Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

What Did You Expect?

Judith Grossman, who starts out by assuring her readers that she is a feminist, has a somewhat perplexing opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal. She writes:
It began with a text of desperation. "CALL ME. URGENT. NOW."

That was how my son informed me that not only had charges been brought against him but that he was ordered to appear to answer these allegations in a matter of days. There was no preliminary inquiry on the part of anyone at the school into these accusations about behavior alleged to have taken place a few years earlier, no consideration of the possibility that jealousy or revenge might be motivating a spurned young ex-lover to lash out. Worst of all, my son would not be afforded a presumption of innocence.
...
On today's college campuses, neither "beyond a reasonable doubt," nor even the lesser "by clear and convincing evidence" standard of proof is required to establish guilt of sexual misconduct.

These safeguards of due process have, by order of the federal government, been replaced by what is known as "a preponderance of the evidence." What this means, in plain English, is that all my son's accuser needed to establish before a campus tribunal is that the allegations were "more likely than not" to have occurred by a margin of proof that can be as slim as 50.1% to 49.9%.

How does this campus tribunal proceed to evaluate the accusations? Upon what evidence is it able to make a judgment?

The frightening answer is that like the proverbial 800-pound gorilla, the tribunal does pretty much whatever it wants, showing scant regard for fundamental fairness, due process of law, and the well-established rules and procedures that have evolved under the Constitution for citizens' protection. Who knew that American college students are required to surrender the Bill of Rights at the campus gates?

My son was given written notice of the charges against him, in the form of a letter from the campus Title IX officer. But instead of affording him the right to be fully informed, the separately listed allegations were a barrage of vague statements, rendering any defense virtually impossible. The letter lacked even the most basic information about the acts alleged to have happened years before. Nor were the allegations supported by any evidence other than the word of the ex-girlfriend.

The hearing itself was a two-hour ordeal of unabated grilling by the school's committee, during which, my son later reported, he was expressly denied his request to be represented by counsel or even to have an attorney outside the door of the room. The questioning, he said, ran far afield even from the vaguely stated allegations contained in the so-called notice. Questions from the distant past, even about unrelated matters, were flung at him with no opportunity for him to give thoughtful answers.

The many pages of written documentation that my son had put together—which were directly on point about his relationship with his accuser during the time period of his alleged wrongful conduct—were dismissed as somehow not relevant. What was relevant, however, according to the committee, was the unsworn testimony of "witnesses" deemed to have observable knowledge about the long-ago relationship between my son and his accuser.

Now, I read this over, and I think myself thinking: What did you expect?

When it comes to accusations of rape, which is what her son is accused of, although she can't quite bring herself to use the word, our society is faced with two contradictory priorities. On the one hand, we rightly don't want to severely punish someone for a crime they did not commit. Avoiding punishing innocent people means having a high standard of evidence, a statute of limitations which makes it impossible to prosecute crimes too old to have clear evidence available, a presumption of innocence, etc. However, at the same time, society wants to provide redress for victims of crimes, particularly crimes which people may feel shame in relation to being the victims of, without putting them through the ringer. They've already suffered from the crime itself, why make them suffer more in trying to get justice for it.

Society has a sort of uneasy truce between these priorities by allowing semi-private institutions such as colleges, employers, etc. to censure people pretty easily, with comparatively light consequences, while keeping the burden of proof comparatively low. If Ms. Grossman has been hanging around feminist circles as much as she says, she should know that the reason why her son's hearing worked the way that it did was because people have been seeking to make raising accusations less onerous for rape victims. This is a pretty good idea for various reasons, and while I don't doubt that her son's experience was very distressing, he was declared not guilty, so it seems that in this case "the system worked".

The thing is, you can't have a system which is easy on both the accuser and the accused. Being the victim of a crime is distressing. Being accused of committing a crime is distressing. Any system has to come up with some sort of balance between the rights of the accuser and the accused, and there are reasons that Grossman should be familiar with for the particular balance that society has struck. That's not to say that it's the best possible balance, but let's be clear: Any change that would have made things easier on her son would also have made things harder on at least some actual rape victims. There is not a system that magically sorts out the guilty from the innocent without making things difficult for anyone.

This also, I think, points out a problem that many people run into when they start thinking in terms of statistics instead of individual events (or as they are derisively called in debate: anecdotes). It's often pointed out that it is a very infrequent occurrence for a woman to falsely accuse a specific man of raping her. This stands to reason (successfully making a rape charge is a pretty grueling process and if the charge if false you stand a good chance of losing and ending up in even worse trouble) and those studies that I've seen bear this out. However, the fact that an event is infrequent does not mean that it doesn't happen. Say that only 0.5% of rape accusations are false. Well, that means that one out of every 200 people accused is innocent. That may sound like good odds if you're making a sociological statement, but it still really, really stinks to be that 1 out of 200 person. It's okay to decide how to deal with rape accusations based on a knowledge that accusations against specific people are not frequently false, but you still need to be very clear in formulating your position on such things that "not frequently" does not mean "never".

And since I'm taking the stand back and throwing stones approach to the story: I'll finish up by pointing out that while nothing is a complete protection against being wrongly accused of a crime (I'm finishing up reading a book about Captain Dreyfus, who was convicted of treason because his handwriting looked a bit like someone else's, he wasn't a super likeable guy, and he was Jewish), when it comes to being accused of rape at college, not having premarital sex at all is generally going to be a pretty good protection against charges.

100 comments:

Banshee said...

If you don't have sex, people assume that you're really having kinky sex with someone they don't know.

Unless you're really really nerdy, of course, though that may be no protection today.

Charming Disarray said...

This may sound totally coldblooded, but my guess is that once a few guys have been made examples of in the media, such as this guy and the Ohio guys, crimes of this nature will go WAY down. Scaring the pants back on a few campus predators for the greater good may be just the way to go.

Darwin said...

It strikes me that there's virtually nothing in common between this case and the Steubenville one.

In the Steubenville case, guys and their friends film themselves raping a girl, post it online, and chat about it via their phones, but local police fail to follow up on the obvious evidence because of local football loyalties. The media puts a spotlight on the case, and the guys are convicted.

In this case, a guy is accused by his ex-girlfriend of forcing sex several years before. No hard evidence is presented and the college review panel finds him innocent, but his mother writes in the WSJ to highlight that her son was put through a miserable experience despite the fact he was innocent.

I think the main thing that can be drawn from it is that efforts (arguably needed) to make it less onerous and humiliating for a woman who has been raped to bring an accusation will end up making it harder on guys who are falsely accused. Anyone who is advocating changes in one direction or the other without realizing that any solution is balancing both those factors is kidding himself.

Anonymous said...

Justice is imperfectly served in this world -true - but college justice isn't even trying. The degraded standards described seem hardly better than trial by ordeal. Similar standards seem to apply in cases where academic misconduct is alleged. (I know of two such cases.) The old standards were hard won as a best attempt towards obtaining the truth. The current instruction to abandon them is typical of the nominalist character of much of modern law as it departs from common law principles. The impossibility of "a system which is easy on both the accuser and the accused" is irrelevant. The question is not one of ease but of how closely justice can be approximated; the best situation might be very uncomfortable for all involved. Well, St. Thomas More would express this better.

Darwin said...

I have a feeling that ease would in fact have something to do with justice.

If some given system for determining the truth of an accusation (and punishing the accused if found guilty) places a huge burden of difficulty and humiliation on the accuser even when the accuser is telling the truth, this would tend to cause people who are victims of crimes not to step forward and seek justice. I think we could probably agree that a system in which those who are wronged by others feel they cannot come forward to seek justice, because the suffering of doing so as weighed against the likeliness of success is too great, would not be a very just system.

Also, any system implicitly balances willingness to leave some guilty people un-convicted with wiliness to convict some innocent people. When we make the standards of proof lower, we make it more likely that the innocent people will be convicted. But when we make the standards of proof higher, we make it more likely that some guilty people will not be convicted.

Also, do keep in mind that in the incident Grossman describes, her son was cleared of the charges against him. Her complaint is basically that the process was unpleasant and seemed in some ways unfair -- despite the fairness of the verdict. I don't dispute that this was a really bad situation to be in, I just think that people usually run around endorsing two irreconcilable desires: That wrongdoers be punished every time without the victim having to go through a difficult and humiliation process to secure the conviction, and that innocent people who are accused not have a hard time. I can't think of how a system could succeed in both of those.

Crude said...

Anon,

Justice is imperfectly served in this world -true - but college justice isn't even trying.

I think this may be the key in this situation: that the problem here is largely specific to university culture.

Darwin,

Also, do keep in mind that in the incident Grossman describes, her son was cleared of the charges against him. Her complaint is basically that the process was unpleasant and seemed in some ways unfair -- despite the fairness of the verdict.

The fairness of the verdict? What penalty did the woman who apparently falsely accused him receive? Will she be investigated?

Also, let me question your description of the verdict. Let's say person X is accused of child molestation years ago. The accuser has no real evidence. The accusations are shaky, horribly supported. The accused is found not guilty.

But keep in mind what that means. Does it mean that they went back in time and determined no, this individual did not molest any children? Most of the time, no. It means 'well, we don't have enough evidence to convict you'.

Let's say man X never molested any children. What's the fairer verdict: "We don't have enough evidence to convict you of child molestation." or "You molested no children."? I think the latter is fairer than the former. It's also a verdict we can't really expect to ever be delivered.

Likewise with this guy. He's not 'the guy who never raped his girlfriend' now. He's 'the guy whose powerful lawyer mother showed up and now he walked due to a lack of evidence'.

Charming Disarray said...

I agree that the details of the case are different in a lot of ways, but I just meant that they both got some kind of media attention at some point. I'm drawing very broad parallels here because the kind of guy who's too selfish or sociopathic to realize if and when he's assaulting someone, or too care, will only react to news about men going through the judicial system and "getting caught" by a very selfish, "Gee, I hope that never happens to me. I would hate that."

That's what I mean by being made an example of. The guy in the article may be totally innocent--I doubt it, given the prevalence of these kinds of crimes--but he hasn't had an permanent damage done to him, and maybe it will make other guys think twice, especially since they're cowards, anyway.

Crude said...

The guy in the article may be totally innocent--I doubt it, given the prevalence of these kinds of crimes-

And there it is.

This is exactly what I meant when I questioned whether this verdict was fair. There's the verdict, right up there. Oh, he was found innocent? Yeah well, he probably isn't. All we have is a lack of evidence.

but he hasn't had an permanent damage done to him

Yeah, he just has complete strangers online casually remarking about how he's probably guilty of some form of sexual abuse, they know not what.

If we're going to engage in a culture of fear, I'd like it both ways. I'd like men to be terrified of committing rape or abuse. I'd like women to be terrified of falsely accusing a man of rape or abuse.

Then we can all be safe and terrified together.

Won't it be great?

Crude said...

I'd like men to be terrified of committing rape or abuse.

Correction. Terrified of *being accused of* committing rape or abuse.

Terrified of *being accused of* a false accusation of rape or abuse.

Darwin said...

Charming Disarray,

The guy in the article may be totally innocent--I doubt it, given the prevalence of these kinds of crimes--but he hasn't had an permanent damage done to him, and maybe it will make other guys think twice, especially since they're cowards, anyway.

