Punishment severity (and references to Me Too movement)

Tar and feather
This man was tarred and feathered.

This morning, I was in Burger King splurging on a breakfast sandwich, and on a TV was a show called “Wendy”. The topic was Morgan Freeman and the recent inappropriate behavior/misconduct accusations against him. I listened to the accusations, which after stated received shocked “Ooooos!” from the Wendy audience. I also learned that his contract with Visa Corporation for commercials ended because of them. Will more be? Will we ever see or hear him again? I scratched my head and thought that there seemed a clear difference between his (what I call) inappropriate “dirty old man” behavior, and some of the very serious sexual misconduct, intimidation, and rape charges of other famous men, like Kevin Spacey, Harvey Weinstein, and Bill Cosby. These latter three men committed crimes, and crimes must be dealt with as such. But I didn’t see Morgan Freeman’s clearly inappropriate behavior as criminal. I got to thinking about where the limit should be between destroying a person’s career and reputation, or just giving them a major talking to or figurative (or literal) slap on the face and maybe therapy. But career destruction? Absolute annihilation and tarring and feathering?

It’s not my impression that the above-mentioned men have mental illnesses, but of course I don’t know that for sure, or what inspired their behavior. I do know that as a person with bipolar disorder, many people (definitely not all) sometimes say and do inappropriate things of all kinds when ill, especially when hypomanic or manic. Though I have never physically or sexually harmed anyone, I’ve said sexually crude things to men a few times in my life, when even mildly manic. I’ve looked a handsome young guy up and down (as they said Morgan Freeman did with women). Of course I don’t do that when stable, at least when they’re looking. I know better, but I’ve got to wonder if I was famous, and particularly a man, if people might have stepped forward about me since the start of the Me Too movement. What would the ramifications have been for me?

My mixed manic tendencies have historically shown themselves in the form of extreme irritability/anger. A day before my first psychiatric hospitalization I was called to Human Resources. My interim boss and the HR Director told me that six people approached them about my behavior. In response, they threatened to fire me if my extreme behavior didn’t stop. It was my last chance. I had been reprimanded in the past for similar issues. The behavior was awful, though not criminal. I was lucky to have had yet another chance. As mentioned, I ended up in the psych hospital the next day. I had actually been diagnosed with bipolar disorder a year before, but ignored it and quit the psychiatrist. On that day of final warning, I told the HR Director that I had “manic depression”, aka bipolar disorder. That was the first time I uttered that. His response was a strong “That doesn’t matter!”

The HR Director’s response pissed me off, but I eventually realized that he was RIGHT. I had a diagnosis. It was my obligation to seek and accept treatment for my illness. Since I hadn’t, I was accountable for my behavior, especially after learning that it could be helped. When I finally accepted treatment, I was shown more understanding and tolerance. You often get some points for effort. Plus, I never yelled at or intimidated anyone at work again after my return(s), and started to apologize more when I previously hadn’t.

Upon return to work after my first hospitalization and Intensive Outpatient Program, people were wary of me, but I wasn’t completely destroyed (but mostly), and some icy interactions melted a bit. Perhaps some people knowing I had a mental illness helped “save me” to a degree. Or perhaps they realized I learned my lesson. Thank goodness some people forgive.

I needed to hit a type of bottom to get help. This sounds weird, but I’m thankful that I did before I caused too much damage to myself, and especially to others. I will have new chances in the future. I, like many people with bipolar disorder, will likely need and/or want to start afresh where people don’t know my history. I guess that will be difficult for someone like Morgan Freeman, who is very well known. Will people forgive him now that he’s apologized? The Wendy show audience seemed not to.

I’m assuming that Kevin Spacey’s, Weinstein’s, and Cosby’s careers are definitely over. They may likely never be heard from again since they might be in prison for a while, or just plain repulse enough people too much given the severity of their actions. I can understand that to a large degree. However, what about people who’ve reformed their bad behavior that was never criminal? Or what about criminals (possibly even them in the future) who serve their time and seem reformed and repentant? I’m not religious, but I do forgive and try not to hold grudges. I also believe that even the worst of people have some good qualities. This philosophy of mine is in line with what I wrote in an old post called Hating is not fair.

I am happy that women (and men) are feeling even more empowered to stand up to sexual abusers and even lesser inappropriate behavior, and say “No!”, and report offenses. I just hope that the punishment is in line with the severity of the offense, and there can be some level of forgiveness. I am also grateful that those six people reported me to Human Resources. It is the speaking up that is the greatest accomplishment for all involved. Let’s make it happen sooner than later, and preferably on the spot.

13 thoughts on “Punishment severity (and references to Me Too movement)

  1. celtics345 May 29, 2018 / 6:53 pm

    Cthebird I also had a situation like that becoming manic and then writing sexual stories for my friend’s daughter who was 18 that was years ago. The mother just asked me to stop writing her daughter into the stories I did that and corrected the stories eliminating all the sexual stuff. I was in a real bad manic episode when that happened everyone that knows me knows I am not like that. This bothered me a long time I wrote the mother and told her I knew she was angry and felt a lot of feelings she just didn’t say to me she liked that I gave her that explanation and saying writing about young girls with the possible of getting sick with the bipolar was not wise to begin with. I was angry at myself for writing these stories when I meant well to the girl but disturbed her instead. This illness wasn’t fair. The mom and I drifted away and no longer friends. Once gone with our friendship I had 5 hospitalizations and got myself stable. I really blame the dr on this letting me get sick and not hospitalizing me or treating me with new meds. I still write for my friends that girls who are my friends and I never ran into that problem of sexual stories. I feel so much better now. I was able to forgive myself. The mother had forgived me too. It’s just the past now and the past doesn’t exist.

