December 6th, 2017

“Everybody knew”

We keep hearing stories about sexual harassers who “everybody” in certain groups “knew about all along,” for years and years, and yet no one did anything about the situation.

A lot of people then condemn members of those institutions for their silence. So far they’ve tended to be liberal institutions that conservatives dislike, such as Hollywood and newsrooms. There’s also Congress, which everyone (liberal and conservative) seems to dislike, but I’ve heard fewer “everybody knew” claims about that.

But when you do read or hear that “everybody knew” about some sexual harasser or other, I don’t think that’s what’s literally meant. I think what is really meant is this: “Everybody (or at least a lot of people) heard stories, everyone heard gossip, everybody heard rumors, everybody suspected.” But only those who had themselves been victims of this perpetrator knew, although many thought they knew.

You may think it’s a nitpicky and lawyerly (unless the lawyer is Gloria Allred) distinction. Perhaps it is. But I don’t think it is. I think it’s important to point out that hearing a rumor is not the same thing as “knowing.”

Is gossip actionable? Are unverified stories? What do you do about either? They’re certainly important enough that you ought to be very careful around that person, and very observant. It is especially important to not allow yourself to be placed in a compromising or vulnerable position with that person, and probably even to warn others (that’s how it comes to be that “everybody” in a group “knows”). But what action is necessary? Do you fire someone, if you’re not their boss? Do you go to HR and repeat gossip? Do you tweet gossip? Do you go to the person and confront him (or her, as the case may be)?

I don’t think any of those things are necessarily appropriate, although sometimes they might be. What is appropriate—if you don’t really “know” from your own experience? What can a person do who just hears stories?

The one exception I can think of is for journalists. They could have done more about what they knew or what they just heard as gossip. They could have done, for example, what Ronan Farrow finally did with Weinstein—pursue the suspicions and stories they had heard and try to document them, and then write about it if the stories seem to pan out. But they didn’t do that.

By the way, I see some of the words of that Leonard Cohen song (which are well worth looking at) as ironic. He seems to me to be saying a lot of things (as Cohen often does), but one of them is that we don’t always really “know” what the vast majority of people think they know. Take this verse, for example:

Everybody knows that you love me baby
Everybody knows that you really do
Everybody knows that you’ve been faithful
Ah give or take a night or two
Everybody knows you’ve been discreet
But there were so many people you just had to meet
Without your clothes
And everybody knows…

40 Responses to ““Everybody knew””

  1. Lurch Says:

    Neo, There was a Friars club roast of Lauer in late 2000’s. there is a transcript. They knew.

  2. neo-neocon Says:


    You are illustrating my point.

    What does “know” mean? Were they joking about rumors? Were they thinking they were exaggerating (for humor’s sake) something that was a more minor problem? If they were joking about it and there’s a transcript, I doubt they “knew” in the sense I’m talking about, which is quite a different sense: real knowledge rather than suspicion. If they really knew the extent of it, they wouldn’t be joking about it in a way they thought might get publicly reported. At least, that’s my take on it. If they were covering up sexual assaults, they’d be actually covering it up and not talking about it in a relatively public forum.

    What they “knew”, by the way (at least from what I’ve read) was that Lauer had had many affairs. Consensual affairs.

    I haven’t read the transcript, though. Do you have a link?

  3. miklos000rosza Says:

    This is a good song.

  4. huxley Says:

    neo: It never occurred to me to read that Cohen verse (or any in that song) ambiguously. Which doesn’t mean you’re wrong, but I will have to think about it.

    I always heard that song as one of deepest, darkest cynicism about the realities we know but choose to ignore, with the usual Cohen touches of black humor: “Everybody wants a box of chocolates and a long stemmed rose.” Me too.


    Aside from Cohen’s stints at the Mt. Baldy Zen Center he had his share of affairs and presumably the women he was with likewise:

    The Cuckold’s Song

    Personally I don’t give a damn who led who on:
    in fact I wonder if I give a damn at all.
    But a man’s got to say something.
    Anyhow you fed her 5 MacKewan Ales,
    took her to your room, put the right records on,
    and in an hour or two it was done.
    I know all about passion and honour
    but unfortunately this had really nothing to do with either:
    oh there was passion I’m only too sure
    and even a little honour
    but the important thing was to cuckold Leonard Cohen.


    Then there’s his appeal to a married woman to have an affair with him:

    Why don’t your try to forget him?
    Just open up your dainty little hand
    You know this life is filled with many sweet companions
    Many satisfying one-night stands

    –“Why Don’t You Try” from “New Skin for the Old Ceremony”

  5. huxley Says:

    J.D. Salinger had a good line in “Seymour: An Introduction” (which hardly anybody seems to have read):

    Where there’s smoke, there’s usually strawberry jello.

    Unfortunately in Salinger’s case, like Woody Allen’s, he did prey on teenage girls or ones substantially younger than he was.

    His first great love was Oona O’Neill, daughter of Eugene O’Neill, then underage. Salinger lost Oona to — alley-oop — Charlie Chaplin, another Hollywood star with a taste for young girls. To be fair, Chaplin married Oona and they remained together until he died over thirty years later.

  6. parker Says:

    One of many, many great Cohen songs. Everybody knows gossip, but only those who are directly involved actually ‘know’. In the entertainment and political realms it is easy to believe there are powerful people who use their position to intimidate underlings for sexual favors, conversely there are underlings willing to trade sexual favors for advancement.

