446. Until Proven Innocent

When I started this post, my queue was full into the second week of January. News in the world outside my writing space has moved so quickly, however, that I am squeezing it in today. I’ll leave the four parts date-stamped and unchanged from what I originally wrote.

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I am writing this on December sixth, 2017. Right now President Trump is announcing his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, but that isn’t the only news story of the day. It just increases the chance that we will all be dead before I get around to posting this.

The other news story of the day is the Time magazine person (people, actually) of the year, The Silence Breakers. I have been bothered by this movement since it began, but until now it seemed too early to say so.

I don’t disagree with the women coming out with accusations. I applaud them. But there is a problem with bandwagons, and every news story I’ve seen so far falls into the same trap. They all say, “The women must be believed.”

No. This is false. Completely and utterly false.

The truth is, “The women must be listened to. Their accusations must be considered valid, and subjected to the same scrutiny as any other accusations.”

In shorter terms, “The women must not be automatically disbelieved.” That is a very different statement from, “The women must be believed.”

There are two problems here. The first is conflation. A pat on the butt isn’t the same as rape. The accusations against Weinstein are not of the same level as the accusations against Franken.  There is a mass of absolutely disgusting behavior coming to light, but it is not all of the same weight. Some of it, if proven, deserves life in prison. Some deserves a powerful slap across the face, by the victim, at the time, and nothing more. Most of it falls between those two extremes.

The second problem is guilt and innocence. Even if every accusation so far is valid (and that wouldn’t surprise me), I guarantee that by the time you read this, some innocent guy is going to be on trial in the court of public opinion for something he didn’t do. Women also lie.

“Not likely,” you say? Perhaps not so far, but give it time.

Let’s take a little trip, mentally, one hundred years back and to certain parts of America. I didn’t say the South, because it wasn’t just the South. At that time and in those places, if a white man said something, it was taken for the truth. If a black man said something contrary, he was lying.

It’s rather like the reaction a woman would have received if she had made an accusation ten years ago. I don’t want to go back to that situation, not even with the roles reversed.

I am in favor of this shift in public sentiment. I applaud and support the Silence Breakers. But while we are all reading today’s Time magazine, let’s also pull out that dog-eared copy of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible and give it another glance.

It’s very simple, and damned unsatisfying, that not every accusation is false (even if we like the guy) and not every accusation is true (even if we hate the guy).

Bandwagons are fun to ride on, but you wouldn’t want to get run over by one.

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Time flies when you are making predictions. This morning (December 14) Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer reported to the FBI that forged sexual harassment claim was sent to news media. The supposed author of the documents denies having written it.

So it begins.

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And now it is Saturday, December 17. Next Monday morning, Tavis Smiley will present on GMA his statement of innocence about charges leveled in the last few days. Is he actually innocent? Is he guilty?

I don’t know. And that is the point.

At any rate, if I don’t shoehorn this into the post queue now, it will be too late to bother.

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And now, December 18, I have heard Smiley’s response. I need to say more, since I wrote an entire novel based around false accusations (Symphony in a Minor Key, over in Serial) but my posting schedule and my life schedule will push that into January. No problem; I don’t think this issue is going away any time soon. more later

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2 thoughts on “446. Until Proven Innocent

  1. Catana

    Thanks for the refreshing clarity. As a woman, I’ve been disturbed by the ease with which this has turned into a witch hunt where the standard of justice is “guilty until proven innocent.” Doubtless, most of the accused are guilty of *something,* but as you said — conflation. But do they all deserve to have their careers, and possibly their lives, ruined on one woman’s say so? Is this one instance in which proof of some kind is not necessary? How different is it from an endless “he said, she said?”

    One aspect of the issue that seems to have escaped notice is how many men have claimed that they “don’t remember” an incident. I have no doubt that’s true. I also think, in most cases, the offensive actions are so habitual that they are instantly forgotten. They’re part of the “boys will be boys” syndrome. The impact on the female is so irrelevant and unimportant that possible harm doesn’t even come to the man’s mind.

    Like

    Reply
    1. sydlogsdon Post author

      I agree about the “don’t remember” aspect, and your reasons for its prevalence are persuasive. I suspect an additional reason is chemical. Advice along this line goes to both genders: Don’t get so drunk you’ll do something bad you’ll regret, guys. And don’t get so drunk you’ll have something bad happen to you’ll never forget, gals.
      In the case of non-traditional genders, substitute as needed for guys and gals.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

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