Here we are at the end of 2017 and what a year it has been. 

This year has seen the rise of the #MeToo movement.  We have seen several powerful men brought down by allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace.  These have included, but are not limited to, Matt Lauer, Al Franken, Mario Batale, Harvey Weinstein, and Bill Cosby.  Although he dismisses the allegations, even the President of the United States has come under scrutiny for harassing behavior in his past.  Bob Dylan has served as one of the poet laureates of the Baby Boomers. 

In 1964, he wrote, “Come senators, congressmen please heed the call.  Don’t stand in the doorway, don’t block up the hall.  There’s a battle outside and it is ragin’.  It’ll soon shake your windows and rattle your halls, for the times they are a-changin’.”  As a member of the male gender, it is apparent that new rules of conduct are required.  Men should no longer expect to avoid the consequences of sexual harassment in the workplace or any other place for that matter.

One of the many questions that I have about all of these people is, what were they thinking while they were engaged in this behavior?  Didn’t they think that they may have crossed a line when they exposed their genitals to women or bought a co-worker a sex toy?  In the alleged recording of Trump, he seems to suggest that because of his position, he could get away with this type of behavior.  It is apparent that many males do not respect women.  One of the paths of Buddhist teaching is referred to as Right Action.  Right action means to act kindly and compassionately, to be honest, respect the belongings of others, and to keep sexual relationships harmless to others.  Similar beliefs can be found in Christianity.  Apparently many men do not follow this path.  As an aside, based on Facebook posts, it appears that many people, mainly males, doubt the validity of these allegations.  I think that all men should look at their past and present behavior and make a concerted effort to treat all women as equals and with respect.

On a related topic there is a candidate in the US Senate race in Alabama that is an accused pedophile.  He, of course, has denied any involvement although several women have stated that he tried to date them while they were under-aged or actually molested them in some fashion.  Fortunately, the individual was not elected.  As an observer, it is interesting to note that his political party has basically stood behind him, evidently not wanting to lose a seat in the Senate to the other party.  Many individuals in the United States seek a return to Christian values.  What does this situation say about this desire?  This defeated candidate is an avowed homophobe, anti-Muslim, and has expressed a desire to return to the days of slavery.  He also states that he is an evangelical Christian.  I understand that one bad apple doesn’t spoil the whole bunch.  However, there is a great contradiction between his stated moral standards and his actual behavior.

My occupation is that of a Psychology teacher.  In actuality, I am an experimental psychologist.  In this area, experimental psychologists carry an activity referred to as hypothesis testing.  We operate in the belief that one can never prove a hypothesis to be true; one can only find that it is false.  I mention this because of a third trend in 2017; the trend of fake news.  The rise of social media has led to a decrease in the use of the printed word such as newspapers and magazines.  It seems that people go to sources that agree with their belief system and refer to other sources as fake news.  The President seems to be an example of this behavior.  A byproduct of this behavior is a lack of hypothesis testing.  If one is never exposed to contradictory information, one can never determine the authenticity of the information they receive and therefore become likely to be led astray because they never question their source.

Having expressed these opinions about these events I will close knowing that I am a blue dot in a very red state, county, and city.  I am rewarded by knowing that many people read my thoughts and even though they may not agree, they mention how they enjoyed reading the column.  Every so often, I am reminded that I went one step too far and those interactions have also been welcomed.  I also want to state that I have decided to take an extended vacation from writing the monthly column.  It is probably time that someone else picks up the mantle and writes for the paper.

Finally, I want all of you to have a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.  May the tax cuts treat you fairly and the force be with you.

Bob Newby is an educator and Erath County resident. He is a member of the E-T's community columnists and can be reached at newby@lipan.net.