• Son of Griff

    Where the paths of Cruise and Weinstein overlap is a blinkered perspective as to the effects of everyday abuse in the entertainment industry. There is a rampant “It’s your misfortune, and none of my own” mentality when it comes to exploitation in the studio corporate climate, in large part because it’s a highly competitive work environment, and taking shit shows commitment to your path to success. Many employees, and not only celebrities, conspire in a tacit agreement that, even though these actions are illegal, you’ve got to pay your dues to achieve your professional aspirations. Attempts to call attention to your inequities are subsequently seen as “unethical” cries to achieve celebrity, and thus the disciplinary abuse and enforced poverty foisted upon SeaOrg volunteers are ignored, and cases of sexual harassment and assault are dismissed with a collective shrug and a non-disclosure clause.

    As to your specific claims against Cruise’s assault on psychology, the issue is more complicated. His right to express criticism towards psychiatry and psycho-pharmacy is pretty much guaranteed under the First Amendment, and boycotting a celebrity in terms of their beliefs will strike some Americans as un-patriotic. I might also add that the relationship between Hollywood and the therapeutic community is a complicated one that is also rife with abuse. Scientology’s attack on the institution is in part to disguise its own complicity in a relatively secret history of pseudo-scientific gaslighting in Hollywood that is too long to go into here.

    • His beliefs are actively destructive to people like me, and maybe it’s still his right to them, but it’s my right to fight back against that harm with everything I have. Which isn’t much, I grant you, because as a mentally ill person I don’t have a lot of focus. But “psychology has done bad stuff too,” while true, does not excuse the actual harm done by Scientology’s response. Because we aren’t just talking about in Hollywood. We’re talking about a lot of people who have had the best possible treatment for their illness denied them because of Scientology.

      • Son of Griff

        I agree with your right to protest Cruise’s public stance regarding psychiatric medicine and therapy. The Church (a term I’d use very loosely here) definitely denies treatment to its members who would benefit from it. I’m particularly concerned with regards to children of Scientology members being denied legitimate expertise to help them with mental health issues. I think that the effectiveness of such protests are limited, pertaining to this issue only, in that Cruise’s actions stem from personal belief rather than monetary or sexual gain. Scientology’s role in trafficking and circumventing labor laws, and Cruise’s benefit from that, ought to be subjected to higher scrutiny.

        I’d also argue that the current health care system, and the attitudes we have towards individualism in stressful work environments, and various counter-cultural attitudes towards psychology that justified de-funding mental health programs, posed a far worse threat to the treatment of mental illness than Scientology.

        • Sure. But no one responsible for those gets nominated for Oscars or headlines billion-dollar franchises.

          • Son of Griff

            They do get elected to public office and hospital boards where health care decisions, and access, are made and implemented. Cruises’ advocacy for balderdash is hardly laudatory but as said elsewhere it’s not directly responsible for the dismal state of our mental health system. Shitty as his beliefs are they are not responsible for his success. Blame the Wisdom of the Crowd for both

        • Annerdr

          Why do you think Cruise does not benefit from being Scientology’s mouthpiece? They find him girls to date, they provide slave labor. Cruise may believe in the church or may just enjoy the benefits. I see no way of telling which.

          • Son of Griff

            I believe that I said that this is an aspect that should be discussed publicly in further detail, if not in this post than in another.

          • Annerdr

            I think that the effectiveness of such protests are limited, pertaining to this issue only, in that Cruise’s actions stem from personal belief rather than monetary or sexual gain.

            This is what I war responding to. I don’t know why you think Cruise’s actions stem from a strong personal belief rather than from the monetary and sexual gain he receives. I thought maybe you had some information I haven’t seen.

          • Son of Griff

            That sentance only refers to his critiques of psychiatry. The next sentence is the one I’m referring to which discusses scientology’s role in trafficking and circumventing labor laws. Here Cruise has personally benefitted.

          • Annerdr

            I don’t think people partition their thoughts like that. I suspect that the sexual benefits and slave labor benefits are a big part of why Cruise says with the Scientology Church and why he advocates for all of their nonsense, including their anti-psychiatry BS.

      • Dead Jerk Jerk Dead

        I think it’s important to observe (and I think @SonofGriffenstein:disqus would agree with me) that the “psychology has done bad stuff too” element is a much more malevolent and pervasive thing in this case than it might be in other circumstances, like in other subcultures, parts of the country or for other people. I’ve worked in mental health, I’ve known (a lot of) bad mental health workers, but I’ve only known a few absolute narcissists who entered the field entirely because they believed they should be running other people’s lives. The ones who didn’t start out in southern CA, moved there.

        I am no defender of Scientologist; far from it. But I do see the cultural break point that Scientology is swinging at, and it’s to the mental health field’s shame that it’s there.

