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.