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight May 29, 2018 / 7:13 pm

      Hi celtics. Thanks for sharing your story. I’m glad the mother has forgiven you and you have had your bipolar under control enough to avoid such situations from happening again. A lot of us with bipolar disorder have done and said things that we regret. Even if it is the illness that seems to do these things more than us, we ultimately have to be the ones that apologize and bear the brunt of the consequences. Plus, do our best to avoid future issues. The illness will not do these things for us.

      Over the years, especially before my treatment, I lost many friends and repelled people that could have been friends mostly because of my bipolar disorder. It is sad, but something I’ve had to accept. But I can move on from here. Sometimes it requires moving to a place where you have anonymity (a fresh start). Imagine if that opportunity was not available?

      I was in my mid 30s when I finally started proper treatment. I guess that was still somewhat young. You are even younger. That’s an advantage. The older people get without treatment or discipline of some sort, the harder it is for them to change. Or if they can change, it is often too late for people to change their viewpoints on them.

      Liked by 1 person

      • celtics345 May 29, 2018 / 7:24 pm

        I think it was best for me to move on I thought I was the worst person for what I did. Her mother forgave me but it took a lot of time to forgive myself. I have been bipolar since 16 so i have a lot of insight and have learned a lot to how to keep my bipolar under control going in the hospital 5 times was the right decision for me. I got my meds right and i am so stable its so different after battling mania and hypomania. I have made mistakes a long the way but i know how to prevent some by going into the hospital to nip the illness in the bud. With the mother and daughter it was a learning experience for me. We as humans make mistakes all through life its a fact but we forgive and go on.

        Liked by 1 person

      • updownflight May 29, 2018 / 7:30 pm

        I’m glad you forgave yourself, celtics. Even if it was really a lot of the illness’ fault, we need to forgive ourselves anyway because these mistakes stick with us and we bear the brunt of the mistakes, if they are discovered, seen or heard. The illness is no one and therefore has no conscience.

        Liked by 1 person

      • celtics345 May 29, 2018 / 7:39 pm

        Yea when I owned up to the mistakes I made in great detail and let her mother hear what she was really feeling it was part of healing. I got over it and moved on to make other great online friends. I’ve learned a lot from my mistakes when I was in the hospitals I worked well with my team where before I would be out of it and angry aggressive stage. You won’t believe one of the drs looked up my facebook and blog to read my stories. He thought it might not be good to tell your friends on fb you are in the hospital but then he said its good i dont hide it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • updownflight May 29, 2018 / 7:53 pm

        That’s interesting that your doctor looked at your Facebook page. I wonder how many others do that. I have discussed my blog with my psychiatrist and past and current therapists. Only my current therapist has ever read any of my posts, I think. I think it has been helpful, but then again I can think of cases when it wouldn’t be.

        Liked by 1 person

      • celtics345 May 29, 2018 / 8:15 pm

        Yea he wanted to read my Male Cinderella story. That was got him interested in the blog. I gave my therapist a book full of short stories. It was long. He and I didn’t hit it off well but we both are super into the celtics so we talk about them. Good to focus on things you love. I forgot to tell you I have been going on mega long walks at night to keep the sugar down and help my mood which has been off and on depressed. I bought a good book on Bipolar.

        Liked by 1 person

      • updownflight May 29, 2018 / 11:32 pm

        I’m glad your sugars have been good. That’s wonderful about the walks! I’d enjoy walking at night, but my husband is so tired at night.

        Liked by 1 person

      • celtics345 May 30, 2018 / 12:27 am

        I understand I get very tired at night but I walk every day and it pays off part of controlling diabetes is one part too and eating healthy. I love walking at night its great to unwind the day

        Liked by 1 person

  2. ashleyleia May 29, 2018 / 7:25 pm

    I agree with you that the punishment should fit the offence. But I think moving from a culture where these kinds of things were kept totally silent and unpunished to the era of #metoo, it’s going to take a bit of time to find the right balance.

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight May 29, 2018 / 7:35 pm

      I know you are completely right, ashleyleia.

      It is my hope that women will continue to be empowered and stop that silence. We’ve got to nip it by the bud the moment it happens, if at all possible.

      It is clear that the Me Too movement is just one part of how people are holding others accountable, finally. I believe in the US, people are starting to hold other types of people accountable for bad acts, as well.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Joshua Shea May 29, 2018 / 11:01 pm

    I appreciate your take on the Morgan Freeman thing. I kind of felt the same way. I’m not political, but it seems strange that we have a president who was married paying off porn stars, yet this is getting headlines? I mean, maybe Morgan Freeman is a gross old man, but he really has very little influence in my life compared to the leader of the Free World. But, as history tells us, these things are cyclical, work themselves out and evolve into other issues. Maybe we can take comfort — or not — in that.

    I can certainly relate to your mania. At 22, I was asked to leave the country of Japan by my employer (the Department of Defense) after a few workplace incidents of me showing up in no condition to work. I’m still the only person I know kicked out of a foreign country by own country. I must be on a list somewhere for that one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight May 29, 2018 / 11:49 pm

      I agree it is strange. An astounding hypocrisy regarding what Trump gets away with, even with diehard followers who claim to be devout Christians. Really, I personally wouldn’t care about that if he was good in most other ways, but he’s not.

      Have you ever tried to return to Japan? Even as a tourist? I’m sorry that happened to you so far from home. I was once quite manic in Hong Kong and Thailand and very depressed in Taiwan. I traveled to these places by myself at 24 years old. I’m lucky I didn’t get into serious trouble, but I do have some stories. I wrote about them on my blog in a three part story series called “Mental chaos half across the world”.


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