Even though we all talk about standing up to injustice, many amongst us know this is easier said than done. Simply standing up for yourself can be a royal challenge and it often takes a serious commitment to the cause to get any result at all. Sometimes we give up because the challenge seems too overwhelming and, at other times, because we realise that taking action is hard work. But every once in a while you read an inspirational story about someone who has taken a stand and fought to clear their name — and you realise that the principle of the matter does indeed have value.
Though bigger and better examples exist to prove our premise, today we’re retelling the tale of Sean Penn’s battle to protect his reputation. As an actor, Penn has been the recipient of several awards, but he has also been rumoured to be guilty of violence against women. The charge has been alluded to so many times over the years that people have come to believe the allegations, though no concrete evidence has ever been presented to support these claims. Through it all, Penn has refused to pick up the gauntlet and prove his innocence — until last year, that is.
In 2015, when ‘Empire’ co-creator Lee Daniels made a statement (in the context of physical abuse accusations against ‘Empire’ star Terrence Howard) that Howard hadn’t “done nothing different than Marlon Brando or Sean Penn,” Sean decided it was time to take up the challenge and set the record straight — once and for all.
Filing a $10 million defamation lawsuit against Daniels, Sean made it clear that he (unlike Howard) “has never been arrested, much less convicted, for domestic violence, as his ex-wives (including Madonna) would confirm and attest.”
It may have taken its toll in effort and legal fees, but Sean Penn stayed the course over several months; finally settling the matter last week. ‘Empire’ creator Lee has now retracted his statement against Penn and apologised for his comments. His official statement to this effect reads: “I am so sorry that I have hurt you, Sean, and I apologise and retract my reckless statements about you. How thoughtless of me. You are someone I consider a friend, a brilliant actor and true Hollywood legend and humanitarian. I too have been the subject of false attacks by others, like those made here. My most important role is as a father, and it is important to me that my children learn that it is wrong to reference gossip as fact, as I did here. That can be very damaging and hurtful. Domestic violence is a very serious issue. My comments were cavalier; it was not my intention to diminish the severity of the issue, but rather to express a view regarding the disparate treatment of men of colour in our national conversation. I apologise again for the distress that this has caused you and your family.”
Lee has also donated an undisclosed amount to Sean’s charity, J/P HRO and Sean, in response, has put out a statement accepting Lee’s “heartfelt apology.”
We have no doubt the ‘undisclosed amount’ donated was a significant sum and it will certainly deter others from casting aspersions about Penn’s character in this regard again. Now that’s a challenge well won!
Image Credits: Eric Ray Davidson for thetimes.co.uk