Posts Tagged ‘sexual harassment’

Berlusconi lauds Catherine Deneuve’s ‘blessed words’ on #MeToo — “Women are happy if a man tries to seduce them.” — Bunga Bunga

January 12, 2018



Italy’s former prime minister said that “women are happy if a man tries to seduce them.” The 81-year-old was previously put on trial for sleeping with an underage nightclub dancer.

Silvio Berlusconi (Getty Images/M. Luzzani)

Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said Thursday he welcomed French actress Catherine Deneuve’s recent denunciation of the “#MeToo” campaign against sexual harassment and abuse.

“Catherine Deneuve spoke blessed words,” Berlusconi said in a television interview. “It’s natural that women are happy if a man tries to seduce them.”

Deneuve and 99 other women signed an open letter in French daily Le Monde on Tuesday criticizing the “#MeToo” campaign as “puritanical” and a “witch-hunt” against men that left no room for what they said was acceptable seductive behavior.

“#MeToo” began after multiple sexual harassment and rape allegations emerged against Hollywood media mogul Harvey Weinstein in October. Women around the world used the hashtag to share their personal experiences of harassment and assault.

Read more: Catherine Deneuve’s attack on #MeToo sparks fury

Bunga bunga

“I don’t have much experience with this [seducing a woman] because it’s always women who try to seduce me,” Berlusconi said. “The important thing is that the courtship is elegant.”

The billionaire resigned as prime minister in 2011 following revelations he had hosted “Bunga Bunga” erotic parties with young women and had sex with an underage nightclub dancer known as “Ruby the Heart Stealer.”

A judge cleared Berlusconi in 2014 of any wrongdoing for sleeping with Ruby after ruling it could not be proved the former prime minister knew her age when he slept with her.

Berlusconi is currently on trial over accusations he bribed witnesses in the Ruby case.

Read more: Silvio Berlusconi to face trial for ‘bunga bunga’ bribe?

Berlusconi has been trying to return to political prominence as the leader of the conservative Forza Italia (Go Italy!) party ahead of parliamentary elections in March.

The party is doing well in opinion polls, but a 2013 tax fraud conviction bars Berlusconi from entering office.

Read more: Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi appeals public office ban in Strasbourg

amp/rc (Reuters, AFP)


Oprah Winfrey, a fame-fixated peddler of fake empathy, would be a terrible president

January 9, 2018

The yearning for a charismatic leader rose again last night in America, when Twitter – what else? – cried out for President Winfrey or, as we would surely call her, President Oprah. What else is global first name recognition for?

It was predictable, if crazed. Oprah gave a competent speech when accepting the Cecil B. DeMille award at the Golden Globes. It reminded me of my favourite Mel Brooks joke, which he wrote for the gun-slinging Waco Kid in Blazing Saddles: “I must have killed more men than Cecil B DeMille”.

But never mind that fantasy of apocalypse now; it might come later, when Oprah goes in against North Korea with her publicist and her sofa. She spoke about poverty, and hope, and the abuse and resilience of women; then Meryl Streep, who until now I thought was a sensible woman, suggested Oprah renew America after the sickness of Donald Trump!

She would be the Democrat Donald Trump…

Read the rest (Paywall):

The FBI’s Trump ‘Insurance’

December 14, 2017

More troubling evidence of election meddling at the bureau.

Democrats and the media are accusing anyone who criticizes special counsel Robert Mueller as Trumpian conspirators trying to undermine his probe. But who needs critics when Mr. Mueller’s team is doing so much to undermine its own credibility?

Wednesday’s revelations—they’re coming almost daily—include the Justice Department’s release of 2016 text messages to and from Peter Strzok, the FBI counterintelligence agent whom Mr. Mueller demoted this summer. The texts, which he exchanged with senior FBI lawyer Lisa Page, contain…


‘We Can’t Take That Risk’ — FBI Officials Discussed ‘Insurance Policy’ Against Trump Presidency


Two FBI officials who worked on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation exchanged text messages last year in which they appear to have discussed ways to prevent Donald Trump from being elected president.

“I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office — that there’s no way [Trump] gets elected — but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk,” FBI counterintelligence official Peter Strzok wrote in a cryptic text message to Lisa Page, an FBI lawyer and his mistress.

“It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40,” Strzok wrote in the text, dated Aug. 15, 2016.