Generally speaking, we define prejudice as assuming that someone is guilty of some crime or defect not based on actual evidence, but based on that person belonging to some group that we associate with undesirable qualities:

"Look, the guy accused of stealing the purse was black, and they commit petty crimes an awful lot, so we can probably assume that he was guilty even if an inquiry found him innocent. And if not, well, at least it'll be a good lesson to other blacks. They're all cowards anyway."

or

"Look, maybe the guy forced her, but let's be honest, most women are eager to sleep with celebrities, so she probably was happy to get some action from him. And if not, well, it's a good lesson to all those other women who throw themselves at guys."

or

"Most Jews will do anything for money. Sure, maybe this one guy didn't really sell insider information. But hey, even if not, no harm done. And at least this'll be a good lesson to other Jews. Fear is the only thing they understand."

We rightly find these kinds of sentiments offensive.

Advocating for justice is a good thing, and victims of sexual assault are a group who often have not received enough justice. But simply flipping the assumption of guilt around to the other sex is not justice, it's just a different form of prejudice.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Ah, this makes sense. =)

Charming Disarray said...

Darwin, you basically made the same point in the last discussion on rape prevention on your blog:

"In a sense, I think this comes out, in practical terms, to being the evidence problem that I outlined, but it's an evidence problem created by a pernicious social assumption that we should assume that any sex was voluntary unless A can prove otherwise. This seems to me a problem. I would rather have a situation in which if it could be proved that A had sex with B and A claims that this was a rape, B is responsible for proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the sex was voluntary, not the other way around."

and

"Thus, for instance, if someone told me she'd been raped by a frat guy at a party, I would most certainly believe her (in part, perhaps, because I have a strong tendency not to like or trust people who are in fraternities.) However, that doesn't necessarily mean that some college disciplinary committee or policeman would take the same view."

and

"If I were made dictator of the world, I would (as I mentioned in response to Brandon above) consider the right way to deal with rape allegations to be to consider only the combination of allegation and proof that the accused had sex with the victim to be necessary to prove guilt. Given that, it seems to me that something sharp enough to deter the crime yet recoverable enough not to be considered the end of someone's life (and thus make a jury reluctant to convict) would be necessary as the standard punishment."

Have you changed your stance?

http://darwincatholic.blogspot.com/2013/01/is-rape-prevention-actually-rape.html

Anonymous said...

(the same anon who posted earlier) Perhaps "ease" in the sense you explain it is relevant. It is not qua ease or comfortableness of the person in the case but rather qua overcoming an impediment (in this case a too onerous requirement) to justice that the more relaxed standard was introduced. I still wonder if this is the right way to overcome the impediment. Why is the plaintiff's situation so onerous under traditional standards ? Is it the standards or is it the way people in the legal system handle them, and the plaintiff ? Would forms instituting more circumspection and delicacy be another, better way to address the issue ? It is strange how in cases of sexual injustice, there is a reflex tendency to deride and in effect blame the injured party. This includes the case of infidelity as well as assault.

Darwin said...

Anon,

Sounds like we're on the same page.

Darwin said...

Charming Disarray,

I think what I've said here is completely consistent with my comments on the previous post.

One of the things that I said there, part of which you quote in the second quote you have there, is that if someone tells me they have been the victim of a crime, I will tend to believe them until I have some good reason to believe otherwise. Thus, if someone tells me he was mugged, I'll believe him. If someone tells me she was raped, I'll believe her. In this case, a woman tells us that her son was wrongly accused by an ex-girlfriend of having raped her. Until I have some reason to believe otherwise, my tendency is thus to believe the claim: that he was victimized by an ex-girlfriend via a false charge of rape. In this case, my belief is backed up by the fact that he was subjected to an inquiry panel in which there was not an presumption of innocence, he wasn't represented by a lawyer, and he wasn't allowed to confront his accuser, but nonetheless he was cleared of charges. If he claims innocence and managed to have his innocence upheld under those conditions, it sounds to me like the chances are pretty good that he's telling the truth.

My statement that my first response to a woman telling me she was raped would be to believe her does not commit me to never believing that any man is innocent of a rape charge any more than my statement that my first response to hearing someone had been mugged would commit me to never believing that anyone was innocent of a charge of mugging.

Thus, lest I was unclear before, let me be clear now: The principle that I'm holding to is not "all men are guilty" but rather "when we are told that someone has been the victim of a crime, our first reaction should be to believe them and help try to solve the issue, not to implicitly assume that they are lying."

So, I'm applying the same principle here, it's just in this case the victim is a man and the crime is the leveling of a false accusation.

Now, as I had said in the prior conversation, one could imagine some situation in which we radically changed how we think about proof and punishment in cases such as these. Obviously, one never has a right to have sex with someone one is not married to, so, as I stated, one could imagine basing society norms on a rule such that all that was necessary to prove a rape allegation was to prove that:

a) sex between the parties had occurred and
b) the woman claimed that the sex was unwanted

I don't think such an approach would be unjust, but it is obviously very different from the system in which we live. Where we life, virtually all long term unmarried relationships between college students are sexual relationships. Given that, and that from what the article says it seems acknowledged that there was some sort of long term sexual relationship, it seems like there would need to be some sort of proof provided that a non-consensual sexual assault occurred. Proof that the committee appears to have felt was not there. If they don't think that there was proof, I'm not clear why I should. Unless I were to fall back on logic akin to "lot's muggers are black, he's black, therefore he must be guilty".

Thus, unless I were to come to know something else about the situation, I would consider the guy innocent and can't see a reason other than sexism for assuming him guilty.

Darwin said...

Of course, the only way to really settle the question for sure would be: trial by combat.

Charming Disarray said...

Cow pies. You can't believe two people who are telling opposing stories. The woman says he raped her. He says he didn't.

He also may be saying he was treated unjustly by the system. That's a separate issue, and has nothing to do with whether he raped her or not. You said before that you would give the woman the benefit of the doubt in this situation. Now you're saying differently.

None of that has to do with whether he was treated unjustly by the system.

Charming Disarray said...

I'm wondering if there was a misunderstanding. The "guys" I referred to as cowards are the ones I'm hoping will be scared into not committing these crimes. It wasn't a general statement about all guys.

Is that what you meant by prejudice? One of the most frustrating things about having these discussions is that I find myself constantly battling unstated presumptions that I'm a manhater. It makes communication needlessly difficult. I thought it was pretty clear and obvious that I was referring to potential rapists.

Since I don't believe that all men turn into rapists if you give them a bit of alcohol and turn them loose on a campus, I wasn't making the point that all men need that particular kind of scaring.

Darwin said...

Cow pies. You can't believe two people who are telling opposing stories. The woman says he raped her. He says he didn't. ... You said before that you would give the woman the benefit of the doubt in this situation. Now you're saying differently.

My point was that I don't believe in approaching people with a hermeneutic of suspicion. Thus, if a woman says she was raped, I think the correct solution is to believe her until one has some very compelling reason for believing otherwise.

In this case, we don't have the woman's story, so I have no way of knowing if it's believable or not. It may be that if I heard the woman's story, I would believe it, but not having heard it, I can hardly do so. All I've read is a highly abbreviated account of the man's story. His doesn't sound like an inherently unbelievable story to me. I can certainly imagine that if further details were filled in by the guy, it would suddenly become unbelievable to me. But at that most basic level it doesn't sound unbelievable (I don't think either men or women are as a sex immune to seeking revenge against an ex) and it's buttressed by the fact that he was cleared by a committee whose method, reportedly, was (rightly) fairly heavily tilted towards the accuser.

So no, my approach is not "I always believe women and never believe men" it's "I believe what people tell me unless I have some good reason not to believe it."

I'm not saying one should be utterly credulous. I can think a lot of potential stories a guy might tell which I would find unbelievable right off the bat, even if I was only hearing his side. But the what's there I don't find unbelievable, since it's backed up by the committee's finding.

He also may be saying he was treated unjustly by the system. That's a separate issue, and has nothing to do with whether he raped her or not.... None of that has to do with whether he was treated unjustly by the system.

The account of the system provided doesn't sound unjust to me -- unless, of course, he was guilty, in which case it was certainly unjust of them to let him off.

Darwin said...

Is that what you meant by prejudice?

No. What strikes me as prejudiced is hearing that someone was found not guilty of a crime, but stating that they must actually be guilty, not on the basis of some actual evidence relating to the crime, but because the person belongs to a group (in this case, men.)

Charming Disarray said...

The group he belongs to isn't "men." It's "men accused of committing rape."

You previously stated that you would believe the woman in that situation because you don't think she would accuse a man of raping her unless she had a very good reason to do so. This means that "men accused of rape" are in a subgroup of "men" as a whole. So my stance, and yours, previously, is that "men accused of committing rape" are probably guilty, the assumption being that men who aren't guilty of rape are very unlikely to be accused of it.

If you've change your mind on that point after having thought about it, fair enough, but please stop trying to make it look like I'm claiming "he must be guilty because he's a man" when that is not what I said, nor is it what I meant.

Maybe you're not doing it on purpose, but what you're saying comes across as intellectually dishonest. If you are now saying that you will assume that a man is innocent as long as he's been acquitted, that's fair enough, but it's different from what you said before--which is that you would have no problem presuming guilty SIMPLY BECAUSE THE MAN WAS ACCUSED OF IT. Hence my question: "Have you changed your stance?"

"but stating that they must actually be guilty"

I didn't say that. I said he might be innocent, or he might not be, and threw in a certain amount of doubt. As has been pointed out in this discussion, a "not guilty" verdict often just means there wasn't enough evidence to convict, so there's nothing terribly radical about what I said. Once a conversation has devolved to this level of hairsplitting, I generally assume there's an ulterior motive of some sort which, because it will never be stated in the open, makes the whole discussion a giant black hole of time and energy.

Charming Disarray said...

"we don't have the woman's story, so I have no way of knowing if it's believable or not."

Again, you previously stated that you would believe a woman who claimed she had been raped. You did not say you would weigh her story and decide for yourself whether you thought she was telling the truth. "I'll decide for myself" is the opposite of "I'll believe her because I would give her the benefit of the doubt in the situation."

What we already have is a society that judges for themselves if a woman claiming to have been raped is telling the truth--what is used to decide that verdict, by a person who wasn't there and has no way of what the truth is anyway, can be anything from what she was wearing to how long they were dating to whether or not you think she's the kind of woman who would want to get revenge on her college boyfriend two years after their breakup by dragging him through the courts.

This attitude is what keeps rape culture alive and well, and it's based on an (often unconscious) desire to protect men (their reputations, their need for peace and quiet, etc.) before protecting women, even though it's women who the more vulnerable party, as evidenced by the obvious fact that women are raped by men and only in very rare and usual circumstances are men raped by women.

All I'm looking for here is a bit of honesty, and I'm not seeing it.

Crude said...

I won't speak for Darwin, but I think I understand what he's saying.

If person X comes up to them and relates something about their past - and he has no other information to go on - he's going to initially assume they're telling the truth. That doesn't mine dire certainty in random people's honesty. It's a casual mode of operation: people get the benefit of the doubt initially.

But it really is not common that person X rolls up to Darwin (or much anyone else) and comes along with person Y who disputes their story.

Let's say person X and Y have two contradictory versions of a story. Darwin's going to initially believe either X or Y when they roll up and tell him their story - because at first, he's either going to hear X OR Y. Not both. But if after Darwin hears X, he hears Y, well, now there's a dispute going on and both X's and Y's claims are thrown into doubt. Deciding further would require more information, more thought, and more investigating.

