I don’t want to think about David Letterman.
Really, I don’t. I don’t want to read the articles or the blogs or watch any of the news stories.
It’s kind of like when I didn’t want to think about Gavin Newsom or Bill Clinton or any of those men who had “affairs” with people who worked for them—staffers, interns, etc.—people over whom they had power and influence. I didn’t want to think about them doing something exploitative because, frankly, I liked these men, I admired them, and I needed to hold onto my story about them being “good guys.”
Roman Polanski—he’s not as much of an idol or hero to me, so I don’t feel that same sense of loyalty. But you can see that “loyalty” reaction throughout the media. The “Oh, he’s a brilliant artist and it was such a long time ago and really, we should just let it go” type of thinking.
Does being a brilliant or popular artist or late night figure or politician (or actor or musician or therapist…) mean you don’t have to be held accountable for your actions? Does being an idol or “hero” (and I use that term loosely and broadly) exempt you from personal responsibility?
Of course not.
For those of us watching from the outside, the difficult part is dealing with our own sense of disillusionment. It’s hard when someone we like does something wrong. We’ve placed this person on a pedestal and we don’t want to see them fall from grace. We don’t want to believe that they are capable of human frailties—or human cruelties. So sometimes we decide that it’s the other person’s fault, that the victim isn’t really a victim, or that nothing very bad happened at all. Our hero couldn’t possibly have done anything wrong, committed a crime, exploited or abused people. That’s not who he is. How much easier it is to blame the victim, whom we don’t know and don’t have a connection to. But our hero should be exonerated. He’s ever so much more important than the victim is anyway, right? He deserves to be forgiven.
You want to know what ultimately prompted me to start this blog, after thinking about it for quite a long time and not doing anything? It was because one of Dr. T’s patients came to his defense and said, in an email to a third party:
Dr. ____ is an excellent psychotherapist. He is not a sexual predator. These accusations by others are just that, accusations. Don’t believe everything you read by people who have an ax to grind. [He] is a good man, an honorable person and would not intentionally hurt anyone.
But of course. It doesn’t matter how many people he’s victimized, how many people he’s hurt (intentionally or not)—he’s a good man, an honorable person. Of course.
After that, I NEEDED to speak out.
There were more emails from this person, defending Dr. T and blasting me for my efforts to expose him as a predator. Even knowing what he’d done, this person clung to her story and her image of Dr. T as a good and honorable man. Why? I think it was because she could not handle the reality. Facing the reality would mean complete disillusionment—about him, who he was, and what he was capable of. I believe that she could not afford that loss.
Because it is a loss. Facing reality can mean losing fantasies that we’d much, much rather hold onto. Loss is painful and uncomfortable, and we don’t like that. It’s easier to stick with our stories and avoid pain as much as possible.
In addition to losing our illusions, sometimes facing reality means we have to do things we really don’t want to do—stand up for our rights or the rights of others, speak out, risk being unpopular—take some action we’d really rather not take. Maybe we’re not ready for that. Maybe we’re scared of the consequences.
I understand. I get it.
Which is why I’m not going to read anything about David Letterman. And I’m not going to read about people I like and respect coming to Roman Polanski’s defense. Nope, today I don’t wanna think about it. Tomorrow— Well, tomorrow may be a different story.