Andy is likely Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe.

The text message is one of 375 released Tuesday night ahead of a House Judiciary Committee hearing with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. (RELATED: Strzok Called Trump An ‘Idiot’ In Text To Fellow Mueller Investigator)

Several congressional panels have sought the text messages since their existence was revealed earlier this month. Strzok, who was a top investigator on both the Trump investigation and the Clinton email probe, was kicked off of Mueller’s team over the summer after the text messages were discovered.

It remains unclear why the existence of the texts was not disclosed until nearly four months after Strzok was removed from the Mueller investigation.

Strzok and Page’s exchanges show a deep disdain for Trump and admiration for Clinton. In a text sent on Oct. 20, 2016, Strzok called the Republican a “f*cking idiot.”

In on Aug. 6 text, Strzok responded to an article shared by Page by replying, “F Trump.”

The pair exchanged another cryptic text message that same day.

“Maybe you’re meant to stay where you are because you’re meant to protect the country from that menace,” Page wrote.

“I can protect our country at many levels, not sure if that helps,” Strzok replied.

Like many of the exchanges, the full context of the message is not entirely clear.

Strzok also offered praise for Clinton while suggesting that he planned to vote for her.

In a March 2, 2016 text Strzok said he would likely vote for Clinton. In another exchange he wrote that if Trump won the Republican primary, Clinton would likely win the presidency.

“God Hillary should win 100,000,000 – 0,” he told Page.

Strzok also congratulated Page after Clinton clinched the Democratic party nomination.

“Congrats on a woman nominated for President in a major party! About damn time!” he wrote in a July 26, 2016 text.

While he was praising Clinton, Strzok was working at the center of the investigation into the Democrat’s use of a private email server. He emailed Clinton on July 2, 2016 — three days before then-FBI Director James Comey cleared her of criminal wrongdoing. (RELATED: FBI Agent Praised Hillary Clinton While Leading Email Investigation)

In the weeks before and after his politically-charged texts, Strzok interviewed several Clinton aides who sent and received classified emails that ended up on Clinton’s email server.

Two of those aides were Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills. Both appear to have provided misleading responses to questions about their awareness of Clinton’s use of a private server. But despite their false statements, neither Abedin nor Mills were charged with lying to the FBI. (RELATED: Clinton Aides Went Unpunished Despite Giving Misleading Statements In FBI Interview)

That’s in contrast with another Strzok interview subject: Retired lieutenant general Michael Flynn.

Strzok interviewed the then-national security adviser at the White House on Jan. 24 regarding Flynn’s conversations during the presidential transition period with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

Flynn pleaded guilty earlier this month to lying to the FBI during that interview.

Strzok was picked to oversee the Russia investigation at the end of July 2016, several weeks after the Clinton probe ended.



Rosenstein stands by Mueller probe as Republicans fume over ‘insider bias’

December 13, 2017

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein stood by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe Wednesday, despite a newly unearthed trove of damning text messages and other details that Republicans said show an “insider bias” on the investigative team.

Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller and has overseen the Russia probe since Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself, testified before the House Judiciary Committee — and faced a grilling from GOP lawmakers.

They zeroed in on anti-Trump text messages exchanged between two FBI agents who once worked on the Mueller team.

“This is unbelievable,” said Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, voicing concern that the “public trust” in the probe is gone.

Republicans for weeks have raised concerns that some investigators may be biased, citing everything from their political donations to past work representing top Democratic figures and allied groups including the Clinton Foundation.


But when committee Ranking Member Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., pressed Rosenstein over whether he had seen “good cause” to remove Mueller from his post, Rosenstein pushed back.

“No,” Rosenstein said.

Nadler asked whether Rosenstein would fire Mueller if he were ordered to do so.

FILE - In this Oct. 28, 2013, file photo, former FBI Director Robert Mueller is seated before President Barack Obama and FBI Director James Comey arrive at an installation ceremony at FBI Headquarters in Washington. A veteran FBI counterintelligence agent was removed from special counsel Robert Mueller's team investigating Russian election meddling after the discovery of an exchange of text messages seen as potentially anti-President Donald Trump, a person familiar with the matter said Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

Special Counsel Robert Mueller discusses his investigation with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.  (AP)

“I would follow regulation. If there were good cause, I would act. If there was no good cause, I would not,” Rosenstein replied, doubling down that he has seen “no good cause” to do so.