It would probably automatically require more information, thought and investigation if X's story entailed reference to person Y who disputed them. "Miss Y says I molested her, but she's a liar." Well, now Darwin is aware that there are two people with conflicting stories. Time to stay neutral.

Is it really necessary to explain how horrible of an idea it is to promote a culture of 'if you're accused of rape/molestation/abuse, we assume you're guilty - even for years old charges - and also, if you're found not guilty, all that means is there wasn't enough evidence and you probably did it anyway'? Like... no, really, we have to explain the problems this produces?

Darwin said...

I think Crude sums up my thought process pretty well, but since Charming is accusing me of being changeable and of being a pilar of a the rape culture, I'll run through my approach, which has not changed since the prior conversation, start to finish so I can at least be disliked for what I actually think.

1) In general I think the decent and human thing to do is to believe what people tell you about their personal experiences unless or until you have some good reason for believing otherwise. Thus, if a woman says that she was raped, the response should not be, "Wait a minute, were you doing something that suggested you wanted it?" The response should be to believe her.

1.B) That said, while I think every deference should be made to the accuser, it seems obvious that one might withdraw belief if the accusation ceased to be credible. For instance, if A claims that B raped her Friday night, but you know absolutely for a fact that B was out of state at the time and could not possibly have been there, it seems obvious that you'd hold that B was innocent, though you might still believe that something or other had happened to A. Similarly, if the accusation directly contradicts the accusers own earlier statements, one might not believe the accusation. So, for example, A and B hook up at a party. The next day, A posts on Facebook, "OMG, had the most amazing night with B!" A tells all her friends that she and B are now a couple and she's so happy. She then finds out that B has a girlfriend and has no intention of calling her back, and she announces that actually she was raped. In a more civilized society, some friend or relative of A might go meet B with pistols at dawn and kill him, but given A's prior statements the rape charge would seem hard to credit.

2) It strikes me that one of the major problems that society has had in regards to dealing with rape is that it incorrectly places the burden of proof. Say that I'm robbed at gunpoint, and the police are able to prove that X has my stolen wallet and matches the description that I gave. If X were going to try to claim that I came up to him and pressed the wallet on him, he would have to make the claim seem credible. I would not be required to prove that I'm not the sort of person to give a wallet away. It seems to me that an investigation into a rape claim should work similarly. If A accuses B of rape, once it's clear that B did indeed have sex with A, the burden of proving that the sex wasn't forced should fall on B not A. A is, after all, the best authority on whether A's consent was given. Thus, I think that investigation into a rape accusation should be heavily weighted in the victim's favor, with the accused having to prove that he either didn't have sex with the victim or provide some proof that the sex was consensual. This is doubtless going to make things rather hard on the accused. What I faulted Grossman for is that she apparently supported this approach for all this time without that fact (that making things more just for the victim makes them harder one someone accused) ever occurring to her. However, it does strike me as a trade off worth making.

Darwin said...


3) It offends my sense of justice to hold that everyone accused of a crime is guilty even if found innocent. I can certainly see considering some given person guilty despite having been found innocent. For instance, I thought that OJ was guilty despite being found innocent. However, I thought that based on the evidence that I read about, and the fact that the jurors interviewed after the trial seemed not to understand the scientific evidence very well. I don't think it would be okay to say, "I think people accused of murder are guilty, regardless of whether they are found innocent." I think it would be even less okay to say, "Most black men who are accused of murder are guilty, therefore we should assume all are even if they are found innocent." One certainly is not obliged to believe a verdict, but I think out of justice one must disbelieve it based on specifics, not on principle or on demographics.

4) Getting to the article I referenced and the case it mentions: The fact is that we simply don't have any specifics other than that the accusation was from an ex-girlfriend (which given the mainstream culture I'm assuming to mean a couple who voluntarily slept with each other for some period of time, but honestly we don't even know that), that it was of something alleged to have happened several years before, and that the son was found not guilty despite a process the mother thought was stacked against him. Now, I'm seeking to address the mother's contention that the process put the son through the wringer. My contention is that, to the extent it's described, the process sounds basically sound to me, and that if the process seems unfair to her, she needs to think about it in terms of being a balance between the rights of the accused and the rights of rape victims, not simply in terms of "I don't want my son to go through an uncomfortable process." One can, as you did, respond, "Well, he's probably guilty anyway," but it seems to me that that a) is not based on an assessment of the evidence (since we have none) and b) isn't terribly helpful since any justice process needs to be based on how it treats those who are falsely accused, not on a presumption that there are never innocent people who are accused. Add to that the fact that, if we imagine ourselves to be addressing the mother, it's not going to get us far with her to say, "Oh yeah, well your son's probably guilty anyway, so suck it," while it might get us somewhere to say, "Look, this was a distressing experience for your son, but it's worth having this system if you think about how you would feel about it if it was your daughter who was using the same system to try to get justice and you didn't want her to have to be grilled by the man who had raped her." Thus, even while I'm perfectly open to believing that the son mentioned in the article is guilty (and might believe that if I had access to the story told by the ex-girlfriend) I think it's tactically useful to assume that he's innocent (since the only information we have is that he was found innocent) and continue to do so unless we have some set of facts that would cause us to think otherwise.

Now, if this approach makes me an upholder of the rape culture, so be it. I don't believe the things that I do in order to get approval. I believe them because I think they're true and just. But I hope that it is, at least, clear at this point what I think and why I think it.

Charming Disarray said...

So what part of what I said was it that you had a problem with to the point where you felt the need to give me a heavy-handed lecture on prejudice?

That's what I'm disliking you for at the moment. Not for what you think; for what you did, which was to assume that I said a bunch of things I didn't say, and to ignore the things I said which were actually very similar to what you said here and in the past, and to make it clear that you found my views offensive.

I'm genuinely curious, because I, too, would like to have my ideas treated fairly and not with a knee-jerk reaction to something imagined.

If you misunderstood my point, it's pretty easy to say so or to ask for clarification.

Charming Disarray said...

"One can, as you did, respond, "Well, he's probably guilty anyway," "

That was not my response.

My response was that even if he is innocent, I don't care, because if he's made an example of, that might scare away potential rapists from committing rape.

Your determination to read something into my comments that's not there is kind of astounding, really.

Charming Disarray said...

By the way, its a pretty mainstream assumption of advocates against rape culture that these kinds of crimes are committed by men that the victims were dating. Hinting around that it makes it MORE likely that the girl is lying because they were dating puts you pretty squarely in the category of people who think rape culture is a great big joke of a grievance made up by feminists.

I'm not saying you're wrong to assume that. Just that if want to comment on how absurd it is for me to suggest that you've expressed views in line with rape culture, you might want to find out a bit more about what people are actually saying, right or wrong, about what rape culture is.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Do you know what always comes to mind in combox discussions like this? The ancient time when I was a believer in the occult and studying astrology. I don't buy into it now, of course, but whenever communication becomes really difficult between two people who both think that they're being very clear, the first metaphor that jumps to my mind is: "Mercury (the planet of communication) is being afflicted!" LOL!

It may be that I will only make this worse by wading in, but I've been watching this unfold (from the sidelines, with popcorn) since it broke out, and I think I can help a little.

So we see why Charming is feeling upset, right? All she wanted to say is that it's a good thing when some innocent men are put through the wringer, because it serves as a warning to "potential rapists." Plus, she thinks it's reasonable to believe this guy is actually guilty because so many other guys in similar cases have been guilty. And she doesn't think that this is prejudiced because, as she has clarified, she doesn't believe all guys are "potential rapists." But this only begs the question of whom she is talking about.

I use quotation marks around "potential rapists" because I find the concept as problematic as I think Darwin does. How can we judge someone by what he hasn't done yet? By the fact that he is male/black/Jewish/etc.? That's not fair to all the males/blacks/Jews who would never do the things we're talking about--and I agree that such a judgment is prejudiced.

And we could leave it there, except that the plot of this Minority Report spin-off is thickening! For if the media does have the effect which Charming has been hoping for, it means that even those individuals who might really want to commit crimes will never do them, either! Which means that at the end of the day, everyone is innocent! So how can we speak of anyone as a "potential" criminal? (Simple answer: we can't.)

Now, I've been reading the Darwins blog for years, so it may be that I just "get" them even when they're being unclear (though I doubt it); but I've also been able to come up with a line of reasoning which led me to the same conclusion as Darwin's.

Do I think that a random comment which betrays prejudice automatically makes Charming Disarray (or anyone) a "hater"? No. And I don't think anyone is trying to make that case. But because I've been in the same position, I think it's plausible for someone who honestly believes A to betray some unconscious sympathy for B, even if A and B are opposed. Take, for example, someone who is trying very hard to be a good Catholic (or so she flatters herself) and yet uses metaphors that hint she may still think astrologers have a good case. =P

Charming Disarray said...

Enbrethilial, I appreciate your chiming in and your ability to see why I'm upset. However, I think there's something else going on here.

All I meant by "potential rapist" was that the kind of guy who would, say, take advantage of a girl when she's drunk, would instead NOT take advantage of her. If you want to call this by a different name, by all means, go ahead. Philosophical abstractions about guilt aside, there are guys--lots of them--on college campuses, who force sex on girls and then refuse to call themselves rapists. This kind of thing goes on all the time. So whatever you want to call those guys, they're who I'm talking about.

There's no prejudice there. We all agree, except for Crude, that this is a problem on college campuses, otherwise we wouldn't be having this discussion.

I suspect that the real problem here is that Darwin is uncomfortable with how I approach Catholics on this topic. I would, for example, hold him accountable for not telling off Crude for the many times he's said things that contribute to an unsafe environment for women. I believe very strongly that Crude's kind of rhetoric makes it very difficult for women to ask for help or protest against harassment This includes online discussions for obvious reasons.

In my opinion, men who refuse to speak up are a part of the problem. This makes many Catholic men defensive because they resent the idea that they have to give up their friends in order to help protect women.

I've written about this on my blog. I can send you the link if you're interested.

Now, I could be wrong, but I suspect that that's the real reason why Darwin felt the need to lecture me and go out of his way to twist what I said into imaginary manhating. The reason why he's claiming now that he hasn't changed his stance (although he has, because what Crude said here is totally different from what Darwin said on the other post and which I quoted. Some of us are pretty adequate readers) is because he's realized that he attacked me over something that he said himself, and has been shifting his opinions ever since to cover it up, because it was never about what I said in the first place. It was defensiveness over my pointing out that some things need to be done by Catholics which they aren't willing to do, and no matter how much lip service they give it, nothing is going to change until something actually changes.

This whole conversation has made me really sad because it's another confirmation that Catholics don't want to actually DO anything about rape culture, even though their own daughters might not be safe at even conservative Catholic colleges. I know a guy--hell, I was FRIENDS with him--who got kicked out of Ave Maria University and taken to court for raping an 18-year-old girl. My friends took his side and said the girl must have done it to protect her reputation. I don't know the girl, never met her, never heard her story, but I suspect that if Darwin's daughter were ever in that situation (God forbid) he would have something different to say about it than "Well, he was acquitted, so we just have to assume he was innocent."

That's the difference between treating these issues like real problems involving real people and treating them like fun but ultimately irrelevant intellectual puzzles.

