Emily Yoffe on how to adjudicate claims of sexual misconduct

Over at The Atlantic, Emily Yoffe, who used to do the Dear Prudence column for Slate (a feature I quite liked), has since moved on, reporting extensively for The Atlantic on sexual assault allegations, particularly in colleges. Like me, she’s worried about the lack of proper adjudication in colleges that arrived after Obama’s well-intentioned “Dear Colleague” letter, and removed many of what I see as the “rights” of accused people. This goes along with my discomfort about the #BelieveSurvivors hashtag, which takes accusations as equivalent to truth. (If a survivor of sexual assault has a credible story, especially in court, then yes, you’d believe them, but “survivors” are lately construed as those who claim to have been assaulted.)

Yoffe walks the line between fairness for both women and the accused; as she notes, she herself has been sexually assaulted more than once.  Her new article in The Atlantic, which you can get by clicking on the screenshot, is worth reading to calm the waters a bit.

Yoffe’s theme isn’t surprising, but is sufficiently inflammatory these days that even saying it makes you subject to accusations of sexism (For instance, calling attention to the deleterious effects of false accusations on men’s lives is verboten):

. . . when a woman, in telling her story, makes an allegation against a specific man, a different set of obligations kick in.

Even as we must treat accusers with seriousness and dignity, we must hear out the accused fairly and respectfully, and recognize the potential lifetime consequences that such an allegation can bring. If believing the woman is the beginning and the end of a search for the truth, then we have left the realm of justice for religion.

. . . Whether an investigation takes place at a school, at a workplace, or in the criminal-justice system, neutral fact-finding must apply, regardless of how disturbing we find the offense, the group identity of the accused, or the political leanings of those involved. History demonstrates that ascribing honesty or dishonesty, criminality or righteousness solely on the basis of gender or race doesn’t increase the amount of equity in the world.

She gives some examples of “the realm of religion”, which involves both parties, but she’s particularly incensed by the preconceived conclusions of Democrats. (I hasten to add here that yes, I found Christine Ford’s accusations credible, but would have voted against Kavanaugh anyway based on his record and his unhinged demeanor on view during the hearings. And Republicans had just as many preconceptions as Democrats.)

In one sense, the hearing was theater, not fact-finding, because except for a handful of undecided senators, the rest had already made up their mind about the accusation based entirely on their desire to either seat or thwart Kavanaugh. Republicans sought to discredit Ford and quash the airing of her story. President Donald Trump, in a speech Tuesday night in Mississippi, openly mocked her.

As for the Democrats, in a Senate floor speech the day before the hearing, Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York announced that it was unnecessary for her to hear Kavanaugh’s testimony. Gillibrand declared, “I believe Dr. Blasey Ford.” Many Democrats, in keeping with #BelieveSurvivors, are taking their certainty about Ford’s account and extrapolating it to all accounts of all accusers. This tendency has campus echoes, too: The Obama administration’s well-intended activism on campus sexual assault resulted in reforms that went too far and failed to protect the rights of the accused.

The impulse to arrive at a predetermined conclusion is familiar to Samantha Harris, a vice president at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (fire). Harris says that under Title IX, students who report that they are victims of sexual misconduct must be provided with staffers who advocate on their behalf. These staffers should “hear them out, believe them, and help them navigate the process,” she said, but added, “When the instruction to ‘believe them’ extends to the people who are actually adjudicating guilt or innocence, fundamental fairness is compromised.” Harris says that many Title IX proceedings have this serious flaw. As a result, in recent years, many accused students have filed lawsuits claiming that they were subjected to grossly unjust proceedings; these suits have met with increasingly favorable results in the courts.

One thing that puzzled me, though, was Yoffe’s reference to the British “scandal” in this bit, which I’ve put in bold:

We don’t even have to imagine the dangers of a system based on automatic belief—Britain recently experienced a national scandal over such policies. After widespread adoption of a rule that law enforcement must believe reports of sexual violation, police failed to properly investigate claims and ignored exculpatory evidence. Dozens of prosecutions collapsed as a result, and the head of an organization of people abused in childhood urged that the police return to a neutral stance. Biased investigations and prosecutions, he said, create miscarriages of justice that undermine the credibility of all accusers.

The legitimacy and credibility of our institutions are rapidly eroding. It is a difficult and brave thing for victims of sexual violence to step forward and exercise their rights to seek justice. When they do, we should make sure our system honors justice’s most basic principles.

When I asked Grania, she me a link to the article below, which gives the details. Click on the screenshot; I’ve put an excerpt below;

Police should refer to people who report rape as complainants rather than victims, senior legal figures said last night, amid warnings that the policy is undermining impartiality and leading to miscarriages of justice.

MPs and members of the judiciary have also called for an overhaul of the current guidelines which demand that officers automatically believe complainants from the outset.

Scotland Yard has ordered an urgent review of scores of sex abuse cases, including 30 which are about to go to trial, after it emerged that crucial material had been withheld from defence lawyers.

Two rape cases collapsed in the last week, because a detective constable in the Met’s Child Abuse and Sexual Offences (CASO) unit, failed to disclose texts messages undermining the complainants’ stories.

It raises concerns that dozens more cases could be thrown out by the courts and could potentially spark a raft of appeals by convicted rapists.

Here the police construed “survivors” as “those who complain,” which is the sense it’s been used with respect to the Kavanaugh hearings. Of course we should take every accusation seriously and investigate them (if the accuser so requests) to the limit of our ability. Just remember that “accuser” is not synonymous with “survivor.”

h/t: Grania

123 Comments

  1. Curt Nelson
    Posted October 9, 2018 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    The term “survivors” is strange to me. Why not “victims” I wonder.

    • davidenglishography
      Posted October 9, 2018 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

      Because “survivor” adds a coating of moral teflon to their claims. How dare you question a “survivor”?

      Holding up a banner which says “Believe Complainants” just doesn’t have the same emotional ring to it, does it.

    • Posted October 10, 2018 at 4:39 am | Permalink

      Because some victims of sexual abuse don’t survive.

      • davidenglishography
        Posted October 10, 2018 at 7:30 am | Permalink

        How so?

        • phil brown
          Posted October 10, 2018 at 7:40 am | Permalink

          Rape victims may be killed to cover up the rape, or just from the violence used during the rape — Blasey Ford says she feared for her life during her ordeal, just for one instance.

          Also, rape victims may attempt suicide as a result of their ordeal.

          • davidenglishography
            Posted October 10, 2018 at 9:19 am | Permalink

            If a sexual assault victim is killed then that is murder or at least manslaughter. In that case, there is (by definition) no survivor. Only a victim.

            As for suicide, attempting suicide does not make you a survivor either. For that matter,bankruptcy often drives people to suicide too. Does that make them “bankruptcy survivors”?

