Manchester by the Sea director Kenneth Lonergan isn't just aware of the backlash surrounding Casey Affleck over his Oscars Best Actor win. He's prepared to take on any of the haters and serve them a steaming plate of "watch your mouth."
In an article written by student Connor Aberle for the Wesleyan University school newspaper, Aberle basically stated that by casting Affleck, Lonergan was condoning workplace mistreatment after Affleck was charged with sexual assault in 2010.
"Wesleyan University cannot insist on claiming credit for Kenneth Lonergan unless they also acknowledge their complicity in the success of a perpetrator of sexual violence," the article stated. "Lonergan essentially won Affleck his Oscar by handpicking Affleck for his movie. A famous actor’s connections enable them to continue their success, and we must be cautious about praising enablers, especially when they help sexual harassers. Wesleyan cannot have it both ways; it can either be true to its progressive brand or it can indiscriminately praise every semi-notable success from alumni (and even students who transferred out)."
Lonergan wasn't having any of it and responded to the paper in a letter, which they published in the following issue.
"Somebody as interested in actual as opposed to merely vocalized social justice as Mr. Aberle presumably is, should unwind his tangled, immoral chain of reasoning and start over at the fundamental precept that an allegation is not an indictment," Lonergan said in his response. "Nor can it be treated as such by any ethical person living in a democratic society supposedly based on the rule of law. Anything less vigilant exemplifies a disjointed abuse of morals and reason which those of us on the Left like to imagine exists only on the Right. I wish it were so. But I do hope that Mr. Aberle is capable of taking a much harder look at the merits of his own arguments before he decides to air his views in public again."
To be fair, Affleck maintained his innocence throughout the accusations, attempted to countersue after the claims, but ultimately settled out of court.
Affleck isn't allowed to comment on the specifics surrounding the case due to his settlement, but he has maintained that he believes everyone should be treated fairly and with respect in the workplace.
"I believe that any kind of mistreatment of anyone for any reason is unacceptable and abhorrent, and everyone deserves to be treated with respect in the workplace and anywhere else," he said in an interview with the Boston Globe. "There’s really nothing I can do about it. Other than live my life the way I know I live it and to speak to what my own values are and how I try to live by them all the time."
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