Today, I came across an article in the New York Times in which Louis C.K. apologized for sexually harassing several women. Here is a portion of what he said.
“Now I’m aware of the extent of the impact of my actions. I learned yesterday the extent to which I left these women who admired me feeling badly about themselves and cautious around other men who would never have put them in that position. I also took advantage of the fact that I was widely admired in my and their community, which disabled them from sharing their story and brought hardship to them when they tried because people who look up to me didn’t want to hear.” . . . “I have spent my long and lucky career talking and saying anything I want. I will now step back and take a long time to listen.”
His actions are as deplorable as those of Kevin Spacey, Harvey Weinstein and Roy Moore. Unlike the others, Louis C.K. apologized (albeit late) for his behavior, although his apology was somewhat self-serving (since it came after his career and earnings were impacted by the allegations).
Rumors of sexual harassment hovered over C.K. for years, and in 2015, in his opening monologue on Saturday Night Live (SNL), he began by admitting to being guilty of “mild racism” and comparing Palestine and Israel’s ongoing fights to that of his young children. He also provided this take on child molesters:
[They] “love molesting [children]. It’s crazy. It’s like their favorite thing. When you consider the risk of being a child molester — there is no worse life available to a human than being a caught child molester. And yet they still do it! Which you could only really surmise, that it must be really good.”
He continued with the joke, laughing and comparing the addiction of a child molester to his obsession with Mounds candy bar. Personally, I don’t get the comparison, and I don’t think that child molestation is remotely funny or comparable to anything except, perhaps, rape.
C.K. has had plenty of time for regret and plenty of opportunities to apologize for his offensive words and deeds. I sense that this apology is a case of too little, too late. In my opinion, given recent actions by those who once helped him pay his bills, he was forced to apologize in a feeble attempt to save his career. As C.K. candidly and refreshingly admitted, though, too often, men with power, money, and influence intimidate or threaten victims into silence.
There is no easy path to litigating with a billionaire, and victims who do speak out often face more risk than reward. They are highly scrutinized, questioned, and doubted, especially in high-profile cases. Even after a trial, justice is not guaranteed. According to the Rape Abuse Incest National Network (RAINN), only 1.8 percent of rape cases reported to police actually end with the accused rapist in jail.
Having stated the case against rich, famous,and powerful sexual predators and bullies, we can still give Louis C.K. some credit. Unlike Weinstein, Moore, and Spacey, C.K. did acknowledge his conduct, accepted responsibility for it, and apologized to his victims, his family, and others who were harmed by his deplorable actions. He promised to talk less and listen more. This is a step in the right direction and something that the other prominent perpetrators mentioned have yet to do (Spacey’s ‘apology’ was so lame and misguided that it doesn’t get credit for delivering an ‘apology’). As citizens, we need to begin the process of working toward a culture where these acts never happen in the first place.