Thousands of venomous statements have flooded the Internet since the 22-year-old Woody Allen abuse story came back to life.
First, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, a friend of Mia Farrow, used his blog and a column to run a letter by Dylan Farrow alleging anew that Allen, her adoptive father with Mia, abused her when she was 7. This was followed by a counter volley of nasty accusations against Mia Farrow.
The prevailing sentiment on opposing sides goes like this: Allen is a creepy, child-molesting monster who should be locked up; Farrow is a lying, psychopath who brainwashed her kids.
When emotion replaces reason, we are in trouble.
This case hit a sore spot with anyone who's been the victim of child abuse. It also raised the ire of anyone who's been falsely accused.
Those who experienced childhood abuse had an understandable, primal reaction when they read Dylan's allegations. Too often, victims' statements of abuse are ignored, and this Allen-Farrow case has reopened a painful wound for many.
When Allen dated and then married Soon-Yi Previn -- Farrow's adopted daughter -- people were outraged. When that was followed by Farrow's charges that he sexually molested their 7-year-old adopted daughter, Dylan, that was it for me. Although an admirer of Allen's movies, I boycotted them for 10 years.
But the more I read about it recently, the more I realized it isn't that cut-and-dried. Allen's denial of the sex-abuse allegations in a response on Sunday in the Times is compelling. Meanwhile, Allen and Farrow's adopted son, Moses, has come out with allegations of his own, saying his dad is innocent and his mother emotionally and physically abused him and his siblings.
Many are furious that anyone would cast doubt on Dylan's memories of abuse. But isn't Moses' painful recollection of abuse at Farrow's hands equally valid?
So what really happened here? I don't know, but I do know that child custody cases can get ugly, with children often used as pawns.
The truth is that it's hard enough to know what's going on in our families, let alone others. But the mob mentality on the Internet has replaced the Old West lynching party. And that's the one ugly fact that has become all too clear.
Playwright Mike Vogel blogs at newyorkgritty.net.