He suggested the probe is being conducted appropriately at this stage.

But just hours prior to Rosenstein’s testimony, the Justice Department released hundreds of texts messages between two FBI officials—Peter Strzok and Lisa Page—who worked on Mueller’s team and were romantically involved. Many were anti-Trump and pro-Clinton.

In one exchange from August 2016, Page forwarded a Donald Trump-related article to Strzok, writing: “And maybe you’re meant to stay where you are because you’re meant to protect the country from that menace.”


He responded: “Thanks. It’s absolutely true that we’re both very fortunate. And of course I’ll try and approach it that way. I just know it will be tough at times. I can protect our country at many levels, not sure if that helps.’”

In March 2016, Page texted Strzok, “God, Trump is a loathsome human.”

“Yet he many[sic] win,” Strzok responded. “Good for Hillary.”

Later the same day, Strzok texted Page, “Omg [Trump’s] an idiot.”

“He’s awful,” Page answered.

The messages were given to the House Judiciary Committee.

“We are now beginning to understand the magnitude of this insider bias on Mueller’s team,” Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said in his opening statement on Wednesday. He cited the “extreme bias” shown in the text messages between Strzok and Page; Mueller investigator Andrew Weissmann’s “awe” of former acting Attorney General Sally Yates for defying President Trump; and Mueller investigator Jeannie Rhee’s representation of the Clinton Foundation. He also cited the case of another DOJ official demoted amid scrutiny of his contacts with the firm behind the anti-Trump dossier.

“Aren’t DOJ attorneys advised to avoid even the ‘appearance of impropriety’?” Goodlatte asked, calling the “potential bias” of certain career Justice Department officials and lawyers on Mueller’s team “deeply troubling.” “DOJ investigations must not be tainted by individuals imposing their own political prejudices.”

Rosenstein told lawmakers that he has “discussed this with Robert Mueller.”

“It’s our responsibility to make sure those opinions do not influence their actions,” Rosenstein said. “I believe Director Mueller understands that, and recognizes people have political views but that they don’t let it [affect their work.]”

Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, pushed back, calling the appearance “sad.”

“Rather than wearing stripes like a referee, the Mueller team overwhelmingly ought to be attired with Democratic donkeys or Hillary t-shirts, not shirts that say ‘Make America Great Again,’ because I think the American people deserve more than the very biased team they have under Mueller,” Chabot said. “It’s really sad.”

But Rosenstein defended Mueller’s investigation, stressing he has “oversight authority” over Mueller.

“I know what he’s doing,” Rosenstein said of Mueller’s investigative actions. “He consults with me about their investigation, within and without the scope.”


When pressed over whether Mueller has attempted to “expand” the original scope of his investigation, Rosenstein said that he had given his “permission” to Mueller to investigate what he requests if it was necessary, noting that the special counsel team “does have authority” to investigate “obstruction.”

“If I thought he was doing something inappropriate, I would take action,” Rosenstein said.

In terms of any potential “impropriety” in Mueller’s office, cited by multiple committee Republicans, Rosenstein said he was not aware.

“I am not aware of any impropriety. Special Counsel is subject to oversight by the Department of Justice and I’m not aware of any violations of those rules,” Rosenstein said. “Appearance is, to some extent, in the eye of the beholder. We apply the department’s rules and regulations, and career ethics attorneys provide us counsel on that.”

Rosenstein underscored that he, Mueller and FBI Director Chris Wray are “accountable” and will ensure “no bias” in the special counsel’s findings.

Brooke Singman is a Politics Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @brookefoxnews.

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Trump Rips Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand Over Her Calls for His Resignation

December 12, 2017

President calls senator a ‘flunky’ who ‘would do anything’ for campaign donations

President Donald Trump on Tuesday criticized a Democratic U.S. senator who has called for his resignation over allegations of sexual misconduct as a “total flunky” while dismissing the accusations as “fabricated.”

In a pair of tweets Tuesday morning, Mr. Trump accused Democrats of promoting the allegations of more than a dozen women that he engaged in sexual misconduct. He targeted New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who in a CNN interview Monday said the allegations against the president were credible and heartbreaking and…

Sanders renews call for Trump to step down after Franken resignation

December 11, 2017


Image may contain: 2 people, eyeglasses and closeup


The Hill
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) suggested Sunday that Trump should follow in Sen. Al Franken’s (D-Minn.) footsteps and resign over the allegations of sexual misconduct that have been leveled against him.

