UToo Is no longer just an Irish band. Let's guard against mass hysteria

By Me.Linda Hammerschmid on February 20, 2018

It mystifies me every time I read or hear about people, from every walk of life, who do the unthinkable, or even the risky, and believe no one will ever ferret out the truth.

If orange is the new black, and 0 is the new 6, is sexual abuse the newest fad?  No disrespect to anyone who was actually sexually molested, but the flood gate that seems to have been opened in 2017, thanks to men like Harvey Weinstein, appears to have been holding back an ocean of complaints against an ocean of transgressors.

In this day and age of no more privacy given social media, investigative journalists worth their salt, drones, hackers - the list is endless – why does anyone actually think no one else will figure it out, or talk?

From politicians disgraced to ousted celebrity royals to sports coaches to class action lawsuits [Granby school latest site where 70 students have launched such an action], this pandemic is reaching far and wide into the stratosphere.

Be it the famous or the infamous, men like Nassar, Trump, Piven [I was actually sad about this one as I liked ‘Wisdom of the Crowd’], each of whom believed [or believe] that they didn’t have to temper their urges because of their power.

The Harvey Weinsteins and Larry Nassars of the world carried on unchecked in their sexual abusiveness until someone [or many “someones”] finally decided to out them.  The proliferation of so many “old” accusations against numerous “assailants” is troubling in many ways, however, that is fodder for a future article.

Also mystifying however are elected politicians who utter ridiculous comments only to scramble in their apologies once their utterances go viral, and viral they always go.  One would think a politician who is, by the very nature of the position, always in the public eye, would think before spewing racist/abusive/sexist or stupid remarks.  But alas no, the incidents of these daily spillages just keep coming and coming, like the Ever Ready Bunny, with it seems no end in sight.  “Stupid is as stupid [says]”.

Now it is true that the public has become overly politically correct - in my view - and saying anything will land the speaker in hot water with someone.  But overt sexual comments and actions - how does the politician or the celebrity think they will not be called out on them? Because most such abuse is not reported.  That’s how, at least until now, that these men have been able to continue unchecked.  This is evidenced by how long it took the Weinstein, Nassar and Cosby groups to come forward.  And the Spacey and Piven revelations – some date from 1995.

These incidents are not reported for a myriad of reasons.  Fear of reprisal, belief no one will believe [the he said, she said debate] shame, fault [the victim’s] and so on.

One of the latest to be felled is Larry Nassar.  And he took with him the Michigan State Athletic Director because of his handling [more like non handling] of the numerous allegations against the former U.S. gymnastics (USAG) doctor, Larry Nasser.

After impassioned testimony by 156 women, Nassar was convicted of abusing them, and despite a Plea deal of 25-40 years, Judge Aquilina, infuriated by the case, gave him instead 175 years.  This is in addition to the 60 years he is already serving for child pornography.  What a prince!

Yet while the victims are vindicated, and much of the public is happy with the sentence, I have some issues with it.

Firstly, the Judge seems to have been grandstanding for Court TV, some say in hopes of a Judge Judy-like career to come.  By adding into her Judgment, “I have signed your death warrant” her impartiality is put into serious question, particularly as that egregious and final punishment is not supposed to be the maximum for this type of crime.  Yes the math could support the 175 years. It is the equivalent of 1.12 years per victim x 156, which, looked at individually, seems too lenient.

But when Judges are meting out punishment, objectivity should be key.  Judge Aquilina is anything but objective, be it in her remarks at trial or in this sentence.  I predict an Appeal.

But what we, the general public, also need to be wary of are those people who get swept up in the waves of accusations made by others and who want to join in regardless of the truth.  It’s called ‘mass psychogenic or sociogenic illness’.

Usually related to physical illness, like food poisoning, with sociogenic hysteria a mass of people start to exhibit symptoms of epidemic hysteria which can start with a nervous system disturbance having no organic cause.  So when thousands of peoples’ thoughts on sexual harassment are pooled together via social media, there is a tendency to create a climate which proliferates such accusations due to mass hysteria.

Sure there are genuine victims of sexual abuse out there and they deserve justice. But when people jump on that wagon train, particularly in relation to 30 and 40 year old allegations which are older than half the world’s population, we need to be very vigilant of the veracity of the allegations and the motives that foster their appearance decades after the fact.


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