Thursday, 18 January 2018

Denunciations and accusations

I read that 100 women have signed an open letter condemning the recent wave of denunciations that are making waves at the moment particularly in the wake of the Harvey W scandal. I think they perhaps go a little too far in defending some masculine behaviour, but I also think we need to keep things in balance. I like debate, and when I saw the response of a group of 30 feminists accusing the 100 of trying to "close the lid" on the scandal and of scorning the victims of sexual abuse, I felt that it was they who were trying to close a lid, and that on simple debate. For me, the danger so easily let loose by the media is the one of judging before the evidence or the testimonies and cases are in. An accusation should be taken seriously, and fair play, women have been severely cold shouldered and made to feel guilty, complicit, powerless and ignored in the past, and for that there is no excuse. However, an accusation is not the same as guilt proven. I'm thinking of the witch trials in the past, where after an accusation was made, the accused stood very little chance of survival. The odds were stacked against the accused, in the same way as now, the odds seem stacked against the defendant. The headlines often speak of guilt rather than accusation, or at the least, imply guilt, before all the evidence is in, all the accounts heard. People have to act guilty, lose their jobs, go into hiding, just because they have been accused. That is not how justice should work is it? There will of course be incredibly difficult cases where the accused may not have abused more than one person, and so it becomes their word against their accuser. It is not difficult to imagine cases where people may have been bribed to speak false accusations, where powerful enemies have reason to seek the downfall of a particular person. However, I feel that the processes of careful evidence hearing and taking will in most cases deliver a just outcome, if they are allowed to happen fairly and wisely. And to this end accusations must be handled sensitively and seriously. There can be no return to a male dominated heavy hand of protection for the miscreant as has now so often been revealed to have been the case. And it may be that the pendulum must swing a little wildly before it settles.

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