John Derbyshire asks, “Is there anyone who thinks sexual harassment is a real thing? Is there anyone who doesn’t know it’s all a lawyers’ ramp, like racial discrimination? You pay a girl a compliment nowadays, she runs off and gets lawyered up. Is this any way to live?”
The answer to Mr. Derbyshire’s question is yes, there are lots of people who believe sexual harassment is a real thing. Does that mean that every case of sexual harassment is legitimate? Of course not. Nor does it mean that the term isn’t elastic and can’t be abused. But to argue that sexual harassment simply doesn’t exist – that every claim is always wrong — is a ridiculous statement. (Some of the women who experienced the predatory charms of America’s 42nd president could give you a pretty good definition of sexual harassment.)
You might ask what kind of person would go out of his way to say such a thing? Perhaps the kind of person who would proudly declare “I don’t care about Egyptians” after learning that in 2006 around 1,000 Egyptians had perished in a tragic ferry accident at sea.
I understand the irresistible temptation it is for some people to say things simply for shock value. (I have a teenager and I know other teenagers.) And some people, on the right as well as the left, fancy themselves as edgy and transgressive. They say certain things because they think it’s provocative and intrepidly non-PC. In fact, it amounts to little more than a childish approach to public discourse. Most of the time these things are worth ignoring. But once in a while they’re worth highlighting, if only to remind ourselves that imbecilic statements aren’t the exclusive province of any single ideology.