Outing a Celeb Sex Pest and Mourning Larry Flynt … Sorta
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because celebrities have sex too.
By Eugene S. Robinson
When Is Outing Someone Your Duty?
EUGENE, SIR: There’s a celebrity who recently made the news for being a borderline racist/nationalist, in ways that have surprised his fan base. I used to work with him, and for years he asked me — in person, by email and on the phone — if he could perform oral sex on me. Despite me saying that I wasn’t interested, he persisted. To his credit, when he was in a position to financially punish me for saying no, he did not. But he continued to ask even after I stopped working with him. What’s my obligation around telling the world what I know? I mean, shouldn’t people know who he really is? — Mr. JS
Dear Mr. Java Script: If he’s spouting racist/nationalist shit in “ways that have surprised his fan base,” he’s done it in ways public enough that people have a pretty good idea who he really is. Knowing that, in addition to being both a racist and a nationalist, he also wanted to have mouth sex with your member will neither raise nor lower their opinion of him, I imagine. Unless people are inclined to disapprove of man-on-man mouth sex. In which case that tells us a lot about them and not much of it good.
So let’s be clear here, this is no Fourth Estate deal of serving the will of the people’s right/need to know. This is gossipmongering and, as Republicans like to say, part of the politics of personal destruction. Which seems like a pretty heavy way to describe oral sex.
However, I am a fan of revenge. I just prefer to have it be called what it is. And if there’s anything revenge-worthy here, it’s his insistence after your original refusal. I mean, this is hammerhead territory and sort of what the whole #MeToo and #TimesUp deal was about. Someone asks one time, it could be cute, flattering or unwelcome. Someone asks again and again and again over several years and it’s neither cute nor flattering, and it goes beyond being merely unwelcome. At that point it becomes actionable. In a court of law? No idea, I’m not a lawyer. But in the court of public opinion? Ass-kicking-worthy.
But is this most effectively litigated by outing him? By which I mean, does it shift the scales of justice to some balance of fairness?
It’s tempting to say yes here, but I think I have to say no. He created a hostile work environment, but he did not fire you. If you quit under duress, that’s one thing, but it sounds like you worked together and you repeatedly said no. I’d say “just” here, but I know it’s a drag.
However, all of that nice stuff being said, I’m all for ruining the day of any racist/nationalist. So do what you gotta do. Just do it here first: We’re all ears!
Seeing Is Believing
EUGENE, SIR: We’re both divorced and this is our second marriage. My husband found some homemade DVDs of me and my ex-husband. I didn’t hold on to them as keepsakes; my ex gave them to me to try to hurt my feelings since he thought that keeping them would mean he was still “into me.” Whatever. The issue now is that my current husband wants to watch them, which I’m not interested in doing, and that has made him even more interested in watching them. He says that I don’t have to watch with him; he thinks it would be “cool” to watch by himself. I say it would be weird. We’re not arguing over it, but he keeps asking in different ways. I know I could destroy the DVDs and end it, but I also value being able to see myself having sex at 40 even if it’s with a man I no longer love. How would you handle this? — Name withheld by request
Dear Norma Desmond: Asking me how I would handle this is bound to not be very helpful, as I imagine I’d either be selling the DVDs via OnlyFans for, you know, sentimental reasons, or I’d have all of my spouse’s friends over so we could all watch it together since it’s so “cool.”
That’s why in this instance, it’s much better to do what I say and not what I’d do. So what I’m advising you to say is: “We should make our own since on any day of the week, I’d much rather see us having sex than me having sex with him. Hence, all of that divorce stuff.”
This is a checkmate maneuver. If he says he’d much rather see you having sex with your ex, he’s an idiot. If he agrees, case closed, problem solved. Yeah, yeah, I know “no” should always mean “no,” but there’s nothing wrong with explaining the parameters of the word.
Exit Larry Flynt
EUGENE, SIR: I just saw your tweet in which you seemed to express some regret at the death of that piece of shit Larry Flynt. He was a pornographer and should be measured as such, and you, sir, should be ashamed of yourself. I’ll pray for you. — Bud Fudlacker
Dear Buddy Boy: The tweet said simply, “And he’s finally dead. Weird.” Ask me what I mean by “weird” before you bust out with a hot take of trembling outrage. Having worked for Flynt, my longer take is nuanced. But the tweet was not a measure of worth nor was it a condemnation. It was a note. So save your prayers for yourself. The world is a tapestry of many shades. Here’s hoping you see a few more of them someday before you die.