    However, given the arrogance and sleaze in politics and the entertainment industry, it is easy to believe it is all true.

    “First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin.”

  7. John Guilfoyle Says:

    Hi Neo…about knowing…

    Have you ever had a co-worker/colleague that you knew was an alcoholic? or padded their expenses? or fudged their travel record or billable hours? or was just plain lazy?

    Who else knew? Notice, I’m not using quotes around (knew) because I mean incontrovertibly knew.

    I had a conversation with a former boss about just such a coworker. (not all of the above faults and failings, but some) Boss ducked, dodged, weaved & told me how long the guy had been with the organisation, how underpaid he’d been in the past how much he suffered etc etc…Boss knew but didn’t want to know…in the sense of take any responsibility for knowing & therefore having to DO something about it. Boss hid behind a cloud of virtue signalling…made decisions that made himself feel good & noble all the while peeing on the rest of us who eventually got tired of picking up this guy’s slack.

    I was surprised to be honest. I thought I was the only one who worked closely enough with the guy to know. But when push came to shove & I left…lo & behold others knew too but chose to keep their heads down.

    Lauer…NBC knew. Conyers…House Ds knew. Franken…folks knew. All those H-wood abusers…they knew. The Catholic Bishops…they knew. They all knew.

  8. MollyNH Says:

    Howie Carr says the latest infractor will be homersimpson look alike Zimmer now at CNN, Lauer has his long

  9. Artfldgr Says:

    I think it’s important to point out that hearing a rumor is not the same thing as “knowing.”

    not today post 68, when gossip became real and actualized equally

    also, statistical assumption is not the same as proof either
    [is more blacks in jail cause of racism, or because unequal aggressiveness in different populations or sub Saharan IQ or lack of drive or something else? similar with work salaries and a lot of tropes on the left, in which a measure of imbalance must be some proof of something when the most rare thing would be a balance, nature does not keep all its variables balanced on razor blades… otherwise there would be no irrational numbers, negative squares, true randomness vs pseudo random, infinitely long fractions… ]

    but its proof today post 68, when invalid math became real and actualized equally

    may we also add might, could be, maybe, shows potential evidence of, and a slew of others have also moved from the not real to the real and actualized equally post 68

    men and women are the same, and fallon fox doesnt exist, which is why a champion female MMA fighter had her face smashed in and was shocked, shocked, at the power and the speed with which a trangendered man could move (want to bet the ones who train and didnt take hormones which reduce muscle mass can do more?)… but she still could not admit it was because she was once male in a prior life (Without reincarnation), and that studies would have to be done to know why

    thats one more for the pile post 1968 as nothing is real unless studied and a progressive expert says it is!!!

    and you sure dont want to see what is coming down the pike post 2018 that is in the halls of higher(?) learning…

    but this is the BEST
    Socialism, Capitalism Seen in New Light by Younger Americans
    Surveys show a leftward tilt, and pessimism about the future, among millennials

    “We don’t trust capitalism because we don’t see ourselves getting ahead.”

    Largely because of such millennials, generally those born in the 1980s and 1990s, socialism has moved from being a taboo because of its associations with the Cold War to something that has found rising appeal among those polled by Harvard and in other surveys that compared different generations.

    because of associations to the cold war?

    OBVIOUSLY a millennial is writing this as they seem not to want to express holodomar (8 million starved (and the autocorrect dictionary has not added it despite adding things like famous communists, mysandry is also not in the dictionary either!!!)), 250,000 Latvian soldiers (and a third of the population loaded into cattle cars like Germany did too), 70 million tortured, worked and starved to death by their own leaders in Russia, and more in china, known and documented assassinations of several thousand people (over 400 journalists in the past 20 years), failure to keep treaties, and on and on…

    Grace Magness, an Elon freshman, has experienced the shift firsthand. Her great grandfather, she said, was named Eugene Debs after the labor leader who ran for president five times for the Socialist Party at the turn of the 20th century. “He was so embarrassed about it when he was older that he would never introduce himself using his full name,” Ms. Magness said.

    For her, she says, “socialism has gotten less spooky; it’s no longer associated with communism the way it was.” She adds: “straight-up capitalism seems like it has a lot of potential to be really corrupt.”

    maybe that’s cause we became socialist deary…
    [hey, dipstick.. collective action = collusion]

    and the point of the elections was to get a government to go after corruption, not make a progressive socialist/communist administrative state ministered by “experts” appointed for having the “right” answers

    do note that Debs stopped running for president when the CPUSA said they could no longer distinguish their platforms from that of the Democrat Party platforms.

    no, it was the cold war

    “If something unites these young people,” Mr. Della Volpe said, “it’s fear,” driven by their perception that they have limited economic opportunities and that society as a whole has become more unequal.

    well, yeah… cause when i was a kid, science was all about the universe and endless expansion, and so on.. then these progressive experts got on and everything will kill you, its hopeless, 12 scientists discuss the end of the world, and on and on and on… NOTHING is positive from science any more, not evn a blockbuster drug that saves lives… why? they dont like the price… why? cause for some reason they get that the collective action comes from there pockets to pay huge prices for these people (but they also created a market where the safest meds to go after and not have liabilities and things are orphan drugs for deadly conditions or horrid ones).

    but note.. the more left liberal debased feminist free – the more the population wants to become soviet and sit and stew in its drugs and vodka and not marry and so on… (anyone remember the soviets? when we were free and made fun of their living like that?)

    and dipstick…as i like to refer to people who sayt hings but dont think, the more equal it is, the less you can get ahead because your going to then be unequal… so you been fighting to remove all chances of moving ahead ..

    clue: equal and moving ahead are opposites…

  10. MollyNH Says:

    LAUER has his long knives out for him.

