September 16, 2019 | 65° F

EDITORIAL: Sexual assault is prevalent in public roles

Journalists must continue to shed light on specific cases


In the past few months, Americans have been forced to recognize the fact that sexual harassment and assault are significantly more prevalent than previously acknowledged. A slew of beloved public figures have been ousted as having committed unwanted sexual acts, some of whom admit to the accusations and apologize and others who fail to do so. As a result of this, our society has been confronted with the uncomfortable fact that sexual assault and harassment are common, everyday occurrences. 

Seeing so many public figures on the news admitting to or being accused of sexual assault or harassment is extremely alarming, especially when such figures hold offices such as within the Senate or even the White House, and it would not be far fetched to guess that there are many more out there that have not yet been brought to public view. In fact, so many have now come out as being sexual harassers that the situation could, conceivably, give way to members of society actually viewing these actions as okay. In other words, some people who may already harbor the capacity to commit a sexual assault may see that they have this in common with people they look up to, like President Donald J. Trump or Louis C.K., and feel inspired. In that sense, it may be reasonable to say that by the media bringing to light so many cases like this, they could end up actually perpetuating the cycle.

While not publicizing incidents at all may work in the case of preventing a cycle, the opposite may actually be massively more effective in terms of sexual assaults. It is clear that when it comes to sexual assaults, men are embarrassed — they do not want their names associated with that shameful title. These incidents mostly happen in secret and stay secrets for many, many years. Shedding light on these secrets may actually work as a warning to men who may commit these acts in the future — the public will not stand for it anymore. With that said, the media must be careful how they publicize these things. Statements about these incidents must be unequivocal in conviction and leave no room for interpretation as to whom is in the right or wrong — otherwise they may in turn serve to normalize these issues even further.

When it comes to the further normalization of sexual assaults, it is important that men who commit these acts do not win. By “win,” we are referring to gaining a position of power, such as becoming the president or a state senator. If Roy Moore wins in Alabama, then sexual assaulters and harassers all over the country win as well, which brings up an interesting point: No matter the political benefit, no man that commits such disgusting acts should be appointed to a governmental position, let alone that of senator or president. 

Journalists are in a very interesting and important position right now with regard to these accusations. Since the statute of limitations is up on many of the cases being brought to light, there is not necessarily much legal action to be taken. Journalists possess the burden of presenting the truth, which can be difficult when the incident of discussion happened decades ago, but allegations of this sort are only false between 2 and 8 percent of the time. With that said, journalists are being counted on right now not only by women who were assaulted too long ago for the law to carry weight but by society as a whole. No matter when it happened, we cannot let people who are capable of hurting others to that extent brush it off and rise to such lofty levels of government or be mistaken as respectable. 


The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority of the 149th editorial board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff. 

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