12 November 2017

In defense of Louie CK

First off, note that some details of what was written in the original report released by the NYT has been changed in subsequent media accounts.
I am not sure who changed the story, when, or why, but I am taking the initial story as the most likely to be accurate one. It was the NYT reporter that actually talked to the accusers.
It was my post in response to that article that led to me being invited to join this group.

Read the original story here:

In particular, there are reports circulating that he at some point physically blocked an exit, preventing Goodman and Wolov from leaving the room.  The original report says that by their own account, he was sitting in a chair the entire time, and that they made no attempt to leave until after he was finished, at which point he made no attempt to stop them.

With this is mind, comparing that CK did to what Wienstien or Roy Moore did is a slippery slope that leads to significant sexual repression, and that will be bad for everyone. I find it painful to watch this happen.

I want to live in a world where nudity and sexuality are not such a big deal. I also want the standards of consent around sexuality to not be an entire order of magnitude higher than for anything else.
Specific to this case, I would want these examples of behavior that may have made someone briefly uncomfortable to not be lumped together in the media with rapists and child molesters. I think in general conflating rape and assault with harassment is an insult and disservice to rape victims, and CKs actions don't even constitute harassment (which is why its being called "misconduct").

The one big thing that has, rightly, been the defining distinguishing feature of unacceptable behavior has long been lack of consent.

If that is going to be thrown out, then we are taking an enormous step backwards, defaulting back to what used to be religious conservative territory of just being anti-sex for its own sake.

In every "allegation" "against" Louie of actions that occurred in person, he either obtained consent, or he didn't do anything.

Lets come back to that in a second, and acknowledge the exception first.
It was over the phone! Think for a second how, if a person did not want to participate in a conversation on the phone, might deal with the situation.  I'm thinking, maybe hang up?  He wasn't her boss.  There were no threats involved.  It wasn't some sort of vital, time-sensitive business call.  There would have been no negative repercussions what-so-ever to hanging up.  While the trend of saying that women have zero responsibility in any interaction which in any way relates to sexuality isn't exactly new, this has to be the most extreme example yet.  She chose to continue the conversation, she chose not  to ask him not to do what she suspected he was doing, and many years after the fact society is willing to go along with the idea that she was a victim.

In the other cases, he did exactly that thing that we expect people to do.  He asked for consent first.  He didn't 'Weinstein' the women, walking in on them or inviting them over with him already naked.  He asked.  In one case the woman said no, and so he didn't do it.  The fact that he asked at all is being publicized in the media.  This wasn't a case of asking repeatedly, or with some implied threat of reprisal for declining.  The issue was the very fact that he suggested it at all, ever.  It is now not ok to attempt to obtain consent in the first place.

In the other "allegations", the "victims" have acknowledged all along that they did consent!  Again, no persistence "wearing them down", he wasn't their boss, or the big name star on a joint project, there was no power dynamic involved.  They weren't drunk or minors.  They gave explicit verbal consent, and have never claimed otherwise.

Much of the focus in commentary is that, since he was a better known comedian than them, that gave him a hypothetical "power" over their career.
There are certainly some situations where a genuine and significant differential of power exists, and in those cases consent becomes more complex - cop and suspect, boss or supervisor and employee, adult and child, therapist and client.

Consider the actual relationships in these cases though:
In one case they were both stand up comedians at the same club. In another, she was a producer and performer on a show where he was a guest star. In another, she was a producer, while he was a writer.
None of those is a particularly higher position, and one of them is certainly lower. There is no particular career control in any of those relations.

If the mere fact of being more famous makes a power deferential, then no one in Hollywood should ever be allowed to date anyone else in Hollywood. For that matter, no two people should ever have sex unless they are exactly equal in fame, income, education, physical strength, and anything else that could possibly be considered a power differential.
That is not a reasonable standard.
At some point we need to hold people accountable for making their own desires known.  When they are asked point blank seems like a pretty reasonable point.
But society is still willing to claim they are victims and he is a perpetrator.

The various details of the various cases (especially when he accepted a "no", and that is included as an example of misconduct), lead me to suspect that the media reaction would have been exactly the same regardless of the standard of consent; just like with Paul Rubens ("Pee-Wee Herman") who was alone in a dark adult theater, and was not directing his activity "at" anyone.

This is no longer just about protecting women.
This has become a sexual witch-hunt, the male version of slut shaming.
Louie CK is in the media because he has an unusual fetish that most of us can't sympathize with.

It has taken 100s of years for us to get to the point where a majority in society support the rights of other people to have sex related interests that they personally don't share, that are relatively uncommon.  In the not-so-distant past we collectively said it was not ok to be gay, or to stray outside of prescribed biology-based gender roles in sex or relationships, to engage in poly-amory or swinging or even casual sex during dating.  Until recently anal and oral sex - even for a married heterosexual couple - was a crime in many places in the US.  Actually, technically it is still on the books in some states, even after the supreme court struck similar laws down in some places.
In all those examples, consent was irrelevant.
People felt comfortable saying "you just shouldn't want to do those things in the first place".  We were self-righteous enough to say "I don't have that desire, so you shouldn't either - and if you do, well, keep it to yourself and never act on it".
Except it used to be social conservatives that said it.
In publicly shaming a guy for acting on a weird fetish with consent, as well as for even asking for consent in the first place, the traditionally liberal New York Times and the other media outlets and commentators and bloggers are all now taking up that self-righteous demand that no one should have sexual interests that we don't happen to share.

Not convinced?  There's more here: http://www.randomthoughts.fyi/2017/11/in-defense-of-louie-ck-park-2.html


  1. You don't understand consent and that's sad. You practice fetishes with sexual partners, not with people who are just hanging out. Or random people you're on the phone with. If, as a grown man, you can't see the difference you need counseling.

  2. In at least one case, there was absolutely clear and unambiguous consent, acknowledged even now by the person who gave it. If the issue is purely one of consent, then that person's story should not be included along side the others.
    The others strongly imply that they too gave consent, although not necessarily as clearly or explicitly.
    In the only example where the other party withheld consent, he respected that and didn't go any further or ever ask again.

    I disagree with the implication that the standards of what counts as consent should be an order of magnitude higher for sex than for any other area of life.
    So then anything short of the word "yes" should be understood to mean "no" by default? What about "ok" or "uh-huh" or "sure"?

    Is there that same expectation when the situation has nothing to do with sex?
    For example "mind if I smoke in your yard", answered with a "meh", or "may I try some of that?" answered with a shrug of the shoulders. Or "can I cut in front of you, I'll be quick" answered with "I guess".
    I think most people would consider those all forms of consent. There has to be some point at which the person being asked the question has the responsibility to be clear if they mean "no".


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