Weinstein was not the first. We could, and should, see the last.
“My mommy always said there were no monsters – no real ones – but there are.”
“Yes, there are, aren’t there?”
“Why do they tell little kids that?”
“Most of the time it’s true.”
Scapegoats serve a function. Traditionally, they allow any culture to eradicate its worst behavior — behaviors that the culture feels they will be punished for. This transfer of sin onto the flesh of a visible sacrifice provides catharsis from the most ancient cultures to our current information age. It provides a small moment in which the contradictions any culture lives with can be viscerally resolved. And yet, scapegoats keep being placed on an eternal altar. History, alas, seems perpetually doomed to repeat itself.
Harvey Weinstein will not be the last scapegoat sacrificed on the altar. In his wake, it seems this may now be a historically rarer system purge. Yet human culture seems to have a thing for repetition compulsion. Intellectuals often spend time on cultural tragedies asking how these things can happen. The real question is, given what we know of human nature and history, why don’t they happen more often?
The chilling answer, especially for our community, is that the worst we can do does happen. Often. Weinstein and others may now be purged. The ability of an ensconced few to lure young people into hotel rooms with vague promises of career advancement in return for the opportunity to be physically and mentally degraded may now be attenuated, if not ended.
The way to bet, however, is that a similar meeting with a shadowy person granted money and power is taking place, as you read this, right now. Somewhere, a person without power but with dreams and aspiration, like most of us human beings, faces a loaded proposition that may advance their deepest wishes but will exact a scarring price.