Literal Language

So, this Kevin Spacey thing.

Sadly, I have no trouble believing the allegation. I am rather fond of Anthony Rapp, who plays my current favorite character on Discovery (Lt. Stamets, or "Hippie Paul," as he's become of late), and give him all kinds of credit and support for coming forward with his story. Even if I weren't predisposed to believe Rapp, the fact that Spacey responded to the story so quickly and in the way he did all but confirms it's accurate.

It's an awful thing, preying on a minor, and hooray for young Rapp getting away. It's also awful that Spacey chose to try to spin his statement in an attempt to garner sympathy, or at least to deflect from the substance of the incident in question. His choice of language was especially poor in his "coming out" portion of the statement, which is one of two things that seem to have generated outrage in the Twittersphere.

 

Using the response to an allegation of sexually preying on a minor is a horrible way to come out of the closet in all kinds of ways, and his use of the term "I choose" is also problematic. So, outrage more than warranted.

Yet, I found myself in a couple of Twitter exchanges about the other part of it that people ranted about.


 

Maybe I've become extra sensitive to the concept of drunk because of my mom. Maybe I'm just too prone to taking everything literally. Maybe both. But to my reading, Spacey did not try to excuse his actions with drink. He did use his intoxication as a factor in his inability to remember the event (or so he says, though it's plenty plausible he doesn't remember), and yeah, I think it's probably there in an attempt to elicit sympathy (Rapp's account also describes Spacey as soused, so the being drunk part isn't made up). But he didn't try offer his drunkenness as some kind of the-devil-made-me-do-it denial of culpability. And complicating the issue by creating a different offense than the one that actually happened isn't helpful.

 

Spacey has evidently had a habit of cruising for young guys, and if those rumors are true his apology rings a little hollow. Plenty there to be upset about without getting into a "being drunk is no excuse!" fight when he didn't offer an excuse — at least, not in the literal sense.

All that said, Spacey is just the latest prominent person to be revealed as a predator who (allegedly) likes to abuse his sense of power. While unsettling, all this is good in a way — our culture is finally getting to the point where victims of such men (it's always men, isn't it?) can feel more secure about coming forward and the predators can feel less confident that they'll be protected. It's a step forward.

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