Charming Disarray said...

I messed up the html and the second half of this sentence go deleted:

I believe very strongly that Crude's kind of rhetoric makes it very difficult for women to ask for help or protest against harassment especially when they see other Catholic men tolerating their presence.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Hello, Charming!

Again, having been reading this blog for some time, I don't think Darwin tried to attack you or to be dishonest. And I really don't think he is creating an environment in which women feel unsafe. You clearly disagree with the last point (Do you feel unsafe here?), but I wonder if you realise how hard it is for you not to come across as a "manhater" when you seem to be saying that a man who would never rape anyone nor defend a rapist is an upholder of "rape culture" merely because he has not told off an anonymous blogger/commenter for previous comments (which I haven't read--so I'm not sure what you're talking about) and because he found one of your comments to be prejudiced against men who may well be innocent.

Here's a non-sexual parallel. Let's say this is were a post about cheating and plagiarism, inspired by an article from a woman whose son was accused of plagiarising his final paper and almost expelled for it. Now, I've dealt with enough young writers to have some bias against students . . . and maybe even their parents. (My favourite anecdote from the time I was teaching is about the mother who came to me insisting that her daughter had not plagiarised an essay because the mother had written it for her. So would I take back the failing grade, please?) And I have good reason to believe that a lot of teenagers today honestly see no difference between copy-pasting a link in a tweet and copy-pasting a paragraph in a homework assignment.

But now all we know about this parallel case is that a review board, using an investigation process heavily stacked against anyone who even flubs a footnote, found the student innocent. Don't you think it would be unfair to the individual in question for me to say, "He may be totally innocent, but given the prevalence of these crimes, I doubt it"? Not everyone accused of a crime is guilty.

As you've pointed out, this has nothing to do with your original point. But after you made that point, you said that you doubted that an individual man was innocent simply because numerous other men with similar profiles have been guilty. That was a prejudiced statement, and even if Darwin fit the profile of "Catholic men who would rather be buddies with rapists than protect women," that doesn't make what you said okay.

Here is my last illustration. A few years ago, a black man showed some romantic interest in me, and one of my oldest friends (who was white) tried desperately to discourage the relationship. Without knowing anything about my suitor except the colour of his skin, he told me about crime and prison demographics, IQ test demographics, and the seedier stories about Martin Luther King, Jr. and Chuck Berry. When I recoiled and protested that he had no idea what this other man was like as an individual, his answer was something like, "He may be totally innocent, but given the prevalence of these crimes, I doubt it." (And thanks to my friend, just sharing this story makes me feel worried that everyone will now think I'm "trash" because I had no misgivings about dating a black man I already knew and respected.)

Charming Disarray said...

This explains my views on how not speaking up against conservative misogynists contridbutes to a hostile envirnonment for women. Please pay special attention to #11. http://charmingdisarray.blogspot.com/2013/01/what-respectable-middle-class-catholics.html?m=1

If you can understand how your friend's comments about race are making you worried that people will think you're trash for considering dating a black man, surely it's not that much of stretch to realize that a woman who was assaulted would be worried that Catholic men will think she's a slut and liar if she speaks up against her attacker after what she read here and after seeing Darwin's tacit approval of it.

That's a normal human reaction.

MrsDarwin said...

Here is Charming's # 11 from the above link:

"11. Have a zero tolerance policy towards conservative misogyny. Rants against "evil feminists" will sound to a young girl like rants against all women. They will sound to a grown woman like they are coming from an environment that is hostile towards women speaking up against mistreatment, and that her dissenting or controversial opinion will not be treated with respect or charity. This is true regardless of your personal views on feminism, or whether you are the one making these statements or just standing by. It's true even if the men saying them are clueless, immature, or secretly mean well. If you, personally, do not speak up and make it clear that rough or aggressive language about women or towards women, regardless of their political affiliations, is always unacceptable in your presence, you are contributing to a hostile environment for women, which no one should have to put with just so you can keep your neocon friends."

We try very hard to to foster a combox attitude of "respect and charity" at DarwinCatholic, and we have succeeded to the point in which even women who feel endangered by the culture at large have no compunction about tossing allegations of "tacit approval" of rape at her host, and to feeling it appropriate to speculate about his possible reaction to his own daughters' rape (but adding "God forbid" makes it okay, I guess).

For those of us who hold rape to be a heinous crime, Charming's willingness to sling accusations of indulging rape culture at those she deems to be not abiding by her mandates of acceptable discussion make it almost impossible for people, and especially men, of good will, who rightly abhor appearing to condone rape, to have a rational conversation with her. But since our words are tainted by our violation of her correct-speech policies, let's use the words of an author she respects: "You can now have nothing farther to say. You have insulted [us] in every way possible."

Charming Disarray said...

I've had a lot of supportive feedback for my views from women who:

A. Have been sexually assaulted
B. Have stated they are uncomfortable speaking up because of the behaviors I described. One even pointed to Crude in particular.

But Mrs. Darwin, you won't hear those women, because they talk to me and not to you. They know you would throw them under the bus. I'm not scared of being kicked out of the Catholic blogosphere clique, so I keep speaking up for those even if, heaven forbid, someone's husband gets offended.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

*facepalm*

It seems that the only stretch was thinking that sharing that story would help you see why your own comments are damaging to civilised discourse. But you flipped the story so that someone else would seem like the party at fault. You're never wrong, are you, Charming? You're always right. Which is why you're obligated to flip out and call someone a "conservative misogynist" who would enable rape, when all he did was tell you that one of your statements betrayed some prejudice. It's as if a man pointed out that you had a long run in your pantyhose and you accused him of wanting to control what women wear. (Now that is a stretch!)

So I have to repeat what I said in my previous comment to you: "That was a prejudiced statement, and even if Darwin fit the profile of 'Catholic men who would rather be buddies with rapists than protect women,' that doesn't make what you said okay."

Mercury is still afflicted. Possibly in a square with both Neptune and Uranus. =P

MrsDarwin said...

Again, when the definition of being a proponent of rape culture is expanded to mean "not being properly deferential to Charming and carrying on discussion on her terms", it becomes a meaningless catch-all insult.

And appeals for "dissenting or controversial opinions" to be treated with "respect and charity" also become meaningless when your standard response to anyone who doesn't agree to the smallest jot and tittle with your program is immediately to make personal accusations and claim unique insights into their motives and private discussions -- tactics that you've rightly deplored when deployed against women who've been victimized.

Charming Disarray said...

Mrs. Darwin, all I'm going to add is that my understanding is that you were homeschooled, went to a small Catholic college where these problems didn't exist, and married right after graduation. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

All of those are perfectly valid choices and certainly have sheltered you from many things, which is a positive. But for those of us who have dealt with rape culture first hand in real life and not just as a discussion on the internet, your dismissive attitude towards the issue as a whole and touching belief that conversations like this will help protect women against rape come across as incredibly naive.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

So Darwin and Crude are conservative misogynists and rapist enablers, while Mrs. Darwin is a sheltered simpleton. May I have an insult, too, please? =) I'm feeling horribly left out.

MrsDarwin said...

And some celibate old man in Rome has no right to try to tell any of us what to do with our bodies.

Again, your willingness to make this discussion about your limited understanding of the personal experiences of those who disagree with you is exactly what you call out in others. There are many people besides you who have a close understanding of the devastating effect of sexual malfeasance on individuals, families and communities who feel no desire to parlay those painful experiences into internet righteousness points.

Charming Disarray said...

And I'm an irrational, manhating racist who is never wrong.

These games are silly and all about ego. The real issue here is how to make society harder on rapists and safer for potential victims. If you really believe that Darwin and Mrs have achieved that end and I have hindered it, then there's nothing left for me to say. I tried.

Charming Disarray said...

Oh good lord, she compared herself to the pope. If he's not wrong, then you must not be either.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Awww, now you've insulted yourself, but not me. =( What a way to leave me out in the cold . . .

Incidentally, Darwin's original post is all about how one college campus--namely that of Grossman's son--is already making things harder for rapists. He has also explicitly said that they are right to have the policies that they do. Far from saying that Grossman had a grievance, he laconically asked what she expected. And yet you say that he is making abused women too scared to come forward because he told you that you made a prejudiced comment. Which you did.

This discussion puts a few things in some perspective for me . . . A blogger predicting one month ago that the Cardinals would elect a Pope who would finally defeat Islam . . . A pro-life activist tweeting that Jesus would ask everyone at the proverbial pearly gates, "What did you ever do for the pro-life cause?" . . . A friend commenting that Americans politicise everything to the point that the infamous "You're either with us or against us" line is the national motto . . .

Charming, believe it or not, just because the Darwins don't appear to be with you when you make prejudiced statements against accused but acquitted men, that doesn't mean that they are against women who have been raped.

Charming Disarray said...

What does being "against women who have been raped" even mean?

In any case, requesting that Catholic men hold the other men in their company to a higher standard in how they speak to and about women, especially when it comes to assault, should not provoke this level of outrage. Not too long ago, it was simply assumed men would do this. Darwin does not want to. Well, he can't be forced. But he is choosing to let men have their way in favor of creating a culture where women can feel confident they won't be harassed. Little things count. Women notice. Most won't say anything, because they fear social retribution, which is all the more reason men should speak up. All of this contributes to a culture that values men's egos and reputation over women's safety.

Everyone's accountable.

And when people start making ridiculous ad hominems, it's probably best to walk away.

Darwin said...

Charming Disarray,

Honestly, I'm having trouble following what your objection is about at this point, other than that you're riled up because I said several of your remarks sounded prejudiced against men. Now, I can see why you'd find that offensive, just as I would get offended if someone accused me of misogyny, but looking back over the comments I don't think I was particularly unfair in taking the comments as sounding prejudiced. I can certainly believe that "manhating" was not your intention, that's simply how the comments sounded to me -- and apparently not uniquely to me since a couple others in the comments seem to have the same impression and since you say "I find myself constantly battling unstated presumptions that I'm a man-hater".

After that, a lot of charges seem to fly around, but I'm not clear which of them are serious and which are simply anger.

Thus, for instance, we have the dark hinting that I'm endangering my daughters by not sharing all of your attitudes:

This whole conversation has made me really sad because it's another confirmation that Catholics don't want to actually DO anything about rape culture, even though their own daughters might not be safe at even conservative Catholic colleges.

This actually kind of reminds me of how the manosphere guys I had the run in with a year back kept warning me that I'd soon see what was coming to me for not embracing their views when I or my son found our lives ruined by some vicious woman, and then wouldn't we be sorry for not being a male rights advocate. (I was just as unimpressed hearing it from them.)

Then we have the suggestion that my wife isn't an independent person capable of thinking for herself, but rather has to step in an cover for me because I'm "offended", and just for kicks the accusation that if a woman MrsDarwin knew was sexually assaulted, MrsDarwin would throw her under the bus:

But Mrs. Darwin, you won't hear those women, because they talk to me and not to you. They know you would throw them under the bus. I'm not scared of being kicked out of the Catholic blogosphere clique, so I keep speaking up for those even if, heaven forbid, someone's husband gets offended.

Darwin said...