  11. Artfldgr Says:

    the funny thng is that we made fun of our ancestors customs and called them oppressive because they neutered these problems most of the time among most… now without morals, without restraint (other than forced on them by lack of economics), without regard, we are up to our necks in this crapola

    wait.. the next wail will be lack of access to powerful people
    one will not be able to be alone to privately discuss anything
    oh, and that will be the good people…

    the dirtballs will still be dirtballs and the new post 68 world facilitated their dominance and the lack of the power of men to get rid of jerks or even have agency!!!

    basically, the more this happens the more the mean skews to the dirtballs who wont care and away from the decent guys who will care and act to protect themselves.

    gonna be interesting
    even more so post marriage strike, mgtow, herbivore men, and so on…

    The Marriage Strike Hitting Women Hard, Why Men Arent Dating
    Why Are So Many Men On A Marriage Strike? (Dr. Helen Smith
    Marriage strike paradox
    Men Are ‘On Strike’ Throughout The U.S.: What Are The Causes? [forbes]
    The Marriage Strike | Fox News

    and the turnaround to make it seem that its always mens fault
    Women are Saying “No” to Marriage and Men are Angry, Depressed

    This is the culture that denigrates arts of the greats in the past for the most part while writing main stream articles for teen girls on how to stop anal leakage from underage sex (and fisting)…

    Recent article in the times shows how the level of reading comprhension is dirt… i mean really dirt.. which is why the list of things that are not real that are now real cause, well, they cant separate a maybe and might from a actual and did do or will do.

    and each year post 68 we been lowering the standards for military service cause we cant find enough non mental, healthy, non tattooed, non drugged, etc. people to serve..

    its no accident that the majority of the worst cases of leakage from government (not teen girls arses as vogue reports), are from millennial, the same for most of the generation raised by single mothers!!!!

    think pre 68 and post 68
    its now long enough to compare and see where that vector is leading…

    this is not even 2nd year of the administration

    and they are going to vote on impeachment and like Beria, they will figure out the crime later..

  12. neo-neocon Says:


    I absolutely read the song as ironic, or at least partly or somewhat ironic. Cohen was a complex man and a poet. Not simplistic. His delivery of the song sounds very ironic to me. And the verse I put in the post seems clearly ironic: “everybody knows” that she loves him, and yet there were some people she just HAD to meet without her clothes? Yeah, sure; everybody knows.

    More examples from the lyrics:

    “Everybody knows that the war is over”—or do they just think so? Don’t some wars lead to other wars, or fulminating guerilla actions?

    “Everybody knows the good guys lost”—isn’t that the cynical Howard Zinn position? Sometimes the good guys win—or at least, the better guys.

    “And everybody knows that you live forever
    Ah when you’ve done a line or two”—the irony in that is self-evident and self-explanatory.

    There’s more, but I’ll just say that some of the words are not ironic, but that in general I see the entire song as a commentary (a mostly ironic one) on what we think we know in our most cynical moments but are often deluded about. It is both a cynical song and an anti-cynical song.

    It’s a bit Frostian in that way. Frost’s poems said things and also their opposites at the same time.

    I think it’s a brilliant song, by the way.

  13. Artfldgr Says:

    i have written before that ambiguity causes humans to stop like deer in the headlights… they wont act… they wont tell.. they wont say… and thats that… the downside is too large the upside is too small…

    by the way, this is why the important facts have a team of liars out to give another side, so that what is right is ambiguous, so they follow neither, or both, or what they choose, or nothing and miss oportunities for failing to act, or act and miss opportunities for failing to wait.

    the main thing is that there is nothing to be done about such things given the way we have abondoned oppressive etiquette of which so many points of it was about these things as we knew ourselves better in the past..

    signature cards? proof of someone attending… calling cards? proof of someone stopping by… chaperones, proof that nothing went on… refusal to be alone with someone of the opposite sex? avoiding these issues and biology making things happen that no one wants to happen… male and female spheres? so we would not mix everywhere and make it into a free for all…

    the list was huge and it was about knowing how to give deference to others.. cause when everyone does THAT, we all feel we are respected… not like today, were we withold that waiting for everyone else to stop waiting for it and give it so we get what we demand as a right – and stand there with nothing.

    thats all i have to say

    everyone knew i committed the murder
    except she wasn’t dead…
    and still isn’t over 30 years later…

    I’m still paying for a crime that never happened…
    and everyone knows it did…

  14. neo-neocon Says:

    John Guilfoyle:

    The only ones who knew are the ones it happened to, the ones the perps confessed it to, the ones who directly observed, the ones who assisted the perps in the cover-up, the ones who saw direct and incontrovertible evidence (witnesses to the acts, for example), and the perps themselves.

    You write: “Have you ever had a co-worker/colleague that you knew was an alcoholic? or padded their expenses? or fudged their travel record or billable hours? or was just plain lazy?” But those are all things with directly observable evidence. For example, you can observe if someone says they go to a bar every day, or it they have liquor on their breath very often, or if they slur their words or otherwise behave in a drunken manner on a regular basis. Then you can conclude on the basis of your personal observation that the person is an alcoholic, and you’re probably correct.

