In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein sex scandal, fellow Canadian Stefan Molyneux published a video explaining why he is boycotting Hollywood movies as a matter of conscience. In this post, I’m going to explain why I’m not going to do that. Here’s Stefan’s video for those who are interested:
The first question I have is does a lack of integrity invalidate all of a person’s good works? What does integrity mean? It is a deep concept. A person with true integrity is consistent in every aspect of his of life. Clearly, Weinstein lacks integrity, by his own admission. That doesn’t change the fact that he produced the Lord of the Rings movies, which are my favorite movies of all time. It is possible for a man who lacks integrity to produce great things. Those works, while they may have been influenced by his flaws, stand on their own merits.
The second question I have is should a man be convicted in the court of public opinion? If allegations can be used to ruin Harvey Weinstein’s life, they can be used to ruin an innocent man. Take Julian Assange: The allegations of rape made against him seem highly suspicious. He has been forced to spend years in asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy rather than face extradition to a country who’s courts are arguably biased against him. I don’t know if Assange is innocent or guilty, but that there has been a smear campaign against him is undeniable.
While trading sexual favors for career advancement is repulsive, it is not an act of aggression. In other words, as long as Weinstein did not use force, what he did was unethical, but not immoral. If he did indeed rape women, he then crossed the line. In that case, he should face trial the court of law, not just the court of opinion. But even should that happen, I will still love The Lord of the Rings movies.
Weinstein’s actions are now yielding the consequences that he appears to have earned. He is unlikely to be given the chance to create another masterpiece. We must all face the consequences of our own actions. I hope that those accusing him of doing them wrong are not also taking actions for which they will have to pay the consequence in future. But though the man may have fallen from grace, his works will be his true legacy.
Getting back to the premise of this post, should we stop going to the movies because there are unethical people involved in their creation? For me, it’s a matter of your own conscience. If a product is being produced unethically and you don’t know that it is (for example, if you unknowingly buy clothing produced with child labor), you have contributed to the problem, but you’ve done nothing unethical. Just because you know that there are products out there that are produced unethically, that doesn’t mean you need to boycott all products, though you certainly may if you wish to.