Finally, you keep bringing up Crude, which I don't quite understand since he's been fairly well behaved on this thread -- though as usual he and I have some disagreements about where the proper line of justice lies. You say:

I suspect that the real problem here is that Darwin is uncomfortable with how I approach Catholics on this topic. I would, for example, hold him accountable for not telling off Crude for the many times he's said things that contribute to an unsafe environment for women. I believe very strongly that Crude's kind of rhetoric makes it very difficult for women to ask for help or protest against harassment This includes online discussions for obvious reasons.

and

I've had a lot of supportive feedback for my views from women who:

A. Have been sexually assaulted
B. Have stated they are uncomfortable speaking up because of the behaviors I described. One even pointed to Crude in particular.


and the more generally:

surely it's not that much of stretch to realize that a woman who was assaulted would be worried that Catholic men will think she's a slut and liar if she speaks up against her attacker after what she read here and after seeing Darwin's tacit approval of it.

and

In any case, requesting that Catholic men hold the other men in their company to a higher standard in how they speak to and about women, especially when it comes to assault, should not provoke this level of outrage. Not too long ago, it was simply assumed men would do this. Darwin does not want to. Well, he can't be forced. But he is choosing to let men have their way in favor of creating a culture where women can feel confident they won't be harassed.

Now, I have no idea what kind of interactions you and Crude may have elsewhere. I do seem to recall a post here at some point where you two slugged it out in the comments for a while, and I didn't step in because I would have had to disagree with both sides and I simply didn't have the time and figured you were both big kids and could fight your own fight. I also recall a situation in which I thought things were simply getting to angry and I asked you both to shut it down, which you both did. (Which I appreciated.)

There are certainly cases where I think someone is simply being abusive in the comments and in those cases I'll delete them or call them out. There have been a few cases over the years where someone's views have offended me sufficiently that I've decided (rightly or wrongly) to get aggressive in the comment boxes and have pretty much driven them away. But I also tend to allow a fairly wide range of dissent from my views, because it's conducive to wide ranging debate and because, after all, I may be wrong. I'm sorry if you don't like the way that I moderate the blog, but it pretty much is the way it is, and I don't think that it unfairly penalizes or endangers women, so long as they don't have a problem debating without a chaperone. Indeed, though it's hard to tell, my impression from comments is that the readership is probably majority female these days. And the only person I remember specifically banning was a manosphere guy I'd had enough of.

Darwin said...

A final note:

The direction of this post certain goes to show that one never knows where a comment thread will go. My expectation writing the post was that since my line was that the university policy sounded basically good (and the son's distressing experience was a necessary side effect of the need to have a justice process which gave sufficient protection to victims) I would be mostly dealing with comments arguing that I was being unfair to the accused. I never would have expected the discussion to veer off into an extended set of accusations that I'm somehow protecting rapists from their victims.

Such are the vagaries of the internet.

Charming Disarray said...

I'll answer your questions if you explain to me what part of my comments sounded prejudiced to you, when, as I've already pointed out, you said the same thing yourself in the past.

That's the sticking point, in my mind. I'm still totally flummoxed as to where the offense in my comment could possibly have come in and why when I explained my point further, everyone lost their minds.

So maybe we can start with you explaining what got YOU riled up and how you could possibly have read offense into something that we agree on.

Then we can go from there.

Charming Disarray said...

"Then we have the suggestion that my wife isn't an independent person capable of thinking for herself, but rather has to step in an cover for me because I'm "offended""

When and where? What on earth is this a reference to?

I pointed out that Mrs. Darwin's life choices have put her in very little contact with rape culture, and in fact, when the topic came up on my blog, she seemed to have no idea that certain problems even exist, so I don't think I'm jumping to any wild conclusions here. I even went out of my way to say that her choices were valid, just so my observation didn't come across as a criticism, but you both seem hell bent on finding in my comments to nurse a grievance over.

No part of that is me saying she can't think for herself and I didn't even mention her "coming to your defense."

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

It may be "Don't Feed Charming Disarray" time, but I'm strangely full of juice this afternoon. =) I beg the Darwins' tolerance one more time.

Charming said: "explain to me what part of my comments sounded prejudiced to you, when, as I've already pointed out, you said the same thing yourself in the past"

It was this part: The guy in the article may be totally innocent--I doubt it, given the prevalence of these kinds of crimes . . .

To which Darwin replied: "Generally speaking, we define prejudice as assuming that someone is guilty of some crime or defect not based on actual evidence, but based on that person belonging to some group that we associate with undesirable qualities . . ."

And then he did a little writing exercise in which he applied your statements to blacks, Jews, and even women. The point was that your comment read as if you thought he was guilty of rape merely because he was a guy who fit a certain vague profile (college student, someone's ex-boyfriend), and that if anyone thought someone were guilty of another crime on the grounds of, say, race, the prejudice would be more obvious.

But you didn't understand why Darwin was even arguing with you . . .

Charming Disarray again: "Darwin, you basically made the same point in the last discussion on rape prevention on your blog"

And you quoted him as saying, among other things:

1) ". . . B is responsible for proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the sex was voluntary . . ."
2) ". . . if someone told me she'd been raped by a frat guy at a party, I would most certainly believe her . . ."
3) ". . . the right way to deal with rape allegations to be to consider only the combination of allegation and proof that the accused had sex with the victim to be necessary to prove guilt . . ."

Now we see more clearly why you thought he was flip-flopping on you, but let's be extra anal now. The reason #1 doesn't apply here is that it apparently was "[proven] beyond a reasonable doubt that the sex was voluntary." Nor does does #2 apply because this isn't a case of a woman telling Darwin she had been raped but another woman telling Darwin her son had been accused. And as he already explained, in the same way he would believe the first woman (barring additional details), he would believe the second woman (again, barring additional details). This struck Charming Disarray as full of "cow pies" . . .

Charming Disarray: "You can't believe two people who are telling opposing stories. The woman says he raped her. He says he didn't."

Darwin's point is that the woman isn't the one telling the story here, so he's getting it from the mother of the accused man. You seem to be saying (although I could be wrong) that just because the accusation was rape, we must always, always believe the woman, first, last and forever. And you think that Darwin seemed to be saying it, too, because of what he wrote in quotation #3.

And you were right: he was saying it. Which is why he approved of the tribunal taking the steps which they did in the investigation process. But in the end, the same inflexible tribunal cleared the man of the rape charge. Which is why Darwin finds it reasonable to believe that the accused was innocent . . .

To be continued . . .

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Part 2 of 2

Relevant Quote from Darwin: "If he claims innocence and managed to have his innocence upheld under those conditions, it sounds to me like the chances are pretty good that he's telling the truth."

Charming Disarray's Reply: "You previously stated that you would believe the woman in that situation because you don't think she would accuse a man of raping her unless she had a very good reason to do so . . . So my stance, and yours, previously, is that 'men accused of committing rape' are probably guilty, the assumption being that men who aren't guilty of rape are very unlikely to be accused of it."

Again, remember that Darwin APPROVED of the way the allegation was handled. He said it was right for the university to deny legal counsel, to keep the man from confronting his accuser, to make the process as onerous as possible. But after they did all that . . . the man was found innocent of the rape charge.

Barring any new evidence, Darwin (and well, I) find it reasonable to think that the man was innocent. It's only fair, after all. If he had been found guilty, we would accept the ruling there, too, wouldn't we?

Charming Disarray Argued: "Again, you previously stated that you would believe a woman who claimed she had been raped. You did not say you would weigh her story and decide for yourself whether you thought she was telling the truth."

But the point is that the story has already been weighed. Darwin heard about it after the man was found innocent. It's not that he is disbelieving a woman, but that he is believing the campus tribunal.

So it baffles me that Charming Disarray had to add:

Charming Disarray Again: "This attitude is what keeps rape culture alive and well, and it's based on an (often unconscious) desire to protect men (their reputations, their need for peace and quiet, etc.) before protecting women, even though it's women who the more vulnerable party, as evidenced by the obvious fact that women are raped by men and only in very rare and usual circumstances are men raped by women."

After that, it got a bit messy, if you don't mind a bit of an understatement. ;-)

Now that I have answered your question, Charming, please let me know if the following lines sum up what you are trying to say:

***Darwin is a hypocrite because he said he would believe a woman who accused a man of rape but now believes the man--and he has changed his stance because he doesn't want Catholic men to feel uncomfortable, even if it means creating an environment hostile to women. I've encountered a lot of guys like that.***

If this is correct--and if the pains I have taken to reread your comments and to try to understand why you are upset touch your heart at all--then would you kindly answer my last question to you, please . . .

If a woman says she has been raped by a man, but then an official body--whether a campus tribunal or the Supreme Court--finds the man to be innocent beyond all reasonable doubt, should we still think the man is guilty?

Clare said...

1) I don't think we're anywhere near the point where things have swung so far that we need to start worrying about the falsely accused of rape.

2)False accusation are more common than false allegations; i.e., someone getting picked out of a lineup wrongly is more common than made up rapes. I don't see how making it easier on victims will help, since it seems to be more due to a certain incidence of human error rather than deliberately fabricated allegations.

3) Getting accused of any crime-murder, burglary, etc-is awful. It sucks. There is a certain percentage of all these accusations that are false. And there are many ways our justice system is flawed, and *in general* needs reform. Forgive if I find it a bit disturbing, however, if I mainly see concern for the accused in a flawed justice system (an accused who in many ways has more going for him than if he commited almost any other crime), when we're talking about rape.

Darwin said...

I appreciate Enbrethiliel's clarity. In the interests of clarity in an already tangled conversation, let me clarify two things:

1) From the article by the mother (which is all we have to go on) the finding was not that the son was innocent "beyond a reasonable doubt". It was that the accusation was not "more likely than not" to be true. So, I'm not deeply committed to the idea that this guy is innocent -- it's just that since we have absolutely no other information about the situation other than that his mother says he's innocent and that the campus committee did not find him guilty, it seems like a basic sense of justice would demand that one act as if he is innocent unless one has some evidence-based reason for thinking him guilty. They guy is nothing to me, and we are nothing to him, so my thinking here has a lot more to do with how we think about people in relation to stories, not any deeply held conviction as to this individual person.

2) On what set me off on prejudice, I have trouble seeing how this wasn't pretty clear, but I'll walk through it briefly. CD's first comment was:

This may sound totally coldblooded, but my guess is that once a few guys have been made examples of in the media, such as this guy and the Ohio guys, crimes of this nature will go WAY down. Scaring the pants back on a few campus predators for the greater good may be just the way to go.

This struck me as pretty off, in that it classified the author's son with the Stuebenville rapists -- guys who took videos of themselves raping an unconscious girl and then talked about it openly on social media, and thus about whom their was absolutely no question of guilt -- and then implicitly lumped the son in with "campus predators".

This struck me as a prejudicial reading of the article, and also a fairly unhelpful one given that the point I was trying to make (and expecting to get pushback on) was that the process described was a basically good one even assuming the son to be innocent. Thus, I pushed back:

It strikes me that there's virtually nothing in common between this case and the Steubenville one. And explained why I thought so.

CD's response was:

That's what I mean by being made an example of. The guy in the article may be totally innocent--I doubt it, given the prevalence of these kinds of crimes

Saying the second time he was probably guilty, not on evidence but just because he was a guy who was accused (despite being found not guilty) struck me as being worth responding to overtly as prejudice, which I did.

