In the age of the #MeToo movement, we are learning so many men — even men we know and love, who have been kind and done good things for the world — are capable of hurting women. A tenet to the movement is that we have to be able to recognize that even men who we know to be good and kind and loving can do terrible things.
Leah Remini is speaking out to defend ex-Scientologist Paul Haggis, who has been accused by multiple women of rape, and that’s problematic.
In a lengthy open letter, Remini says Haggis, who once served as a spokesperson for the church, “deserves, based on his record as a gentleman and humanitarian, to be judged when all the evidence has been taken under penalty of perjury in a court of law.”
And while Remini is correct that our legal system operates on the basis of assuming innocence until one is proven guilty, it is so important in this age when women are finding their voices and being heard that we believe them when they speak up. Haggis may not have been found guilty in a court of law, but a staggeringly low number of rapists and sexual assaulters are ever prosecuted, and that’s one of the many parts of rape culture that needs to change. Meanwhile, it’s extremely rare for women to lie about being raped. The four women who have levied accusations against Haggis, including two publicists who say he raped them, deserve to have their voices heard.
“Paul Haggis is a good man who has been a friend to us and so many others. He has championed the rights of women, the LGBT community and has fought for and devoted himself to the underprivileged in the world. These are not ‘PR stunts’ — he has devoted his time, skill and money to worthy causes without fanfare for decades,” Remini’s letter reads. All of those things may very well be true. Haggis may have done great things. But unfortunately, as we have learned over and over in recent months, that does not preclude him from assaulting women. It’s the same kind of statement that earned backlash for Lena Dunham, and Remini deserves the same scrutiny.
Remini claims to stand up for those who are silenced and abused by the Church of Scientology. Now, for her to silence women who allege they have been assaulted by this man goes against everything she purportedly stands for.