Okay, I’m tired of seeing this trope running through social media.
Roman Polanski's and Harvey Weinstein's actions were objectively graver than Will Smith’s, yes. Polanski and Weinstein should certainly pay a stiffer penalty for what they did than Smith.
Congratulations on your very astute understanding of moral theology, people.
(Necessary digression: For the benefit of those of you just waking up from a deep sleep after a twenty-year nap, Polanski, a film director, pleaded guilty to unlawful sex with a minor in the late 1970s. In 2020, Weinstein, a former movie producer, was convicted of third-degree rape and first-degree criminal sexual assault. Will Smith—an actor, producer, and musician—was banned from attending the Oscars and other Academy events for ten years after he slapped comedian Chris Rock on stage at the 2022 Academy Awards.)
The reason Will Smith’s objectively less grave action drew instant reaction from the world and a quick response from the Academy was because what he did was public. He stormed onstage on worldwide television and slapped a man across the face.
Imagine, if you will, that a dinner party guest in your home (let’s call him Anderson) rises from the table, rounds it, and slaps another person (Riley) across the face. I assume you’d react instantly, probably throw Anderson out of your house, certainly ban him from returning for a while, if ever.
You’re telling this sad story to your next-door neighbor over coffee the next day.
What if your neighbor responded, “But Jones down the block got drunk and punched a man at the bar across town three years ago. How is it fair to Anderson to throw him out of your house, ban him from your property for slapping Riley, when you haven’t done anything about Jones? Jones and Anderson are both our neighbors. Why are you letting Jones get away with an objectively graver act?”
“Because, Neighbor, Anderson did what he did in my home, in front of everyone. He harmed another guest of mine, abused my hospitality, and made clear he couldn’t be trusted to act civilly at a private event on my property.
“Not only do I not want to associate with Anderson for the foreseeable future, not only do I need to take seriously what he did to Riley, but I could be opening myself to a lawsuit if I don’t take action to protect guests from him in the future.
“I don’t like what Jones did. Now that you’ve reminded me of the incident, I may have to decide whether to cut ties with Jones. But Anderson is my immediate problem and the one I’m forced to deal with right now!”
(Image: Replica Academy Award displayed against colorful background, Pixabay.)