Don’t lump Freeman in with predators

By TIM KALICH,

There may be more to the story about Morgan Freeman’s misbehavior than either CNN has reported or the actor has acknowledged. The way these revelations of sexual misconduct by the rich and famous sometimes go is that the first reporting opens the floodgates for other victims to get the courage to come forward.

But if what’s been reported is all there is, then Freeman, the talented and heretofore revered actor who grew up in Greenwood, makes a valid point.

It is unfair to hold him up for the same public vilification as that applied to real predators in the world of entertainment. Although Freeman didn’t specify to whom he was referring when he said “it is not right to equate horrific incidents of sexual assault with misplaced compliments or humor,” it would be easy to venture a couple of guesses. Harvey Weinstein, the disgraced Hollywood producer who was indicted last week on rape charges, comes to mind. So does Bill Cosby, who was convicted last month of sexual assault for drugging a young woman and taking advantage of her — one of several women the comedian allegedly preyed on in this fashion.

The worst that Freeman is accused of doing is unsuccessfully trying to raise the skirt of a female production assistant on a movie set. All the rest — the suggestive compliments and the stares — may be lecherous, but they’re not all that uncommon among plenty of men who would never think of going any further than that.

Freeman has been pulled from one sponsorship deal over the CNN story, and may lose others. There’s also talk of taking away a lifetime acting achievement award. That would be a disproportionate punishment for the alleged offense.