    How do you know someone is padding expenses? They can tell you they’re doing it. Or you can be on a trip with them and see what they do and spend and then see what they’re later officially claiming. In other words, you’d once again be personally observing the evidence. Same is true of billable hours.

    Lazyness is more difficult. Just to take an example, I once had a job in a university on a research project. At that time I was suffering from chronic upper GI problems that sometimes got very bad. Most of the time I was there I actually felt very bad. One day I remember I felt so lousy I just put my head down on my desk for a while. I didn’t know what to do. But I couldn’t tell anyone because then I would have been telling them almost every day, and what was I to tell them? That I had a stomach ache? I never did get a diagnosis, but I felt lousy and it was very hard sometimes to stay at my desk and work.

    If someone had been monitoring me they might have thought I was just lazy. My point is that “laziness” is harder to judge than the other things you mentioned. Laziness is a conclusion and a judgment formed from observation from a set of behaviors that might or might not be from laziness. So in some cases a judgment of “laziness” is incorrect and not something someone “knows,” it’s what someone concludes. What someone might know—might observe—is that I had put my head on my desk to rest for a while, during work hours. They would have no idea why I might have done it.

    Someone could “know” someone else in the company was having affairs, either by that person bragging or talking about the affairs or something like going away for the weekend with the other person, or by coming in on the couple in some sexually compromising way. Other behaviors of the couple might cause you to suspect it, which is not the same as knowing. And then, over time, if it keeps happening over and over and over with a different partner, and you observe it, you can conclude that the person is having a series of affairs—that the person is a serial philanderer.

    But the behavior leading to sexual harassment charges of the more coercive (and more serious) variety is not ordinarily “known” or even strongly suspected in the same way. For example, with Lauer, that story told by the woman who alleges to have been sexually assaulted in Lauer’s office was not generally known. How do I know that? Here’s the article about it:

    [The accuser] told The Times that she passed out and had to be taken to a nurse. She said that she felt helpless because she didn’t want to lose her job, and that she didn’t report the encounter at the time because she felt ashamed…

    On Wednesday, the episode in Mr. Lauer’s office was reported to NBC News after the woman told her then-supervisor, who still works at the network. The woman said an NBC human resources representative had since contacted her.

    The woman, who was in her early 40s at the time, told her then-husband about the encounter, which The Times confirmed with him in a phone call. The couple was separated at the time, and later divorced. She also described it to a friend five years ago, which the friend confirmed to The Times.

    So how would “everybody” at NBC know? The alleged victim told her estranged husband, who apparently told no one. She told a friend 5 years later, a friend who is not said to have worked at the network and who does not seem to have told anyone (probably sworn to secrecy). The victim said she did not report it to anyone at NBC. And no one witnessed it. The only thing anyone at NBC knew (the nurse, to be exact) was that a woman had passed out in Lauer’s office for unknown reasons. I very much doubt the nurse knew more than that, if the woman didn’t tell her.

    I could go on and on with this, but I urge you to think about it. People often know about philandering, and they know about inappropriate sexual jokes if the perp does that habitually and in public. But the rest of it is generally done in private, and the victims are often silent.

    As for the Catholic bishops, that’s a different story because they were getting reports about the abuse and sometimes even confessions, and sending the priests away. That’s a true coverup. It is unclear how many complains (prior to the current crop, that is), if any, were told to the NBC brass years ago. (In the article I linked to, the complains were very recent although the incidents happened years ago). NBC seems to have had a certain amount of tolerance of inappropriate sexual jokiness and messing around, but there’s no indication they were aware of the really bad behavior until quite recently.

    You write on a different but somewhat-related topic, that that the Catholic bishops knew of the abuse by priests. I agree in general (especially in the scandal’s later years). But also please see this.

    By the way, as far as Catholic priests and their rates of abuse and what “everybody knows” goes, please see this.

  15. parker Says:

    ” Ah, you loved me as a loser, but now you’re worried I just might win. You know the way to stop me, but you don’t have the discipline. How many nights I prayed for this to let my work begin. First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin.”

    If you find yourself in Montreal with time on your hands visit LC’s house/museum. And, there is delicious dim sum place in the old city but I can’t remember the address. If I wanted, which I do not, to live in a city, it would be a toss up between Montreal or Stockholm. Different but similar vibes.

  16. Artfldgr Says:

    California cops just found an audio recording of the 1993 interview in which Corey Feldman has said he identified alleged sexual predators — after police previously claimed the former child actor never named names, according to a report. SNIP Feldman claimed in October that he had provided names of sexual predators in Hollywood to Santa Barbara County police in 1993 during their probe into Michael Jackson’s molestation charges. The Sheriff’s Office at the time denied having any records of Feldman revealing such information — but now says it has unearthed recordings of the interview.

  17. neo-neocon Says:


    If so, then they knew enough to have launched an investigation, and apparently did not.

  18. huxley Says:

    neo: As it happens, we disagree. I hear Cohen’s lines as cynical but not ironic, though Cohen is complex and certainly capable of irony. Unless by irony you mean exaggeration.

    For instance, when Cohen says “Old Black Joe’s still picking cotton for your ribbons and bows,” he’s not using air-quotes. “And everybody knows.”

    I’ve read several biographies and many articles on Cohen. His politics were not credulous leftism, but they were to be sure of the left. In the eighties when he wrote “Everybody Knows” his mood was deeply cynical, near apocalyptic, although he always maintained some detachment from these intuitions.