        • Son of Griff

          Psychotherapy has a tie to Hollywood that is not representative of most other areas of the country. That isn’t too surprising, considering that the cult of personality, best embodied in the form of the movie star, represents a cultural shift in society towards self actualization as a personal goal. Psychoanalytic theory provides the foundation for the methods by which actors are trained, and the prominence of therapists, and their influence, in the community, is well known. I don’t know how prevalent some of the more negative incidents of psychiatric abuse are (Frances Farmers’ lobotomy, Eugene Landy and Brian Wilson, the insistence of prominent therapists that informing to HUAC would be of therapeutic value) to the trade, but celebrity culture and a “science of the self” seem intrinsically related. (Hell, if I write another thesis, this would be my topic).

          In this light, I don’t view Scientology as a rejection of psychiatry, but a parallel extension of its discourse. It provides a rationalist path towards self actualization as long as you buy its most fantastical elements as fact. It uses technology to simulate neurological surveillance, utilizes acting classes to recruit members, and insists that it can help one fully realize their unique, personal potential. The group’s hostility towards psychiatric medicine stems, I believe, from a need to distance itself from its origins.

          Cruises’ relationship to psychiatry is not representative to that of the public as a whole, and if his protestations were more effective, he would be a real menace to @gillianren:disqus and others who rely on professional mental health services that operate in ways that do not reflect the models described above. Fortunately the damage he can do seems limited by his dogmatic association with a cult that is widely despised. Far more dangerous is an ideology that mental illness is a myth, a belief that seems far more widespread and dangerous for public policy.

          • Anthony Pizzo

            You seem to be hung up on the idea of what Tom Cruise is doing *personally* to attack psychology, and kind of ignoring the fact that there are whole teams of people staging a constant blitz against the field whom Cruise, though his membership, is funding.

            For instance: the claim that Frances Farmer was lobotomized. That came from Shadowland, written by Scientologist William Arnold, who made up the incident out of whole cloth. You’re not furthering the discourse if you’re just making shit up, that’s just propaganda.

            Almost every organization has a shady past, especially when they’re underfunded and just starting to figure out what works. What matters is where those organizations are now, and currently psychiatry is doing a lot of people a lot of good, and Scientology is a lawsuit-happy bunch of clowns trying to sell a pyramid scheme dressed up in shitty sci-fi as a viable method of self-improvement.

          • Son of Griff

            Well, dog my cats!! I thought that the Frances Farmer story, at least as far as the lobotomy was concerned, was accepted fact. Turns out that I, and some others I’ve consulted on this, have been duped. I can’t find support for Arnold being a Scientologist, a fact that he denies, and if his agenda was to indict psychiatric medicine, he wouldn’t necessarily have to be one. The scope of his claims, which include depraved and criminal conduct on behalf of the hospital where Farmer was treated, are of a gothic nature that goes far beyond indicting once common methods.

            As to your first point, what we might call an ‘anti-psychiatry” movement transcends Scientology, which seems primarily concerned promotes a paranoid, libertarian view of the litany of arguments against the discipline. Seeing the rather frightening trend in the power shift in the U.S., this is pretty frightening. Many of these arguments, stemming from a notion that psychiatry excused socially deviant behavior fueled conservative resentment against the discipline and rationalized deep cuts in state funding for mental health treatment as early as the 1960s, long before Scientology took the lead on the issue (It did play a supporting role in derailing an expansive mental health program in Alaska in 1964, though).The resources that the church has the potential to deploy in a campaign against the psychiatric “establishment” should be of concern, but I think public links between Scientology and the GOP’s war on public health were explicitly revealed, it would be extremely embarrassing.

            To the last point, Psychiatry has taken a more biologically deterministic path over the last 40 years, using empirical studies of the behavior of the brain to treat symptoms related to specific conditions. This was not always the case, and during the time when the examples I cited occurred the primary goal of therapy was based on what Michel Faucault would call “control of the self”. Basically, this was based on the therapist wresting a sense of self discipline upon the patient to alter his or her feelings and/or behavior. Scientology, as I’ve suggested in these posts, does not entirely reject psychiatry in practice: It actually darkly expresses the Power/Knowledge dynamic embedded in mid century therapeutic culture in a more cosmologically pseudo-scientific narrative.

          • Do you have an example from this century about how bad psychiatry is? Because forgiving Scientology’s attitude toward psychology because L. Ron Hubbard (who died with psychiatric drugs in his system) felt hard done-by by psychiatry in the ’50s is frankly ridiculous.

          • Son of Griff

            As I mentioned in the original post, This is really too complex an issue to delve into on a comments thread. The big idea is that, in the last 40 or 50 years, the focus on mental health has shifted from a focus on the therapist trying to get the patient to get “control of the self” towards a more physiological approach towards understanding the causes of psychiatric disorders. Basically, the direction that modern psychiatry has taken is more in line with mainstream medical practice than in the past, when psychiatric professionals were given many of the powers and authority of physicians but without the scientific process being necessarily followed.