            • phil brown
              Posted October 10, 2018 at 9:59 am | Permalink

              If someone goes through an ordeal that puts their life in danger,but they aren’t in fact killed, then they can be said to have survived their ordeal, in the strictest sense of ‘survive’.

              Not sure why you and other’s are nitpicking about the definition of ‘survivor’, which is, in any case, often used about situations where there is no risk of death at all, even if the central definition concerns risk of death. (E.g. “I’m surviving on very little sleep at the moment”.) The meaning can be broadened from “someone coming through an ordeal with their life intact” to “someone coming through an ordeal with e.g. their psychological health intact.” Meaning is use. If people use “survivor” in that broader sense, then the word acquires that broader sense (without losing the stricter sense — words have multiple definitions as the norm).

              • davidenglishography
                Posted October 11, 2018 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

                Oh you’re not sure why? I think you know full well the reason why.

                Nobody has ever died from a sexual assault, hence nobody ever “survives” one in any sense whatsoever. If so, then why not burglary “survivors”? Or how about fraud “survivors”?

                Just because the pussyhat consortium want to weaponise the language for political traction, doesn’t make it valid.

            • Posted October 28, 2018 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

              “Nobody has ever died from a sexual assault…”

              Wrong. Brutal sexual assault has in some cases led to deadly hemorrhages or internal organ damage.

              • davidenglishography
                Posted October 28, 2018 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

                Then it’s murder (or manslaughter) not rape. You’re entitled to your own opinions but not entitled to your own facts or your own language.

              • Posted October 28, 2018 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

                Neither are you.

        • Posted October 10, 2018 at 7:43 am | Permalink

          What phil brown said (I thought it was pretty obvious actually), also, some rape victims are destroyed psychologically. They have failed to survive in a different way.

  2. Linda Calhoun
    Posted October 9, 2018 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    No discussion of “fairness” that I have read includes any suggestion(s) about how to handle situations where the aggressor doesn’t leave any marks. In my view (and in my personal experience), this leads to no consequences for the aggressor.

    Aggressors know this, so if they’re careful, they will continue to get away with it.

    Well, I have a suggestion.

    Recently I was in a situation where a neighbor’s dogs were coming onto my property and hassling my horses, and me. I tried to talk to them, to no avail. Our security cameras are placed in such a way that there were not picking up the incidents.

    So, after some research, I purchased a small, unobtrusive body camera, which I can wear around my neck. It is not identifiable as a camera, presumably so it can be used in settings where surprise is needed. I think every woman in a situation where she is being hassled should wear one. Many come with sound capabilities, too.

    Perps should be told of video footage once it has been obtained. They should be given a choice to stop or be exposed. If they don’t stop, the whole world should get to see it firsthand.

    L

    • Posted October 9, 2018 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

      Single party consent recordings are unfortunately not legal in all jurisdictions. They should be.

      • Linda Calhoun
        Posted October 9, 2018 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

        So, if you put it up on YouTube, what’s the perp going to do, anyway? You’re not prosecuting him, just letting the world know who he is.

        Phrases like “fairness” and “taking accusations seriously” are meaningless. They may be sincere, but in the end, it’s all going to boil down to TFB, sweetie, you have no proof. The unfairness of being assaulted, and then being dismissed if she reports it is never considered.

        “Believe her” is an admittedly imperfect attempt at addressing the situation. My way has the added benefit of providing the missing proof.

        L

        • Zaphod
          Posted October 9, 2018 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

          Nobody deserves to have their accusations believed without proof. You get what you reward, and if you reward false accusations you will get fal

          • Linda Calhoun
            Posted October 9, 2018 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

            And if you reward aggression, you will get more of that.

            How about making some suggestions for how to deal with the problem?

            As long as all you have to offer is protection for aggressors, you default the search for solutions to those of us who have an investment in finding some.

            L

          • Zaphod
            Posted October 9, 2018 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

            Clumsy! Please don’t take above as accusing you of favouring conviction without proof.

            Was just pointing out that to erode due process would weaponise the justice system. Canadian legislators are taking steps, egged on by Feminist campaigners, to bar forms of exculpatory evidence which has allowed some men to prove that their accusers are lying, like sms records for instance. They are also trying to enable a situation where a woman can change her story repeatedly as it is refuted until she happens upon a scenario which can’t be disproven. Just as there is a percentage of the male population without much conscience who commit rapes, there is a percentage of the female population who use the state as their personal thug.

            At least some of the Hashtagerati don’t necessarily think that women should be believed because they are being truthful, but rather because a thousand men being wrongfully convicted is preferable to one guilty man going free. Besides, it’ll teach them a lesson etc.

            • BJ
              Posted October 9, 2018 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

              As far as I’m aware, they’ve already made it so the defense in a rape trial has to hand over all their evidence to the complainant’s attorneys before trial. This was done after the Ghomeshi trial, where he was able to produce emails showing that the complainants actually conspired against him and told multiple lies on the stand. Rather than breathing a sigh of relief that an innocent man walked free, they changed the rules to try and ensure that such a thing doesn’t happen again. If the complainants had those messages in advance, they could have come up with stories for them.

              Of course, all of this is exclusive to trials for rape.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted October 9, 2018 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

          Just be aware that, in states that require two-party consent, recording someone without their consent may constitute a criminal offense. (Here in Florida, it’s a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five-years’ imprisonment.) Laws vary widely as to the type of recordings that may run afoul of the applicable statutes. It would be prudent to consult a local lawyer if you’re planning to undertake such surreptitious recording.

          • Linda Calhoun
            Posted October 9, 2018 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

            I think we should work to make surreptitious recording legal everywhere.

            I would be fascinated to hear who opposes it and why.

            I can just imagine the dudebros screaming.

            One of the (many) reasons I don’t have anything to do with Facebook is that a few years back, guys were doxxing and threatening women who dared express opinions they didn’t like. As a means of fighting back, several women got together to identify the men who were doing that, and forwarded the nasty emails to the men’s mothers.

            Facebook shut the women down and kicked them off, while doing nothing about the men.

            I think daylight is the answer. The brighter the better.

            L

            • Posted October 9, 2018 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

              I remember reading a science fiction short story where, in the near future, everyone had a camera that recorded a 360-degree view and broadcast it wirelessly to some kind of central authority. This was a very effective crime deterrent. This was part of the premise. The plot had some twist where someone could still get away with a crime but I don’t recall how that worked.

              • Richarf
                Posted October 10, 2018 at 3:09 am | Permalink

                Sounds like ‘Lacey and his friends’ by David Drake. Total 24/7 surveillance of everyone intended to make crime impossible.

              • Posted October 10, 2018 at 10:02 am | Permalink

                Thanks. That does ring a bell.

