The ethics of ethical choices

thoughts on the Casey Affleck/Oscar controversy

I’m a woman, of course I’m sensitive to the issue of sexual violence as well as I am aware (and furious) that society still struggles to acknowledge its seriousness — sometimes its very existence.

So I totally get all the complaints about Casey Affleck being nominated and then winning an Oscar. I get the reasons, and the politics, behind them. How come men get away with such things so easily? How come nobody seems to care?
I get them and I feel them.

However, I can’t possibly stand by these protests, because I don’t agree with their ethical premise. It’s not just that he hasn’t been convicted, nor that the Academy is not supposed to act as a trial court — two concerns that I personally share — , eventually it comes down to a simple, yet controversial, matter.

Do you believe that one, two, three mistakes can and should define a person’s “worth” and limit their right to be a part of society, to express themselves, to have fun and be loved – to be a functional human being – for the rest of their life? Do you believe this person, whatever they did and regardless of their feelings towards it (i.e. they’re regretful and sorry), should be marked with a stigma forever?

I don’t.

And I know this might seem disrespectful to the victims, especially sexual assualt survivors, but actually it has nothing to do with them — criminal justice is not a compensation system for the victims, and the same should go for the offender’s (lack of) dignity.

I also know the Casey Affleck incident is a very tricky one, because many believe he didn’t really pay for his crime (provided that he actually commited it).

The last thing I want is to oversimplify the problem.

However, I strongly believe it’s important to draw a line between demanding justice and promoting the annihilation of the convicted. And, unfortunately, I’m not sure protesters have always shared this view.