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RightNation.US: The case against George Takei was always weak. Why were we so quick to believe it? - RightNation.US

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The case against George Takei was always weak. Why were we so quick to believe it?

By Eric Berkowitz May 31
© 1996-2018 The Washington Post
Source; excerpts follow (drill down for references):

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In early November 2017, the weeks-old #MeToo movement was rapidly harvesting alleged sexual predators. Three police departments were investigating Harvey Weinstein; Senate candidate Roy Moore stood accused of preying on girls decades earlier; Kevin Spacey was axed from "House of Cards" after apologizing to one of his male accusers; and comedian Louis C.K. admitted that the accusations of five women against him were true.

In the avalanche of stories, an accusation against actor George Takei, best known as Mr. Sulu in "Star Trek," by an unknown former model didn't cause as much of a splash. But that made it no less devastating for the 80-year-old LGBT rights advocate, perennial Howard Stern guest and social media troll of President Trump. The accuser, Scott Brunton, told a reporter that in 1981, Takei took him to his condominium, where the actor drugged him, pulled his pants down and groped his crotch. Takei's denials didn't stop the story's rapid spread or schadenfraude from his opponents, including Donald Trump Jr…

But there was always a lot wrong with the Brunton story. Unlike Weinstein, C.K. or Spacey, Takei had never been known — even in whispers — for sexual misconduct. And Brunton's tale didn't quite hang together. He didn't accuse Takei of drugging him until days after he first contacted the media, and, as detailed in a recent Observer article, he hadn't even suspected that Takei had spiked his drink until years after the incident, when he read about the accusations against Bill Cosby. According to Shane Snow's reporting, if Brunton had been given one of the date rape drugs in use back then, he probably would have no memory of what happened. Finally, Brunton told the Observer that he didn't recall any touching by Takei. What began as an accusation of sexual assault was now, for Brunton, "a great party story" and "just a very odd event." Takei responded to the Observer article with relief, tweeting, "I wish him peace."…

The author of the editorial, Eric Berkowitz, who is a "San Francisco-based human rights lawyer and writer", delves into stereotypes about (and unconscious biases against) gay men as compared to how heterosexual men would be thought of in similar circumstances:

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… "We have a tendency to believe sexual assault charges against gay men because we see them as driven by sex alone, not by anything else," says Matthew Coles, a professor at the University of California Hastings College of the Law and former director of the ACLU's national LGBT and HIV Project. "Gay men are still seen as natural-born predators."…

Which segues into the "homosexual panic defense":

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… One of the flash points for this stereotype is when straight men enter the picture. When heterosexual males face advances by men — transgressions that women endure daily without redress — the law has long given them broad latitude to guard their straight self-esteem and strike back with lawsuits and sometimes even violence.

Starting in the early 20th century, medical experts explained the desires of gay men not only as a perversion but in terms of aggression, to the point where the word "homosexual" came to be synonymous with child molester, sex criminal and sexual psychopath. There was never evidence that gay men were more sexually violent than heterosexuals, but facts rarely impede a compelling myth…

According to psychological researchers, even a nonviolent sexual advance by a homosexual can so threaten a straight man that he might lose control and respond with homicidal violence. Given that the killing was triggered by the sexual advance, he supposedly lacked the requisite mental state for the killing to be called murder. What came to be known as "homosexual panic" was classified a mental disorder from 1952 until 1980…

Even after homosexuality was no longer classified as a mental illness, killers of gay men were often permitted to argue in court that they were provoked to homicide by the victim's sexual advances. In 1973, as two North Carolina men were driving in a car, one grabbed the other's crotch. A few minutes later, the man who had made the advance was beaten and kicked to death by the other man, who also robbed him. Despite abundant evidence of murder, the jury found that the victim's sexual advance put the killer out of his right mind. He was convicted only of manslaughter. In 1988, on almost identical facts, a court let an Indiana man claim that his victim's sexual advance had produced "sudden heat" and that he wasn't thinking clearly. He also escaped a murder rap.