            • Ken Kukec
              Posted October 9, 2018 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

              Maybe so. But there are countervailing arguments that allowing one-party consent permits the party who knows he or she is being recorded to manipulate the conversation to entrap the party who doesn’t know he or she is being recorded. I don’t think it takes a great deal of imagination to see how that could be so.

              There are also privacy concerns at stake. Perhaps those concerns should give way to the concerns you’ve expressed in favor of one-party consent, but I don’t think the answer is abstractly self-evident.

              • Adam M.
                Posted October 9, 2018 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

                What do you think about an exception for recordings clearly showing the commission of a felony? (Er, aside from the felony of performing the illegal surveillance in the first place. 🙂

              • Ken Kukec
                Posted October 9, 2018 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

                @Adam

                I’m not sure how you know a felony will be committed before deciding to make the recording.

                A person in a two-party consent jurisdiction who suspects a felony may be in the offing should probably contact law enforcement, since such jurisdictions permit one-party consent recordings where done by, or at the direction of, a law-enforcement officer.

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted October 9, 2018 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

              Well thank you. Welcome to the goldfish bowl.

              Of course it could work just as well against women as for them. Since the person making the recording has control of it and can ‘lose’ any recordings that don’t favour his/her side – and can set up a situation to suit them.

              Like any weapon, it works both ways.

              cr

              • Michael Fisher
                Posted October 9, 2018 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

                It might be possible for synchronised recordings of audio, video, SMS etc to go to an encrypted cloud account accessible to nobody until a legal dispute arises, then some agreed legal process unlocks & delivers relevant parts of the record to an adjudicator or some such. The same could be done for CCTV systems, vehicle GPS etc.

                Designing the privacy protocols would be very difficult & keeping it out of the hands of malicious/nanny state actors is another tricky problem.

                We are headed that way already – just one small example: Microsoft would love to store all our documents, videos etc in their cloud – they are encouraging their users/serfs to go to nearly dumb terminals with software & storage being rented – with any heavy processing of data being done far away from the terminal. I’ve just acquired a new Win 10 PC & there’s a lot of settings I needed to change to keep those buggers at arms length away from my data & my innocent activities.

              • Ken Kukec
                Posted October 9, 2018 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

                You been readin’ Philip K. Dick novels lately, Michael? 🙂

              • Michael Fisher
                Posted October 9, 2018 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

                He helped to fine tune my paranoia certainly 🙂

                “Mr. Hawthorne and I have decided not to book any of you: there’s no direct evidence involving any one of you in the crime. But if we do let you go, you must agree to carry tattletales with you at all times. Inquire of your attorney Mr. Sharp if that will be acceptable.”

                “What the hell is a tattletale?” Joe Schilling asked.

                “A tracing device,” Hawthorne said. “It will inform us where each of you are at all times.”

                “Does it have a telepathic content?” Pete asked.

                “No,” Hawthorne said. “Although I wish that it had.”

                On the vid screen, Laird Sharp, youthful and active-looking, said, “I heard the proposal and without going into it any further I’d be inclined to label it a clear violation of these people’s rights… Don’t allow them to hook any sort of monitoring devices to you, and if you discover they have, rip them off…”

                The Game Players of Titan, 1963

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted October 10, 2018 at 8:56 am | Permalink

                Michael, I agree with your reservations about ‘the cloud’. I prefer to keep all my data on my own hard drive, and backed up to a spare drive. Hard drives are cheap. Nothing on anyone else’s servers that I wouldn’t want to share with the public.

                I suppose I really should encrypt my drives in case of physical burglary…

                Windows 10’s settings would be an issue for me if I ran it. ‘This is _my_ computer. You do not phone home without asking me.’

                cr

              • Posted October 10, 2018 at 10:08 am | Permalink

                You can store encrypted data in the cloud for which only you hold the key. This way you get privacy but also much more robust and reliable storage.

            • BJ
              Posted October 10, 2018 at 1:50 am | Permalink

              “I think we should work to make surreptitious recording legal everywhere.

              I would be fascinated to hear who opposes it and why.

              I can just imagine the dudebros screaming.”

              Ummm, this isn’t a dudebro-exclusive opposition here, and I don’t know why you had to say that. And let’s not pretend that women have not doxxed and threatened men, and have gotten men kicked off Facebook and Twitter. Let’s not make this into a gender war thing because I think most people on both sides are getting tired of universal issues being made into X-tribe vs. Y-tribe.

              Anyway, have you ever heard of James O’Keefe? Now imagine a world full of James O’Keefes. Anyone, at any moment, can take video of you, and edit it to make you look horrible, and if you weren’t also surreptitiously recording at the same time you could have your reputation, job, family, life, etc. ruined.

              Or how about the idea that we, as human beings, have a right to privacy? I don’t want someone surreptitiously taking video of me picking my wedgie out of my butt in the park, or drunk, or eating sloppily at a meal because I’m depressed, or any of the millions of other private moments that happen over a lifetime — moments we all have, that we’d never want anyone to see, and that shouldn’t be made public or be allowed to be so. Every one of us does things every day when we think we’re not being watched that can look gross, sad, pathetic, whatever, and I’d like to keep my private moments private.

              • Linda Calhoun
                Posted October 10, 2018 at 3:29 am | Permalink

                And if your “private moments” include you sexually harassing someone, should she have no recourse?

                L

              • BJ
                Posted October 10, 2018 at 10:57 am | Permalink

                This is not a response to anything I just said, unless you’re saying that the small possibility you might capture an assault on camera outweighs any and all concerns regarding allowing people to surreptitiously record others at all times, no matter where they are (even their own homes!) We don’t even do this for MURDER. It’s like you want this one single crime to have no rules about how you can better catch anyone who might be guilty. Even in murder trials, there are standards that, if breached, cause the case to fall apart, and many of those standards revolve around privacy.

              • BJ
                Posted October 10, 2018 at 11:27 am | Permalink

                Linda, I’m very sorry if my response sounded harsh in any way. I find it very difficult to write disagreement without people experiencing it that way, both because my writing tends to be very “cold” in general and because I tend to use phrases and ways of expressing myself that tend to be construed as angry or unsympathetic. This is clearly an emotional issue for you, so, if I did come off that way, I apologize. I often try to be conscious of this now and edit my posts to sound at least slightly less hostile (I do not mean for them to sound hostile), but I forgot to do that in this case, so I’m making a preemptive apology.

              • Michael Fisher
                Posted October 10, 2018 at 11:55 am | Permalink

                BJ. Writing this:

                “This is clearly an emotional issue for you…”

                is not a good idea! Though I recognise your intent is good you are devaluing Linda’a beliefs & ideas by using the word “emotional” to characterise her mental state when she thinks about the subject. Linda is committed to improving the lot of herself & other women & she’s trying to have a positive convo here with posiitive contributions from others. Do YOU have any suggestions to offer?

