I've been stewing about this since I first read about it on the Clown College Graduates Facebook page.
A lot of wonderful people are very good friends with Barry Lubin, and they were understandably shocked and saddened by the news. I get this, I really do. It's a terrible thing to wrap your mind around - that your dear friend could do this heinous thing.
Sarah Silverman discussed this dilemma when she found out that her good friend Louis C.K. was an abuser:
I agree with everything she says.
I only met Barry once. I admired him greatly; his clowning was wonderful and funny and gentle. But as someone who did not know him as a friend, I have to say a few things. And heads up, I’m about to call a spade a fucking shovel.
Assertion: He made a terrible mistake.
Several folks in the group posted that "He made a terrible mistake."
This act was not a mistake. As another grad said, "A mistake is when you put a red shirt in with the whites." Not only that, when you make a mistake, it's generally inadvertent. You don't plan to make a mistake.
Barry Lubin did not make a mistake. He committed a crime. He won't get prosecuted for it, but he committed it. He told her not to tell anyone - that means he knew it was wrong and did it anyway. He planned it, he entrapped her, and he pressured her. A fifty year-old man does not take pornographic pictures of a 16-year old girl by mistake.
Assertion: No other problems have been reported.
Other folks seemed reassured because only one woman came forward. No other problems have been reported? Well, whoop de do. What’s the cutoff for horrible? Five young women? Ten? The women’s gymnastic team?
No. Even once is horrible. Even once doesn't somehow make it better; even once is still a crime.
And what about the young woman? It doesn't make it any easier for her to handle this abuse because she was the only one. It doesn't help her heal. Only pointing her finger at the man who used his power and reputation to make her do something that she did not want to do can help her heal.
Assertion: He admitted it and apologized.
Yes, he admitted it and apologized. And that's absolutely good. But here's the thing - he admitted it and apologized after he got caught. And in fact, he denied it until he was confronted, so I'm pretty sure he would never have apologized if he hadn't been caught. I’m being harsh? Maybe. But as a survivor, I get to be harsh.
Please understand that I don’t think that the people who love Barry should stop being friends with him or stop loving him. But they shouldn't minimize his actions either, and they must hold him accountable. The next time they see him, I want them to say “Barry, what the actual FUCK?” and slap the shit out of him.
Then love him.