Old dogs can learn new ideas

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Men are dogs (sorry, dogs!).

Trump refers to his ambitions with canine instincts, e.g., he wants to spend $1.5 trillion on new nuclear weapons to make sure the USA is at the "top of the pack." We only have a few more than 7,000 of them live, locked and loaded, prepared to overkill humankind by a factor of seven, so it's important to add more, right? Arf.

Moving to other phallic symbology, our fake president decided to defend his sexual assaults by impugning anyone who would suggest he was ever in the wrong (textbook God complex pathological narcissism, no matter how utterly unjustified). Implying that a U.S. Senator — who took him to task on his ever-increasing stable of women coming forward to accuse him of illegal, immoral, hurtful or disgusting sexual behavior — is a whore could be a new low for the Donald. Arf.

From the standpoint of my field, conflict transformation, Minnie Driver has it right when she describes how inappropriate it is for men to decide what the spectrum of rotten, sexually inappropriate behavior is (perhaps with the exception of the law, and perhaps women should not only be the only ones to vote on such laws but should be the ones to serve as judges and juries in such cases). This is a time for men to simply apologize if they are going to say much at all. This is neither a time for men to declare gradations of what is terrible behavior nor a time to justify or even qualify our past acts and words.

In an interview with The Guardian, Driver says, "I honestly think that until we get on the same page, you can't tell a woman about their abuse. A man cannot do that. No one can. It is so individual and so personal, it's galling when a powerful man steps up and starts dictating the terms, whether he intends it or not."

This quote should go down in the literature of my field as an exemplar of perspective in identity communication. It's like white male Mississippians telling us that "Calling someone a n**ger isn't as bad as refusing to hire one."

No, Mr. White Mississippian (or New Yorker, or wherever), you don't get to pronounce on that. And similarly, Minnie correctly notes, even men of goodwill should take this opportunity to listen and learn, re-evaluate and rehabilitate, not make determinative rulings on increments of impropriety and certainly not call for tossing a break to powerful men with new image issues.

To model what I think Minnie is after, I'll acknowledge that, like most men, I have demonstrated plenty of poor behavior in my 67 years on this Earth, no excuses, many apologies, and a promise to listen and learn. You can teach an old dog new ideas. Woof.

Dr. Tom H. Hastings is a scholar of conflict transformation and PeaceVoice director.