              • BJ
                Posted October 10, 2018 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

                I meant “emotional” as in “there’s a lot of emotion behind it,” not “makes you emotional.” Israel is an “emotional” issue for me, but I don’t evaluate it emotionally. It just means I care a great deal about it.

              • BJ
                Posted October 10, 2018 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

                And yes, I have offered a solution elsewhere: we swing the pendulum to the middle and investigate all cases as thoroughly and dispassionately as possible.

            • Posted October 10, 2018 at 4:54 am | Permalink

              I would be fascinated to hear how you will be dealing with the massive privacy issues.

              • Linda Calhoun
                Posted October 10, 2018 at 6:54 am | Permalink

                If you are committing a crime, in my book you have kissed your right to privacy goodbye.

                L

              • Posted October 10, 2018 at 7:21 am | Permalink

                But what about the vast majority of people having their privacy invaded when they are not committing a crime?

                It may surprise you to know that the majority of dates do not end in rape even if the two (or more) parties involved have sex.

              • Linda Calhoun
                Posted October 10, 2018 at 8:08 am | Permalink

                Here’s a clue:

                If I have already been groped a couple of times by some guy, the chances are he’s going to keep doing it.

                Therefore, if I have a means of recording it, the audio/video will put me in a better position to make my case.

                L

              • BJ
                Posted October 10, 2018 at 10:59 am | Permalink

                This is like Soviet Russia: “We are always watching you, but once you commit crime, we weere justified in always watching you.” How did you know they would commit a crime? You didn’t. In fact, according to your logic, all that recording you did up until the point when the crime actually, finally was committed (if one ever ends up getting committed at all) is 100% unjustified.

              • Posted October 11, 2018 at 4:00 am | Permalink

                @Linda Does every man you meet grope you? What’s your justification for fixing the ones that don’t?

              • Posted October 11, 2018 at 4:00 am | Permalink

                fixing -> filming

        • Paul S
          Posted October 9, 2018 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

          I’m not sure how I feel about this. On one hand it would provide accurate recording of events.

          On the other hand, I don’t want my likeness made public without my consent. There is nothing more personal than “me” and I do not give you or anyone else consent to use me or my likeness as you like.

          It’s sad and a bit terrifying that anyone would have to wear a camera to protect themselves. Being male it’s not a world I live in. If it’s happened to me I was oblivious. Although since the topic is becoming less taboo and conversations can be had I’ve learned that my wife, sisters and mother have all be subject to harassment and or abuse.

    • Diane G
      Posted October 11, 2018 at 2:17 am | Permalink

      Recently I was in a situation where a neighbor’s dogs were coming onto my property and hassling my horses, and me. I tried to talk to them, to no avail. Our security cameras are placed in such a way that there were not picking up the incidents.

      So, after some research, I purchased a small, unobtrusive body camera, which I can wear around my neck. It is not identifiable as a camera, presumably so it can be used in settings where surprise is needed. I think every woman in a situation where she is being hassled should wear one. Many come with sound capabilities, too.

      Perps should be told of video footage once it has been obtained. They should be given a choice to stop or be exposed.

      A couple of things I don’t understand, Linda:

      1. Why would you need an unobtrusive body camera to get vids of marauding dogs?

      2. If you tell the perp you now have footage of him, what’s to keep him from stealing the camera?

  3. Posted October 9, 2018 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    I believe that the “British” scandal refers to the recent unfounded sexual misconduct accusations levelled against the pop rock star Harry Web, stage name Cliff Richard.

  4. Barney
    Posted October 9, 2018 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    I think the British ‘scandal’ is two things touched on in the Telegraph article: first, that several rape cases have collapsed when it emerged that the police/prosecution service were often not disclosing the full data from phone histories, which turned out to contain information backing up alibis of the accused; and secondly, the treatment of ‘Operation Midland‘.

    This was allegations that people at the top of the country (a former Prime Minister, Home Secretary, Chief of Defence Staff and more) had been involved in a paedophile ring. The investigating officer said the police regarded the allegations as “credible and true”, when in reality something like “needing to be investigated” was all that could have been said. More investigation then decided the allegations were false, but some of the accused died while still under suspicion.

  5. Posted October 9, 2018 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    Regarding the UK and the recent tendency of police to “believe victims” rather than investigating properly, this is a fairly lengthy account by one person who was acquitted at trial, but it is worth reading.

    https://www.conservativehome.com/platform/2018/07/richard-holden-my-nightmare-experience-at-the-hands-of-the-police-and-the-cps.html

    [Yes, obviously it’s one sided; you can decide whether to believe him. And yes, it is about a Tory and on a Conservative website, but they’re still human.]

    • Steve Pollard
      Posted October 9, 2018 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

      That account is completely convincing, and pretty concerning.

      We are where we are because, for far too long, the police were perceived not to be taking rape or sexual assault allegations seriously. The pendulum swung; and the police found themselves required to believe that all complainants were telling the truth. The trouble is that some of them seemed to think that this absolved them from having to do a proper investigation of the allegation.

      Hopefully, the outcome will be that in future such cases are investigated properly and impartially. My concern, however, would be that the litany of ill-thought-out cases, such as this one, will cause the pendulum to swing back the other way. That would be the worst outcome for the many genuine victims of sexual assault.

      • BJ
        Posted October 9, 2018 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

        That second paragraph is exactly right. If we want what is best for victims, we should be advocating for neutrality and full investigation of claims, not “believe all allegations.” If there’s a successful push for the latter, you can bet there will be a big push back. I’d rather the pendulum not continually swing from one side to the other, with each side being served injustice depended on the era. Let’s just settle on justice.

  6. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted October 9, 2018 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    There is a problematic polarization between automatically believing or disbelieving accusers, when neutrality works best for everyone.

    But if independent accusations are made on the same person – such as in the case of Kavanaugh (though he acted unsuitable on account of temperament and political bias) – it becomes problematic for the accused. I think the gray area between having tangible evidence and having none can usefully be moved a bit in such cases. Statistics of erroneously such accused can sway me, of course.

    • Zaphod
      Posted October 9, 2018 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

      Youtuber Diana Davison goes into the case of one of the Canadian academic cases where the accuser was shown to be innocent. There were a number of other allegations made against him subsequent to the first one, which all turned out to have no basis. Seems that there are activists out there willing to listen, believe and lie for the cause. Multiple allegations are no indicator of anything.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted October 9, 2018 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

      In US courts, the uncorroborated testimony of a single witness, if accepted as true by the trier of fact, is sufficient to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt (for all but certain select crimes, such as treason, which, per Article 3 of the US Constitution, requires “the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or [a] Confession in open Court”).