            But this ignores your question, and to be honest, outside of the widespread abuse of illegal prescriptions, which is not systematic abuse, I am stumped. However, Scientology’s attack on the institutionalization of psychiatric medicine is not restricted to pharmaceuticals, but to all practices that fall under its domain. They use the “poisoned fruit from the same tree” fallacy to deride an entire arm of the medical establishment.

            In trying to critique Scientology and other religiously or ideologically driven positions of anti-psychiatry, I think you have to understand its history. The church’s war on psychiatry isn’t founded entirely on a hatred towards empirically verified scientific medicine, but also on earlier practices that it has mimicked (As has EST, Synanon and other groups). Also, the “war on psychiatry” is not a mere figment of Scientology, but a fundamental part of a lot of post-foundational cultural theory (Michel Foucault, to name a prominent example) that opposes the concept of psychology on grounds other than the libertarian Orwellian paranoia ( like Thomas Schasz, who has at times allied with Scientology).

            On a personal note, I get the feeling that some here are suggesting that by merely saying that Cruise, and by extension, his church, have a right, and a reason to promote their agenda, that I am supporting their agenda. I think the language I have used suggests that I have no sympathy for their position, and I would like to say that, in light of a certain legitimate criticism of an example I used, their underhanded tactics. I must confess that, based on this revelation, I think that, on one occasion, an episode of a telecourse that I once taught might have been subject to a stealth Scientology propaganda attack, which kind of skeeves me out. The best way to limit Scientology’s reach would be to prohibit churches from finiancing political causes, but that ain’t gonna happen under Trump, whose executive orders do the opposite.

          • I just don’t think his right to his religious beliefs trumps other people’s rights to decent medical care. He can believe whatever the hell he wants to for all of me, but once he starts using those beliefs to try to influence others, I have the right to push back against them. Just as people are right to push back against any other toxic religious beliefs when those people use them to harm others.

            There’s a parenting book that suggests that you beat children as young as my daughter with quarter-inch plumbing supply line for being “willful.” The guy who suggests doing that uses the Bible as an authority for his parenting style. Children have died when their parents–usually, it’s worth noting, adoptive parents–followed his techniques. Is it wrong to advocate against that because it’s religious?

          • And you don’t think having a hugely popular movie star insisting over and over, not to mention fundraising for organizations that more subtly pronounce it, that mental illness is a myth does anything to that public discourse?

          • Annerdr

            Whether you view Scientology as a rejection of psychiatry or not, rejection of psychiatry is a foundational belief. Foundational enough that they made up the story of Farmer’s lobotomy. The group’s hostility toward psychiatric medicine stems from the competition psychiatry provides to their pseudo-scientific e-meters. Cruise is a popular figurehead for Scientology and has clearly expressed how unnecessary psychiatric medications are. This hurts people who believe him.

            And Scientology isn’t just a Hollywood thing. They opened a center in Nashville in 2009. There’s one in New York and in Portland. There’s one in several European cities. And the basis for all of them, for the cult’s beliefs, is that psychiatry is evil and Scientology will fix all mental health issues. This hurts people.

          • Son of Griff

            As stated below, I’ve since done some research and discovered the fabricated nature of the Farmer story. The notion that the church fabricated the story is supportable, although they have promoted it.

            I think the church rejects the institution of professional psychiatric care, but primarily out of certain assumptions about the nature of “illness” and the evolution of the discipline towards a biological focus. In many respects its assumptions about self control, taking personal responsibility for your behavior, and submission to the authority of the church mirrors mid-century psychiatric doctrine.relating to the patient. therapist dynamic. It is a cult that competes with psychiatry in the court of public opinion, but it shares a tangled alliance with its historical foundations nevertheless.

          • Annerdr

            It is a church that also competes with psychiatry right now, preventing it’s members from receiving life altering care.

          • smrnda

            What you are writing about an calling ‘psychiatry’ sound like ideas that have been more or less dropped by almost all reputable practitioners my entire life. Hollywood is kind of fascinated by what psychiatry used to be since you can’t really make movies about the way it is now as easily.

            I mean, if you sat around and watched movies like “One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest” being anti-psychiatry would be a natural response, but we’ve also got a problem that movies like that are depicting psychiatry as it hasn’t been for a long time.

        • Annerdr

          Bad physicians exist, yet denying health care is seen as a Bad Thing. I think it works the same in psychotherapy. Bad therapists exist, but going to a therapist and taking medication is still your best bet for not dying when you have a mental illness. Cruise does a lot of harm by being a leader in a cult that denies mentally ill people access to therapy and/or medication. Pointing that out should be a regular thing.

    • smrnda

      “, and boycotting a celebrity in terms of their beliefs will strike some Americans as un-patriotic.”

