Empowering the powerless

Tuesday’s U.S. Senate election in Alabama to select a replacement for Attorney General Jeff Sessions came in the midst of a firestorm of growing awareness of sexual assault, sexual harassment and sexual bullying in government, business and entertainment.

At this writing, six members of Congress have resigned. Rumors are flying that there are dozens of other government officials that will be named in the coming days. Charges that first surfaced during the 2016 presidential campaign alleging sexual misconduct by Donald Trump have resurfaced and his accusers are demanding a day of reckoning.

On the entertainment and media fronts, megastars like Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, Bill O’Reilly and Kevin Spacey have lost their jobs. Bigwigs like the late Roger Ailes of Fox News and Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein lost their positions. All of them were charged with using power over subordinates for sexual blackmail.

The fast growing movement #MeToo is empowering women to come forward with their own claims of mistreatment at the hands of powerful men.

While the fast fall from grace of the above-listed men has illustrated just how quickly #MeToo is having an impact on society, Tuesday’s election was a watershed moment. Alabama had not elected a Democrat to the U.S. Senate since 1992. The Republican candidate, Judge Roy Moore, held controversial positions on everything from slavery to homosexuality, but he likely would have won anyway.

Except several women came forward to accuse him of sexual improprieties when he was in his 30s and they were teenagers. Those charges were the tipping point.

We suspect that the pervasiveness of sexual harassment and assault in society is going to continue to be exposed in the next few months.

It can only be hoped that this troubling look in the mirror will result in a society that demands respect for everybody in business, entertainment and government.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.