      Owing to their nature, sex offenses are usually committed outside the presence of third-party eyewitnesses, and will often not result in any other corroborating evidence — either by the design of the perpetrator or otherwise. The prosecution of such cases frequently turns entirely, or almost entirely, upon the uncorroborated testimony of the victim.

    • Graham
      Posted October 9, 2018 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

      You have to remember the same thing happened in the late 80s/early 90s with the ‘Satanic Panic’ which was really a paedophile scare. ‘Believe the victims’ advocates created a situation which resulted not only in a lot of innocent people being jailed, but in a few cases criminals going free because of the poor nature of the evidence gathered.

      As to University sexual assault investigations, all too many of them seem to be working on the idea that their purpose is to ensure the ‘victim’ (complainant) receives justice and the ‘perp’ (accused) gets the process they are due.

  7. Randall Schenck
    Posted October 9, 2018 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    The article by Emily Yoffe is well worth a read. It is important that people on all sides understand the lack of proper procedure and investigation that goes on with this issue. Sexual assault and rape cases have become theater and circus events and it is killing the legal reality if there is one. Without a proper and confidential reporting system the whole business becomes failure as it did in the Kavanaugh business. Congress or congressional hearings are not the place to take these things. Just think about it. If murder happened in the street outside the Capital building, how would it go if we decided to handle this even with a congressional investigation? Sure, lets let a bunch of old politicians handle this case and see what happens. It would be a joke just like we saw in this sexual assault case.

    Ask another question. If FBI investigations into background for any judicial nomination are standard operating procedure, why would it not be standard if something such as this sexual assault surfaces. Oh no, lets take this one to the politicians and see how it goes.

    • Linda Calhoun
      Posted October 9, 2018 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

      With a murder, you presumably have a body, ergo evidence.

      We’re talking here about a lack of evidence.

      The fact that Blasey Ford answered questions directly, and Kavenaugh either evaded or outright lied, repeatedly, doesn’t seem to have had any bearing on the outcome.

      L

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted October 9, 2018 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

        You are missing my point. I am saying the Senate committee had no business handling this thing in the first place. It should have gone straight to the professionals at the FBI who would have investigated fully and without the cameras and media and all the crap that ruins these things.

        This is no different than the handling of sexual harassment issues at work. Just that assault is a police matter and possible criminal fall out. If sexual harassment is handled in the work place by announcing it all over the building and then taking a poll to determine belief, you have the same kind of mess. You have nothing.

        • Linda Calhoun
          Posted October 9, 2018 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

          Agree about how it should have been handled in a perfect world.

          In the case of Blasey Ford, et. al., there were complicating issues.

          First, she didn’t want to come forward and be identified. Her experience has proven her right in that regard. She is still receiving death threats and has still not been able to go home or go back to work. She has been demeaned, called a liar, mocked by the President and his cult, and denigrated by Republicans in the Senate and elsewhere. She tried to get the information out without leaving herself vulnerable to all of that. Her instincts were correct.

          Next, you have the problem of the “investigation”, which was never really done and was never going to be. A few things came up, and were dismissed by Republicans, and the rest never came to light because nothing was followed up on.

          When people are not acting in good faith, it reduces the options greatly.

          L

          • Randall Schenck
            Posted October 9, 2018 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

            I will simply answer you and Ken at the same time. Let’s just go back and see how it should have been done. Diane Feinstein should have taking the story directly to the FBI and called for their investigation. It is nothing but more background investigation of a nominee. She may have needed to get with the committe head for concurrence but the main object is to keep it quiet. Based on what the accuser wanted this should be done. The FBI could then do a full and proper investigation of the entire matter and turn their report into the Senate Committee. It is only then that they determine how to proceed. And for future reference, this is the way it always should be done. It is only common sense. It is not a perfect world it is a correct way to handle. If your first step is into public and into the hands of politicians you are dead.

            As I said before. If you handle sexual harassment accusations in this public and open way you just as well stay home. It will not work. Think, how are normal crimes handled. Do the investigators work one day and then go to the press the next. Then another day’s work and then to the press. Hell no.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted October 9, 2018 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

          Problem is, the FBI is a division of the Justice Department within the executive branch. Consequently, senators have no ability to direct that an FBI investigation be done (even if the Republican majority had wanted such an investigation, which clearly it did not). All they could do was ask the president to direct the FBI to conduct such an investigation, as the senate majority reluctantly did in the last week of the nomination process.

          Had the request been made at the beginning of the process, it being Trump, he would’ve probably directed there be an investigation of the accuser to find impeaching information on her, rather than of the accused and the incident itself.

          • Randall Schenck
            Posted October 9, 2018 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

            Well then. Let’s consider that the Congress has sexual harassment, assault and other problems. Who do they go to. One would think the EEOC as that is the location of the real specialist on that sort of thing. But it you want to stay with the FBI it should be understood by the executive branch that any nominees that require such investigation be done by the FBI.

        • eric
          Posted October 9, 2018 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

          Randall this wasn’t a criminal investigation. This was the Senate choosing to use the FBI to help them conduct a background investigation as part of their ‘advise and consent’ function.

          If it were a criminal investigation, the FBI still wouldn’t be the ones to do it; the State of Maryland would handle that, since this was a crime that didn’t cross state lines.

      • Posted October 28, 2018 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

        The body is evidence for the murder, not for the murderer’s identity. The murder of someone dear to me remained “unsolved”, though police had an idea who did it. They had, nowever, not sufficient evidence to back the “beyond reasonable doubt” standard. About a third of murders in the USA remain unsolved.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted October 9, 2018 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

      “Congress or congressional hearings are not the place to take these things.”

      I agree with you that these things involve more theater than actual fact-finding, and can devolve into spectacle. Others have made this point, too, but what I haven’t heard is a proposal for some alternate method for dealing with someone who comes forward with potentially disqualifying information about a nominee to high governmental office during the senate confirmation process.

      • Posted October 9, 2018 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

        I’m not sure what the proper process should be either but it starts with senators wanting to find out the truth.

        • Linda Calhoun
          Posted October 9, 2018 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

          Good luck with that.

          L

      • Linda Calhoun
        Posted October 9, 2018 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

        Blasey Ford came forward with her information before Kavanaugh was nominated. She contacted her congresswoman at the point where he was known to be on the short list.

        L

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted October 9, 2018 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

          Right, I understand that. But I’m still not seeing an alternative means of adjudicating the issue, other than having it taken up by the senate, presumably in a hearing before the appropriate committee (which, in the case of a judicial appointment, is the judiciary committee).

