illegitimate. And, yes, I remember the cases you are talking about, which, I think is fair to say are far from typical.

  5. Perhaps you are familiar with the concept of a nuisance suit where they pay even though it is without merit but it is easier and cheaper than adjudicating the claim.

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