Appellate Squawk raised the first alarm.
James Levine is one of the greatest living conductors and musicians of our time. We know this because the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, which usually gets up and leaves as soon as they’ve played the last note, would stay in the pit to join in the applause when Maestro Levine was the conductor, even back in the days before he had to conduct from a wheelchair.
You may not have heard of James Levine. He’s no Meghan Trainor or Chance the Rapper.
Now he’s been destroyed by accusations from four middle-aged males claiming that he ruined their lives by masturbating them decades ago when they were 16 and 17 years old. The Met responded by summarily canceling all his scheduled appearances.
There were no police reports, no prosecutions. There will be no chance to disprove the accusations, explain, rehabilitate his reputation. This is alleged to have happened decades ago, and that’s enough to summarily ruin a master. And another master.
The Boston Conservatory at Berklee has cut ties with a high-profile professor, well known in the city’s contemporary classical music scene, amid allegations of abusive behavior and sexual improprieties.
Eric Alexander Hewitt — a saxophonist, conductor, and gatekeeper to coveted performance berths for young musicians — was placed on leave during a Globe investigation into alleged sexual mistreatment of women at the conservatory and beyond.
And yet another master.
Peter Martins, the longtime leader of New York City Ballet, has been removed from teaching his weekly class at the School of American Ballet while the two organizations jointly investigate an accusation of sexual harassment against him.
The accusation against Mr. Martins, 71, was made in an anonymous letter, both organizations confirmed on Monday. Mr. Martins is the artistic director and chairman of the faculty of the ballet school. He has led City Ballet, the company founded by the famed choreographer George Balanchine, since the 1980s.
Whether any, or all, of these accusations are true is unknown. What exactly these accusations are isn’t entirely clear. But it doesn’t matter. They aren’t made within the paradigm of legal proceedings, and so aren’t subject to the rigors of scrutiny, the “niceties” of due process, burdens of proof or rules of evidence. The silence left behind by masters will be filled with ten thousand murdered adjectives of the sad victims who now leap on the pile to enjoy their moment of victimhood.
And who will brave the tears of the woke, the screams of “misogynist,” by questioning the “bravery” of these “survivors”? Everything we know as lawyers is lost here, and yet you not only lack the principle, the fortitude, to challenge this panic? We, who defend the accused, shed everything we’ve ever believed in. You cowards. You lack the guts to stand up to the mob.
Some cross between Rachel Maddow and Emma Goldman sounds like a good start.
In 2009, Dahlia Lithwick wrote that she needed a hero. Someone who smirked where thought should be, or threw bombs where reason failed. In 2017, Lithwick piled on, because she could with impunity, having enjoyed the benefits of her access while she remained silent, and now enjoying the benefits of being a victim.
Nothing like that happened to me. But perhaps it helps you understand why, even though he never put his mouth directly on mine or clasped my throat, his consistent way of greeting me—with a kiss on the cheek that always lasted a few seconds too long, in front of colleagues I respected if not revered, so prolonged that others noted it—was unwanted.
If it was unwanted, and that’s fine if true, then why didn’t she say no? At any time. Ever. Until now, after others came forward with tales of actual conduct rather than the “always lasted a few seconds too long” nonsense?
Kozinski forced us all into this mess with him. And still, I am aware as I write this that I should have found my footing, that the women who came up after me, and who spoke up, are manifestly braver than I was. I am further aware that my failure to speak up over the course of my career is part of the reason why it was possible for the women who came after me to be treated as disrespectfully as they were.
Bullshit. Lithwick could have said no anytime she wanted. Kozinski didn’t force her into this mess. All the words that follow reflect her effort to rationalize away her failure as a writer, a lawyer, a human being with the ability to make her own choices. But she buries her disingenuous lie in a contrived excuse.
Everybody knew. This is the problem with a system of “open secrets.” All the clerks and former clerks in Kozinski’s ambit knew and understood that you assumed the risk and accepted the responsibilities of secrecy. Once you acceded to the poker games and the movies and the ritualized sex talk, you helped give it cover and license. To sit at a table with Judge Kozinski was to suspend rules for how judges talk and behave. The swearing and the gleeful overt talk of sexuality wasn’t just part of the bargain of being around him. Our silence became tacit approval of that chambers’ gleeful rejection of the strictures of political correctness and of the social imperative to police oneself.
Does this “address” Lithwick’s personal courage, her “forced” silence then and bold fifth-tier proclamation of victimhood for suffering being stare raped by Kozinksi now? Or is this pathetic rationalization for failure when it happened so she could bask in the glory of being near a legendary judge? The joke, should the Koz fall, is that he will be replaced by Trump. It’s unlikely that Rachel Maddow will make the short list.
Whether the maestros were awful, or as awful as the untested and unrebutted stories would have them, isn’t known, and will never be known. There won’t be trials and appeals. But the masters have fallen at the hands of those who enjoyed the benefits of their silence.
Now, when it’s safe to pile on, when they are assured of never being subject to scrutiny, when they can bask in their victimhood, they crawl out of the woodwork to shed their tears. At least Meghan Trainor will still be singing about her weight, even if White Christmas will never darken the airwaves again.