          I suppose, under different circumstances, a senator or cogressman might present the allegation directly to the president in an effort to convince him to nominate someone else — but that certainly wasn’t going to happen with Trump, especially not with the information coming from Sen. Feinstein or a Democratic congresswoman.

          • Randall Schenck
            Posted October 9, 2018 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

            Ken, you have to create standard rules/regulations on these things and then everyone can remain stupid. It should be automatic that full investigations of any sexual assaults are handled by the FBI. After all, they do the background checks on all people in government. Why should a Judge be any different. If you are going to let Senators/congressmen handle sexual assaults or harassment then just forget it. You simply do not do these things in public with people who know nothing about doing investigations.

            I don’t know what the deal is with people here. Do they think that sexual harassment in the workplace in done by having a few managers sit around a table and just question the accused and the accuser? It does not work that way. No, it is done by a professionally trained person who goes around doing it one on one without any public display or knowledge. After the person is done a report is sent to the proper official for action.

      • eric
        Posted October 9, 2018 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

        I think the ‘solution’ is to do the hearings in closed sessions. As a member of the public, I’m perfectly willing to give up some transparency if it means the process will return to actual decision-making vice reelection grandstanding.

        • Posted October 10, 2018 at 9:51 am | Permalink

          What they need are some real laws to cover all the gaps Trump and the GOP are exploiting. The “advise and consent” idea only works when politicians are not just trying to get a “win” for their party.

  8. Christopher
    Posted October 9, 2018 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    I suppose that if we are to “believe” the accusers rather than just take the accusations seriously and investigate with appropriate neutrality, then I assume we must believe that Hillary Clinton and the democrats are n fact running a child sex ring in the basement of a certain D.C. pizza shop?

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted October 9, 2018 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

      A significant segment of the rightwing did automatically believe it — right up until it turned out that the pizza parlor in question, Comet Ping-Pong, didn’t even have a basement. Hell, even after that, some rightwingers seemed willing to give Pizzagate more credence than they did the allegations of Julie Swetnick.

  9. Posted October 9, 2018 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    I’m a big fan of choosing the right word. People agreeing on a definition that doesn’t match the normal one is always an invitation to make mistakes.

    It seems to me “accuser” or “complainant” are good choices for “victims” that have not yet had their case adjudicated. #BelieveSurvivors really ought to be #BelieveComplainants or #BelieveAccusers as the main hurdle seems to be getting people in charge to take complaints seriously enough to trigger a proper investigation.

    • Linda Calhoun
      Posted October 9, 2018 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

      When it happens to me, I KNOW I’ve been victimized.

      If you don’t know that, why do I have an obligation to convince you, when the perp has no obligation to convince you of his innocence?

      L

      • Posted October 9, 2018 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

        Of course, I was not talking about what the victim calls it. They are free to call it whatever they like.

        There is also the concept of “innocent until proven guilty”, and I don’t mean the Republicans version of that with Kavanaugh. A victim does have the obligation to prove their case. I don’t see how it would work otherwise and still be fair. The perp has the responsibility to respond to the accusations. Keeping silent is not, by itself, an adequate defense.

        • Posted October 9, 2018 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

          So the fifth amendment goes out the window too. And “perp” is question begging.

        • Posted October 9, 2018 at 11:03 pm | Permalink

          The “alleged” perp.

        • Posted October 10, 2018 at 9:59 am | Permalink

          Yes, of course: alleged perp.

      • Posted October 9, 2018 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

        Because you might lie. Because you might be mistaken. Because you cannot run a decent society that convicts people just because they are accused.

  10. Thanny
    Posted October 9, 2018 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    The term “survivor” is used to describe a person who endured an experience that usually, or at least often, kills people. You survive a plane crash. You survive a shark attack. You survive a lightning strike. You survive the Holocaust.

    You don’t survive a mugging. You don’t survive a robbery. And you don’t survive a rape. None of these things are usually or even frequently fatal.

    Rape victims are not “survivors”. They are just victims.

    Blasey Ford’s testimony was also not the least bit credible. Couple that with the fact that she’s a proven liar (about being afraid of flying), and that people were being bullied into supporting her, and I don’t see how any reasonable person could believe her claims.

    But she’s certainly receiving a nice payday out of the whole ordeal, even though it failed.

    One has to wonder if all this time had been spent probing Kavanaugh’s legal opinions instead, whether we might have avoided his confirmation.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted October 9, 2018 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

      I don’t agree with your analysis of the use of the label “survivor” by the #metoo movement. “Victim” doesn’t quite work because it fails to encapsulate the depth of hurt & the time spans of the hurt – the genuine “survivor” has waded through decades of life with a monkey along for the ride. Every day.

      I don’t like the term “survivor” & there must be a better single word for encapsulating the experience of living with a trauma [or series of traumas] that might have occurred [or begun] decades before. The whole of the rest of ones life is coloured by an ancient event – & one is getting on with life with this crippling cloud hanging in the psyche – THAT is what it means to be a “survivor”, it has nothing to do with personal risk of death at all.

      To generalise beyond #metoo for illustrative purposes – the pensioner who had a still birth in 1975 or lost her kiddo to a careless driver or merciless disease has been a “survivor” every day since & will continue to be a “survivor” for the remainder of her days.

      Do you have a suggestion for a better single word for use in the broad sense beyond rape, assault & #metoo?

      • Posted October 10, 2018 at 9:57 am | Permalink

        Aren’t we all survivors? Until the end, of course.

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted October 10, 2018 at 10:04 am | Permalink

          Yes we are – I’m not happy with “survivors” as word of choice for life-changing events

          • Posted October 10, 2018 at 10:10 am | Permalink

            Aren’t all events life changing? Ok, I’ll stop now.

            • Michael Fisher
              Posted October 10, 2018 at 10:20 am | Permalink

              Wise move!

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted October 9, 2018 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

      This Thanny is an unfortunately worded line of yours that you’ve given the status of a paragraph – though I understand your intent from the context of the preceding two paragraphs:

      “Rape victims are not “survivors”. They are just victims”

      depending on the survey you look at – up to 25% of American flyers have a fear of flying. One or two famed fliers in both peace & war have had a fear of flying, but continued to fly. People with fear of flying are even known to go on holiday by ‘plane despite that fear.

      You have written that Blasey Ford has fabricated or exaggerated events from 1982 [fair enough to take that view] & she did it for a payday! That’s a new one. You know a lot about her inner life.

      Who are the people who were being bullied into supporting her account?

    • Posted October 10, 2018 at 5:23 am | Permalink

      You don’t survive a mugging.

      I know somebody who survived a mugging. He was severely beaten but escaped with his life and the loss of the sight in one eye.

      Rape victims sometimes do not survive. Sometimes the rapist kills them. Sometimes they can’t live with the aftermath and commit suicide.