  19. vanderleun Says:

    Where there’s stroke there’s pyre.

    quote from and link to the Matt roast:

    “Meredith Viera Lauer’s Today costar started right in with, “That motherfucker Matt Lauer,” and got a big laugh. “I am amazed that I have time for this stupidity,” she said, pointing out that she does the Today show, Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, has three kids and a husband, and that’s a lot of balls to juggle. “Look at Katie Couric. She juggled Matt’s balls for six years. That’s three years per ball. She squeezed those suckers so tight, she left nothing for me. Thanks, Katie,” Viera said, but she was just getting warmed up. “People say he’s so prim and proper, like he’s got a stick up his ass. It’s not a stick, my friends, it’s Al Roker’s dick.””

  20. neo-neocon Says:


    I definitely disagree.

    Take the “Old Black Joe” quote. You can take it at face value, and to a certain extent it’s meant that way: many black people are still on the lower socioeconomic rungs of the ladder. That’s indisputable. But many SJWs and leftists (and this was the case even back when Cohen wrote the song) take it as almost the literal truth: all black people are slaves! White people are all guilty as slave owners! Black people pick cotton for our shiny little baubles! Etc. etc..

    Cohen always kept quite mum, as far as I know, about politics. Unlike many of today’s entertainers, he didn’t like to talk about it. I have read many interviews of his and concluded his politics were hidden and probably rather complex and that he didn’t necessarily speak the PC line. He took a longer, more distant and spiritual point of view (Zen, after all). He didn’t like political polemics and didn’t use them himself nor did he praise them. That’s my impression.

    So when he wrote that black people were still slaves and the rest of that line, and that “everybody knows” that it’s true, I believe he was saying it ironically (rather, at least partially ironically, as in “you leftists think this is true and it’s at least somewhat true but it’s also not true and a simplistic political slogan of which to beware, although it’s something “everybody knows”).

    Each stanza has a differing degree of irony and/or doubt to it, some more than others. But I think they all contain some irony and some doubt. And I think every time he says “everybody knows” he is actually saying “we think so, but we don’t really know; there are many mysteries in life.” The song is cynical even about cynicism.

    I’m not alone in this. Although I’ve never before read what anyone else thinks of the song, and I came to my conclusions on my own, just now when I Googled the topic I found this, for example:

    Like so many Cohen songs, “Everybody Knows” doesn’t quite stay in the place it begins. Maybe nobody knows what everybody knows.

    That’s pretty much what I see, too.

  21. huxley Says:

    Lest I leave the impression Leonard Cohen was a more agreeable, less fanatical version of a leftist or SJW …

    He was his own man and he refused to kneel before any idols, leftist, hippie, Zen or otherwise. In his time he gave credit to America, Reagan and even the American hamburger.

    But that didn’t mean he was hanging with William F. Buckley, Jon Voight or Andrew Breitbart either.

  22. neo-neocon Says:


    I don’t see what that has to do with what Lauer actually DID.

    Are you suggesting he had an affair with Couric and a gay affair with Roker? No? Then that’s a roast. That’s what passes for humor these days. Ugh.

    I already said that they “knew” that he was a philanderer. That’s not the issue nor is it the point. And roasts (especially private ones) are full of that sort of “humor” these days. Been to a comedy club lately? You have to take a bath on the way out.

    My point is that they didn’t know he was guilty of assault. I explained it in even more detail in this comment, which I doubt you’ve read.

  23. huxley Says:

    neo: As I’ve mentioned, Leonard Cohen was a big influence on me. I’ve followed his work deeply since I was electrified by Noel Harrison’s cover of “Suzanne” in 1967.

    I don’t read “Everybody Knows” as an ironic song, especially the verse about the narrator’s digs about his lover’s faithfulness, which is the linchpin of your post.

  24. Stephen Ippolito Says:

    One of the very few solid truths I have discerned over the course of my life, which I am fairly confident you and the majority of your learned commentariat share, is that it’s only the stupid who are always cocksure.

    They simply don’t know enough about what they don’t know to have any doubts.

    True it may be, as I’m always eventually told when in dispute with a fool, as though it automatically wins the debate for them: “I’m entitled to my opinion”.

    But that doesn’t make it worth anything. A fool’s opinion is surely always and only just that: a foolish opinion.

    What is of much more concern to me is that even the very best, the wisest and the most well-meaning of people can fall prey to the temptation to rush to judgement and often they will cling to their belief.

    Even for the wisest human being suspicions have a way of morphing into certainties and that to me is dangerous. Just because this is a human trait doesn’t make it a good one. I feel one must always be on guard to resist the temptation, without personally witnessing an action, to feel certain that we “know” that someone has acted in a certain way or is of a certain kind of character – or even holds certain opinions.

    There is a wonderful Pulitzer prize winning play by John Patrick Shanley, later made into quite a good film starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams, “Doubt” (2008), that is very instructive on the point and that I ponder often.

    The theme is summed up succinctly by this exchange between a Parish Priest and the Mother Superior of the parish school who suspects him of having molested a boy:

    Father Flynn: “You haven’t the slightest proof of anything!”

    Sister Aloysius: “But I have my certainty! And armed with that I will go on…”

    Shanley, in his preface to the play, makes a point I have never forgotten and which guides me whenever I am told something as a “fact” by someone who claims to “know”:

    “Doubt requires more courage than conviction does, and more energy; because conviction is a resting place and doubt is infinite – it is a passionate exercise”.

    Surely, he is right. Doubting or holding an open mind is draining and takes courage of mind and spirit.

