Why his complete lack of remorse is unsurprising and damning.
Harvey Weinstein, 2015. (photo: Thomas Hawk)
The Black Book of Infamy
In the annals of history, there have been quite a few objectively evil human beings.
Their crimes are as gruesome and notorious as they are anathema to our modern sensibilities. We oftentimes cannot, in our time of relative peace and stability, truly fathom some of the greatest crimes of history.
Adolf Hitler is a name that gets thrown around a lot, and he deserves his place at the top of the list of the infamously inhuman- but he is far from alone. Stalin, Lenin, and Mao killed over 100 million people in forced-labor camps, through executions, and as a result of mass starvation in the last 100-years alone.
Haiti’s father son duo of dictators certainly deserve a place on the list. The murderous Papa Doc and his son Baby Doc aren’t as well known as some of their megalomaniacal forbears, but they inflicted plenty of suffering, torture and death in their time.
The Khmer Rouge, and its better known leader Pol Pot, deserve to be on the list as well. Genocide, mass murder, torture and terrorism were all this monstrous regime ever inflicted on the people of Cambodia.
From 1975 until they lost power in 1979, the Khmer Rouge killed over two million people.
Now, more than 40-years after their horrific crimes, two of Pol Pot’s top lieutenants are finally on trial for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.
What do these men, now in their 80’s, have to say in their own defense, after having so many years to reflect on their terrible crimes and how history has judged them?
“We only killed the bad people.”
Also, they’d like the people of Cambodia to just let bygones be bygones.
What would Hitler have said after World War II ended, had he lived to see the trials of Nuremberg? Mea culpa? Doubtful.
The staggering lack of self awareness in a statement like “We only killed the bad people,” sums up perfectly the type of mind and degradation of character required to perpetrate great acts of violence.
Death row isn’t populated only with people who are filled with regret for their violent crimes. Though there certainly are those who eventually come to see the error of their ways and experience genuine remorse.
But by and large, prisons are filled with people who stubbornly maintain- in spite of all evidence to the contrary including the legal ramifications of their actions- that they were perfectly justified in their actions, however heinous they may seem to those of us who “don’t really understand their situation”.
There are mitigating factors, justifications, and rationalizations of breathtaking complexity.
Bill Cosby doesn’t feel remorse for his crimes, for which he has been jailed. Nor does he feel remorse at so bitterly disappointing the many fans of such a beloved television dad and cultural icon.
Roman Polanski feels no remorse for his crimes, as evidenced by the decades he has spent avoiding extradition to the U.S. where he would face prison for drugging and raping a 13-year old girl three decades ago.
Polanski feels harassed and besieged in the #MeToo era, poor thing.
And in the same grand tradition of terrible people everywhere, Harvey Weinstien feels no remorse for his crimes, either. Who does he blame? The same people criminals always blame for their crimes; the victims, society, everyone else.
Weinstein, when he hasn’t been playing up his age and infirmity to weasel out of punishment- another common refrain from the unrepentant- has been busy voicing statements which sounded absolutely absurd to anyone not named Harvey Weinstein.
This is one of the reasons Weinstien never elected to testify in his own defense.
Weinstein maintains that not only has he not committed any of the many crimes for which he has been implicated or charged, these women should all be thanking him.
“No one has done more for women in Hollywood than Harvey Weinstein.” — Harvey Weinstein.
Staggering, isn’t it? How could he possibly think that, right?
This fable- that no one has done more than Harvey Weinstien for women in Hollywood- has been the rationalization Weinstein has been using to justify his deplorable behavior all along.
Somewhere, very deep down, Harvey Weinstein has a conscience. Or at least the rudiments of one, however degraded. It is this conscience that has had to be quieted with complex, convoluted reasoning. And it had to quieted over and over and over again.
Weinstein’s victims filled two whole rows during his sentencing. The total number of women who accuse Weinstein of assaulting them is 80. These women are probably only the tip of the iceberg.
Each time Weinstein used his power and position to assault, cow, coerce and threaten these women, his complicated internal reasonings would kick in: “No one has done more for women in Hollywood than Harvey Weinstein.”
Without a way to assuage himself that his crimes were somehow “ok”, he couldn’t have kept going.
The Green River Killer, Gary Ridgeway, honestly didn’t think anyone would mind if he killed a few women, so long as they happened to be sex-workers. When he was arrested, he was flummoxed.
Harvey Weinstein wanted Jennifer Aniston dead. He, and the team of high-priced attorneys and private investigators he used to silence and intimidate his many victims, believed she was talking to the press about his predatory reputation.
In Weinstein’s mind, he was perfectly justified: Aniston was threatening all the good work Weinstein had done for the women in Hollywood, and being ungrateful at that. He used to admire her after all, and this is how she repays him?
No, it makes absolutely no sense to the rest of us. But rationalizations like this are exactly how bad people justify their terrible actions, like Weinstein did, for years.
Bad people don’t think they are that bad.
They think it is the rest of us who are the problem.
Other people are bad, for forcing them to do something they really didn’t want to have to do. Society is bad, for forcing them into the position where they had no other choice other than to behave as they did.
Bad people think they have every reason in the world to do as they did, that they made the right decision, all things considered. And here’s the kicker:
They wouldn’t change it. Why would they, nothing they did was wrong.
The only thing Harvey Weinstein regrets is getting caught. Oh, and he regrets “cheating on his wives”.
He would change the things that got them caught and landed him in jail. If Weinstein could go back in time, he probably would have had Jennifer Aniston killed, and probably a dozen other inconvenient people, too.
Weinstein is a dangerous person. A person who feels he is far above laws, social norms and consequences is a person who doesn’t belong in society.
In spite of all his money and powerful connections, he has just received what is essentially a life sentence. The only thing he feels is confused.
In his twisted mind, within the spiders-web of his reasoning, he is the aggrieved party.
(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)