“Here you have a president who has been accused by many women of assault, who says on a tape that he assaulted women,” Sanders said on “Meet the Press.” “He might want to think about doing the same.”

Sanders had also suggested the Trump step down from office on Thursday.

“We have a president of the United States who acknowledged on a tape widely seen all over the country that he’s assaulted women, so I would hope maybe the president of the United States might pay attention of what’s going on and also think about resigning,” Sanders said at the time.

Sanders’ call on Sunday echoed recent statements by Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), who have also urged Trump to resign over the reports.

Booker made the suggestion in an interview with Vice News on Saturday.

“I just watched Sen. Al Franken do the honorable thing and resign from his office. My question is, why isn’t Donald Trump doing the same thing — who has more serious allegations against him, with more women who have come forward,” Booker said.

“The fact pattern on him is far more damning than the fact pattern on Al Franken,” he added.

Merkley also said that Trump should resign during the daily version of “Meet The Press” last week.

“The president should resign because he certainly has a track record with more than 17 women of horrific conduct,” he said.

More than a dozen women accused Trump of sexual misconduct during his presidential campaign last year.

Former Fox News host Juliet Huddy said Friday that Trump tried to kiss her on the lips in a Trump Tower elevator more than a decade ago.

She said she “didn’t feel threatened,” but was “surprised” by Trump’s move.

Franken announced on Thursday that he will resign from office after facing multiple allegations of sexual misconduct. Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) resigned Tuesday over similar claims but said his departure was due to health issues.

Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) also resigned Friday after it was revealed he asked female staffers to be surrogates for his child. One former female aide said Franks offered her $5 million to carry his child, and two female staffers said Frank may have suggested that he impregnate them through sexual intercourse.


Trump’s accusers ‘should be heard’: Haley

December 11, 2017


© AFP/File | US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said “women who accuse anyone should be heard”, when asked about sexual misconduct allegations against President Trump

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Women who accused President Donald Trump of sexual misconduct “should be heard,” US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Sunday, in an apparent divergence from the White House line.Trump — who was infamously caught on tape boasting about groping women — has faced more than a dozen allegations of sexual misconduct, which he and the White House have rejected.

“Women who accuse anyone should be heard. They should be heard and they should be dealt with,” Haley said on CBS’ Face the Nation when asked how Trump’s accusers should be assessed.

The official line from the White House has been that Trump’s election victory was the final word on the accusations.

“I think we heard from them prior to the election. And I think any woman who has felt violated or felt mistreated in any way, they have every right to speak up,” Haley said.

When asked if the vote meant the issue was settled, Haley responded: “That’s for the people to decide. I know that he was elected, but … women should always feel comfortable coming forward, and we should all be willing to listen to them.”

Accusations of rape and sexual harassment against now-disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein have opened the floodgates, prompting scores of women to speak up not just about abuse in the entertainment industry, but also in Washington.

Three members of Congress have resigned over sexual misconduct allegations in recent days, and US Senate candidate Roy Moore has seen a race he was once expected to handily win become contested following accusations that he molested minors decades ago.

Moore has denied the allegations.

Republican Trent Franks Resigns Amid Sexual-Harassment Allegations

December 8, 2017

Arizona representative says he will step down in January

Rep. Trent Franks (R., Ariz.) announced Thursday that he would resign from Congress due to sexual-harassment allegations made by two aides.

Mr. Franks, a conservative House member in his eighth congressional term, issued a statement late Thursday announcing he would leave Congress in January, after allegations surfaced that his discussion of surrogacy had made two female former employees uncomfortable.
Franks said he will leave his seat on Jan. 31, 2018 following complaints from two of his employees with whom he discussed the subject of becoming a surrogate for him and his wife, who he said had difficulty with fertility.

Announcement coming from Sen. Franken amid fresh accusations

December 7, 2017

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Minnesota Democrat Al Franken, facing fresh allegations of sexual misconduct and vanishing support from fellow Democrats, appears on the brink of resigning from the Senate.

Franken’s office said he will make an announcement at 11:45 a.m. Thursday in a speech on the Senate floor. His office tweeted Wednesday evening that he had not made “a final decision” on resigning.

