Sex Scandals Today: No One’s Calling It a Witch-Hunt
I’m trying to imagine what the world would have been like if the Salem witch trials had been on the right track.
Impossible to imagine? Sure, for two reasons. First, we’ve got the facts securely in hand now. The accused “witches” of early Massachusetts were no such thing, for there is no such thing. Present-day Wicca is nothing like their supposed practices.
And a second reason we can’t imagine any truth to witch-hunt hysteria is because we can’t envision so many people being so bad. Europeans tried some 100,000 alleged witches in the early modern period. Could evil that horrible really be so widespread? It seems unlikely.
Not a Witch-Hunt
Or it seemed unlikely, that is, until Harvey Weinstein’s downfall opened a torrent of sexual misconduct accusations. Now nearly 50 prominent men have been accused. Their numbers are rising at pace that shows no signs of letting up. The parallels with witch trials are striking. Except no one is calling it a witch-hunt.
The difference, of course, is that sexual harassment and violence are both real and wrong, unlike Salem witchcraft. The charges are supported by credible testimony, too. I seriously doubt they’re all correct, but the great majority seem credible and are probably true.
And there’s no hint of all this being fueled by hysteria. It looks instead like a lid’s finally been taken off. Women are finally finding the social support to say what’s needed saying for years.
So we seem to be getting it surprisingly right this time for a change. What then might that mean?
Getting It Partly Right
What it doesn’t mean, unfortunately, is that we’ve finally got our moral priorities straight. Yes, we’ve landed squarely on one moral truth — and an important one. It’s wrong for the powerful to manipulate and to harm the less powerful for their own ends. Jeremiah 22:15-17 gives this warning to one who thinks himself great because he “competes in cedar” (the building-material of palaces and temples):
Did not your father eat and drink
and do justice and righteousness?
Then it was well with him.
He judged the cause of the poor and needy;
then it was well….
But you have eyes and heart
only for your dishonest gain,
for shedding innocent blood,
and for practicing oppression and violence.
So far so good. But the world is paying no attention to the other great moral crime involved here.
Could We Get the Rest Right, Too?
So kudos to our culture for getting a moral crusade halfway right.
I started here by trying to picture the unimaginable, so let’s keep going and try this one on for size: Consider the people and the media rising up united in moral outrage against the glorification of non-marital sex. When that day comes, then we can say our culture finally has its moral categories squared away. (Don’t hold your breath.)
Equality remains pretty much the only moral cause the left will stand and fight for. Today’s scandal-watching isn’t about whether sex outside of marriage is right or wrong. As a moral category, that’s been pretty much wiped off the mat — even though there’s plenty of evidence showing that reserving sex for marriage is the best of all possible ways to keep men from using women sexually, and even women from using men.
So kudos to our culture for getting a moral crusade halfway right. Real crimes are being brought to light. Real investigations are — mostly, I’d say, with reservations I need not bring in here — being used to determine truth or innocence.
If only we could go the rest of the way.