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Sex harassment scandal scoops up Silicon Valley's Slimy Scoble

'Tech evangelist' apologizes but sympathy in short supply


In short, as with the broader conversation over sexual harassment this month, a huge number of angry opinions have been vented but with very little effort put into understanding the issue and how to tackle it.

There have been a few constructive efforts to tackle the issue of sexual harassment beyond engaging in online name-calling.

Back in July, when Silicon Valley was reeling from a wave of complaints that saw several high-profile venture capitalists named and shamed for their behavior – including David McClure, Chris Sacca, Justin Caldbeck and Pavel Curda – one woman, Cheryl Sew Hoy, proposed that one fix would be to recognize that there are different degrees of harassment and that it would be useful to address them individually rather than put everything into one bucket called "sexual harassment."

That approach was supported by female VC Brittany Laughlin who argued the system for reporting harassment was part of the problem. "We can reduce bad behavior by having more open conversations when someone crosses the line, instead of an all-or-nothing approach. Creating smaller feedback loops will help make change faster," she wrote.

However, it is notable that in the social media age, with iconic powerful men across a number of industries and covering all political leanings facing sexual harassment and/or assault allegations (Bill Cosby, Bill O'Reilly, Roger Ailes, Donald Trump, Harvey Weinstein, and so on) that the vast majority of discussions have comprised people shouting at one another and questioning their motives rather than collectively agreeing to end the sexual abuse once and for all.

Old model, new media

What will be interesting to see is if the classic American confession-and-redemption approach is able to withstand a flood of new contenders in the modern digital world.

Weinstein has so far stuck with the tried-and-tested approach as used by Bill Clinton, Ted Haggard, Jimmy Swaggart and David Vitter, among others, but it may not be working for him given the enormity and severity of the accusations against him and the willingness of more than two dozen women to go public.

The Hollywood producer attempted to emerge from one week's rehab in Arizona on Saturday, with his team lining up interviews with his psychologist to talk about how well he had done and how seriously he was taking it. But public anger and yet more accusations of his predatory behavior saw them quickly reverse course and announce that the movie supremo will instead go back into rehab – this time for a month.

Recent confession-redemption attempts – such as Anthony Weiner – have not been successful, and joined the list of Lance Armstrong, Jim Bakker, Mark Foley, Cardinal Bernard Law, Eliot Spitzer and others in being wholly unsuccessful.

Whether Scoble's efforts at redemption are successful only time will tell. Regardless, the issue that is almost as big as the allegations themselves is how to get people talking about sexual harassment in a much more productive and healthy way. ®

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