News reports reveal man’s inhumanity to man

Helen Wale Turner, Editor

Helen Wale Turner, Editor

Sexual harassment: I am shocked at the number of sexual harassment claims that have been made public in recent weeks. From unwanted/inappropriate kissing and touching, to molestation and rape, almost all the accusers have stated that fear of retribution was the reason they had stayed silent, some of them for decades.

All women – make that all people because men have also stepped forward with complaints about sexual harassment – deserve to be heard and taken seriously.

The accused also deserved to be heard, and then an investigation should be undertaken to determine the truth.

But should we be calling for the accused, whether actors or senators or ordinary people, to immediately resign or be fired from their jobs or elected offices before the charges have been investigated? I think not. Our justice system is founded on a person being innocent until proven guilty. However, it is entirely just that they be suspended until the charges are immediately investigated. If found guilty, I believe the punishment should fit the transgression, with different degrees of punishment for someone who is guilty of making a lewd remark, or of touching someone inappropriately, or of assaulting someone. And if the victim is a child, the punishment should be more severe. Multiple offenses should also carry harsher consequences. Anyone who helped cover it up should also be held accountable. And in the case of one member of Congress who reportedly used taxpayer funds for hush money should have to repay the money and be fined on top of any censure.

It appears that the problem of sexual harassment is more pervasive than we knew, as more and more people in many different fields have come forward to make accusations. We need to ascertain that we put procedures in place that allow the reporting of such transgressions and protect the victims from retribution. If you have been a victim, I hope you feel secure enough to come forward.

Family held prisoner by Taliban rescued: Five years after being taken hostage while traveling in an unsafe area of Afghanistan, an American woman and her Canadian husband were recently freed, along with their three children, all born in captivity. The wife was pregnant when abducted and gave birth to two more children while captive. I feel so sorry for them but have to wonder at the wisdom of this couple who chose to travel there and put themselves in harm’s way. And then, even more perplexing, is why, once they were prisoners, they conceived two more children who were born into the hands of terrorists. Indeed, the couple suffered deprivation and beatings as did at least one of their children. Their first child, a son, witnessed the rape of his mother who was thrown naked back into their cell. Did they never think that maybe they should not conceive more children under the circumstances?

Basketball players detained in China: Likewise, I wonder at the thought process of three UCLA basketball players who were jailed in China. Surely their parents and coaches tried to seriously impress upon them the necessity of refraining from doing anything even remotely out of line in this strict Communist country. Given the recent death of a U.S. student who died days after being returned comatose to the U.S. after 17 months in captivity in North Korea, did the players give a thought to the repercussions of shoplifting (which they confessed to) in that Communist country? The young men in a press conference upon their return to the U.S. after being held a few days seemed contrite and intelligent and to a man said they had been raised better and were ashamed. So what was in their minds to think it was okay l to commit a crime in China?

That brings me to President Trump’s intervention in this case, which he did while on his trip to the Far East. He presumably influenced China’s decision to release the young men so soon, but instead of waiting for them to thank him – which they did at their press conference – he jumped on Twitter to demand they thank him. Then, one athlete’s father said Trump did not play much of a part in their release. So, of course, Trump, who lets no opportunity to retweet pass, replied that he should have left the athletes in jail. The father and Trump both acted stupidly.  How would the father know how much Trump’s plea for leniency influenced China? As for Trump, if he would have just waited and let the athletes thank him, he could have looked like a statesman for once instead of being widely chastised for two remarks which were so undignified. Last time I saw the news, they were still at it, with the father cursing Trump on national television. Where are the boundaries of decency?

Escalating murders: How long has it been since we have gone a month or even a couple of weeks without a senseless mass shooting in our nation? It’s so reprehensible to see innocent people attending a concert or dancing in a club, worshipping in church or children attending elementary school being shot without mercy by a terrorist or mentally deranged person. We wake up almost daily to one or two or more murders overnight in nearby Baton Rouge, and sometimes the victims are our brave law enforcement men and women. We feel sad, angry, scared, and helpless.

Man’s inhumanity to man:  All of these instances cited here illustrate an element of inhumanity that leaves us sadly shaking our heads and not knowing what to do. What can one person do? Could hope for a solution start with each of us? In the case of shootings, if people who see something suspicious would say something it might prevent a killing. When violence is perpetrated by people who are mentally ill, it seems that often there were warning signs. If you know a friend or family member with mental issues, you cannot know if they will hurt someone – although many do who carry out such acts do exhibit anti-social or unusual prior behavior – but you can still offer the person compassion and information about mental health services, express your concern to family or, if they exhibit violent tendencies, the police.

We can resolve to be polite to strangers, to repress road rage that tries to bubble up in us, to talk to our children about what bullying and sexual harassment are and how wrong each is. Not everything but much of what a person becomes starts at home, and they should be taught that the key for all relationships is respect – for parents, teachers, peers, law enforcement, our neighbors and our spouses and people who are different from us. Also teach them to use common sense and be accountable for their actions.

Christmas is a wonderful time to start teaching and cultivating respect for everyone, everywhere. If we can plant such seeds, they might just grow and make a little bit of difference in changing the culture that allows disrespect in so many different forms.

I invite you to email your questions, comments, suggestions for stories, constructive criticism, etc. to me, Helen Turner, at I’d love to hear from you.