How Far Should #MeToo Go?

To my knowledge the dilemma hasn’t happened yet, but it seems inevitable. One of the sex abusers identified by the #MeToo movement will die and need burial. Opposition to this will come.

Someone or perhaps many will say, “Not in the same cemetery with someone I respect, someone I love. Not in the same place I will be buried.”

There are historical precedents, as related below.

The question then becomes, how far do we take punishment? Do we make it posthumous?

The link here is to an essay I wrote in 2018, prompted by the death of a World War II Nazi war criminal and the opposition to his burial, not only in particular cemeteries, but by two different countries. Ultimately, no one wanted to inter this man’s body except a group of Holocaust deniers.

I’d be most interested in what you might have to say on the subject. Here, again, is the link:

Are Villains Due Respect When They Die?

The photo of Harvey Weinstein was taken by David Shankbone on May 4, 2010 at the Time 100 Gala. It was sourced from Wikimedia Commons.

15 thoughts on “How Far Should #MeToo Go?

  1. Joan Chandler

    If we make a commitment to fight tyranny in our daily lives and in public support for that fight, we can let go of a need to be involved in what happens to a bad person after they die. Resisting what they did while they were alive is the most, and best, we can do.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. drgeraldstein

    Agreed, Joan. Action in life is the operative idea. Too late otherwise.

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  3. This is a question that hits very close to home for me. Just in the past year we discovered that my Grandmother’s uncle tried to kill his family in a rage. (Due to two brothers marrying two sisters, my grandmother’s parents were related to both the perpetrator and the victim) We discovered this after my Grandmother’s death.

    The attack occurred in 1931 and he had some history of mental disturbance previously. His wife was severely injured in the rage and died a year later. Two children died in the attack (one a baby Mom tried to save, the other a young daughter defending her Mom) and three children escaped. He tried to kill himself but did not succeed, was permanently committed, and died 30 years later. The surviving young children (my grandmothers age at the time) moved into the house to be raised as siblings with my Grandmother. Yet, this story was never told to the following generations.

    Every year we attend the stones at the cemetery for various family members. We would plant flowers with my Grandmother for her parents and now she and her brother both are next to her parents. Every year we would walk by the stones for the kids and their mother. Since they shared last names we must have asked my Grandmother if they were related, but none of us have any memory of an acknowledgement of the relationship.

    When we found out about the murders, we visited the stones and were shocked to find the perpetrator buried right along with the family he killed (albeit 3 decades after).

    There are so many possible stories that are now lost to time of how he ended up there. Was there a reconciliation? Was there forgiveness of his mental incapacity? Was there a sense of duty for the family? Was there no other option?

    And, ultimately, why the secrecy?

    These generations later we feel offended by his presence placed next to his victim’s last resting place. Now that we know the story and relationship we plant flowers for his wife and the children, but not for him. There may be a basis for some level of respect for the dead that should be afforded- but it feels as if the victims, their lives shortened by the actions of the perpetrator, are locked into continued victim hood with him resting within their midst. His stone, with his date of death, highlights all the extra time he had. It feels that placement in the same cemetery but out of sight of the victims would provide at least some space for the victims to be outside his dark shadow.

    I suppose none of the dead are perfect people and all the stories are at an end. Is it respectful, though, to ignore the stories of those so affected in life by a perpetrator? When a life is taken by another, is not the “punishment” similarly carried posthumously?

    Thank you for a space to think about this a bit.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. drgeraldstein

    Extraordinary. When we deal in abstractions, as I did in the essay, we miss the personal. Honor the dead, yes, but next to those he murdered? Not a thought that one automatically considers as a proximity one might encounter. As you suggest, Rebecca, without the rest of the story, what is one to think of how it happened and why? Many thanks for such a thoughtful, carefully considered comment. It will resonate in me for a while.

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  5. Dr. Stein, the comment I made on your 2013 post still stands. I would, however, like to add that the villain’s family also have the choice of cremation. What they do with his ashes is their concern.

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  6. drgeraldstein

    I’d not thought of that, Rosaliene. Religious issues, ironically enough, might enter and prevent that. Still, an insightful observation. Thank you, as always.

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  7. Me too scares me, but the legacies of perpetrators and their fans scare me more. It is not the burial that matters to me. What matters to me is what that burial represents to society. Does burial represent forgiveness? Does it compel victims to forgive before they are ready or even able? Does burial represent disdain for victims? Does burial represent the symbolic continuation of a deceased person’s spirit? Does burial represent ongoing pain and suffering for victims? For the sake of post humous investigations when exhuming bodies may be necessary, bury the perps in a separate cemetery – one that is not open to the public.