    No wonder that even the best of us can fall into the temptation of allowing our suspicions to become certainties. There is rest and ease in certainties but for me, Father Flynn’s sentiments must never be ignored:

    “..She sees me talk in a human way to these children and she immediately assumes there must be something wrong with it. Something dirty. Well, I’m not going to let her keep this parish in the dark ages! And I’m not going to let her destroy my spirit of compassion”.

    In the absence of direct observation of an unambiguous act, or of a confession, none of us can ever truly “know” what another person has done or not done.

    Mere suspicion must never be allowed reign to morph into certainty.

  25. Artfldgr Says:

    As for the Catholic bishops, that’s a different story because they are getting reports about the abuse and sometimes even confessions, and sending the priests away. That’s a true coverup. It is unclear how many complains (prior to the current crop, that is), if any, were told to the NBC brass years ago.

    and this mucks things up more… especially the knowing and letting it slide and knowing what that would do, and don’t forget who selects whom when reading below. [i dont need to know details to know things are mucked given known details (as given in testimony before congress – take that for what thats worth too)]

    • a member of the Communist Party of America (CPUSA)
    • organizer for the CPUSA from 1932–1948
    • sat on the CPUSA’s National Council
    • legal counsel to the Communist Party
    • head of the new york state teachers union
    • expelled from the CPUSA in 1949 [for legally representing a landlord over a renter]

    she testified before the US Senate about widespread Party infiltration of labor unions and other institutions. The article reported that she “swore before the Senate Internal Security subcommittee today that Communists had got into many legislative offices of Congress and into a number of groups advising the President of the United States.”

    “When she was an active party member, she had dealt with no fewer than four cardinals within the Vatican who were working for us” – Alice von Hildebrand

    She testified before the U.S. House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). She said: “In the 1930s we put eleven hundred men into the priesthood in order to destroy the Church from within. The idea was for these men to be ordained, and then climb the ladder of influence and authority as Monsignors and Bishops”

    In her public affidavit, among other things, Dodd stated:
    “In the late 1920’s and 1930’s, directives were sent from Moscow to all Communist Party organizations. In order to destroy the [Roman] Catholic Church from within, party members were to be planted in seminaries and within diocesan organizations… I, myself, put some 1,200 men in [Roman] Catholic seminaries”. von Hildebrand confirmed that Dodd had publicly stated the same things to which she attested in her public affidavit.

    Alice von Hildebrand is Dame Commander of the Order of St Gregory, a papal knighthood… her husband was called “the twentieth-century Doctor of the Church” Pope John Paul II also greatly admired the work of Hildebrand, remarking once to his widow, Alice von Hildebrand, “Your husband is one of the great ethicists of the twentieth century.”

    I figured people wouldn’t know her or her husband..
    which is funny given this quote:
    The degree of Pope Benedict’s esteem is expressed in one of his statements about Hildebrand:
    “When the intellectual history of the Catholic Church in the twentieth century is written, the name of Dietrich von Hildebrand will be most prominent among the figures of our time.”

    so much for Pope Benedicts benediction..

    he said of the Vatican council
    “Truly, if one of the devils in C. S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters had been entrusted with the ruin of the liturgy, he could not have done it better.”

    yup… a proper mucking…

  26. huxley Says:

    neo: Leonard Cohen had relationships with many highly desirable women in an environment where players played. Including Cohen himself, of course. (See Joni Mitchell’s “Midway Song.”)

    Do you suppose these women didn’t have affairs while they were with Cohen and that Cohen didn’t know they had affairs?

    I find it impossible to believe Cohen’s real point was irony that “everybody” assumed they “knew” his lover was unfaithful, when maybe she was and maybe she wasn’t.

  27. neo-neocon Says:


    You’re taking that verse very literally as being about Cohen’s own life. I think it’s much more generally ironic. It’s about LOVE, not just sex, and the meeting (or lack of meeting) of the two. “Everybody knows” that you love me, and yet you just had to meet some people “without your clothes.” Yeah, right.

    The irony is practically dripping from the verse. I don’t see it as being about Cohen’s actual sex life; that would be much too narrow. I think it has to do with his attitude towards love and betrayal, and the excuses people give for the latter in the face of the former (including his own excuses!).

    I’ve read and watched tons of interviews with Cohen, as well as books about him, and that’s my conclusion.

    Also see this on the subject of Cohen and politics (I just found it), from a 2014 interview:

    “I’ve tried over the years to define a political position that no one can actually decipher,” he jokes…

    …“There comes a point, I think, as you get a little older, you feel that nothing represents you. You can see the value of many positions, even positions that are in savage conflict with one another. You can locate components on both sides that resonate within you.”

    That last quote in particular is what I think “Everybody Knows” is expressing (subtly): the idea that the black-or-white things that “everybody knows” are things we just think we know, but don’t.

  28. huxley Says:

    neo: Well, we disagree then.

    Cohen doesn’t write purely and entirely from his own life, but his very personal life in all its particulars surely and deeply informs his work.

    His classic line from “Suzanne,” “Then she feeds you tea and oranges that come all the way from China,” wasn’t vague, ironic maundering but his encounter with a real woman who served him real tea flavored with oranges. (“Constant Comment” I believe.)

    Of course, Cohen can’t be parsed totally one way or another, but to suppose he’s always meta in his writing is, from all the Cohen I have read, mistaken.

    I think you’re wrong, particularly in that verse.

