This video (sorry, embedding is disabled) is of Ewan McGregor on Good Morning America. The part of the video that I’m going to talk about (beginning at :38), discussing McGregor’s recent film made with Roman Polanski, is transcribed below:
George Stephanopoulos: [Roman Polanski]’s also of course going through his troubles right now, being held in Switzerland for, uh … because he’s been extradited for that sex charge [from] many, many years ago. Do think he’s getting what he deserved?
Ewan McGregor: I don’t know, I don’t comment on his case, because it has nothing to do with me. I, I, worked with him as actor, with a director for … I’ve known him for less than I year and … uh, so I don’t make any comment on the case, because it’s, it’s none of my business.
It has nothing to do with me. It’s none of my business.
Now, I don’t know Ewan McGregor from anyone else. I’ve only ever seen one or two of his films, and didn’t walk away with much of an impression in either direction. With regards to Ewan McGregor, I have neither any prior disdain nor affection. He’s just a guy. And, indeed, what McGregor said here is quite arguably not as bad as what Johnny Depp said on the same subject. But people have talked a lot about the kind of thing that Depp said (rationalizations for why Polanski’s rape wasn’t “really” rape, or isn’t worthy of punishment). We’ve talked a lot less about McGregor’s assertion that the subject doesn’t concern him.
I fully understand not wanting to get involved in situations that you were not already a part of, especially when they’re labeled “controversial.” And I also understand not wanting to trash talk your boss — though I don’t understand actively choosing to work for a rapist boss, when there are probably a whole lot of bosses looking to hire you.
But the fact is that “It’s none of my business” is a big problem. Not only because McGregor is essentially saying that rape is not important to him, but also because he’s not the only one who speaks these words. These words are extremely, extremely common.
And they’re words that allow abuse to continue.
All kinds of abuse, whether they be sexual, physical, or emotional — though most commonly when the victim is a marginalized person — are supported through the assertion that it doesn’t concern me. It’s not my problem. I don’t want to get involved. Why should I have an opinion? That’s a private matter. Abuse is allowed to continue because all kinds of people decide that it has nothing to do with them. Victims go unsupported because outsiders don’t want to take a side. Perpetrators are allowed to continue their violence because it doesn’t matter to those who aren’t being abused.
When you say that abuse has nothing to do with you, what you’re actually saying is that abuse has everything to do with you. By deciding to turn away from abuse, to not comment, to not stand up against it, to say that you want to stay out of it, you are taking a side. The side of silence is the side of the abuser. The side of apathy is the side of abuse.
Abuse is all of our business. It affects all of us, whether directly or indirectly. Because we are all a part of a society that is responsible for it. And when a victim speaks out and makes an allegation — whether it be a formal one or not — it is our business, and it is our job to stand by that victim. It is our job to remind ourselves and those around us that abuse thrives on good people doing nothing, on good people saying nothing, on people deciding that people who are not them, especially those who are marginalized, are not really their concern.
It is Ewan McGregor’s prerogative to not comment on Polanski’s rape. It is all of our prerogative to stay quiet about any and all types of abuse, sometimes for even quite compelling and legitimate personal reasons. But we need to know and acknowledge and take responsibility for the fact that we are not neutral when we do so. And when we say that it is none of our business, we are not only letting victims down and allowing perpetrators to prosper, we are also lying through our teeth.