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The gauzy language of therapy doesn't excuse Weinstein's conduct

Ruth Marcus on

Except, apparently, if you are the ultimate entertainment industry power broker, or network president, or Silicon Valley tycoon. Weinstein's behavior was widely known and, it seems, studiously ignored; the Times reported that Weinstein reached at least eight settlements with women alleging harassment and misconduct.

Indeed, Weinstein's employment contract, as detailed by TMZ, seems to have been crafted with future instances in mind. It provides that if Weinstein "treated someone improperly in violation of the company's Code of Conduct," he would have to reimburse the company for settlements or judgments and pay escalating fines -- $250,000 for the first instance, up to $1 million for the fourth episode and beyond. You could look at this as an effort to deter misbehavior -- or simply to put a price on it.

Under the contract, as long as Weinstein writes the requisite check, that is deemed to "cure" his misconduct and he is immune from further punishment. Somehow the Weinstein Co. board's expressions of "shock" and "dismay" and "utter surprise" ring rather hollow in the face of these reported provisions. This was not a company committed to keeping women safe.

"I got to get help. You know what, we all make mistakes," Weinstein said Wednesday, repeating his hope for "a second chance." Help? Mistakes? Second chance? No. No. No. This man may need help, but he deserves consequences, criminal consequences if possible. His casual invocation of "mistakes" only reveals the insincerity of his remorse.

Weinstein is sorry only that he was, finally, exposed. He hopes to buy his way out of the problem, this time not with a settlement and nondisclosure agreement, but with pricey rehab. As James Hamblin wrote on TheAtlantic.com, "The ability to even attempt to sell this narrative is a luxury disproportionately afforded to powerful men -- the ones who are not thugs or violent criminals but simply can't help themselves. ... If there is diagnosable compulsion on display in this case, it seems to be an inability to hold oneself accountable."

For that malady, there are not enough rehab beds in the world.

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Ruth Marcus' email address is ruthmarcus@washpost.com.

(c) 2017, Washington Post Writers Group

 

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