Like many long-term subscribers of the Harlequin Theater, my wife and I are wondering what is to become of our beloved stage, considering the recent turmoil over the handling of sexual harassment claims against Israel Horovitz and the resignation of Scot Whitney. Our society has evolved zero tolerance for sexual harassment, which I agree with. However, as with prejudices of race and class, the changes in attitudes within our society are being assimilated slowly, underlining the difficulty of changing deeply ingrained ideas. When we judge past behavior by today’s standards, should we ignore that there was a previous standard?
Because we have zero tolerance for sexual harassment, does that mean that we must have zero forgiveness for those who make a mistake? Although he should accept sanction for his “old-school” approach, losing his life’s work over his self-admitted failure to correctly react to another man’s sexual aggression is not justice for Whitney. I’ve made many mistakes, but have learned a lot more from those than from my successes. And everything is always more clear in retrospect. Oft quoted is the Pope proverb, “to err is human.” Let’s not forget that the rest is “to forgive is divine.”
I would like to see Scot Whitney back on the stage at Harlequin with new-found wisdom, with policy for how to handle a sexual harassment claim, and with support from the Harlequin board and the community. It is to the detriment of our community and our humanity to do otherwise.