      If a celebrity were to make enough outright racist comments that people were disgusted and their films were boycotted, I doubt anyone would call that ‘anti-American’ – it’s people deciding that, as consumers, they are free to spend or not to spend money. People are free to believe whatever, and people are free to choose not to buy their stuff.

  • The difference looks to be visibility. With Gibson, Allen, Knowles, Weinstein, Polanski, Cosby, etc. (how depressing is it that I have to write “etc.”?) there are direct connections between each of them and who they harmed, and we have stories about that direct harm. If there are enough stories for enough time, that’s when the conversation changes. It’s not that what Cruise does is less harmful–like you said, this is a matter of life and death for some–is that he is less directly responsible. Like you said, he benefits from what Scientology does, but that’s not the same, and it doesn’t create the same kind of stories, as doing these things himself. It wasn’t the Weinstein Company that demanded sex from actresses, it was Harvey Weinstein; it wasn’t Silver Pictures that yelled racist and anti-Semitic stuff on tape, it was Mel Gibson.

    This will change when there are enough stories around to change people’s minds. That means making known the damage done by Scientology and making known the damage done by people who ignore or downplay mental illness. (I also think both of these issues are larger than Tom Cruise and should be fought for regardless of where he stands on them.) This isn’t gonna be easy and it’s going to take time, but the lesson of recent years is that once a critical mass of stories gets achieved, change does follow. At the least, staying quiet won’t change anything. So continue speaking up.

    • Babalu-ghost

      The difference is that most of those men are rapists or suspected rapists, and Tom Cruise is a guy who got taken in by a cult.

      And we can play this game with any religious or political organization. George Clooney is an outspoken Democrat. Does that mean he is partially responsible for drone warfare? Yes, but if we try and hold everyone to that standard we’re going to end up pretty lonely. And this isn’t to say that Scientology isn’t an evil institution, but I don’t think we can paint every individual member with that same evil. People have some right to be wrong about things.

      Also, and this is probably a discussion for another day, but I don’t think someone’s personal morality has much to do with their professional success, and I think it’s important that we stop believing it does. Bill Cosby was a serial rapist, and one of the funniest men to ever live. It’s possible to be both, and dangerous when we don’t believe it is. I think someone can deserve an Oscar and deserve a prison sentence at the same time, because being a great artist does not make you a good person.

      • Your last sentence is basically how I’ve come to feel about Polanski. You are the first person other than me who I’ve seen articulate those sentiments that way, it’s pretty heartening.

      • Dead Jerk Jerk Dead

        We seem to be really hung up on that last point as a culture lately. “If Cosby was a rapist, how could he be so funny?” Well, those two things aren’t actually related, sooo…

    • Maybe we need to find out if any of the Sea Org people who worked on his house have managed to leave the Church.

    • Dead Jerk Jerk Dead

      I fear that the “visibility” you speak of here is really just the need for a villain that the mob can call as much. The more I think about the Weinstein thing, the more I assume that the company at large had to be much more complicit in this than has yet come out. Those six-figure settlements come out of bank accounts, those honeypot meeting arrangers are still right there on staff the next morning, those organized media smear campaigns need organizing and those casting favorites bumped someone for the role. The idea that, say, his brother had no idea anything was going on is preposterous. (I was trying to make this point talking about Not!Affleck yesterday, but I didn’t really spell it out: if you saw this happening, you’d assume that everyone already knew and nobody was doing anything about it, is my point.)

      But now we have that villain, that central figure whose downfall gives such satisfaction. Scientology’s evil is so much more bureaucratic – and Cruise himself hasn’t apparently done anything worse than divorce Nicole Kidman (which, yow) – that it’s harder to find the one guy for the mob to hate. And David Miscavidge has had the good sense to stay out of sight too, on the point.

      • That’s the problem with anything public–you’re necessarily playing by the public’s rules, which (as @disqus_Pvn3kEV3Sl:disqus has pointed out here and elsewhere) are pretty darn capricious, if not outright fucked-up. With this public, stories with easily identified villains get more coverage than those without.

        • Dead Jerk Jerk Dead

          As much as I love karmic schadenfreude, that aspect of all of this has been bothering me an awful lot ever since Cosby. Cosby was taken down by popular opinion, as far as I can tell. Legal measures followed, but it wasn’t legal measures that kicked this off, it was (the online equivalent of) an angry mob. It’s been the same with a lot of these cases: it’s not like Johnny Depp was indicted, right? I am not trying to let Monsieur Depp off the hook here, let me be clear; I’m just pointing out that the “justice” that happened here happened on the popular level.

          The problem with that, of course, is that our justice system is built on the idea that mob justice ain’t no justice t’all, and we don’t seem to be collectively worrying about that part of this as much as we should. It leaves me with a certain sympathy for stories like this, because for all I know Mel Gibson did actually go do a penitence tour among Jewish leaders and chose not to publicize it relentlessly–and so his name remains darkened. Because what does an angry mob really know about the facts, anyway?

