'Manchester by the Sea' Director Kenneth Lonergan Defends Casey Affleck's Sexual Harassment Allegations in Scathing Op-Ed

BY Josiah HughesPublished Mar 6, 2017

Following a widely successful awards season, the narrative surrounding Kenneth Lonergan's Manchester by the Sea has remained focused on sexual harassment allegations laid against Casey Affleck seven years ago. The actor recently responded to the claims with a PR-friendly statement, and now Lonergan has stepped into the ring with a scathing op-ed aimed at Affleck's detractors.

The Wesleyan Argus, a student paper at Lonergan's alma mater Wesleyan University, recently ran a piece by Connor Aberle claiming that Lonergan — and, by extension, Wesleyan University — were complicit in enabling a sexual harasser by giving him a platform and thereby taking some credit for his success. 

The accusation took things one step too far for Lonergan, who wrote an op-ed for the Argus where he responded to the claims. Titled "How Connor Aberle and The Argus are Complicit in Slandering Casey Affleck," Lonergan blasted the original piece as "a tangle of illogic, misinformation and flat-out slander." He added that it was a display of a "warped PC-fueled sense of indignation."

Read Lonergan's full vitriolic response below:

Connor Aberle's article about myself, Casey, Affleck and Wesleyan's supposed complicity in condoning sexual misconduct — and worse — by tauting me as a Wesleyan alumn after I won an Oscar last week is such a tangle of illogic, misinformation and flat-out slander that only the author's presumed youth can possibly excuse his deeply offensive display of ignorance, and warped PC-fueled sense of indignation. His random use of the terms "sexual misconduct" "sexual harrassment" "sexual abuse" and "sexual violence," as if they were legally or physically interchangeable, only indicates the reckless sloppiness of his thinking. Never mind what he doesn't know about the movies and how they are cast: That's not as important, although it does underline that he doesn't mind knowing nothing about his own subject. But frequently dropping the word "alleged," which grown-up journalists mindful of their own vulnerability to libel suits are careful to include when they compose equally wrongheaded pieces on this subject, he writes as if Casey Affleck were actually guilty of a crime. In fact, it was alleged 7 years ago, in a civil lawsuit for breach of contract, that Casey sexually harrased two women formerly in his employ. Casey denounced the allegations as being totally fabricated. Like most civil suits, this one was settled out of court by mutual consent on undisclosed terms. In other words nothing was proved or disproved. So how does Mr Aberle dare to write as if he knows who was telling the truth and who was not? Anyone can sue anyone for anything in this country; the unsubstantiated details go in the public record and stay there. Somebody as interested in actual as opposed to merely vocalized social justice as Mr Aberle presumably is, should unwind his tangled, immoral chain of reasoning and start over at the fundamental precept that an allegation is not an indictment. Nor can it be treated as such by any ethical person living in a democratic society supposedly based on the rule of law. Anything less vigilant exemplifies a disjointed abuse of morals and reason which those of us on the Left like to imagine exists only on the Right. I wish it were so. But I do hope that Mr Aberle is capable of taking a much harder look at the merits of his own arguments before he decides to air his views in public again.

Kenneth Lonergan


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