Talent versus conscience. It is one of the smaller talking points to come out of the plethora of recent allegations of sexual harassment, yet it is no less important. Should we forgive people’s actions just because they are talented? It’s an interesting conversation to have, especially because these allegations are a national issue.
Momentum has been building for some time now, with accusations against people like President Donald Trump, Bill O’Reilly and Woody Allen. Yet, when Harvey Weinstein, a big Hollywood producer, was accused of sexual harassment in a New York Times article published Oct. 5, the floodgates opened. Allegations against all types of people have surfaced in a wave of anger and hurt. Politicians. Actors. Singers. Athletes. High school band teachers.
The accusations are crushing, and they are extensive, and they are here. A Downers Grove North High School teacher named William Miller resigned from his position as the band director amid accusations of sexual harassment by a past student. He forfeited his teaching license and agreed not to teach in a K-12 setting.
I am a musician in the fine arts program at North. While I did not know Miller well, there is something mind-numbingly tragic in hearing that past students did not feel comfortable around a teacher. Schools are supposed to be safe settings.
This moment, when the allegations come out, is where we have to begin to ask ourselves the tough questions. It is no secret sexual harassment and sexual assault are wrong. Yet, what do you do when it’s someone you know? Or someone you respect? Or someone you admire?
It is important, now more than ever, not to look away. For so long, instances of horrible and disgusting behavior were hidden because of the status of the person involved. It seems like in the slew of these recent allegations, that talent or position is no longer an excuse to commit crimes without punishment.
There should be no second chances for this type of behavior. Just because someone has different levels of success than someone else does not condone his or her behavior toward another person. It’s a lesson we were taught as children: Treat others how you want to be treated.
It is no longer the responsibility of victims to hold their predators accountable. It is up to all of us.
Downers Grove resident Katherine Gross is a junior at Downers Grove North High School. She is passionate about journalism and hopes to go into political journalism in the future. In the meantime, she enjoys playing sports, spending time with her friends and family, and traveling.