By: Wayne Brown
The Herman Cain sexual harassment debacle continues to dominate the media as each week seems to bring forward a new entrant into the picture. Although the population of accusers seems to expand, the basis for the claims continues to be only allegations with no real evidence placed in front of the public. Cain, in my opinion, is powerless to answer the allegations short of giving the media what is expected…a confession of guilt. In our courts of law, the judge advises the jury to consider the evidence and return a verdict based on the weight of the evidence which tends to prove the accusations which the defendant on trial. In the court of public opinion, it seems that real evidence is of little importance as long as the prosecution is diligent is growing the allegations and claims. Herman Cain is simply left to prove that he is not guilty…no simple feat.
Sexual harassment has no place in a civilized society. No woman or man, for that matter, should ever feel coerced to do something or be exposed to something which they find unpleasant, especially in the workplace. That said, where do we draw the line on the true subject of “sexual harassment”? Given the discussions which have taken place in the past few weeks, it seems that harassment is anything that a person decides it to be. If Herman Cain holds his hand to his chin and says to a woman, “you’re about the same height as my wife,” suddenly he is construed as “sexually harassing” the woman whom he directs this remark toward. That is a big leap for me in either direction; his perspective or hers. Would the same conclusion have held true had the tables been reversed and the woman had remarked to Cain that he was about the same height as her husband and held her hand over her head.
There is something about this entire situation that smells like a kettle of rotting fish. Maybe it is because there is a close association of politics and politics on its best day is a dirty business. Credibility and ethics also come to the forefront for me. Based on my own experience, if I have suffered an injustice, I expect justice to be served both from my perspective and within the public view. It does not set that well with me to have someone stop by and apologize for the occurrence, offer me a few thousand dollars, and send me on my way but that seems to be the case here. Given these women are telling the truth and offering claims of substance, if they were so offended and felt so violated as to complain while on the job, why did they settle so easily for a bit of money and go along their way? Where was the justice they so desired at the time served? Could it be that someone might think that the Cain camp has money to spend for those purposes or have they tried it and failed? Cain could always say they did even if they did not…he's already been labeled as a untruthful...you get the drift?
Many companies have found out the hard way that the sexual harassment, or harassment in any form, is one hot potato when it goes into litigation. If the case goes to jury, most lawyers will cite the unpredictable nature of jurors in these cases who act more on their own emotions than the facts or evidence of the case. At the same time, the outcome can be overpoweringly expensive especially in the area of punitive damages if the claimant prevails in the case with the jury. Millions of dollars can be awarded on a simple alleged incident. Thus, there are many companies who investigate and attempt to salve these cases in house dispensing of them with some compensatory offer which is normally tied to a severance package for the person affected. News of this soon gets around and the number of claims escalates as the situation is looked upon as easy money. The down side of this situation is that those who are truly violated by harassment or those who are unwittingly accused of it are lost to the reality of seeing justice in their situation.
In the case of Herman Cain, from the perspective of the accusers, one eventually comes to the question of “Why now?” These incidents took place during Cain’s service with the National Restaurant Association and some of them were not settled or dispensed with until after his service term had ended. Cain was recused from the investigation of the matters since he was a high level manager and also the accused. While he should have been privy to the outcome or dispositions, the NRA elected not to inform him of their decisions. Certainly we must consider those facts as it applies to Cain’s explanation of the events over time. So, why now and not before when it comes to the accusers? Where were these accusations when Cain was running for the Georgia Senate seat in 2004? Where were these accusers when Cain was only a two percentage point factor in the GOP polling? It did not seem to matter then but now that Cain has become a top contender for the GOP nomination, all the hurt comes back and it matters. Now it is time to speak out? Do you smell those fish rotting yet? Who else might have some money to offer for these claims? When the accuser is for sale, the credibility of the testimony is in question.
