Shawn Vestal’s recent column (Dec. 22) about what “isn’t the answer” to the current fervid subject he calls “the sexual harassment tsunami” brings some welcome common sense, as usual. More difficult is applying common sense to what is the answer. Perhaps we might begin by defusing the subject by not referring to the problem with the loaded term “sexual.” No matter what the perpetrator’s motive may be, the act should be treated as any other crime in our legal system. A guilty party should be treated either as criminally insane, criminally punishable and/or mentally ill, as we treat other forms of addictive behavior or serious impulse control problems.
While the victims of these acts are in no way to be considered responsible for the unacceptable behavior of the perpetrators, they should be, as good citizens always should be, taught, encouraged and supported to not be enablers and abettors. Cooperation in exposing wrongdoing should be highly valued.
By labeling offenders as either mentally ill or criminal, it might be easier for our society to seek better answers to what social and psychological factors in our culture contribute to the incidence of this form of disorder.