How anyone could have believed that these men could be provoked to homicide can be explained not just by powerful anti-gay bias but also by "the fear of straight men that they will be treated as they treat women," said Coles. "Talk to American women and ask them about unwanted advances and touching," he added, "and they will tell you it's a part of daily life."…

Indeed! If women were killing men because they hit on them, there would be a LOT fewer guys around. Yet, if those guys experienced the same kind of unwanted advances that they inflicted on women, suddenly beating and killing seems like an appropriate response?! This doesn't pass any kind of rational test.

Berkowitz brings it around for his conclusion:

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… The point is not only that women face a much harder climb seeking redress against men's unwanted sexual advances than men do — although that is troubling enough. It's that uninvited sexual advances by gay men remain radioactive, fueled by a century of noxious slanders against them. The gay panic defense has come under broad criticism lately, but it has been formally barred in only two states, and the bias it embodies lives on.

The result is that we are too ready to believe that George Takei committed sexual assault and to assume that gay men are prone to it. We don't know exactly why there was a rush to judgment against Takei — in the immediate wake of #MeToo, there were so many accusations being hurled, it was hard to keep track — but we can reflect on why so many of us are inclined to think the worst.

Berkowitz is using Takei as an expositional device to make a larger point about bias; I think he makes a good case. He accepts the "celebrity" aspect as part of the environment, and he does not dispute the significance of the #MeToo movement nor question the lived experiences of victims. All good.

I would have liked him to spend a few words on the drumbeat of propaganda foisted on us by the Anti-Gay Brigade. From Anita Bryant's horribly misnamed "Save Our Children" campaign in 1977, right through to the current day, the "aggressive homosexuals" mythos has been constantly reinforced by fringe activists (and some not-so-fringe). It's a lie, it's always been a lie, yet they're still doing it, and too many folks still believe them.

BTW guys: If another man hits on you, and you're not interested, then the appropriate response is to use your words: "No thank you, I'm not interested". Assault and murder are still crimes, regardless of how uncomfortable, "weird", or outraged it makes you feel.
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In other words, he's being treated like straight (and bi) men are during this current feminist witch hunt known as #MeToo: Guilty until proven innocent based upon evanescent charges.
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The case against George Takei was always weak. Why were we so quick to believe it?


Why??? I can speak only for myself, but I think a large part was A) the way his denial sounded a lot like everyone else's , and B ) That he'd previously joked around with Howard Stern about having done so... in October '17, a mere month or so before the specific allegation came out:

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The George Takei sexual assault story just keeps getting worse

Danette Chavez
11/13/17 10:03am Filed to TV
[As posted on AVClub.com, a site with no discernible pro- or anti- gay bias]

Over the weekend, George Takei denied former model Scott Brunton’s claims that the Star Trek actor had sexually assaulted him. This was after Brunton told The Hollywood Reporter that in 1981, Takei invited him over to his home following a night out, where he undressed and groped Brunton while he was inebriated and in and out of consciousness...

...But, as has been the case with these disclosures, there are already new, disturbing wrinkles. The Hollywood Reporter and other outlets have picked up on resurfaced audio from an October 2017 interview with Howard Stern, in which Takei did admit that he had grabbed the crotches of men he saw as “kind of skittish, or maybe, um, uh, afraid, and you’re trying to persuade.” Stern and Takei had been discussing the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault and harassment allegations, with the actor bemoaning the lack of consequences for Donald Trump, who managed to win the 2016 presidential election despite having bragged on air about sexually assaulting women.

Stern then asked Takei if he’d ever grabbed a man’s genitals against his will. After a long pause, the actor said “Uh oh” and laughed. When pressed by Stern, Takei made the “skittish” remarks, at which point Stern asked “Do we need to call the police?” Robin Quivers, Stern’s co-host, asked Takei if he’d ever asked anyone who worked for him for sex, which he denied. When asked if any of the groping he’d just admitted to had happened at work, Takei replied “It was either in my home. They came to my home.” ...

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There you have it. In Takei's own words.

