#MeToo 2018 already getting weird

The latest incident of harassment being reported comes not from Hollywood or New York, but from Alabama – and not even the big cities of Birmingham and Montgomery, but rather Anniston.  And the behavior – of forty years ago, reported and corroborated by witnesses – is just plain weird.

Tim Lockette of the Anniston Star goes all-out in covering the allegations against its former longtime publisher, who was an icon of the civil rights era.

A former Anniston Star reporter says that H. Brandt Ayers, chairman of the company that publishes the paper, sexually assaulted her in the 1970s in The Star's newsroom.

Veronica Pike Kennedy says Ayers, then the newspaper's publisher, spanked her against her will in an incident on a Saturday, when Ayers and Kennedy were among the few workers in the building.

"I was still determined to be a reporter after that," Kennedy said.  "But I hated Brandy Ayers with every cell in my body."

The incident was witnessed and is not being denied, though witnesses understandably differ on certain details after the passage of four decades.  And the former publisher is contrite:

"As a very young man with more authority than judgment, I did some things I regret," Ayers said in the statement.  "At my advanced age I wish I could relive those days again, knowing the seriousness of my position and with the accumulated judgment that goes with age."

The victim decided to remain silent for a reason one would likely not hear in New York, London, or Hollywood:

Kennedy said she didn't go public with her story at the time because she feared how her father, a war veteran, would react.

"I knew I couldn't say anything because my daddy would get his .38 and shoot Brandy in the head, and he'd be in prison for the rest of his life," Kennedy said.

That sort of threat used to keep Southern women (at least then Caucasians) safe, in theory.  Chivalry was a point of pride.  Obviously, that went out the window when it came to the small-town newsroom.

Ayers was a bit of a hero at the time:

Ayers, then and now, was among the best[] known figures in Anniston, and one of the best[] known small-town newspapermen in the South.  After taking over as editor, then publisher of the family-run paper in the 1960s, he steered the editorial page toward advocacy for integration – a rare stance for a Southern publication at the time.

I am left with the pure speculation that what we might call "progressive privilege" – the Harvey Weinstein-like conviction that support of progressive policies grants personal immunity to being called out on sexual transgressions – allowed this sort of abuse.  Being a leader on integration conveyed a general sense of virtue sufficient to permit various transgressions being forgiven.

No doubt, many other ancient grievances are to be uncovered in 2018, and some of them will be very surprising.

Hat tip: David Paulin

The latest incident of harassment being reported comes not from Hollywood or New York, but from Alabama – and not even the big cities of Birmingham and Montgomery, but rather Anniston.  And the behavior – of forty years ago, reported and corroborated by witnesses – is just plain weird.

Tim Lockette of the Anniston Star goes all-out in covering the allegations against its former longtime publisher, who was an icon of the civil rights era.

A former Anniston Star reporter says that H. Brandt Ayers, chairman of the company that publishes the paper, sexually assaulted her in the 1970s in The Star's newsroom.

Veronica Pike Kennedy says Ayers, then the newspaper's publisher, spanked her against her will in an incident on a Saturday, when Ayers and Kennedy were among the few workers in the building.

"I was still determined to be a reporter after that," Kennedy said.  "But I hated Brandy Ayers with every cell in my body."

The incident was witnessed and is not being denied, though witnesses understandably differ on certain details after the passage of four decades.  And the former publisher is contrite:

"As a very young man with more authority than judgment, I did some things I regret," Ayers said in the statement.  "At my advanced age I wish I could relive those days again, knowing the seriousness of my position and with the accumulated judgment that goes with age."

The victim decided to remain silent for a reason one would likely not hear in New York, London, or Hollywood:

Kennedy said she didn't go public with her story at the time because she feared how her father, a war veteran, would react.

"I knew I couldn't say anything because my daddy would get his .38 and shoot Brandy in the head, and he'd be in prison for the rest of his life," Kennedy said.

That sort of threat used to keep Southern women (at least then Caucasians) safe, in theory.  Chivalry was a point of pride.  Obviously, that went out the window when it came to the small-town newsroom.

Ayers was a bit of a hero at the time:

Ayers, then and now, was among the best[] known figures in Anniston, and one of the best[] known small-town newspapermen in the South.  After taking over as editor, then publisher of the family-run paper in the 1960s, he steered the editorial page toward advocacy for integration – a rare stance for a Southern publication at the time.

I am left with the pure speculation that what we might call "progressive privilege" – the Harvey Weinstein-like conviction that support of progressive policies grants personal immunity to being called out on sexual transgressions – allowed this sort of abuse.  Being a leader on integration conveyed a general sense of virtue sufficient to permit various transgressions being forgiven.

No doubt, many other ancient grievances are to be uncovered in 2018, and some of them will be very surprising.

Hat tip: David Paulin