But a majority of the Senate’s Democrats called on the two-term lawmaker to quit after a woman emerged Wednesday morning saying he forcibly tried to kiss her in 2006. Hours later, another woman said Franken inappropriately squeezed “a handful of flesh” on her waist while posing for a photo with her in 2009. That brought the number of women alleging misconduct by Franken to at least eight.

Franken, the former comedian who made his name on “Saturday Night Live,” faces a chorus of calls to step aside, and Democratic senators said they expected their liberal colleague to resign.

“Enough is enough,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. “We need to draw a line in the sand and say none of it is OK, none of it is acceptable, and we, as elected leaders, should absolutely be held to a higher standard.”

Gillibrand was the first to call for Franken’s resignation on Wednesday, but a torrent of Democrats quickly followed.

Led by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-I.L., lawmakers from across the political spectrum spoke Wednesday against sexual harassment in the workplace. They took aim at forced arbitration clauses in many work agreements. (Dec. 6)

“I’m shocked and appalled by Sen. Franken’s behavior,” said Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state. “It’s clear to me that this has been a deeply harmful, persistent problem and a clear pattern over a long period of time. It’s time for him to step aside.”

Though the writing appeared to be on the wall, Franken’s departure was not certain. A tweet posted Wednesday evening on Franken’s Twitter account said: “Senator Franken is talking with his family at this time and plans to make an announcement in D.C. tomorrow. Any reports of a final decision are inaccurate.”

Late in the day, Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York added his voice.

“I consider Senator Franken a dear friend and greatly respect his accomplishments, but he has a higher obligation to his constituents and the Senate, and he should step down immediately,” Schumer said.

The resignation demands came in rapid succession even though Franken on Wednesday vehemently denied the new accusation that came from a former Democratic congressional aide, who said he tried to forcibly kiss her after a taping of his radio show in 2006.

The woman, who was not identified, told Politico that Franken pursued her after her boss had left and she was collecting her belongings. She said that she ducked to avoid his lips and that Franken told her: “It’s my right as an entertainer.”

Franken, in a statement, said the idea he would claim such conduct as a right was “preposterous.”

But it was clear his position had become untenable.

Fellow Democratic Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who spoke to Franken, wrote on Twitter, “I am confident he will make the right decision.”

The pressure only mounted Tuesday, when Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., resigned after numerous allegations of sexual misconduct. Rep Ruben Kihuen, D-Nev., faces pressure to resign as well over allegations reported by Buzzfeed that he repeatedly propositioned a former campaign worker.

While Franken apparently is departing, Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore could be arriving, if he prevails in a Dec. 12 special election. Multiple women have accused the 70-year-old Moore of sexual misconduct with them when they were teens and he was a deputy district attorney in his 30s. If Moore is elected, it could create a political nightmare for Republicans, who have promised an ethics probe.

A national conversation about sexual harassment has intensified this fall after the heavily publicized case of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, who was accused of many acts of sexual misconduct, including rape, by actresses and other women. Just on Wednesday, Time magazine named as its person of the year the “silence breakers” — women who have come forward on sexual harassment.

Punishment has been swift for leaders in entertainment, media and sports while members of Congress have tried to survive the onslaught of allegations.

Franken already faced a Senate Ethics Committee investigation into previous claims by several other women that he groped them or sought to forcibly kiss them.

The allegations began in mid-November when Leeann Tweeden, now a Los Angeles radio anchor, accused him of forcibly kissing her during a 2006 USO tour in Afghanistan.

Other allegations followed, including a woman who says Franken put his hand on her buttocks as they posed for a photo at the Minnesota State Fair in 2010. Two women told the Huffington Post that Franken squeezed their buttocks at political events during his first campaign for the Senate in 2008. A fourth woman, an Army veteran, alleged Franken cupped her breast during a photo on a USO tour in 2003.

Franken has apologized for his behavior but has also disputed some of the allegations.


Associated Press writers Juliet Linderman in Washington and Jay Reeves in Birmingham, Alabama, contributed to this report.

The Death of Self-Restraint — Society has to step in on Weinstein and the rest

December 7, 2017

Unless the culture’s critics get a hearing, the forces that led to Weinstein will win.

