I can’t get on the internet these days without seeing a new article about the Harvey Weinstein scandal out in Hollywood. For those of you who might not know, Weinstein has been one of the most powerful men in the movie industry for over thirty years. He and his brother, Bob, co-founded the Miramax production company in 1979, and it quickly became one of the most successful in the movie business. I won’t cite Harvey Weinstein’s resume here, but the fact that Meryl Streep jokingly referred to him as “God” in accepting her 2012 Golden Globe award for her role in The Iron Lady will give you a pretty good idea about Weinstein’s clout.
But that clout is now gone. Last week, The New York Times published an expose in which a number of women, including actress Ashley Judd, accused Weinstein of sexual harassment. A few days later, The New Yorker magazine ran an article, written by Ronan Farrow (the son of Woody Allen and Mia Farrow), in which he contended that Weinstein had sexually harassed or sexually assaulted thirteen women, and had raped three of them. In a followup article the same day, The New York Times cited Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow among many actresses who had reportedly had Weinstein make unwanted sexual advances toward them.
In the wake of all these allegations, Weinstein has been fired as co-chairman of The Weinstein Company, and his wife, Georgina Chapman, has announced her intentions to divorce him. It’s even reached the point where Democratic politicians who have accepted donations from Weinstein over the years are now being pressured to return the money. Rarely has the public seen such a swift and complete fall from grace.
Needless to say, a lot of people are writing about Harvey Weinstein today, but I just want to hone in on one fundamental fact that is now bubbling up out of this whole wretched mess. That fact is: Many of the major players in Hollywood — actors, directors, producers, etc. — KNEW about Weinstein for years but kept their mouths shut for fear their careers would be damaged by going public about him. As it turns out, a whole bunch of those Hollywood types who are so good at pushing their moralistic views onto us regular folks aren’t nearly as morally principled as they like to believe. When it comes to their careers, their fame, and their money, they are perfectly willing to look the other way rather than play the role of whistleblower. I think this is why the Weinstein scandal has hit them so hard. It’s laid their hypocrisy bare.
However, before you throw any rocks at the house of Hollywood, you’d do well to examine your own and make sure that it isn’t made of glass. What I mean is, do you have the moral backbone and courage to denounce sin where you find it? What if that denouncing costs you your job? What if it costs you money? What if it costs you family? What if it costs you friends? What if it makes you an outsider in an insider world?
You say, “Oh, I can handle all that.” Okay, then let’s talk about your family. What if your whistleblowing gets your spouse either alienated at work or fired? What if it costs your child playing time or a spot on the team? What if your family has to move because the blowback becomes so intense? Tell me, can you handle all of that? Really?
And here’s the ultimate question for you: If you know going in that your whistleblowing won’t result in the problem getting fixed, will you still speak out simply because it’s the right thing to do? Ah, now we’re getting down to it. Where does logic trump moral outrage? At what point does common sense silence the prophet’s voice? When does personal security take precedent over fixing the world’s problems? Summing it all up, what is your price for going along to get along?
In Ephesians 5:11, the Bible tells us Christians to have no fellowship with (take no part in, have nothing to do with, don’t participate in) the unfruitful works of darkness. While, admittedly, we oftentimes fail at living up to even this first part of the verse, it’s the verse’s second part that really puts us to shame. There we are told that we should expose (rebuke) those works of darkness. That certainly takes the matter to a whole other level, doesn’t it? Staying away from a work of darkness is one thing; raising your voice against it is quite another.
As for the Bible’s record, there are instances where the whistleblower (the rebuker, the exposer) is treated kindly and his message is accepted in the spirit in which it is given. For example, King David responded appreciatively to the prophet Nathan’s rebuke (2 Samuel 12:1-15), and Peter responded rightly to Paul’s (Galatians 2:11-21). Then again, there are other instances where things don’t end well for the whistleblower. Herod Antipas had John the Baptist beheaded (Matthew 14:1-12), the Sanhedrin Council stoned Stephen to death (Acts 7:51-60), and the Jews/Romans crucified Jesus.
What the Harvey Weinstein story teaches us is that whistleblowing (rebuking, exposing) is rare. Sure, everyone is jumping off the Weinstein train now, but that’s only because it has derailed. For the past thirty years, as Weinstein was making or breaking careers and winning awards, there certainly wasn’t anything being publicly said or done about his sexual misconduct. But now that the story has broken, A-list actors are taking to their Twitter accounts to issue vanilla, politically correct statements about how appalled they are at his transgressions. And while I don’t doubt that most of them are genuinely appalled, it’s obvious they weren’t appalled enough to speak up until it was safe to do so. You see, that’s the problem with being a whistleblower. If you wait until it’s safe to blow your whistle, you’ll find that it doesn’t work.