          • John Bruni

            But if the opposing viewpoint to “mob justice” is “what about men’s rights when being accused of rape,” then that’s a whole other problem, isn’t it?

          • Dead Jerk Jerk Dead

            I’m not saying that current developments are bad! That is not what I’m saying here at all. I’m just concerned about the unintended consequences that are getting set in motion here.

          • John Bruni

            Either I’m missing what these unintended consequences are, or I’m thinking it’s more important to believe women when they say they’ve been sexually assaulted (which would have lessened the chances of the Cosby trial turning into a media circus).

          • My read is that the unintended consequences aren’t here yet but they could well be on their way–it’s the nature of them that they take a while to show up. I keep thinking of the 1970s and the rising tide of fear and crime in the cities; I remember the same kind of rhetoric we get now, of being on the side of the victims and caring more about victims than the rights of criminals. I’m sure you remember this too. It ended up in a wave of incarceration and demonization in the 1980s and 1990s and we’re still living with the consequences now.

            And the thing is, it didn’t actually make anyone safer. It didn’t lower the crime rate. What it did was create a whole class of people who were there to be punished, because its easier to do that then address the causes of crime. It’s easier to point at a few people and say “yes, these are the ones to blame, lock them up” than address something that’s systemic. @D2JD:disqus’s statement here that the Weinstein Company shielded and enabled this behavior for decades is on-point here, as is Rose McGowan’s challenge that the entire board of the Weinstein Company should resign. This is the problem @gillianren:disqus faces all the time, a destructive force that doesn’t have a clear face to blame.

            Right now, that’s not a fair comparison. Right now, I’m OK with how things are going in terms of seeking justice for the victims of sexual assault. Right now, people–women and men–are speaking out, and encouraging other people to speak out, and that’s going to change the culture for the better. It’s my sense of tragedy (and my reading of Pynchon, for that matter) that reminds me about where good intentions can lead, and that just because you’re fighting bad, that doesn’t mean everything you do is good.

            Also, I do believe women, and I believe DJ JD does too. His point (if I may wallflowersplain for a moment here) that a lot of people don’t act because they believe women, it’s because they believe a thing someone posted on Facebook which was based on another thing on someone else’s Twitter who got it from something on someone else’s website who may or may not have gotten it from something someone said. That’s something to worry about–everyone, regardless of politics, is vulnerable to believing things because it accords with their beliefs.

          • Dead Jerk Jerk Dead

            You wallflowersplained better than I could say it myself, but this. It’s not where we are that concerns me because things like Weinstein’s downfall are good things that should’ve happened a long time ago. it’s where we’re going–and in this case, we’re violating one of our own tenets for how “justice” works and what it should look like.

            As for the rest, I assumed the Weinstein thing was public knowledge because I believed the women in question, not despite my distrusting them; my cynicism on whether justice would happen was because I figured the system was too refined and entrenched for anyone to take it down, not because I thought the victims were lying.

          • jroberts548

            Gamer gate was an angry mob. Trump rallies are angry mobs. I do not trust angry mobs with carrying out justice.

            It’s great that people are speaking out against Weinstein, with specific allegations of things that are actually criminal, and I hope that the victims are able to get recourse through the courts.

          • Dead Jerk Jerk Dead

            Exactly! And I started to discuss this twice now (before deciding I was typing too much again) but the Weinstein thing has a slightly different element to it in that it’s formal journalism doing what it’s supposed to do. Both of the main stories were carefully researched and confirmed by professionals for months; this is what journalists are supposed to be doing, and the public outcry that followed is possibly something more established within our culture than mere mob anger.

            But it doesn’t change the basic problem that this didn’t happen in the courts, and that the courts have been systemically failing the victims of these crimes in ways that leave the door open for this type of outcome. The outcome is welcomed, and in fact long overdue. I’m just iffy on the mechanism by which it came about, is all.

          • jroberts548

            It’s angry mobs reporting her that got McGowan briefly kicked off Twitter. all the structural things matter more, but mob justice does at least as much to keep accusers quiet as they do to punish abusers.

            The structural problems can be fixed. I hope they’re fixed by punishing people like Cy Vance for taking bribes, or by punishing police departments for devoting resources to broken windows while untested rape kits sit in storage, rather than by undermining the rights of the accused in court.

          • John Bruni

            Don’t get me wrong: if the rights of those accused of rape were being undermined in court, that would be a problem. But exactly the opposite is occurring: women who accuse men of rape are openly and publicly slandered, if not worse, and Betsy Grizzly Bear DeVos is doing everything she can to make sure to weigh the scales in favor of men who are accused of rape on college campuses.