CD then complained that I was saying something different from what I'd said previously -- however, the two situations being addressed really aren't the same. The previous conversation had to do with how to one ought to respond to a woman who says she has been raped. In this case, I wrote about an editorial in which a mother complained about how her son was treated when he was accused (leading up to an acquittal) and my approach is that lacking some reason to disbelieve her account of the situation, we should accept that it's true and deal with it on those terms. This doesn't mean that if I heard the accuser's story I would disbelieve it. But in the absence of hearing it, and hearing only the mother's account as it stands, I don't see that there's a reason to disbelieve it.

Darwin said...

3) Getting accused of any crime-murder, burglary, etc-is awful. It sucks. There is a certain percentage of all these accusations that are false. And there are many ways our justice system is flawed, and *in general* needs reform. Forgive if I find it a bit disturbing, however, if I mainly see concern for the accused in a flawed justice system (an accused who in many ways has more going for him than if he commited almost any other crime), when we're talking about rape.

Bingo.

Crude said...

Well, I see this thread got lit up after I thought it died.

Disarray commented,

I believe very strongly that Crude's kind of rhetoric makes it very difficult for women to ask for help or protest against harassment especially when they see other Catholic men tolerating their presence.

Two problems.

First: My rhetoric here amounts to this: I regard it as absolutely, positively insane to promote a culture where any man accused of rape or sexual harassment is not only automatically presumed guilty, but continues to be presumed guilty even when judged not guilty. I pointed out that a man accused of rape or sexual assault can not reasonably be said to have had 'no permanent damage done' to him, especially when there are people who will automatically presume his guilt simply because he was so accused.

That is what has Disarray up in arms. That is the basis upon which her imagined supporters are saying I must be silenced. Let's make that much clear.

Second: If very strong belief in and of itself mattered, then we'd be at a standstill. I believe very strongly that people with attitudes like Disarray's harm women, harm men, harm children, and harm society. The key difference is that I expect people to accept what I say and react accordingly based on the strength of argument and reasoning I offer. Disarray, apparently, thinks that believing very strongly should not only suffice, but it should end the conversation. She and others feel strongly: conversation open. Everyone else is wrong.

I reject that. I regard it as dangerous lunacy. That the idea of such a society may make some women feel more safe does not justify it, period. Not by a longshot.

Also:

There's no prejudice there. We all agree, except for Crude, that this is a problem on college campuses, otherwise we wouldn't be having this discussion.

This is a lie. I nowhere said that rape and sexual assault is not a problem, and Disarray will not be able to provide a quote of me saying otherwise.

I do believe that rape and sexual assault is a problem, on college campuses and elsewhere. I do not believe that automatic assumption of guilt, even guilt after a not guilty finding, even in the absence of evidence, is remotely a sane response to it.

To compare: I believe muggings are a problem and need to be dealt with. I do not thereby commit myself to mandatory assignment of remotely-operable shock collars that would allow authorities to disable anyone, anywhere at any time. There are, you know, not only other approaches on offer, but there are other factors to consider.

Crude said...

Darwin,

From your OP:

It's often pointed out that it is a very infrequent occurrence for a woman to falsely accuse a specific man of raping her. This stands to reason (successfully making a rape charge is a pretty grueling process and if the charge if false you stand a good chance of losing and ending up in even worse trouble) and those studies that I've seen bear this out.

Can you share some of these studies? The closest to the topic I can find is this one, but perhaps you have more.

Charming Disarray said...

Okay, so this is what I'm hearing. You're deeply offended that I said he was probably guilty even though you said you don't think it's impossible that he's guilty.

So offended, in fact, that you felt the need to compare my stance to people who are racist against black people or Jews, and people who slut-shame rape victims.

And this doesn't seem like a tiny bit of an overreaction? A two-day witch hunt, during which I've been accused of all kinds of bizarre things, including but not limited to hating all men, preventing good men from protecting women from rape, and making radical feminist jabs at Catholic homemakers. And then you asked me why I was "all riled up."

The whole thing, from my standpoint, is bizarre.

"This struck me as pretty off, in that it classified the author's son with the Stuebenville rapists -- guys who took videos of themselves raping an unconscious girl and then talked about it openly on social media, and thus about whom their was absolutely no question of guilt -- and then implicitly lumped the son in with "campus predators"."

I clarified early on that I was only "lumping them together" because both cases had exposure in the media. That's how they were lumped together. I thought the exposure (regardless of the outcome of the trial) would help bring the rate of campus sexual assault down.

I fail to see what's offensive about that, even now.

"This struck me as a prejudicial reading of the article, and also a fairly unhelpful one given that the point I was trying to make"

It's an unfortunate fact of blogging that sometimes people make other points besides the point you were making yourself. (Which, by the way, I agreed with, although I didn't mention that because my time was limited.)

In any case, this is the first time you're responding to my main point rather than attacking me over being slightly less convinced of the defendant's innocence than you are.

This whole experience has left a bad taste in my mouth. It's been made clear to me that my views are so offensive to you and Mrs. Darwin that you can't even bring yourselves to be civil or to give my comments a fair reading. Well, I can take a hint.

Charming Disarray said...

Mrs. Darwin, I can't understand your explosion at me, either. We have never had a confrontation on this topic, or really, any other topic, and yet you make wild accusations about things that I "always" do or that I "deplore" in others, and having a "program" that I'm forcing on other people, and other issues that aren't even relevant to the discussion here. Why, if my writing and opinions are so horrifying to you, didn't you ever speak up, either here or on my blog? And if it wasn't important or interesting enough for you to do that, why are you so upset about it now? Because you give the distinct impression that you've been stewing over some of these things for a while. I could be wrong, of course. Maybe you're just as shocked by your powerful reaction as I am.

In any case, it might be a good idea for you both to at least consider that someone who has spent their twenties married and raising a family in a Catholic bubble might have less insight into the modern SMP (as the manospere, which I am apparently now a member of) likes to call it, than someone who has spent those years either dating or single, and has seen how single people interact with each other first hand. I'm sure you would both be a bit flummoxed if I declared myself a more reliable authority on marriage issues than either of you. The same principle applies here.

It's not a huge blow to your egos to at least consider that I might see the harm towards women like myself or my friends of certain behaviors, even of other practicing Catholics, that you might not see. If I say, "this is a problem" you might want to stop and think about it instead of throwing a massive tantrum over the mere idea that you could be doing something unknowingly harmful. If it really really bothers you that I would even bring the topic up (which, I feel the need to add, I didn't on this thread; it was brought up later) then you might want to ask yourself why.

Darwin said...

Crude,

I had tried to track down as many as I could of the studies listed in this Wikipedia article:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_accusation_of_rape

This piece also pulls together various studies.

http://www.ndaa.org/pdf/the_voice_vol_3_no_1_2009.pdf

Darwin said...

Charming Disarray,

Okay, so this is what I'm hearing. You're deeply offended that I said he was probably guilty even though you said you don't think it's impossible that he's guilty.

Umm, offended? No, not offended. I just thought it was an offensive sentiment, so I pushed back on it by comparing it to other, similar, offensive sentiments, in an effort to encourage you to step away from it.

I'm sorry if you felt that what followed was a "witch hunt" in which you were "accused of all kinds of bizarre things".

Either way, I have confidence that disinterested readers can sort out what was said and form sound judgments.

Crude said...

Darwin,

Thanks for the pdf link. I'm giving it a read now. I already hit the wikipedia entry, but that was all over the place.

Crude said...

Darwin,

This piece also pulls together various studies.

http://www.ndaa.org/pdf/the_voice_vol_3_no_1_2009.pdf


I'm not going to talk much about this pdf in this thread - it's a whole other topic, and really, you've got your hands full already. But if you're willing, I'd like you to tell me if you read this pdf yourself, and if so, what your overall estimation of the arguments and reasoning presented in it were.

If you'd rather save that for another time, no problem. But I had to ask.

Charming Disarray said...

"I'm sorry if you felt that what followed was a "witch hunt" in which you were "accused of all kinds of bizarre things"."

"I'm sorry you felt that way."

You should do stand-up.

Darwin said...

Crude,

It's true, I'm getting pretty tired of this thread, but since I'm not eager to bring the topic up again for a bit anyway:

When I posted the link I'd honestly only read the first couple pages in which it weighted the different studies. I found that pretty sound and believable.

I've now gone back and read the whole thing. I think the approach is pretty reasonable and sound. It's also muddy as hell, but I think that's probably a pretty accurate assessment of how muddy these things tend to be. (Particularly since this is dealing with the full swath of what police departments deal with, not just the middle class parts which tend to end up in wider discussion.)

So for instance, the discussion of the problems presented even by real victims in regards to sorting out what really happened correlate pretty well with some of the situations I know about from the priest abuse scandal.

Charming Disarray said...

"Either way, I have confidence that disinterested readers can sort out what was said and form sound judgments."

You're awfully worried about the onlookers when you think you've been misrepresented about something, but not at all concerned that actual victims of assault might be reading the conversation and thinking, "Wow, Catholic men are really jerks about these topics. No wonder none of them helped me when I needed help."

As for me, if some girl reads my writing and thinks, "Finally, someone is speaking up against these loudmouths who think that rape culture is a fun intellectual problem that they can fix by talking about it and not doing anything to change the environment they're helping to create," then that's enough for me.

And if you think no one is having those thoughts, you're deluding yourself.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Charming, you should check your Gmail inbox. It will either make you hate me more or make you love me more. =)

Crude said...

Disarray,

Putting aside for the moment your highly suspect claims that all right-thinking people think you're the hero here and Darwin (not to mention myself) are villains, let me ask you something.

Do you even think trials are necessary?

Or, if a man is accused of rape or sexual assault, do you think it would be reasonable to skip over the entire evidence-gathering, accusation-evaluating and guilt-discerning portions and get right to the sentencing?

That would certainly scare the living hell out of any potential rapist out there. Granted, quite a lot of men too. But hey, you'd get results. And the alternative is to suggest that an accuser's claims cannot be taken at face value - that she must be second guessed, her statements examined, before action is taken.

After all, you already said that you think the mere act of accusing a man of rape or sexual assault should come with the presumption of guilt. Apparently, you think this even if he's found innocent after an investigation - if he wasn't guilty, he wouldn't have been accused, after all.

So, just accusing a man should suffice for determining whether or not he should be punished for the crime. Right?

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

And I just realised that I answered your question to Darwin instead of your question to me, so I should probably rectify that. =)

You asked me: "What does being 'against women who have been raped' even mean?"

I was referring to your statements that Darwin's comments would make female victims of sexual assault feel that they cannot come forward because Catholic men like him will not believe them. (Do I have the correct impression of what you are saying?) You also added that Mrs. Darwin would probably throw a victim of rape under the bus. They therefore seem to be "against women who have been raped"--or to make the wording clearer, the enemies of women who have been raped. If only because they have "an attitude that keeps rape culture alive and well."

Anyway, what I was trying to say was that just because Darwin found your first two comments to be prejudicial, that doesn't mean he wouldn't be sympathetic to a victim of sexual assault.

You disagree, of course, because you think that other comments he has made in this combox would give a rape victim the impression that he would not believe her story. You focussed on this line from one of Darwin's replies to you . . .

"we don't have the woman's story, so I have no way of knowing if it's believable or not."

. . . and you said that it seemed to contradict something he had said earlier. It certainly made him have to explain himself further, so maybe you have something there!

But is it also really enough to make you say that it "keeps rape culture alive and well"?

