What better sign of the times could you ask for than a high profile lawsuit against a high profile TV figure, who is countersuing for extortion? Let’s examine a few of the issues here, bearing in mind, in the interests of full disclosure, that I am no big fan of Bill O’Reilly…
The first things to note are the timing, less than one month before the election, plaintiff Andrea Mackris’ choice of liberal Benedict Morelli as her attorney, and the rather unusual defense strategy of countersuing for extortion. Apparently, there were fruitless settlement conferences, but why meet with a plaintiff over “groundless” claims? O’Reilly maintains that it was during one of these conferences that Morelli hit him up for $60 million worth of hush money, at first claiming $600 million in damages. This same amount is now demanded in Mackris’ lawsuit.
On the other side, O’Reilly and Fox’s complaint states that Mackris never griped to anyone about O’Reilly’s alleged harassment, that she left Fox for CNN not because of the harassment but for a higher salary, and that she in fact returned to work for O’Reilly, and had dinner and cocktails with him, after some of the alleged harassment had occurred.
Now, consider the alleged misdeeds. They consist mostly of talking dirty to a woman, who does not want to hear such conversation. Nasty, to be sure, but is it worth $60 million? Yes, I know this is supposed to “send a message,” but I am always wary about sending messages via the courts. Is it worth bankrupting Catholic Archdioceses, severely hampering their good and charitable works, to overly redress the grievances of a few? Is it worth letting a double murderer go free to protest earlier unfair treatment of Blacks in the courts?
Mackris does not accuse O’Reilly of touching or physically assaulting her, but this is often the case in sexual harassment. How should that be dealt with?
In times past, before nearly all of life’s issues were brought to the courts, the victimized woman either kept quiet about such matters, or confided in her family. Male family members would confront the perpetrator—and might beat him severely. If the perp were well connected, he may have been untouchable, but at least a whispering campaign would save other women from a similar fate.
Are we really better off nowadays?
Most companies and all government agencies have a zero tolerance sexual harassment policy in place, but abuses by fake victims, especially in the public sector, are legendary. Unfortunately, under the current PC rubrics, perhaps nearly as many good men as good women will suffer, as long as most of the allegations can never be proven.
It is worth considering whether a sinister motive might be in play here, under the guise of beneficent public policy. Under the ever-expanding definition of sexual harassment, at what point will a man feel afraid or uncomfortable asking a woman out for a date, or even conversing with her? No one can deny that traditional marriage is under assault, and gay self-identity is encouraged in high school and earlier.
It is no secret that the leadership of the feminist movement is overwhelmingly homosexual, and its position on the front lines of sexual harassment—real or imagined—gives me pause.
But then, I never did understand how women could be simultaneously strong, invincible, and the equal of men, but need special protection and legal remedies just the same.