Sunday, February 25, 2007

Be extra-careful when you get to Step 9, and other random thoughts on a snowy Sunday.

In today's local paper comes an item about a 40-something guy who enrolled in a 12-step program, hoping to rid himself of his addiction to alcohol. Step 9 calls for a person to "make direct amends" to those he has hurt in the course of his addictive behavior. In this fellow's case, it meant apologizing to a woman whom he raped two decades ago when both were in college. She was just 17 at the time. He was not arrested back then, for reasons that are left unclear in the piece. But the bottom line is that the woman has now used the man's letter of apology, as well as other admissions he made in a subsequent string of emails between them, to bring about his prosecution. He faces two years in jail. I don't mean to make light of this in any way by the title I chose for the post, above, but I'm not at all sure how I feel about this. No, I'm not a moron (that I know of); I realize that a simple "I'm sorry" doesn't square things for a rape, "even" one that occurred 20 years ago. Still...if the guy hadn't taken the initiative...? And if his intentions hadn't been honorable...? Comments, folks?

Speaking of comments, in the category of "Steve's only comment on tonight's Academy Awards": Just saw a segment about the $250 "caviar facials" to which many Oscar-bound women treat themselves, as part of their effort to make themselves Red Carpet-ready.... (Now where did I put my gun again...?)

Next, we've got a story in Business Standard, titled "Self-Help Groups Not So Helpful." It evaluates efforts to "empower" less well-born women in India. I quote only the lede here—and admittedly there's more to this—but feel free to read the rest of it and draw your own conclusions: "Throwing illiterate women into clusters called self-help groups does not necessarily lead to their empowerment. A survey of over 2,750 self-help groups across the country by non-governmental organisation Nirantar reveals a shocking truth—that self-help groups perpetuate the poverty of women, leading to neither economic nor social empowerment." [emphasis added, but justified]

Finally, there is much news on The Secret, almost all of it apt to put smiles on the faces of the SHAMblog faithful. Both Newsweek and the New York Times have taken scalpels to Rhonda Byrne's brainless brainchild. Newsweek deemed it worthy of a major feature, while the Times piece provides interesting background on some potentially dirty little secrets in SecretLand. Don't kid yourself about any damage this is likely to do to Byrne, though. By this time it's hard to imagine that there's a single New Age-minded consumer in America who hasn't already consumed The Secret in some form: It has sold 1.5 million DVDs at $34 a pop, says the Times, and currently reigns as the number-one book on Amazon and the Times' own list for advice books. With the inevitable sequels in the works in both print and film, I'm sure Byrne is all broken up about these latest critical pans.


Anonymous said...

On the 20-year-old rape confession, I'm not sure how to think about that either. Surely the man's confession is long in coming. And the woman was raped (a crime that is in no way something to joke about), she still needs closure. And the man still should be held accountable for his crime. And is their a statute of limitation?

Regardless, this is a case for a jury to weigh. It's a tough call.

Do we forgive the man, accept his heart-felt apology, pat him on the back, have sympathy for the woman, mourn the crime, the criminal, the victim and offer psychological services to each of them in an effort to heal their mental states?

I think that's why we have juries in this country. They will be effective if they maintain objectivity and refrain and resist media hype that will surely fall out from this case.

meganthemegan said...

The book (and it's no secret) Alcoholics Anonymous suggests "we ask that we be given strength and direction to do the right thing, no matter what the personal consequences may be. We may lose our position or reputation or face jail, but we are willing. We have to be. We must not shrink at anything."

Truth usually turns out to be the right thing.

Mike Cane said...


Keep keeping on.