And it harm none ...
Bide the Wiccan Rede ye must
In Perfect Love and Perfect Trust
Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill
And it harm none, do what ye will
This is one of the most basic tenets of the modern Craft. Most pagans, regardless of tradition, follow this ... or at least make every effort to. When I explain this to students, I am often asked ... "Doesn't this give permission for someone to do something like cheat on a spouse? After all, the other person isn't harmed if they don't know their are being cheated on." The standard answer to this often centers around the harm created in the marriage, the harm you do to yourself and your spouse through the broken vows, etc.
But yesterday, as I gave this very same example with almost memorized words, it occurred to me that we have all recently witnessed an even more powerful, real-life example that drives home how someone can be harmed even if they don't know they are being victimized. When I watched the video of Donald Trump and Billy Bush bantering back and forth about how Mr. Trump can often just paw and grope women with impunity just because he's famous, I was disgusted enough. However, the "locker room talk" (as they like to call it) wasn't the most awful thing the video shows. When the actress who came to greet them walked up to the bus, we didn't just have to listen to them oogle and ahh her out of her hearing as if she was just some piece of meat Trump just won in a lottery. We then all watched as they manipulated her into letting both of them hug and kiss her and then put her between them as if they owned her. When you watch the video in its entirety, you see these men are just continuing their banter but silently, colluding with each other to treat this woman as nothing more than a plaything.
Ms. Zucker, who was there simply to do the job of escorting them to the set, did not know for 11 years what was behind their behavior. When I watched the video, it seemed to me that she was taken a little aback at the request for hugs, but ever the professional, and knowing she is on camera, she rolls with it and behaves with grace. At the time, she saw nothing really out of the ordinary ... until 11 years later when the full story comes out.
The question then comes down to "was harm done if she didn't know". If she had known at the time, there is no doubt she would have felt as violated and dehumanized as I felt for her just watching it. And I am sure she felt that way once the nature of the episode was revealed. But even if she had never known, or if none of us had ever known, there is no doubt in my mind that harm was done.
You cannot trivialize or dehumanize another person without a piece of their spirit taking that in; without a piece of you, as the victimizer, being forever scarred by the vitriol of your own words, thoughts, and deeds. If the words and actions of these two men had no effect, they would not have the power to make anyone feel dirty just by watching a recording. So, yes, harm was done. It was done to Ms. Zucker when she had to smile while embracing two men who saw her as so much less than human. And harm was also done to the men as they voluntarily surrendered a piece of their own humanity just to get their hands on something ... someone ... that didn't belong to them.
It is now time for karma to balance the scales.