Even if I believe that Scott Brunton merely wanted 15 minutes of fame and glommed onto what he'd heard on Stern, it leaves the door open that there was SOMEBODY even if not Brunton.
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I would have liked him to spend a few words on the drumbeat of propaganda foisted on us by the Anti-Gay Brigade. From Anita Bryant's horribly misnamed "Save Our Children" campaign in 1977, right through to the current day, the "aggressive homosexuals" mythos has been constantly reinforced by fringe activists (and some not-so-fringe). It's a lie, it's always been a lie, yet they're still doing it, and too many folks still believe them.


I have no idea how 'common' it is. And for the sake of conversation I'll stipulate that the "aggressive homosexual" is a RARITY. But it's not unheard of. Because aggressive behaviour is not unheard of in [whatever]-sexuals.

In George Takei's own words:

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...But, as has been the case with these disclosures, there are already new, disturbing wrinkles. The Hollywood Reporter and other outlets have picked up on resurfaced audio from an October 2017 interview with Howard Stern, in which Takei did admit that he had grabbed the crotches of men he saw as “kind of skittish, or maybe, um, uh, afraid, and you’re trying to persuade.


"...and you're trying to persuade." Okay, I get where Takei was coming from because I can 'fess up to being perhaps a bit too aggressive in the "trying to persuade" albeit from the other side of the fence:

Orlando, FL, early '80s. There was this gay/lesbian - but MOSTLY lesbian by maybe 90% - bar called Southern Nights. Now, my understanding of lesbians at the time was that they were just regular girls who wanted to get their jollies, because EVERYONE wants to get their jollies, but were just too shy to get a guy. Well, I can help with that. (You can see where I'm going with this).

Anyway, I'm standing there at a high-top table chatting with this lesbian. I think I'm about to 'close the deal' so in the course of chatting I discretely reach over and put my hand on her butt then discretely start rubbing and squeezing. I was 'testing' to see how she'd react to that 'advance'.

[Hey, don't look at me like that. It's how it's done.]

And... uh... have I ever mentioned this one time that I got beat up by a girl???

Sure, I could have called it "assault" for walloping me. Except that A ) I deserved it, and can take my lumps. "Man up to it", so to speak. B ) No way in hell am I going to tell the cops I got beat up by a girl, and C ) I especially don't want my name on a police report where the address is a gay bar.
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Thank you for sharing that; it’s been decades since I last paid any attention to Stern, and I was unaware that Takei was appearing on his show.

I have, on very rare occasions, jokingly grabbed str8 guy friends; and, on even rarer occasions, some of them have jokingly grabbed me. Part of humor is unexpectedness (Surprise!), and none of this was “persuasion” or prelude to potential romantic interaction. It was mutually lighthearted horseplay. (But you really have to know the person very well; otherwise, it’s sexual harassment.)

As in your second post, I think I “kinda” know what Takei is saying. Personally, I’m more verbal and up-front: “I would like to [fill in the blank], are you interested?” If the answer is “no”, then that’s the end of the discussion; move on from there. Yeah, I know, that removes the “mystique”, the “thrill of the chase” and such; but at least you have a yes/no answer as to whether you’re about to get busy.

Yet there are some situations in which a desire for sexual interaction can be assumed; for example: Guys generally don’t wander around in the bushes at night unless they have something in mind. They might not want to say it out loud, and in that context, a “cup” can get things moving. I think that’s where Takei’s “persuasion” comment comes from; he assumed that acceptance of a “let’s go to my apartment” invitation was a tacit expression of interest in sexual activity. That’s often not true so one needs to be careful… again, say it up front, just to be clear.

The issue with Brunton is that he not only waited decades to speak up, but his story changed when he did. As the article noted, unlike high-profile offenders, Takei was never known (“even in whispers”) to be someone to avoid, and there was no subsequent flood of #MeToo accusers. I’m not saying that Brunton is lying (or misremembering), nor that what he describes didn’t happen. I don’t know if it did or not.

Instead, the editorial addresses a ready willingness to believe “the worst” about celebrities, and especially about gay men. Takei got the same “pervert treatment” based on one, unsupported accusation; whereas there were multiple accusers (and a couple of admissions) amongst the others. It’s the inequity of public of public perception at issue.
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