          • jroberts548

            The former is true and awful. We have remedies for slander.

            The title ix proceedings on college campuses are mockeries of justice and should never have been put in place. The right to counsel, the right to know what you’re accused of, and the right to cross examine are non-negotiables if you want a justice system. Rescinding the Department of Education’s Dear Colleague letter is the only remotely justifiable thing the trump administration has done.

          • John Bruni

            Read any article about a women raped by an athlete at a big-time school, and it’s rather hard to conclude there’s a justice system at all. We have to start taking the arguments made by critical legal scholars seriously: there’s no abstract notions of justice and law to apply to abstracted notions of people: there are instead real bodies marked by gender, sex, class, ethnicity, and race. There is a tendency for women who have been raped on campus not to come forward for many reasons, one crucial reason is the fear of having to deal with reprisals (in what feels like a small, insular college community) once they do come forward. To not take such fear into account, to not empathize with the absolute terror and vulnerability of a young woman who knows she’s been raped but faces a society more than willing to put doubts in her head is to, regardless of having the best intentions, perpetuate the rape culture that is a feature, not a bug, of the college experience.

          • jroberts548

            The solution to that is to punish reprisals, not to get rid of procedural protections for the accused. Getting rid of, e.g., the right to cross examine won’t make campus cops take accusations seriously. Likewise, replacing the criminal justice system with one that just expels rapists doesn’t solve the problem; it just sends predators out to pursue people who aren’t in college. I don’t see how that’s an improvement.

            Expulsion is too serious a punishment to inflict without due process, and woefully insufficient to inflict on rapists. It’s absurd.

          • John Bruni

            I can see all sorts of ways the right to cross examine would make women less willing to come forward–removing it won’t solve the problem, but it has to be considered as part of the problem.

            A campus policy that does not take into account the kind of trauma produced when women have to live near, go to classes with, and/or daily encounter the people who sexually assaulted them cannot be beneficial, in the short or long term.

          • jroberts548

            And the appropriate remedy to fix that trauma is prison or a restraining order.

            I don’t see why it’s more traumatic for a college student than for a towny waitress. A quasi criminal justice system that sets rapists loose on society large is not an improvement that anyone should tolerate.

            The conviction rate when prosecutors charge people is trivially less than 100%. The overwhelming balance of power is in the prosecution’s favor. The right to cross examine and the right to counsel are the bare fucking minimum. It’s the difference between what we have now and literally worse than Orwell and Kafka. If mass incarceration is a problem now, just wait. The government is ran by fucking Nazis. I cannot imagine how giving it more power to put people in prison more easily is a good idea.

            I almost think prosecutors are sandbagging rape cases to try to trick people into giving them more power. Fucking New York DA Cy Vance said he never indicted Weinstein, even when he had on tape saying he groped an actress, because he said he couldn’t show intent. Here’s all Vance needs to show intent for prostitution: https://twitter.com/melissagira/status/917835768780992512

            NYPD has 42,000 rape kits, and it doesn’t even know which ones are tested. http://www.criminaljustice.ny.gov/crimnet/ojsa/Sexual-Offense-Evidence-Kit-Report-4-10-17.pdf Meanwhile, Cy fucking Vance prosecuted 300 prostitution cases the same year he couldn’t go after Weinstein. https://twitter.com/melissagira/status/917835265036705792

            Cops and prosecutors are corrupt sons of bitches who don’t give a fuck about any one. The problem is not that they have too little power to prosecute people. The problem is that everyone single one of them needs to be held accountable for being awful.

          • And let’s not forget that for many victims, the statute of limitations runs out before they get the courage.

          • John Bruni

            Exactly. I find it hard to believe you could design a system any more biased against women who have been sexually assaulted than we currently have.

          • Well, don’t forget that Betsy De Vos has decided that women’s sexual histories can be used against them in college proceedings.

          • I’ve read those articles, and they’re horrifying. I’ve also read articles about someone threatened with expulsion and ordered to stay away from his girlfriend when he was accused by a third party and the supposed victim proclaimed, loudly, that there was no abuse. I’ve read many articles about men and women suing universities over their due process rights being violated (the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of due process extends well outside the courtroom, more on this later). What all these articles, cited by you and by me, have in common, what all the abuses (towards accusers and accused) of Title IX have in common is: Protect the Institution. Star football player gets accused? Protect the Institution, humiliate the accuser, stall the process, make her life so miserable that she recants. Bigshot dean or researcher harasses women for years? Protect the Institution, claim you’re investigating, let him keep his job and rake in the research cash. Someone unimportant, some non-revenue generator gets accused? Run through the process as quickly as you can, maybe do a Skype meeting with the accused where they find out what they’re accused of, get those good statistics, keep the federal money coming, Protect the Institution.