Film producer Harvey Weinstein arrives at the De Grisogono Party on the sidelines of the Cannes Film Festival, May 23.
Film producer Harvey Weinstein arrives at the De Grisogono Party on the sidelines of the Cannes Film Festival, May 23. PHOTO: YANN COATSALIOU/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

The Harvey Weinstein sexual-harassment fire burns on, consuming famous men. Corporations and institutions are on automated rapid response: proclaim zero tolerance and throw offenders into the street, while directing human-resources departments to design fine-grained standards of acceptable behavior.

It would be a comfort to think that HR specialists could solve this problem, but what has gone wrong runs deeper than calling in the lawyers. A question persists: How did this happen?

How have so many intelligent, accomplished adult men crashed across the boundaries of sex? Psychiatric explanations—reducing cause to a uniquely individual neurosis—are insufficient. This isn’t just “really weird stuff.”

Some may have a distant memory of the culture wars of the 1990s. This looks like a moment to revisit some of its battlefields.

Incidents of sexual abuse on this scale don’t randomly erupt. They grow from the complex climate of a nation’s culture. These guys aren’t blips or outliers. These men are a product of their times.

Their acts reveal a collapse of self-restraint. That in turn suggests a broader evaporation of conscience, the sense that doing something is wrong. We are seeing now how wrongs can hurt others when conscience is demoted as a civilizing instrument of personal behavior.

Intellectuals have played a big role in shaping arguments for loosening the traditions of self-restraint in the realm, as they would say, of eros. In Oscar Wilde’s quip, “There is no sin except stupidity.”

There are in fact intellectuals who have watched these sexual passages with alarm and described how they were putting us on dangerous ground.

The definitive critical history of this moral transition is Rochelle Gurstein’s 1996 book, “The Repeal of Reticence.” Ms. Gurstein describes how “the sense of the sacred and the shameful” gradually declined across the 20th century as writers and artists rejected former ways of thinking about personal propriety or reticent behavior.

“They demanded,” she writes, “that the traditional union of moral and aesthetic judgment be dissolved; the functions of the body needed to be considered apart from the values of love, fidelity, chastity, modesty or shame.” The result, she says, was a culture’s slow but steady estrangement “from any coherent moral tradition.”

In his compelling history of pre-World War I Europe, “Rites of Spring,” the Canadian cultural historian Modris Eksteins similarly describes the emerging ethos: “Social and moral absolutes were thrown overboard, and art, or the aesthetic sense, became the issue of supreme importance because it would lead to freedom.”

After all these years, this debate seems old hat. Just now, though, it looks rather new hat.

One thing that happened gradually is sophisticated people simply refused to be shocked.

Just two years ago, the Metropolitan Opera staged Jacques Offenbach’s “The Tales of Hoffmann,” whose final act was described accurately to this audience member by the Huffington Post: “The Venetian palazzo in Act 3 is a model of debauchery with those same girls wearing next to nothing and who could double as pole dancers. An orgy of simulated sex is in progress.”

There was a time, not that long ago, when something like this would have caused a minor public stir. Not anymore. Today, no one reacts or even much cares.

So when one asks how these men could behave so boorishly and monstrously, one answer is that they . . . have . . . no . . . shame. They lived in a culture that had eliminated shame and behavioral boundaries.

Is there a road back from Weinsteinism? Once a society has crossed a Rubicon like this, can you ever cross back over? The possibility of return is not at all clear.

One of the intriguing stories of this season is how the Washington Metro system is banning ads on buses from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington that show shepherds on a hill beside the message, “Find the perfect gift.” The Metro says this violates its ban on promoting religion or religious belief.

During the culture wars of the ’80s and ’90s, one question raised was whether religious belief deserved standing in public debates about the shape and direction of contemporary American culture. Because the case for belief was carried then by the “religious right,” secularists resisted, and still do.

In a recent homily I heard, a priest suggested that one of the purposes of confession wasn’t just to admit sin but to learn conscience. Maybe it’s time to ask if the long period of freedom from organized conscience formation simply isn’t working.

The reason to reopen this debate isn’t merely so that dissenters from the current culture can say they were right. It looks like we’re pretty far beyond either side winning this argument. The reason to reconsider is that otherwise, the evident shock at these stories of abuse, or any progress toward a better sexual modus vivendi, will wash out to sea.

Unless the critics of the current culture get a good-faith hearing, the forces that led to Harvey Weinstein and the others are going to win.