JMHO: Sorting Out the Internal Conflict

Note: In case you’re wondering about the weird graphic, I’ll be honest with you – I really don’t feel comfortable being yet another site to splash a Sesame Street image on this story.

I’m having a hard time with this Kevin Clash thing. For those of you who haven’t followed the story: Two men have accused Kevin Clash, the voice of Elmo on Sesame Street of having sex with them when they were underage. There is a lot to the story that I won’t even get into here, so get thee to Gawker and catch up on all the sordid details.

I believe many people are having a hard time with the controversy because the allegations are just so contrary to the image they held of Clash.  We all like to think we’d have a sense for these things, and by all accounts, Clash doesn’t seem like the kind of guy to pray on underage teens.  But what do we know? When do we ever know? I don’t want to believe it, but I don’t want to disbelieve something simply because it doesn’t align with my preconceived notions. There is so much going on with this story, I will do my best to answer the questions across the internet and running through my mind.

Is it possible that a guy who is such a beloved figure could do this?
Yes. On more than one occasion, we’ve seen beloved celebrities do things we never expected they were capable of doing. So yes, it’s possible.

Is it possible that the accusers are fabricating this story for fame and money?
Yes. Also on more than one occasion, we’ve seen people make up false stories for their own benefit; this is nothing new.

Why do I feel like shit for even entertaining the thought the accusers are making this up?
Because you know that there are a lot of victims of sexual crimes out there, and these victims do not have a voice. You feel that by questioning a public story, you are not only shaming the alleged victims, in a way, you’re further silencing victims of sexual crimes.

This is where the issues get really tricky; no one wants a victim to stay quiet.  We want to create a culture where people feel safe to come forward. Conversely, we don’t want to convict a person before they ever had their day in court. Here is the problem with crimes of this nature: it is very difficult to prove or disprove them. The best we can hope for is the evidence will become clear either way, and that nothing will obstruct the truth from getting out there. That may never happen.

So what am I allowed to feel?
It’s okay to feel conflicted. In this day and age, we want to be judge, jury and executioner the very second a story falls on our ears. This is especially true of crimes involving children and teenagers – we don’t want to let them down or allow the crimes to continue. It’s a nice thought that our swift court of public opinion protects people, but it doesn’t.  Let’s value the time spent for fact-finding, and see what facts present themselves before we persecute anyone. This doesn’t just apply to this controversy – it’s a good exercise to practice on any sensationalized story. We all have some type of prejudice when we read a story, whether it is looking for someone’s failure or ignoring someone else’s faults. We sometimes act like our opinions are this giant Jenga tower that is about to collapse if one piece is pulled out. Bottom line? It’s okay to feel conflicted, but keep your mind open to the possibility the truth will shake the tower.

If the accusations are true, is this really a crime? I mean, a 16 year-old knows what he’s getting into. And I hear gay men like hooking up with young men.
Wait, what? I am seriously reading a lot of this, and pardon the French, this is the most bizarre apologist shit I’ve ever seen. So first of all, let’s put aside what people “hear” about the gay community. It is irrelevant. The fact of the matter is, there is an age of consent in this country and while it varies from state to state, if you have sex with someone below that age (and in some cases, are a few years older than the person you are having sex with), you are committing a crime and chances are you know you are committing a crime. Never mind what should and shouldn’t be, because at the moment it doesn’t matter. If Clash had sex with teens who were below the age of consent, he committed a crime. He also would have to have known that working on a children’s show and having sex with minors would create a pretty big fucking mess in his life if it got out. I really hope he didn’t do this, but if he did, I’m sorry, I can’t excuse his behavior by pointing to f-ing Belgium and saying that 14 year-olds are totes game over there.

So, okay. If he did it, it’s a crime; but is it bad?
To me? Yes. I have yet to find a 30-something or 40-something in a relationship with a teen who didn’t use the relationship as a means to control, manipulate and royally mindfuck the person. Totally anecdotal I know, but that’s what I’ve seen and it’s shaped  my opinion. There are a lot of different opinions out there, but only you can determine if you think it goes against your moral code or not.

Can we joke about this? I mean, come on – tickle me Elmo?
Every morning over the past few days, my alarm goes off, and I wake to the sounds of the local morning zoo cracking joke after joke on this story. Every morning I groan and feel the bile rise in my esophagus. Yes, it’s a free country – you can joke about it, but unless you have Louis C.K.- level skills of making horrible things funny, I wouldn’t find it amusing.

Can we make fun of TMZ and how fucking horrible they are?
Yes. Oh my God, yes.

Just my thoughts. What are some of the questions running through your mind with this ordeal? Any opinions you feel haven’t been voiced yet?

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net