  29. huxley Says:

    There’s a Dylan Thomas poem, “After The Funeral (In Memory Of Ann Jones)” with the lines:

    In a room with a stuffed fox and a stale fern,
    I stand, for this memorial’s sake, alone

    Back in the days when Dylan Thomas was a big deal, many graduate students spent many an hour speculating about the symbolism of the stuffed fox in that poem.

    Later Thomas was interviewed about the poem and the stuffed fox. He said, I was in a room with a stuffed fox. That’s what happened.

  30. Stephen Ippolito Says:

    Just a small bit of trivia about the play I mentioned earlier, John Patrick Shanley’s “Doubt”.

    (I am big on the trivial – it’s just the important things in life that confound me).

    In the play, as in the movie based on it, the central question of the priests’s guilt or innocence is left unresolved.

    Apparently, Shanley had a practice, during the play’s run, of whispering in the ear of any new actor playing the priest, just before he stepped out on stage, whether he was guilty or not. The actor was always sworn to secrecy.

    It is sometimes said that the answer was not always the same.

  31. neo-neocon Says:

    Stephen Ippolito:


  32. neo-neocon Says:


    Yes, that sometime happens (the stuffed fox being just a stuffed fox).

    As Freud said, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

    But there’s no indication that’s true for Cohen’s song “Everybody Knows.” I doubt very much he’d be making direct and simple political statements in its lyrics for just about the first (and only?) time in his life. We’re not talking about the meaning of a certain symbol in it, like the stuffed fox. We’re talking about the meaning and tone of the song, and the man.

    Same for the tea and oranges, by the way. That’s a very specific detail, like the fox, and it’s not a surprise that it’s based on something real rather than something completely symbolic and metaphoric.

    What we’re arguing about is way different from that, and a much larger question.

    In other words, do you really really think that Cohen believes that everybody knows that you can really love someone and just have to meet a bunch of people without your clothes (i.e. have sex with them)? I can’t imagine that his infidelities would make you think that, or think that he thinks “everybody knows” that.

  33. n.n Says:

    The biblical standard requires three independent witnesses (e.g. testimony, forensic, confession) to a crime, or a witness in testimony who knowingly lies. The people in the room were almost certainly hearsay witnesses (e.g. allegations) that may have motivated inference of crimes, but did not rise to the level of actionable evidence.

  34. AesopFan Says:

    This person, I think, passes the test of being someone who knows.

    (Tina Dupuy)
    “D.C. was decked out and packed in for the inauguration of a young and popular new president. The town was buzzing with optimism, and one of the many events on our list was a swanky Media Matters party with Democratic notables everywhere. Then I saw Al Franken. I only bug celebrities for pictures when it’ll make my foster mom happy. She loves Franken, so I asked to get a picture with him. We posed for the shot. He immediately put his hand on my waist, grabbing a handful of flesh. I froze. Then he squeezed. At least twice.

    I’d been married for two years at the time; I don’t let my husband touch me like that in public because I believe it diminishes me as a professional woman. Al Franken’s familiarity was inappropriate and unwanted. It was also quick; he knew exactly what he was doing.”
    * * *
    The core of her article is important for what it says about the Democrats, and what they knew.
    Because, they did know what they were doing — just not what would come of it down the line.
    Karma is a very obliging lady.
    * * *
    “The author Kate Harding, shortly after Tweeden published her account, wrote a piece for The Washington Post, headlined: “I’m a feminist. I study rape culture. And I don’t want Al Franken to resign.” In it, she rehashes what Steinem wrote 20 years ago: These are our guys, we must protect them especially if there’s a risk one could be replaced by a Republican. “If we set this precedent in the interest of demonstrating our party’s solidarity with harassed and abused women, we’re only going to drain the swamp of people who, however flawed, still regularly vote to protect women’s rights and freedoms.”

    Really? If Democrats demonstrate our party’s solidarity with harassed and abused women something bad will happen to women’s rights? Are you kidding me? Is that why there is a slush fund on Capitol Hill to settle sexual-harassment claims with taxpayer dollars—because of feminism?

    I heard this argument in private, too. It’s about protecting power and asking the victims to understand the larger goal of (maybe) protecting them sometime soon. This calculation was more reasonable in the 1980s. [it wasn’t] Now it seems like a Faustian bargain that’s doomed women’s ascension to real power: Boys will be boys and girls will be quiet.

    I have a radical idea: Maybe Democrats can replace politicians who harass and abuse women with anyone other than an abuser. There are good men in the world. I married one. I’ve worked with many more. Do we really believe our talent pool will dry up and our caucus will be nonexistent once we kick out all the creepers? I don’t. What if protecting men who harass and abuse women isn’t actually good for women?

    Maybe, just maybe, it’s only good for the men.

    This year’s pervert purge has inspired many to look at uncomfortable truths about their heroes, their co-workers, and their values. The New York Times’s Michelle Goldberg repented of her support for Bill Clinton, writing a piece with a battering ram as a headline, “I believe Juanita.” For me, it’s been sinking in that the working white women who felt condescended to by affluent feminists voted, by significant margins, for an admitted sexual predator over the lady who’d not believe them if they were abused by someone she liked. Their choices don’t seem so ridiculous to me any longer.

    Democrats sold our soul. Nothing makes that more clear than how women voted in the 2016 election.

