Bill’s Lawsuit

 Posted by on 29 October 2004 at 10:39 am  Uncategorized
Oct 292004

Perhaps I wasn’t paying sufficient attention, but I must admit that I expected the sexual harassment lawsuit against Bill O’Reilly to drag on much longer. I suspect that these speculations on the settlement from a trial lawyer are basically right; Bill probably ponied up a substantial settlement to make the case go away.

Sexual harassment law is a complete farce. The proper response to boorish behavior are sharp words of disapproval and perhaps even public humiliation, not a lawsuit. The proper compensation is an abject apology, not millions of dollars.

The other day, a professor of mine made a sexually explicit joke in the course of casual conversation outside of class. (It was really a geeky philosophy joke about induction; the reference to his penis was merely incidental, although certainly connected to the background discussion about ugly ties — but never mind all that.) I shudder to think of just how “traumatized” and “intimidated” I could have been by it all. If I were a twitchy man-hater, I could have easily twisted his words to make him sound like a dangerous sexual predator — and thereby ruined his career. Of course, that would be completely pathetic, not to mention deceptive, malevolent, and unjust. That doesn’t seem to be an obstacle for some women.

If Bill O’Reilly did what he is accused of doing, shame on him. But hearing a few dirty comments does not entitle anyone to millions of dollars of compensation.

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