The sea change in attitude towards predatory conduct by the powerful — mostly men — to exact sexual favour from the less powerful — mostly women — has brought a deserved toppling of some prominent harassers.

While some of that payback was long overdue — e.g. Harvey Weinstein — the power of the surge of vehemence brings with it serious dangers to the core of identity and sexuality of everyone, men, women, guilty and innocent.

What is frightening is the willingness of the pundit class to pile on, without regard for natural law or the rapidly-becoming-quaint assumption of innocence that happens to be the basis of democratic government.

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Michelle Goldberg, a New York Times editorialist, writes that if innocents must pay the price for the overthrow of the patriarchy that's okay with her. In full baby-with-bathwater mode, she'd upend 400 years of supposed democratic progress.


Opinion columnists are granted a wide discretion ... sometimes that liberty comes at a cost.

Jill Filipovic is the author of The H Spot: The Feminist Pursuit of Happiness, and her NY Times op-ed of December 1 is entitled "The Men Who Cost Hillary Clinton the Election".

Beyond that sensational headline is her analysis of four prominent media personalities recently fired or suspended for alleged sexual harassment (Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, Mark Halperin and Glenn Thrush).

She claims that their abuse of power in the personal relationship with women (or men) reflected an abuse of power in the political arena of their work. They "harshly" interviewed Hillary about her emails but lobbed softballs at Trump, thus influencing the voters to view Hillary unfavourably as "untrustworthy and unlikeable".

The irony of this analysis is that while it overestimates the power of these men to shape the opinion of voters, and underestimates the ability of voters to draw their own conclusions, this view of the electoral process undermines the agency and hence the responsibility for the outcome of Mrs Clinton, herself, and makes her a victim instead.

A simplistic conclusion that misogyny was the cause of Clinton's defeat runs up against the fact that 53 per cent of white women voted for Donald Trump. Worse, this revisionist view absolves the Democratic Party establishment of any need to look at itself and ask why people who voted for Obama preferred Trump over Clinton.

In contrast with the latitude afforded political pundits are the standards by which critics of art in any media need to adhere.

In terms of films, specifically, the critic deals with its various elements — plot, script, characterisation, acting, direction, production values, cinematography, sound and sound track suitability. The critic tells us how a work works and why we should care.

Richard Brody, the movie critic for the New Yorker, in an ostensible review of Woody Allen's new movie Wonderwheel (December 1), has instead provided his own revisionist view of Allen's work in light of accusations of sexual misconduct first levelled at the director during an acrimonious split and custody battle with his former lover, Mia Farrow, in 1992.

The review is titled "Watching Myself Watch Woody Allen Films". Brody is certainly honest enough both in his title, suggestive of solipsism, and in acknowledgement that no one knows what actually happened. But he, Brody, states that he believes the accuser.

Acting on his own faith, Brody revisits the many works in light of his conviction that Woody Allen molested his own adopted daughter to find elements of guilt, depression, and "creepiness".

This betrayal of the reviewer's task — loss of objectivity because it's based on his belief, not on fact — says more about Brody than about Allen. Allen is, after all, a comedian, taking on big themes, often in self-mockery — the work of comedy.

A professional life as a student of neuro-anatomy teaches me to look for the centre of sexual intensity in the six inches between our two ears. It's simultaneously the source of emotion and cognition, for creation of passion and the deliberative ability of critical thought. It's the critical thought that is under assault now in everyone.

Jay Kuten is an American-trained forensic psychiatrist who emigrated to New Zealand for the fly fishing. He spent 40 years comforting the afflicted and intends to spend the rest afflicting the comfortable.