Tipping points eventually bring change


Lindell John Kay


Staff Writer

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Broken windows, Hollywood, Russians and guns. This week, we examine tipping points.

One of my favorite nonfiction books is “The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference” by Malcom Gladwell, which shows how social trends spread like a virus.

Gladwell details how New York City cleaned up its act, literally, to morph from one of the most dangerous cities in the world into a relatively safe place to live. From Gotham City to Metropolis.

Changes happened due to a new police chief’s determination to punish smaller crimes in order to prevent worse offenses. The city took a zero policy on graffiti, cleaning it up immediately and prosecuting anyone caught tagging. Transit cops began to arrest turnstile jumpers. And vandalism, petty theft and property crimes were taken seriously.

It’s called the broken windows theory. It’s the idea that when someone sees graffiti and rundown buildings they think no one cares so they’re more willing to commit crimes. It’s a theory I’ve heard Nash County Sheriff Keith Stone advocate on more than one occasion.

So the tipping point came and The City That Never Sleeps saw a steep drop in its crime rate. All because previously overlooked situations weren’t tolerated any longer.

Gladwell’s research was conducted in the 1990s, before widespread use of the internet. Social trends now happen at high speed with the stroke of a key and the click of a mouse.

In Hollywood, men of power long thrived in an environment rife with sexual exploitation and abuse. These top tier actors, directors and producers seemed untouchable in Tinseltown as they went around inappropriately touching actresses, and worse. But just when it seemed no one would ever listen, The New York Times finally exposed Oscar-winning movie producer Harvey Weinstein. Since the Oct. 5 article more than 80 women have come forward to accuse Weinstein, now the target of six separate police investigations into his casting couch antics.

Sex-crazed men of power have been taking a beating since. The situation has hit its tipping point with several Hollywood high-ups receiving comeuppance as actresses tell their horror stories about sexual harassment and abuse. The worm has turned and producers and directors who used to control Hollywood to the point they could do whatever they wished are now vulnerable.

Wonder Woman Gal Godot is flexing her feminine muscle, saying she won’t play the Amazon warrior princess again unless Warner Brothers drops director Brett Ratner who has now been accused multiple times of such abuse. Powerhouse player Kevin Spacey was fired from “House of Cards” because of accusations he molested a teenager many years ago. Spacey’s response was to come out of the closet.

This drew heavy criticism from Star Trek actor George Takei, who’s been openly gay for years. He said Spacey was wrong to announce his homosexuality under such awkward conditions. As much as I like Takei, he should have kept his mouth shut. Because, you guessed it, almost immediately after Takei slammed Spacey, a male model accused Takei of slipping him a rufie and fondling his genitals. Oh my! Is everyone in Hollywood a rapist?

The tawdry actions of Hollywood’s elite have drawn criticism from just about everyone except President Donald Trump. I wonder why that is…

And with Trump we’ve come to alleged Russian influence in last year’s election. Back then it was nearly impossible to get folks to wake up and smell the Vodka. Denial ran rampant in Congress and the Rust Belt. But just recently three of President Trump’s men have been caught in the investigative web cast by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the former FBI leader who was the longest serving since J. Edgar Hoover.

Trump’s first campaign manager Paul Manafort and one of his close aides Rick Gates have been charged with a dozen federal crimes including conspiracy to launder money and being the agents of a foreign principal. And George Papadopoulos, a Trump campaign foreign policy advisor, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about the links between Trump and Russia.

It’s not quite all the president’s men, yet. But there’s news that Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security advisor, is in hot water over the same issues. Will Flynn be the tipping point? Will his proven involvement with Russians be enough to finally convince Republicans that Vladimir Putin really is the Bond villain in all this or will their denial continue to the point of delusion?

Speaking of delusion, it looks like we’ll never reach a tipping point in common sense gun control. After shootings in at a nightclub in Florida, a movie theater in Colorado, a school in Connecticut, a concert in Nevada and churches in South Carolina and Texas, one would think America was getting close to the edge, but it looks to continue right along with bodies stacking up and legislators turning a blind eye.

I had to lose a friend to a mass shooting — on live television no less — before I had enough. Is that what it will take? Will everyone have to be personally affected before we see change? A good news/bad news situation: The bad news is a lot of people have to die; the good news is we'll get closer to common sense gun control sooner. Sad.