    I’m also no longer defending Bill Clinton. I’m ashamed I ever did. But I’m not condemning or admonishing Hillary. I think we all make the choices that seem right at the time. I don’t feel like pummeling her with my privilege of hindsight. But there’s a rot in the Democratic Party. It’s not just bad men and exhausted women; it’s that we chose Bill over the women. And that original sin lost us the election of what we all assumed would be the first female president of the United States. And Trump, who boasted he could “grab ‘em by the pussy,” being in the White House doesn’t make that untrue. It just makes it a painful irony.”
    * * *
    Too bad there wasn’t someone around in the 80s telling them that supporting Bill Clinton revealed their hypocrisy about feminist principles, and nothing good would come of it. Oh wait…..
    * * *
    “I wasn’t going to come forward. Then I was. Then I wasn’t. I’ve been hoping Franken would just step down and I wouldn’t have to say anything.”
    * * *
    And there’s the source of the rot in a nutshell: taking no personal responsibility for one’s principles, in hopes that someone else will take care of the problem for you.

  35. AesopFan Says:

    Artfldgr Says:
    December 6th, 2017 at 6:58 pm
    i have written before that ambiguity causes humans to stop like deer in the headlights… they wont act… they wont tell.. they wont say… and thats that… the downside is too large the upside is too small…

    the main thing is that there is nothing to be done about such things given the way we have abondoned oppressive etiquette of which so many points of it was about these things as we knew ourselves better in the past..

    signature cards? proof of someone attending… calling cards? proof of someone stopping by… chaperones, proof that nothing went on… refusal to be alone with someone of the opposite sex? avoiding these issues and biology making things happen that no one wants to happen… male and female spheres? so we would not mix everywhere and make it into a free for all…

    the list was huge and it was about knowing how to give deference to others.. cause when everyone does THAT, we all feel we are respected…
    * *
    IMO, some of the popularity of Jane Austen’s work today is a sublimated recognition that boundaries of some kind around social relationships are necessary and do serve a useful purpose; even if they can become overly restrictive or are dismissed by particular individuals, they help the majority navigate the rocky shoals of romance without sinking the boats.

  36. John Guilfoyle Says:

    Hi Neo

    The behaviour I referenced re a coworker…I knew because I had immediate firsthand experience. And to my surprise more folks in our office also knew but chose to do nothing…including my boss. I contend, and there seems to be a growing body of evidence, that with the current crop of men being held accountable for bad behaviour there are many just like those in my old workplace. Folks knew & did nothing.

  37. neo-neocon Says:

    John Guilfoyle:

    Witnessing the behavior is knowing.

    And I have no doubt that sometimes the behavior is witnessed by someone, and that that person knows.

    But sometimes it’s all secret and we only have a rumor. And even when witnessed, “everybody” doesn’t witness it and “everybody” doesn’t know. “Everybody” hears about it way down the grapevine. That’s not “everybody knows.”

    The witness is different, and has a different responsibility to inform, as does the victim.

  38. John Guilfoyle Says:

  39. huxley Says:

    neo: The song title is “Everybody Knows,” not “Everybody Knows?”

    The onus is yours to make the case for the latter. I’ve enjoyed your arguments but you have not convinced me. Perhaps others are so persuaded.

    I’ve read or heard most of Cohen’s creative work. While Cohen is a complex and talented wordsmith, I find him much more straightforward — refreshingly so! — than most poets/lyricists. In my experience Cohen does not play games like “I”m saying ‘A’ but I really mean or also mean ‘Not-A'” unless it is obvious sarcasm.

    The song following “Everybody Knows” is the title cut, “I’m Your Man.” One might suppose, in your fashion, that Cohen is raising doubts about his relationship, but no, I’ll stick with the obvious. Cohen has recognized his abject devotion to a woman and is declaring it.

    That song can also be read with the woman as the Divine Beloved, which is always a valid approach to consider with Cohen, but that’s a different ploy than irony.

  40. neo-neocon Says:


    Re the question mark: poets don’t do that. You might as well say that Frost should have entitled his poem “The Road Not Taken?” Frost’s poem is also ironic, but most people don’t get that.

    And if one song or poem by a songwriter or poet is ironic, it doesn’t mean that all of them are. So the tone of “I’m Your Man” doesn’t have to match the tone of “Everybody Knows,” whatever those tones might be.

    In fact, though, if you really want to talk about the tone of “I’m Your Man,” it’s exaggeration. Hyperbole. Sort of like the classic love song declaration: I”d cross the desert, swim the deepest ocean, etc. etc..

    “If you want a lover
    I’ll do anything you ask me to…”

    Obviously Cohen doesn’t mean that literally, nor does his life bear it out. The song is a series of promises, declarations, vows, of someone saying, essentially, “I love you so very very much…” and using exaggeration to show just how much.

    Then towards the end he shifts gears:

    “I’ve been running through these promises to you
    That I made and I could not keep…”

    Hmmm. So he recognizes that he doesn’t keep his promises! He also says “Ah, but a man never got a woman back/Not by begging on his knees”—so now we know that he made a bunch of promises and broke them, and now they’re a couple no more. He’s trying to get her back, and he’s making some more promises—at the same time acknowledging that he breaks his promises.

    Fairly ironic, come to think of it. Two things at once.

    Look, you seem to have a very firm belief about this. So I don’t really expect to change your mind, which is okay.

    By the way, I’m not saying all (or even most) of Cohen’s song lyrics are ironic. Many many are straightforward. Ones that immediately come to mind are Sisters of Mercy, Anthem, Famous Blue Raincoat, If It Be Your Will, That’s no Way to Say Goodbye”—and plenty more of them.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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