      Blasey Ford’s testimony was also not the least bit credible. Couple that with the fact that she’s a proven liar

      Both of those accusations can be applied to Brett Kavanaugh. Anyway, you are forgetting that this was not a trial, it was a job interview. You don’t need “beyond reasonable doubt” to pass over a candidate for a job, especially one that is about as important as it gets in the US legal system. In a sane World, Kavanaugh’s nomination would have been withdrawn pretty much as soon as the allegations came to light.

      • Samedi
        Posted October 10, 2018 at 7:45 am | Permalink

        You haven’t thought this through. If all nominations are withdrawn due to an accusation then no one would ever be confirmed. Generating accusations is easy. On the contrary, a world in which a mere accusation is enough to torpedo a nomination or career (i.e., McCarthyism) is an insane world.

        • Posted October 10, 2018 at 8:36 am | Permalink

          Well OK, as soon as it became obvious that the accusations had credibility.

        • Posted October 28, 2018 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

          Good reminder! Ever since the Kavanaugh controversy began, I keep reading that because it is not trial but “just a nomination” or “a job interview”, accusations without evidence are enough to topple it.

  11. davidenglishography
    Posted October 9, 2018 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    Someone who alleges that they have been assaulted (sexually or otherwise) is a complainant. If their claims are upheld in court, then they can rightly call themselves a victim.

    Under no circumstances is she or he a “survivor”.

    • phil brown
      Posted October 10, 2018 at 7:50 am | Permalink

      If someone has been raped they can call themselves a victim, a survivor or whatever they want. If they feel, perhaps, that ‘survivor’ is a more positive way to describe their state than ‘victim’, then what’s it to anyone else?

      • Diane G
        Posted October 11, 2018 at 2:49 am | Permalink

        Precisely.

  12. Randall Schenck
    Posted October 9, 2018 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    I will simply answer you and Ken at the same time. Let’s just go back and see how it should have been done. Diane Feinstein should have taking the story directly to the FBI and called for their investigation. It is nothing but more background investigation of a nominee. She may have needed to get with the committe head for concurrence but the main object is to keep it quiet. Based on what the accuser wanted this should be done. The FBI could then do a full and proper investigation of the entire matter and turn their report into the Senate Committee. It is only then that they determine how to proceed. And for future reference, this is the way it always should be done. It is only common sense. It is not a perfect world it is a correct way to handle. If your first step is into public and into the hands of politicians you are dead.

    As I said before. If you handle sexual harassment accusations in this public and open way you just as well stay home. It will not work. Think, how are normal crimes handled. Do the investigators work one day and then go to the press the next. Then another day’s work and then to the press. Hell no.

    • Diane G
      Posted October 11, 2018 at 2:54 am | Permalink

      As Ken K. said above:

      Problem is, the FBI is a division of the Justice Department within the executive branch. Consequently, senators have no ability to direct that an FBI investigation be done (even if the Republican majority had wanted such an investigation, which clearly it did not). All they could do was ask the president to direct the FBI to conduct such an investigation, as the senate majority reluctantly did in the last week of the nomination process.

      “Ask the president?” Yeah, right.

  13. Posted October 9, 2018 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    The obvious problem arises when each party accuses the other, as with Asia Argento and her alleged underaged co-star. He claims she molested him; she claims he assaulted her. Whom should we believe a priori?

  14. Mikeyc
    Posted October 9, 2018 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

    There are many things we are not allowed anymore, according to many. We cannot doubt a woman when she claims assault. We cannot ask if men and women might differ in their career choices. We cannot ask if there are any differences in temperament, cognitive abilities or performance on any except physical tests (but that day is coming). We cannot ask if there are differences in domestic abuse rates. We cannot even ask these questions in the sciences as evidenced by the recent burial of a peer-reviewed work by some mathematicians testing the idea that there might be an achievement gap between men and women at very high levels of human intelligence. It’s a brave new world that does not permit even scientific discussions of issues with broad social implications.

    This article is good one, but I expect it’s just spitting in the wind. Yoffe is going to be pilloried.

    • Posted October 9, 2018 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

      Who will do the pillorying, Republicans or Democrats?

      Other comments on this thread have vindicated Republican warnings pretty clearly.

      • Mikeyc
        Posted October 9, 2018 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

        This transcends political parties, though to be sure most of those who will attack Yoffe will probably vote Democratic. This is a social movement, but I agree that it is fed and nurtured by the shit that is politics

  15. tomh
    Posted October 9, 2018 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

    @ #10
    “Blasey Ford’s testimony was also not the least bit credible. Couple that with the fact that she’s a proven liar (about being afraid of flying), and that people were being bullied into supporting her, and I don’t see how any reasonable person could believe her claims.”

    Looking at this comment, along with many others here, it is no surprise that most women don’t report sexual abuse.

    • Diane G
      Posted October 11, 2018 at 2:57 am | Permalink

      “Looking at this comment, along with many others here, it is no surprise that most women don’t report sexual abuse.”

      QFT.

  16. eric
    Posted October 9, 2018 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

    The believe/disbelieve dichotomy lacks nuance, IMO, and the Kavanaugh case has highlighted to me just how destructive and/or manipulated that dichotomy can be. If person A claims B traumatized them, I won’t require any evidence before seriously listening. If they want B not to get a promotion, bonus, or award, that may require a bit more. If they want B fired from their current job, expelled from their school, or not hired, that may require more yet. If they want B to pay them $10,000,000 or go to jail or be put on the list of registered sex offenders for life, that’s going to require the most. Because while I might personally believe A in all those cases, once you involve punishing another person, well, I don’t want to punish someone on my mere belief (or let someone go on my mere disbelief); I want the decision to punish another person based on more than that.

    The GOP was able to use the ‘simple dichotomy’ concept very effectively to market the idea that the standard of evidence the Senate should require to prevent Kavanaugh’s promotion is the exact same standard of evidence a jury should require to convict someone of a crime and put them in jail. Pure baloney. But that’s what the dichotomy gets you.

    • Posted October 9, 2018 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

      Not true. Collins for example rejected the reasonable doubt standard for preponderance. But if Ford has been able to present ANY evidence Kavanaugh would have been toast. But there was no corroboration at all. Worse than that, her own witnesses contradicted her. One, her friend, complained aford’s lawyers made her feel pressured to change her story. Ford’s own account changed over time.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted October 9, 2018 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

        Susan Collins’s position was incoherent. Collins claimed to find Ford credible and to believe Ford’s testimony that she had been the victim of an attempted sexual assault. Yet Collins claimed also to believe that Kavanaugh was not Ford’s attacker.