Certainly there are people in political circles who would love to see Cain out of the race. Cain brings a new demographic to the conservative base. He is appealing to the black voter. He is representative that a man of minority can achieve success in America rising to the occasion in almost everything he has attempted. He demonstrates that black people can make their own opportunities and can be their own person owing no allegiance to any one for their success. He brings an element of independent thinking to all races in America who listen to his story and what he has to say. He turns the voter demographic upside down for both sides of the aisle. That makes Mr. Cain a very dangerous man with highly unpredictable political momentum. There are reasons on both sides of the aisle to want to find ways to brush him aside and stay with the status quo of American politics. His contenders in the GOP certainly see him as a viable contender for the nomination. The Obama camp sees him as a game-changer who may be extremely difficult to defeat once he achieves the momentum of the GOP nomination. The Obama camp wants to run against Romney, not Cain for the 2012 election. As long as Cain is a contender, there is a strong probability that Romney will not achieve the nomination.
On the basis of the latest press conference by Herman Cain, it appears that he is staying in the race and continuing to turn away the allegations which are offered. Those who want him out will continue to fan the fires of accusation in the hope that Cain supporters will dry up their campaign donations and force his campaign out of contention. There will be no sincere effort put forth to provide any proof but a continued onslaught of accusation and allegation with the hope that the court of public opinion will indeed convict Herman Cain.
The system in place in America walks a slippery slope which will eventually lead to more and more injustice. Accusations in workplace may soon lead to companies having policies which do not allow women to dress with any cleavage or the suggestion thereof exposed. That policy could go so far as to banning dresses in the work place or any other clothing which exposes flesh that could be associated with any suggestion of sexuality. For the time being, the focus is on men and much less on sexual innuendo brought on by women. That could change as the claims regarding harassment and the attempts to gain cash through settlements increases. At the same time, companies could also see men engaging in similar accusations with the same goals in mind. The desire and interest in extorting money is not gender based or biased. At present, we have a system which too often labels a woman who comes on to a man of power simply as a “gold-digger” though the man of power has done nothing to beg her solicitations. Conversely, if he rejects them, he can suddenly be the “accused” in a sexual harassment claim. The scales are out of balance and the perspective is askew.
As it stands today, the same media which blindly protected Bill Clinton and the many accusers which came forward during his election process is more than willing to assist in taking down Herman Cain. The primary difference is that he is a successful, conservative, black man and Clinton was a key component of the liberal fold to which the American media appears to subscribe on a broad basis. The American public is not blind to this contrast and hopefully will demand that Herman Cain receive his just due on the basis of evidence rather than allegation before he throws in the political towel.
There have been far too many cases of sexual-related issues on the left side of the aisle which the media has let slide if not defended in the past. Teddy Kennedy comes quickly to mind along with his nephew, William Smith. Ted’s escapade ended in the drowning death of a young woman and William Smith was accused of rape. Then there was JFK who had such a Camelot love affair with the press that he could have sex in the streets and it likely would not have been reported. The same held true for his JFK’s younger brother, Robert. Bill Clinton had women crawling out from under rocks from Arkansas to Hollywood and all of them were simply attacked and dismantled in the press as being something unworthy of his attention. Then there was Al Gore and his little quirks along with John Edwards who seemed to keep another woman staked out somewhere all the time and then solicited his loyal campaign workers to lie about it on his behalf. The pendulum swings hard to the right and cries for explanation yet swings back to the left without so much as a question. Such behavior questions the credibility and the intent of a free press in America.
Then there are the wreck-chasing lawyers who crawl from their high-dollar gutters to insert themselves into these media circus events decrying the misery that their clients have suffered yet providing no such evidence that anything took place or that the witness was ever determined to be credible. They do all of this pro-bono in the hopes that the publicity and face time in front of television cameras will expand their name recognition and gain them even greater fortunes. Gloria Allred certainly comes to mind when one thinks of these types. She wants to act as if she has compassion but and seeks only to promote and uphold justice when nothing could be further from the truth. In actuality, it is all about her and her own self-promotion in victimizing the victims she represents. Who says there is no opportunity in America?
Hopefully, whoever prevails in the current situation will do so because the true evidence is on their side. The truth is generally accepted to set us all free. If that truth becomes the downfall of Herman Cain, then so be it but let it be the truth that convicts him and not allegation and innuendo. If truth shines a light on the accusers which questions their credibility and motives, then the system is working for the good of all people. In the end, those who have been truly wronged deserve to be protected by the truth and the evidence as to the outcome. Those who seek only publicity and financial gain regardless of who gets hurt and how deserve to be cast in doubt and ignored in the court of public opinion.
© Copyright WBrown2011. All Rights Reserved. 11/09/2011