            The “Dear Colleagues” letter created a situation that was near-guaranteed to be exploited in all directions: it made university administrations judge, investigator, prosecutor, and evaluator of the process. It was, and I fucking hate to say this (and I almost never use that expression), a Trumpian act, something done by an Administration that saw a real problem and wanted something that looked like a win for its constituency and left the real hard work, difficult conflicts, and ugly consequences to everyone else. I’m not at all convinced that it’s made any woman safer or reduced the incidence of sexual assault and rape. I am convinced that it’s been a goddamn bonanza for lawyers and administrators.

            So, how can it be fixed?

            1. Fuck Betsy DeVos, in a non-sexual, PG-13, but vicious sense. She will actively destroy anything good and true about education, and any real reform is going to have to come from the institutions–really, the people, the students and teachers and maybe even the administrators–themselves.

            2. Investigations of sexual assault and rape need to be handled by an independent agency, something not beholden to the campus administration, a group not concerned with protecting the football team or keeping the Federal grant money flowing. This may or may not be a police department. That so many police departments ignore rape, which they most definitely do, is an argument for doing the difficult work of reforming those departments, not creating a pseudojudicial system on campus that answers only to the administration. Like @jroberts548:disqus , I cannot find any moral argument that justifies creating a higher standard of treatment for accusers on campus while not doing so for those off campus.

            3. As jroberts548 sez, “The right to counsel, the right to know what you’re accused of, and the right to cross examine are non-negotiables if you want a justice system.” I agree that these need to be absolutely necessary and minimum guarantees. Leave aside any question of morality, on a strictly practical level–and this is exactly what we’ve seen with Title IX–if you don’t have those guarantees, you will get challenged and sued under the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment. The power of that clause extends far beyond the “rights of those accused of rape [or anything else, I’d add] being undermined in court,” to paraphrase you, and it’s been the work of progressives over at least a century that has made it so. (If application of the Due Process Clause had been restricted to the courts, we’d be pretty much stuck in 1910–and of course, there are a lot of people who are trying to make exactly that happen.)

            4. This may be the most important point: there must be a support network for victims of sexual assault and rape on campus. This support should include counseling, therapy, preparation for testimony and cross-examination. It should be ongoing, because the trauma of sexual assault can be ongoing. It should accommodate students who need to leave campus and return at a later time. And most importantly, it should be available to victims regardless of the verdict of any proceeding, judicial or otherwise. A not guilty verdict doesn’t mean assault didn’t happen; a guilty verdict does not in and of itself heal. This is an issue of public health (ideally, this should be made available to all victims of sexual assault or rape, on or off campus), not law, and therefore does not contradict points 2 and 3.

            A digression: underlying points 3 and 4 is a truth that just isn’t stated often enough: our justice system does not take as its highest ideal the apprehension and punishment of those who commit crimes. It’s designed to let some of the guilty go free. Looking at the history and structure of American law, the highest ideal looks like the protection of citizens from state power–an ideal which, as jroberts548 notes, it woefully fails at. We can either accept that principle, and therefore accept that our actions to seek justice are limited by it, or we can reject it and set another principle higher.

            If you do that, and deliberately weaken the protections against state power in the pursuit of justice, you may well achieve some measure of justice. You may well get more rapists expelled from a university. However, you are risking that the weakening will be something you can contain. There are right-wing lawyers and judges who would just love a nice tasty set of exceptions to habeas corpus or cross-examination, just so they can cite the precedent to weaken them further. As jroberts548 sez, this could lead to a very different kind of society, and there are those who want to take us there.

            In another post, you said

            we have to start taking the arguments made by critical legal scholars seriously: there’s no abstract notions of justice and law to apply to abstracted notions of people: there are instead real bodies marked by gender, sex, class, ethnicity, and race.

            In America, the Right takes this a lot more seriously than the Left. The real bodies of the Right are marked by race as white, and they do not accept the “abstract notions” of citizenship, democracy, or equal justice under law. Their lived experience is Fox News, and, as you said, a constant sense that their lives are under threat, and they will run right over those abstract notions to destroy the lives of people they hate.

            I made a mistake last year. I underestimated the opposition, and I work very hard not to make mistakes twice. Right now, those abstract notions are protecting a lot of people you and I care about. As jroberts548 also sez, there are a lot of people who genuinely seek to destroy those notions and the people they shield. Attacking the “abstract notions of justice and law” is playing with fire when others are running around with flamethrowers. End digression.

            5. The restorative justice movement, as well as the work of anti-carceral feminists, has a lot of promise here, in terms of developing options that deal with sexual assault without resorting to punishment or imprisonment. In this moral calculus, the more you rely on restorative justice, the less important point 3 becomes, as the Due Process Clause is about the deprivation of life, liberty, or property. If those are unchallenged, there’s a lot more leeway in terms of investigation and response. Honestly, I need to educate myself more on this to fully develop this point.