        There is virtually no chance that Ford misidentified the person who attacked her, since Ford was acquainted with Kavanaugh beforehand. (Almost all cases of misidentification involve assaults by strangers.) The Republicans — wanting to avoid a direct attack on Ford’s credibility — also floated the naked talking point that Ford suffered from some type of “false memory syndrome,” but there was not a scintilla of evidence in the record to support this position. Indeed, if both witnesses were testifying honestly regarding their recollections, there was more evidence in the record from which to find that Kavanaugh’s memory might have been faulty do to excessive drinking.

        Otherwise, one witness or the other — Ford or Kavanaugh — was lying, and Susan Collins should have come out and said which one and why she believed one over the other, rather than to have wormed her way to claiming she believed them both.

        • Posted October 28, 2018 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

          I do not know of any evidence, besides Ford’s claims, that she ever met Kavanaugh in person. They were in different schools.

      • Matthew
        Posted October 9, 2018 at 11:41 pm | Permalink

        I really don’t know where you get the idea that additional evidence would have kept Kavanaugh off the court. Most polls indicated that at least half of Republican voters wanted him appointed even if he committed the assault.

      • eric
        Posted October 10, 2018 at 6:02 am | Permalink

        “Susan Collins didn’t!” is not IMO a strong counterargument when you’ve got Flake, Grassley, McConnell, Graham, and President Trump all putting out the ‘innocent until proven guilty by legal standard’ message. If you’re pointing out that not every single Republican followed that script, then yes, I’ll agree, not every single Republican did. If, however, you’re trying to argue that this messaging didn’t exist, wasn’t planned, or wasn’t effective, then I don’t think pointing out a single senator not following it is a very strong counterargument.

  17. Linda Calhoun
    Posted October 10, 2018 at 7:01 am | Permalink

    To everyone above:

    I still haven’t seen a single suggestion about how to handle the problem.

    OK, fair enough, you don’t like the idea of believing accusers as a starting point.

    So, how about some other suggestions?

    If you’re going to leave it at TFB sweetie, you have no proof, when this is a situation that is experienced by over 80% of females in this country (both adults and children), then expect to have those of us on the receiving end continue to find ways of putting a stop to it.

    L

    • Posted October 10, 2018 at 7:41 am | Permalink

      I still haven’t seen a single suggestion about how to handle the problem.

      In the case of Brett Kavanaugh the solution was easy. It wasn’t a trial, it was a job interview. His application should have been withdrawn or rejected. The only problem is that the people doing the hiring lacked any kind of moral integrity. If only there was a way to get rid of them…

      The general problem with respect to criminal trials is insoluble. The rights of the accused to a fair trial can’t be ignored just because the whole thing is traumatic for the complainant. A conviction for a sexual assault will destroy your life (rightly so if you are guilty) so you need to safeguard of a fair trial to try to avoid convicting innocent people.

      • DC
        Posted October 11, 2018 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

        I’d like to see this point raised as the introduction to a discussion about how NOT to cause lives to be ruined because someone ended up on one side or the other of this (for all I can tell) extremely personal and devastating situation, which differs qualitatively from other types of social wronging.

        Women do worry–a lot–about the effects their accusations will have on those accused. It’s one reason we don’t come forward. If the stakes were lower, talking about it would be a lot easier, and that tends to help victims at least as much as any legal action. But it can also make things far worse if the “discussion” centers on how it didn’t really happen, wasn’t a big deal, or was somehow our fault. The mere fact that speaking up about this is so fraught with peril in all directions makes it very difficult either to stop it from happening or to get help for those to whom it happens.

        This, I think, is the point of #BelieveSurvivors. I don’t personally know anyone who thinks it means (1) “All women are 100% reliable when it comes to reports of sexual assault, and if they aren’t, we should believe them anyway.” Rather, it speaks to the problem above: (2) “Women have historically been dismissed and discredited when they come forward, which is hard enough to do in the first place, even though most of them are telling the truth. This is both fallacious and causes women to fear speaking up, which further perpetuates a bad status quo. This is why it should stop.”

        (1) is bullshit, which is why it has so many detractors (Yoffe included). (2) is true, which is why it has so many supporters (Yoffe, I think, also included). Both groups are correct, but they aren’t talking about the same thing–they’re referring to two different things using the same hashtag. This is the piece Yoffe left out of her article, and I was disappointed because it made her seem disingenuous (or perhaps genuinely naive) about what #BelieveSurvivors supporters actually think. You can’t correct someone effectively, no matter how well-reasoned your reply, when the position they hold isn’t the same one you’re addressing.

        If Yoffe had engaged this linguistic point even briefly–and #BelieveSurvivors provides a great opportunity for doing so because it’s been used in these two ambiguous ways–it would have delimited the scope of her argument in a way that made it less topical, perhaps, but more accurate. Instead, it sounded like a very well-reasoned case of preaching to two separate choirs: #BelieveSurvivors detractors (who think (1) is bullshit but not (2)), and #BelieveSurvivors supporters (who also think (1) is bullshit but not (2)).

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted October 10, 2018 at 9:06 am | Permalink

      I like constructive comments too Linda. In my little corner of the city of Birmingham [UK] I can see there’s a pressure imposed on many females by males as they try to go about their business. It’s a constant hum in the background of their lives like traffic noise – women are obliged to moderate their behaviour, to make themselves as invisible as possible, to avoid eye contact, to not accidentally invite unwanted interactions by male strangers because they were ‘stupid’ enough to look around & let their gaze alight on a guy while sitting on the bus.

      This tension is there for women all the time & it’s created a situation where women are excessively in love with the bubble protection afforded by their cars & where women have become habituated from an early age to socialise in groups – the latter has had the unintended consequence of making the lone social woman a rare figure who then becomes a target, because some men think “she’s sipping a pint in the pub on her own with her book – she’s obviously desirous of my witty chat” … “huh, ignored me – fuckin’ bitch must be a lesbian” followed by sniggers from the guys mates. A wooman’s day has been ruined & a bunch of guys go back to the results of the 3:10 at Kempton oblivious to the effect they’ve had.

      I think there’s a case to be made for a discrete, personal, wearable GPS tracked system that cannot be accessed casually [see my other comment in this thread], but I would prefer a mass re-education of how we interact with each other – learning what it’s like to be in the shoes of another.

      For example student designers of the environment [cars, bathrooms, cars, public transport, houses, cities] wear prosthetics to give them a simulation of being elderly, infirm, walking disabled, wheelchair disabled, visually impaired, pregnant etc. Perhaps this could become part of the curriculum at schools & extended to include role play – shine a light on how a casual remark or action can effect others. Build from there.

      I can see that despite the situation in Birmingham today, it is better than it was & generally modern British kids are more aware & accepting of differences. They are a lot gentler & more considerate than I was as a lad. The arc can continue upwards one hopes.


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