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    • Lots of good questions. Thanks for your comment, multinomial.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’re welcome, Dr. S! I’m backtracking to some of your older posts and reading them when I have time. You have lots of interesting things to share! Thank you for enlightening us readers!

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      • You are welcome. Quite a project! It is I who should thank you!

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      • Dr. Stein, have you ever considered writing a memoir or a book? (If you have already, forgive me for not finding it.) You have many interesting things to say, as evidenced by your blog’s success! Your writing is also superb!

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  8. You are very kind to suggest it. As I think about it, such an endeavor requires three characteristics: the writer has to have the inner necessity to write, a good deal of ambition, and the belief that what he has to offer has some lasting value beyond those who have had some contact with him, real or virtual. I continue to have some desire to write, though almost no ambition at this point in my life, and no belief that in a world of more writers and words than ever, mine are likely to survive for many years. That said, when I can I’m happy to entertain, and occasionally enlighten or touch some people. Thus, your appreciation and that of the others who read my blog matter to me. Anyway, that’s what I tell myself as far as a memoir.

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    • I’d say that you are the kind one, Dr. S! As for me, my writing got worse after I returned to therapy. I just cannot concentrate as much as I used to be able to before, and my writing skills have almost returned to pre-undergrad level, when I was a “remedial learner.” I don’t know how I got the stellar grades that I did in college, but I didn’t let intimidation get to me. Nowadays, however, I’m more intimidated than I’ve ever been. I’m surrounded by great, talented, and intelligent writers. I’m just a mere survivor with a heart and love to learn to write, though my ability to write is lacking. Some say that I have a story to tell in a memoir, and others say that I have the potential of doing well in grad school. I tell myself, at this stage in my life, that I need a lot of self-care, healing, and tutoring before I am ready to challenge myself again. I also need to read more; I hear that helps with writing, too. My ex remains a good friend of mine, and he is a journalism and writing/communication professor who previously went to Stanford (he graduated with his Master’s degree, but he didn’t finish his PhD). He’s a great writer, but he doesn’t feel like he has a good enough (fictional) story to write about (at least not yet). He’s a contributor to the Chicago Tribune, but he hasn’t had the time to contribute for the past few years. I’ve never asked him for help with writing when I dated him or even after I broke up with him. He’s a cool guy though, but I was intimidated by him when I first met him. After I got to know him, however, I realized how “human” he was. I feel grandiose at times with my ambitions; I don’t have a sliver of the talent that all of these great writers have (including you), but I still strive to learn and improve – at least to attempt drafts. I’ve experienced rejection a few times, and I’ve learned from such rejections. I’ve also experienced some success, but nothing compared to what my heart wants. I have a personal story that I want to tell the world, but I fear telling it, and I don’t know how to tell it. I don’t even remember all the grammar lessons I should know by now; forgetting all my basic high school education left me with having to “double-learn” throughout college. I have to revisit all the basics again before I try again. Anyway, I’m just amazed at how humble, modest, and wise all these great writers I know are. If I had half the talent you all do, I’d probably be more confident and successful today.

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      • Well, you’ve had a tougher road than I, which might have stalled you at times. I’ve met some big personalities, some people with astonishing accomplishments and discovered they all have limitations. As the saying goes, the more you write, the better you get. But, you are correct that reading the greatest writers provides good models. The game isn’t over for you. Who knows what you may yet accomplish in addition to all you have already done.

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      • Thank you, Dr. S! Right now, I’m just resting and reading. I’ll eventually build my momentum again. The best stories I’ve read were the ones with limitations and talent. There’s one peer-reviewed article that brought me to tears when I first read it. It’s by Dr. Helen Joy Policar: “The Shadow of the American Dream: The Clash of Class Ascension and Shame.” She discusses her own struggles with shame within her article, which I thought was amazing and rare to find. I’ve often wondered about what she is up to now, and if she’s ever been invited to speak at different venues. I haven’t researched her name online (yet), but I could imagine the struggles she faces today. I am also wondering about Dr. Christine Margaret Blasey Ford and her current struggles today. These stories are what drive me to thrive, as well as many other stories I’ve been privy to by way of conversations, blog posts, and relationships. Life is filled with these wonderful stories – both written and unwritten. I just want to be part of it one day.

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