TAVIS SMILEY: NOT SMILING ANYMORE

The latest (but, almost certainly, not the last) media/entertainment/political figure caught in the sexual harassment net is long-time PBS commentator Tavis Smiley.

And, in his case, if the allegations are true he richly deserves the take-down.

From Daniel Holloway’s article at variety.com:

The investigation found credible allegations that Smiley had engaged in sexual relationships with multiple subordinates, sources said. Some witnesses interviewed expressed concern that their employment status was linked to the status of a sexual relationship with Smiley. In general, witnesses described Smiley as creating a verbally abusive and threatening environment that went beyond what could be expected in a typical high-pressure work environment. Several expressed concerns about retaliation.

We have talked at length about the difference between what amounts to normal sexual behavior and harassment.

If, for example, a man is sexually attracted to a woman he dates, and puts his hand on a so-called “private part” of her body, she can either let him or not let him do so.  If she lets him, they’re engaging in sexual activity.  If she does not, he has made an unwanted sexual advance.

There is no way to know until he tries and she reacts.

In my opinion – which, I would bet, is shared by most people – if she says no and he persists/forces himself on her in any way, that is sexual harassment.  But if he stops, it isn’t.

If the accusations against Tavis Smiley are true – and let’s remember that, at this point, we do not know that they are – he most certainly is guilty of sexual harassment…and, it seems to me, is a criminal to boot.

And common sense tells me the fact they are being leveled not by his enemies, but by numbers of people who worked with him at PBS, suggests there is a good probability they are.

But, again, we do not know.  So, probabilities aside, let’s wait and find out where an investigation leads and what it eventually tells us…

…as we wait for the next high-profile man to be taken down for this reason.

I doubt it will be a long wait.

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