Justin E. H. Smith in Tablet:
You will surely have heard by now of Jeffrey Toobin. Last week the CNN legal analyst and New Yorker writer was participating in an “election simulation” via Zoom, with other staffers from the magazine and employees of WNYC. Masha Gessen played Donald Trump; Toobin played the courts. At some point, believing his computer’s camera was turned off (or “muted” as he would later say, a confusion that seems to bespeak sincerity), Toobin engaged in a sexual act. He was swiftly suspended from his position at the magazine, and from his role as news analyst at CNN.
I do not wish to say anything more about Toobin. As always with such incidents, it is far more interesting to stop and dwell on what they reveal about our current technological and cultural moment. The social media mobs relished this juicy scandal. The shitposters turned it into a source of easy jokes (election simulation/erection stimulation), while other more purportedly high-minded commentators saw it as yet another opportunity for the display of their own towering high-mindedness and righteousness. This was, they said, standard-fare workplace sexual harassment—perhaps even assault. The possibility of interjecting more humane interpretations was forestalled by accusations that to do so would be to lapse into “himpathy.”