            Progressives have an unfortunate tendency (honestly, I think it’s a legacy of the New Deal) to deal with any problem by demanding someone in authority step in to fix it. The idea behind restorative justice–as I understand it, anyway–is to make citizens and communities active participants in creating better citizens and communities. (There’s still the question of what constitutes a crime–that is, an act so heinous that it justifies the citizen being removed from the community by authority.) This strikes me as the best way to proceed in cases where there’s a lot of unclarity, which, y’know, can happen with sex. One woman called described this area as “acts that are unethical but not illegal.”

            6. Education as to all of the above, including point 1. This is my small-c conservative side speaking: you can’t legislate a change in culture, it can only happen when people change. (Encourage, yes. Enforce, no.) This education seems to work best when it’s peer-to-peer, and perhaps the most optimistic development is the way students are genuinely taking the lead to educate each other on consent, sexuality, and assault.

            That’s all I got for today. Additions, challenges, and revisions welcome.

          • John Bruni

            I’m reminded of something that came up during the discussion of Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49: when you’re in the middle of a seismic cultural shift, things can look awfully bewildering. Trump and his supporters–who have done their very best to normalize rape culture–are very scared about what’s in store for them down the line, and they’re doing everything they can to hold power: flouting the Constitution, collusion with foreign powers, even risking nuclear annihilation.

          • John Bruni

            But too often rape isn’t considered as criminal behavior. If it were, then your example of the 1970s would be more on the mark, I’d argue.

          • True this. Using @@D2JD:disqus’s terms, if there’s such a thing as mob justice, there’s also such a thing as mob silence, what our own @ZoeZDean:disqus called “a great unsolved crime the violence women, as a group, tend to experience.” If we’re going to talk about justice here, we have to include–really, we have to start with–acknowledging the injustice that exists. This is why, again, we need people to come forward.

          • jroberts548

            The rights of the accused are not a whole other problem.

    • Departed Hunchback (errrr…)

      Another potential problem here is the volume of scandal emanating from the Executive Branch of government, which makes it harder to follow up on these (well documented) abuses and problems caused by this grift of a religion.

      Think back to a year or so ago: We had plenty of elements crying out against Scientology, from “Going Clear,” the book, to the Gibney doc. Now though, that’s harder to pierce news-cycle-wise, when most coverage goes towards You-Know-Who.

      • Dead Jerk Jerk Dead

        I can’t speak for anyone else, but I find myself tacitly accepting this crazy new normal because the alternative was to get angry and depressed over things I had no control over. But even that thought sickens me a bit on principle.

        I mention it because it also applies to my ongoing moral outrage at Scientology’s continued avoidance of what seem like obvious, just consequences for preposterously illegal (and malevolent) behavior over time. In other words, if I sound a little jaded here, well, I feel a little jaded here.

  • Dead Jerk Jerk Dead

    I tend to dive right into the comments any more instead of saying “great article” like I used to, because I figured I was offering non-content content past a certain point. But thank you for sharing this. It was gutsy and well-articulated. And while I agree with @disqus_Pvn3kEV3Sl:disqus that a man can be a fine actor and also a spokeman for a toxic cult, I also do not gratefully receive the man’s Great Big Thoughts on…well, practically any subject I can think of. The idea that he was angling to become a Catholic priest in another life still slightly dizzies me.

    • To be perfectly honest, I’ll take “great article” if it’s all someone’s got as it’s evidence that someone, anyone, is reading the article. I may be kind of needy that way.

      • Dead Jerk Jerk Dead

        I’ll say it more often then! FWIW, I appreciate your contributions here, specifically and generally.

        • Thank you kindly! We’ve got a good slate coming up for the weekend; I’m doing Rip Torn and Milicent Patrick. Haven’t worked out tomorrow’s article yet, though. Maybe “Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom.”

  • With Cruise, it’s a case of “Why was this guy ever considered good at acting in the first place?” He’s not. He never would have become famous enough to help normalize The Worst Religion if someone hadn’t cut him undeserved amounts of slack in the 80s.

    You can’t even say “he’s cute” to try to justify his acting career. He is a tooth gap with messy hair on top (and nowadays, wrinkles, although that alone wouldn’t mess with me).

    As for Gibson, I’ll admit to loving the Lethal Weapon movies, but:
    a) they’d have been just as good with a different star, and
    b) they were before he got so visibly, horribly racist in public, so we didn’t know.

    • I think he was a damn fine Hamlet, honestly; maybe it’s his personal understanding of mental illness? With Cruise . . . I’ve always just thought he was bland, both physically and as an actor.

      • THAT’S what it is! Like, he’s not terrible, he’s just…way too blah. He is cheese personified.

        You know, before you get into the whole Scientology thing, which just makes it all worse.

        • Yeah. He’s bland with a topping of Oh My Gods Why Would You Do That?