Tuesday, November 20, 2012

If you stand still for a second you can hear Jim Henson turning over in his grave.


Back in June when a young man contacted your organization alleging that at age 16 he'd started a sexual relationship with Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash, you had two options;

1. contact the police and let them investigate Clash for sexually inappropriate behaviour with a child, or

That you chose the second scenario is mind boggling.

Did you learn nothing from the egregious mistakes of Penn State's handling of the Sandusky scandal? Did you really think that Human Resources personnel, computer technicians, publicists and corporate lawyers were qualified to investigate child abuse? Did no one in your organization voice reservations that the Sesame Workshop had a public duty to report the possibility of sexual contact between one of your employees and a child, even if it tainted your public image?

Protecting the Sesame Street brand does not trump justice. No matter what happened or what happens you've done 2 things:

1. thwarted the American judicial system (I doubt Clash ever be convicted or exonerated of these crimes) and
2. tainted my opinion of the Sesame Workshop.

Mr Clash's accuser will probably never get his day in court, not that I'm sure his accusations warrant criminal charges being filed against Mr Clash. But I'd rather that decision was made by a prosecuting attorney, and NOT by a consultant from FTI Consulting, the crisis communications firm Sesame Workshop contracted to handle this scandal.  For a non-profit that routinely loses money you sure have expensive tastes, Sesame Workshop.

Cantankerously yours,

Nan

PS -- call the cops already, for fuck's sake.





13 comments:

  1. YES. This whole story has been bothering me intensely because the narrative (online anyway) is all "oh, it's so sad, because my kids love Elmo and I love Elmo and I'm sure it's all made up by gay drug-addicted teenage hustler grifters". And very few places do I see folks like yourself saying "hey, if there was a crime, should not the police be involved?"

    Also, Elmo is a glorified sock puppet. Elmo is incapable of being good or bad. I want people to stop equating Kevin Clash with a furry red marketing machine.

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    1. @Hannah -- YES. Plus let's all just take a breath and remember that sometimes victims of crimes are grifters or assholes or greedy, impulsive twits. But that does mean corporations can do an end run around the judicial system. I'd really like someone with legitimate power to investigate the initial accusation of statutory rape, AND the lawyer-sanctioned and -brokered extortion, AND the possibility that Sesame Workshop is guilty of failing to report a felony.

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    1. I feel like that two headed muppet who talks about emotions. One head is sad. The other is all pissy.

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  3. Yep. I think that if Clash has been forced to resign because of the allegations and they're not true, it really sucks. And I think if the main impetus behind the resignation is that people won't watch Elmo if they know the man behind him is gay, it really sucks. But an organization investigating itself does not fly. Ever. I love Sesame Street, but this was a dick move. They're reputation is more tarnished now than it ever would have been if they had just done the right thing in the first place.

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  4. Wow, I was so incensed that I typed they're instead of their. I really really want to erase the whole comment and retype it, but it sort of seems dishonest. Plus I'm too lazy.

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    1. You never make typos, so that is a very telling oversight.

      And another thing: even if there was no statutory rape, Clash was a 47 year old dating an 18 year old. That's fucked regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

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  5. The whole damn scenario is so depressing, I can't even.

    Does it not seem strange that NO ONE ELSE COULD TAKE OVER ELMO? Is his voice THAT difficult to imitate?

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    1. Seriously. I'm sure most of the kids in the dayhome can do annoying-baby-voice-talking-in-the-third-person. I know this because they do it ALL THE GODDAMN TIME ANYWAY.

      And it shouldn't matter if replacement-Elmo sounds like Kevin Clash Elmo, or not. Kermit the Frog hasn't sounded right since Jim Henson died. *sniff*

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    2. I'm pretty sure they'll just replace Clash and have Elmo carry on. Fingers crossed that they don't pick Dave Coulier to replace him.

      And yes, it's been 22 years of the "new" Kermit the Frog voice, and it still doesn't sound right to me.

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  6. This is totally irrelevant on the whole, because I agree with you - if you're a corporation and you hear about something which is illegal and going on with one of your employees, you should report it. The BBC are learning this in a BIG way at the moment... But anyway, I hadn't realised that the age of consent in the US is 18 (is that the case? I'm guessing so as you mentioned statutory rape). In the UK it's 16, which would make this situation creepy but not illegal.

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    1. YES! I had totally not made the connection to the Jimmy Saville situation. That's a good analogy. Thanks.

      I just checked and in Canada (where I live) the age of consent is 16. But in the US the age of consent varies by state. New York (where Clash lives and where it's assumed the events occurred) law sets the age of consent at 17. The definition of sex under the law is very broad, and the classification of the crime's severity is contingent upon differences in age between the perpetrator and the victim.

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  7. I didn't realize he was that old. That is indeed icky. And one more vote for the Kermit voice being WRONG now.

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