Editorial: No safe bastions remain for the rich and powerful

Shutterstock

News this past week that Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, has been stripped of his royal titles and patronages in the wake of a court case where he is alleged to have engaged in sex with a minor, is just one of the latest of the high and mighty to be upended from their lofty pedestals through their own actions. Despite being the son of the Queen, and sixth in line to the British throne, his royal imprimatur has proven no shield from the scales of justice.

Long gone are the days when members of the royal family could skate effortlessly and unscathed across ice of social and legal norms. That ice has thinned considerably over time, not only for those whose birth has placed them at the very pinnacle of privilege, but for everyone—and that is as it should be.

The Epstein scandal, where a high-flying American financier became a convicted sex offender who committed suicide in 2019 while in prison for his crimes, as many as 36 girls, some young as 14, were among that monster’s victims.

Whether one buys into the many conspiracy theories claiming he was murdered in order to protect his upscale clientele, it is clear at this point that his death has not shielded at least one of his clients from the spotlight.

One by one, the bastions of entitled male privilege have proven assailable by those able and willing to stand their ground in the face of considerable resources available. From the Hollywood casting couch of Harvey Weinstein to procurement enablers like Ghislaine Maxwell, the monsters above us are being called to account for their crimes.

Invariably, but by no means always, the victims of those monsters have been women. Each is almost invariably vulnerable to the predators who stalked them. Whether on the stage, or in the office towers around the world, few have been able to escape the long arm of retribution.

It remains to be seen whether Ms. Maxwell will make a deal to lessen her own punishment by assisting in bringing the monsters hidden within her Rolodex (that’s ‘contacts list’ for the younger generations). It is hoped that she will, for whatever might be selfish reasons, do the right thing and rip the curtains down on that odious cabal.

During these days of social media mayhem, where negativity and misinformation run rampant across our screens, it is largely social media that has been the engine propelling this narrative forward. But the fuel of those engines is the righteous indignation and outrage of a public awakened to those horrors that could once remain hidden.

“Woke culture” has its many detractors, and it is true that sometimes things can be taken too far in the courts of public opinion, but in the cases of Prince Andrew, Jeffrey Epstein and Harvey Weinstein, it was long past time that the world awoke.

In the past, the atrocities of the residential school system, the discrimination against Indigenous children, Missing and Murdered Women and Girls and LGBTQ+ communities have been able to fly largely under the radar. Oh wait…some of those latter examples are still going on. 

It well past-time when each of those cited wrongs should elicit the same level of public outrage as that of a prince, a financier or a Hollywood mogul. What is wrong is wrong, and thankfully the castle walls are beginning to fall around royalty, Wall Street and Hollywood, but there is still much left to be done. 

The attitudes that have allowed the high and mighty to elude retribution have built and framed our social, legal, political, and, yes, private institutions—systemic racism and prejudice remain ingrained within those systems and we must muster the courage, the fortitude and political will to harness outrage to make the changes necessary changes needed to create a truly free and civil society for all.

Editor’s Note:- This online version of the editorial that appeared in The Manitoulin Expositor has been corrected to reflect an error in a name that appeared in the hardcopy. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.