I really think that's a far-fetched reading, but since you have had several victims approach you and probably tell you that they wouldn't approach men like Darwin (and women like Mrs. Darwin?), wheareas I've only had one, you're probably a better authority on that than I am.

I'm also sympathetic to the idea that all allegations are to be believed unconditionally, as soon as they are made, but the very act of following through on them means that evidence will be weighed and that some stories (statistically speaking) will be proven to be unbelievable.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

And just so no one thinks I'm a big monster who scares away victims of sexual assault, let me add . . .

If someone told me he or she had been a victim of a crime, I would believe him or her right off the bat.

When I was in a very sexually decadent university, there were two girls who approached me with stories of sexual assault, and I believed both of them immediately. I even did my part to make life harder for the guys they had accused. Only one of the girls, however, turned out to be telling the truth.

(Tangentially, it occurs to me that if Charming and I had been classmates and she had said of the innocent guy, "I'm glad he was made an example of," I would've agreed. But not because I think rapists need a warning but because I think "ugly Americans" need a warning. And that's my dark confession for the day. =P)

Now, perhaps Charming has a better record of attracting honest people than I do. In which case, she's lucky. But it is my own experience (which is as valid as hers) which makes me think that while all allegations should be taken seriously from the get-go, they will inevitably have to be weighed as well. And I'm afraid that not all stories will stand up.

Crude said...

(Tangentially, it occurs to me that if Charming and I had been classmates and she had said of the innocent guy, "I'm glad he was made an example of," I would've agreed. But not because I think rapists need a warning but because I think "ugly Americans" need a warning. And that's my dark confession for the day. =P)

Could you explain this for me, Enbrethiliel?

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Crude: He was a highly irritating individual who kept saying that America was this, America was that, and America was always better. (He once got into a public argument with someone about the correct way to pronounce "herb." American English drops the "H" sound, but British English doesn't, and apparently American English was superior. *rolls eyes*)

Anyway, he was really surprised when the girl's allegation became public and a lot of people whom he thought would be his allies didn't care enough about him to defend him. They didn't condemn him or assume he was guilty; they just didn't care. This guy just thought he'd have more friends sticking up for him, and it shocked him a little when he didn't. Especially when he was innocent. (Ironically, it is the rape victims who are disbelieved who may sympathise with him the most!)

So his case could be a warning to other "ugly Americans" that if they annoy enough people, no one will care about them when they need friends. Even if they are innocent.

But this is where I see another hole in this made-an-example-of benefit. It belatedly occurs to me that most "annoying foreigners" (to take a general, all-inclusive group) may not know they are being annoying. I think I was part of that group myself at one point, although of course I didn't mean to be! So I'd say it's plausible that a lot of "potentially guilty" people see news coverage of criminal prosecution and really don't think, "It could happen to me."

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

For some strange reason, it is when I am away from the computer (or in the shower, same thing?--LOL!) that Charming's position becomes startlingly clear to me. So in the same way I try to write my dreams down as soon as I wake up, I am getting this comment on the record with my hands still wet. =P

Charming was told she was "prejudiced" for saying she thinks that guys accused of rape should be grilled like this and even made examples of. She was initially confused by that censure because in a previous conversation with Darwin, he had said that rape allegations should be taken on face value--and that he personally would believe a victim who told him her story. And if you think about it, these are related things: if we believe a rape allegation, then we will not hold back when it comes to investigating alleged rapists. QED.

What was challenged was Charming's apparent condemnation of "other guys" who hadn't even done anything yet. But in fairness to her, she doesn't want them preemptively locked up or anything. She just wants them scared when they hear these reports in the media. This may also be prejudiced, but we all have to admit that "these guys" do exist.

Basically, if you were Charming, what you'd be getting out of this conversation is: "Let's go easy on alleged rapists because we don't want to be prejudiced." It's a repulsive thought, so it's no wonder that she not only recoiled but brought out the big guns.

For if this were indeed what Darwin were saying, then Charming is correct that a rape victim would never turn to him for help and rapists in his vicinity would have it easier.

But it's actually not what Darwin is saying. He may have merely wanted to point out that her first two comments were worded in such a way to make communication inefficient.

Crude said...

Enbrethiliel,

Thanks for the explanation.

Charming was told she was "prejudiced" for saying she thinks that guys accused of rape should be grilled like this and even made examples of.

That doesn't seem accurate. Here's what Darwin quoted, and where he started citing prejudice, from Disarray:

The guy in the article may be totally innocent--I doubt it, given the prevalence of these kinds of crimes--but he hasn't had an permanent damage done to him, and maybe it will make other guys think twice, especially since they're cowards, anyway.

That's more than Disarray saying she thinks guys accused of rape should be grilled. In fact, as near as I can tell, Darwin seems to agree that this guy should have been grilled and made an example of.

The prejudice comment came in with the comment that, even if this guy was found not guilty, well, he's probably guilty anyway.

Do you believe that men accused of rape, even when there's insufficient evidence to convict them of the charge, even when they are investigated and found not guilty, should be assumed to be guilty anyway?

Crude said...

Basically, if you were Charming, what you'd be getting out of this conversation is: "Let's go easy on alleged rapists because we don't want to be prejudiced." It's a repulsive thought, so it's no wonder that she not only recoiled but brought out the big guns.

How? Where in here did Darwin say 'let's go easy on alleged rapists'? How can you say that Disarray was 'confused' about a statement that I myself was able to understand with clarity, and gave an explanation that Darwin himself said was accurate way, way back in this entire exchange?

What really seems to be the claim here is that if a woman says she was raped or sexually assaulted, even if it's disputed, even if there's no clear evidence - hell, even if it's been investigated and the guy was found not guilty, or the evidence was found insufficient to find him guilty - that in all of these cases, the woman should still be assumed to be telling the truth. I'm going to repeat this because it's important: Disarray even stated that the guy who was investigated, grilled, but ultimately found not guilty was probably guilty of some kind of crime anyway. And in the same comment she said that the guy who she thinks should not forever be considered as guilty of sexual assault has not suffered any permanent harm.

Those claims are pretty damn hard to regard as reasonable. They do not become reasonable just because someone feels very strongly about it. There is no shortage of people who would feel vastly safer if muslims were barred from living in the US. I bet you some people in Boston would sleep easier with a rule like that. Their resulting calm - even if passionately stated - does not make that rule reasonable. It's still unjustifiable.

Crude said...

And in the same comment she said that the guy who she thinks should not forever be considered as guilty of sexual assault has not suffered any permanent harm.

Not = now, in that one. Oops.

Darwin said...

Crude,

Do you even think trials are necessary?

Or, if a man is accused of rape or sexual assault, do you think it would be reasonable to skip over the entire evidence-gathering, accusation-evaluating and guilt-discerning portions and get right to the sentencing?


I don't think that Charming Disarray is suggesting this. Actually, what made the whole blow up so odd is that I'm not clear that she has any substantive disagreements with me on how accusations should be handled, but rather it appears to be about matters of style and expression.

My approach is that precisely because what seems to me a necessary approach to dealing with accusations would make things pretty rough on someone who was accused falsely, that we should treat someone who was cleared as having been cleared, unless we have some good reason for doing otherwise. If anything, it seems to me that this helps matters for real victims. After all, what's the response a lot of people will have if they think that a false accusation is an unremovable taint? To put up barriers to investigating allegations in the first place. And that's clearly not what we want.

I don't think Charming is saying that everyone accused is guilty or that there's no need for a justice process to determine guilt, but it seems like she feels that if women hear suggestions that an allegation was not believable, they will feel like they would not be believed even if making a true allegation. Plus, she seems to be emphasizing that it's fine if the justice process is intimidating because perhaps that will intimidate people into not committing the crime.

I disagree with that rhetorical approach, but I'm not clear that there's a difference on procedure.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Crude: I know exactly what you're saying here--and from my previous comments, I think you know that I know what you're saying. (That question you ask me at the end is near identical to a question I asked Charming earlier. And because I know you will insist, I will add that my answer is no.)

But it seems that nobody quite understands what Charming is saying. That is, we know how her words are coming across, but not what she actually means. I'm still waiting for her to confirm or deny my latest impressions, but my shot in the dark is that she didn't mean that all accused men should be treated as if they are guilty even after they are cleared, just that she doesn't care if they are, as long as it makes the rape rate go down. (Cold blooded of her? Well, she admitted as much.)

What makes her seem like she thinks all accused men are guilty even when they are cleared is that she said she doubts the innocence of Grossman's son. She said so in a way that makes it seem like she would doubt the innocence of all men in a similar position. But that's what's not clear. Maybe she will always suspect a guy who was accused of rape, even if he was totally innocent. Maybe she won't. But that is personally no longer my concern.

Frankly, I waded into this discussion because I thought Charming was mischaracterising Darwin. Now that it is clear to me exactly why she thought he was contradicting himself, I'm kind of happy. As far as I'm concerned, the puzzle is solved. =)

Crude said...

Darwin,

I don't think that Charming Disarray is suggesting this. Actually, what made the whole blow up so odd is that I'm not clear that she has any substantive disagreements with me on how accusations should be handled, but rather it appears to be about matters of style and expression.

The reason for her blowup seems pretty clear to me: she thinks that Grossman is probably guilty of sexual assault, precisely because he was accused of it - and that when men are accused of sexual assault, people should as a matter of principle regard them as guilty, even if they are cleared of the charge, even if there's insufficient evidence to regard them as guilty. Do you really think it's right to say that this kind of attitude - not only a personal attitude, but one that provokes anger when it is not shared - is reasonably called a difference of style and expression?

I don't think Charming is saying that everyone accused is guilty or that there's no need for a justice process to determine guilt, but it seems like she feels that if women hear suggestions that an allegation was not believable, they will feel like they would not be believed even if making a true allegation.

I didn't say she thought that - but at this point, the answer isn't clear to me. Her comments about Grossman were expressly such that she thinks, even if he's cleared, he's probably guilty of sexual assault anyway. Her reaction to you was tripped off by your refusal to regard someone like Grossman as likely guilty, even after the fact. It's very easy to see how the logic works here: if a not guilty verdict or being cleared of charges means we should no longer regard a man as guilty, then we cannot at the same time believe his accuser when she says he's guilty. And a failure to believe the accuser, even after a not guilty verdict or a charge clearing, will conceivably loom as a reason for victims to be discouraged in pressing charges.

That's why I asked if a trial is necessary. A trial will involve investigating the claims of a rape/SA accuser. She will not be taken at her word - she will be double checked, she will be queried about strange sounding parts of her story, as a matter of course. In principle, it's possible for her accusation to be regarded as erroneous, a lie or inaccurate - and it's also possible for the accused to be found innocent, to be cleared of charges, etc.

But this means that a trial itself by necessity contains aspects which will make an accuser uncomfortable. The prospect of a trial itself can discourage an accuser from coming forward. If Disarray endorses trials, she's accepting that these things are reasonable tradeoffs for justice. If she does not endorse these things, well... we're in an even more interesting situation than we were previously.

Crude said...

Enbrethiliel,

But it seems that nobody quite understands what Charming is saying. That is, we know how her words are coming across, but not what she actually means.

Why? She's been pretty clear. Darwin zeroed in on the exact words she said that he found problematic. She did not back off and say that well, no, once a man is investigated and cleared, that's that - it's acceptable to regard him as innocent, or at least not automatically guilty. Apparently the only way it may be acceptable to regard him as innocent is if utter and total proof of innocence is found. And hell, maybe not even then. Maybe he should take one for the team, because the alternative is publicizing a false rape accusation, which can serve to discourage people from pressing charges.

