When I lived in Paris and worked as a journalist, I had a weekly radio program called An American in Paris. No subject was off-limits. A news subject that caught my attention one day was about a young Black man who was dragged behind a pickup truck in Texas, horribly tortured until he died. Shocked and furious, my reaction on the radio was to call for the death penalty. A position I never took before. Comments came pouring in from the international community. Either you are for or against the death penalty but you can’t pick and choose when to use it. Eventually I regretted my radio spot since I realized it trivialized the whole notion of the death penalty. Worried about a day when a kid could find him or herself on death row for stealing a candy bar. The punishment must fit the crime.
When courageous women come forward to speak up about sexual abuse—whether at the hands of Donald J. Trump, Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby or countless others-they are talking about criminal acts, which they are. Any form of nonconsensual sex through intimidation—be it physical or psychological—justifies criminal punishment. To that there is no question. Period.