Let me put my cards on the table. I am getting the impression here that you know read and know what Disarray said, and you understand it. But, you regard it as very distasteful, and you don't want to regard something she said as distasteful - so here we are. Trying to find some way, any way, to take those words so they're a bit more acceptable.

Maybe she will always suspect a guy who was accused of rape, even if he was totally innocent. Maybe she won't. But that is personally no longer my concern.

No, I doubt she would, and if you go back and read what she said you'll see why. The problem here is not that Disarray will 'suspect a guy even if he was totally innocent'. The problem is that conclusive proof of innocence is hardly ever in the cards. Here's the trick: even being found not guilty is not a demonstration of total innocence. It's at best a demonstration that there was insufficient evidence to regard him as guilty.

In the case described, in Darwin's words, From the article by the mother (which is all we have to go on) the finding was not that the son was innocent "beyond a reasonable doubt". It was that the accusation was not "more likely than not" to be true. So, I'm not deeply committed to the idea that this guy is innocent -- it's just that since we have absolutely no other information about the situation other than that his mother says he's innocent and that the campus committee did not find him guilty, it seems like a basic sense of justice would demand that one act as if he is innocent unless one has some evidence-based reason for thinking him guilty.

This is what Disarray has regarded as problematic, putting it lightly. Wording this as 'Will Disarray treat someone who she utterly knows is innocent, as guilty?' asks a different question. The real question is 'Does Disarray think that - as a matter of course, as a standard - someone investigated and cleared of rape/SA charges or found not guilty, should nevertheless be regarded as guilty or likely guilty by others?'

I'm still waiting for her to confirm or deny my latest impressions, but my shot in the dark is that she didn't mean that all accused men should be treated as if they are guilty even after they are cleared, just that she doesn't care if they are, as long as it makes the rape rate go down. (Cold blooded of her? Well, she admitted as much.)

I disagree with your interpretation, and I think her words are clear - but I suppose we'll just have to wait and see if she answers. You seem to be saying that, while Disarray thinks that regarding all accused men (leaving out the most extraordinary circumstances - 'She accused him of rape 20 years ago. It turns out he's 18 years old.') as guilty would likely lead to less rape/SA, she's actually ambivalent about it and doesn't necessarily endorse it. I think the blood is colder than that, clearly.

Darwin said...

Crude,

The reason for her blowup seems pretty clear to me: she thinks that Grossman is probably guilty of sexual assault, precisely because he was accused of it - and that when men are accused of sexual assault, people should as a matter of principle regard them as guilty, even if they are cleared of the charge, even if there's insufficient evidence to regard them as guilty.

Well, I the inciting incident for things getting emotional was pretty clearly my criticism (which I stand by) that the basic approach she was taking sounded prejudiced.

Added to this was her perception (misplaced) that I had changed my views on the topic. (As it stands, I think she probably originally took my views to be different than they actually are.)

That's why I asked if a trial is necessary. A trial will involve investigating the claims of a rape/SA accuser. She will not be taken at her word - she will be double checked, she will be queried about strange sounding parts of her story, as a matter of course. In principle, it's possible for her accusation to be regarded as erroneous, a lie or inaccurate - and it's also possible for the accused to be found innocent, to be cleared of charges, etc.

Usually, when we think we have found a way to make someone endorse some really horrendous thing as an implication of their beliefs, it turns out we've made a wrong extrapolation -- even if we think our extrapolation is logically rigorous.

I very strongly do not think that CD thinks that trials are unnecessary.

I'm a little more hesitant to take a shot at what she actually does think, since as the conversation shows we did not appear to be communicating very well, but it looks to me like she thinks that any opinions that one personally forms should be formed on the basis of how it would make the victim feel. When she first pushed back at me she said:

Cow pies. You can't believe two people who are telling opposing stories. The woman says he raped her. He says he didn't.

Later she said:

Again, you previously stated that you would believe a woman who claimed she had been raped. You did not say you would weigh her story and decide for yourself whether you thought she was telling the truth. "I'll decide for myself" is the opposite of "I'll believe her because I would give her the benefit of the doubt in the situation."

[to be continued...]

Darwin said...

And in her closing comment to me she said:

You're ... not at all concerned that actual victims of assault might be reading the conversation and thinking, "Wow, Catholic men are really jerks about these topics. No wonder none of them helped me when I needed help."

As for me, if some girl reads my writing and thinks, "Finally, someone is speaking up against these loudmouths who think that rape culture is a fun intellectual problem that they can fix by talking about it and not doing anything to change the environment they're helping to create," then that's enough for me.


That sounds to me as if she thinks any discussion of the topic should be held along the lines of "Imagine that Ms. Grossman's son's ex-girlfriend was in fact telling the truth, and that she's reading this comment thread: How would she feel?" or more generally "Reading your reaction to a story in the news, how will women who have been victims of rape think you would react to them?"

I would instead apply the approach of believing people who tell us about their misfortunes more generally. Thus, if a woman tells me she was raped, I would believe her until I had some really strong reason not to. But if a man told me he was falsely accused of some crime, while I might be listening carefully to determine whether I found his explanation credible (for instance "she seemed to enjoy it then, but the next day she insisted she hadn't wanted it" would set off all sorts of alarm bells for me) in general I would believe him until I had some reason to think he was lying.

Fortunately, we're in general not forced to be in the position of actually judging these matters.

Finally, I know you addressed this to Enbrethiliel, but:

Let me put my cards on the table. I am getting the impression here that you know read and know what Disarray said, and you understand it. But, you regard it as very distasteful, and you don't want to regard something she said as distasteful - so here we are. Trying to find some way, any way, to take those words so they're a bit more acceptable.

I didn't like it when CD kept speculating as to what my unstated motives were, and I'm going to ask that you don't do that to Enbrethiliel. Let's keep debate about issues not about people.

Crude said...

Darwin,

Taking some things out of order here.

I didn't like it when CD kept speculating as to what my unstated motives were, and I'm going to ask that you don't do that to Enbrethiliel. Let's keep debate about issues not about people.

My speculation was offered directly to Enbrethiliel, and it wasn't an act of shot in the dark mind reading, or worse, some kind of attack. I was saying flatly what my impression was so they could understand what I truly thought, and respond with that in mind. If you find that out of line, hey - your blog, your rules, question withdrawn. But I think there is a tremendous gulf between me stating my frank impression of Enbrethiliel's motivation and specifically noting that it was my impression, and someone telling you what your motives and thoughts, as a matter of fact, was.

Usually, when we think we have found a way to make someone endorse some really horrendous thing as an implication of their beliefs, it turns out we've made a wrong extrapolation -- even if we think our extrapolation is logically rigorous.

I very strongly do not think that CD thinks that trials are unnecessary.


...But hold on. I did not say 'Disarray doesn't think trials are necessary'. I asked her if they are necessary. I pointed out the chain of reasoning involved with both regarding trials as necessary and not necessary. I pointed out the effect and very process of a trial.

I think my question is entirely fair. I'd like to hear her answer.

What's more, I regard the attitude of 'if a man is accused of rape/sexual assault, even if he is found not guilty or cleared of the charges, the default attitude towards him should presume guilt' as horrendous. I question your view that people who seem to believe horrendous things usually do not. Partial birth abortion is horrendous. While it's less popular than other abortion views, there's not a supreme lack of defenders for such.

Fortunately, we're in general not forced to be in the position of actually judging these matters.

Insofar as there are people who are pushing for a zero tolerance policy with regards to individuals who refuse to presume guilt in the case of rape or sexual assault accusations, even in the case of a not guilty verdict or a charge clearing, we more and more are forced into that position. Hence my very presence here being judged as a terrible thing which should not be tolerated, and which is a black mark on your record.

Charming Disarray said...

"I'm still waiting for her to confirm or deny my latest impressions, but my shot in the dark is that she didn't mean that all accused men should be treated as if they are guilty even after they are cleared, just that she doesn't care if they are, as long as it makes the rape rate go down. (Cold blooded of her? Well, she admitted as much.)"

This is correct.

"11. Have a zero tolerance policy towards conservative misogyny. Rants against "evil feminists" will sound to a young girl like rants against all women. They will sound to a grown woman like they are coming from an environment that is hostile towards women speaking up against mistreatment, and that her dissenting or controversial opinion will not be treated with respect or charity. This is true regardless of your personal views on feminism, or whether you are the one making these statements or just standing by. It's true even if the men saying them are clueless, immature, or secretly mean well. If you, personally, do not speak up and make it clear that rough or aggressive language about women or towards women, regardless of their political affiliations, is always unacceptable in your presence, you are contributing to a hostile environment for women, which no one should have to put with just so you can keep your neocon friends."

This is why I think conversations on sensitive topics should be treated in a sensitive way, and, in the broader picture, why aggressive masculists like Crude (he's one example. I've encountered many among Catholics and non-Catholics)should have it made clear to them that these are sensitive topics and they, too, should treat them in a sensitive way.

If you insist, in a public forum (as opposed to somewhere private like your own dinner table)on discussing crimes or issues concerning very vulnerable people, including victims of sexual assault or even sexual harassment or abuse, then have the decency not to act like it's no different from discussing the economy or the weather.

Arguments and observations like Crude's may seem like no big deal to you, but to someone who has been through something traumatic, it can feel like one more blow and one more reason to think that no one cares about what happened to them.

Surely it's not that hard for Catholics to muster up a bit of empathy.

Let me give a somewhat extreme example. My cousin was shot when he was 20. This past Christmas, my uncle was over for dinner, and my dad and brother started having a lighthearted conversation about guns and shooting. I called them out on it later, because although my uncle didn't say anything, I knew he was upset. Does this mean discussing guns is always horrifying and insensitive? No, but be aware of what it going on around you. Be aware of what someone else might think or feel by certain remarks.

You don't have to talk about rape, but if you do, talk about it in a way that's sensitive to the fact that these things happen to real people who may be reading. Crude's style of rhetoric is incredibly insensitive.

Where I'm seeing the hypocrisy here is that you're very quick to jump to accuse me of being unjust towards men, and are so very sensitive towards their reputations, but refuse to give a thought to anyone else who may be affected.

None of that was my original intent in commenting here, as there wasn't anything insensitive in the original post (nor did it occur to me to even think about it) but evidently that's where we've ended up.

Crude said...

Disarray,

Arguments and observations like Crude's may seem like no big deal to you, but to someone who has been through something traumatic, it can feel like one more blow and one more reason to think that no one cares about what happened to them.

Surely it's not that hard for Catholics to muster up a bit of empathy.


I have plenty of empathy. But I refuse to accept reasoning that cashes out to 'Men who are accused of rape or sexual assault should be regarded as guilty, even if the evidence is not there, even if they are investigated and cleared or found not guilty.' The fact that the presumption of guilt may make some victims feel better does not justify it.

Let me repeat that to make it clear: the fact that act X would make victims feel better, more safe, or more happy, does not and cannot in and of itself justify act X. Act X has to be judged on additional criteria, and it may well be a bridge too far.

Defining the standard for empathy as 'voice no opinion I object to, reject no policy or attitude that I feel strongly about' is ridiculous.

You don't have to talk about rape, but if you do, talk about it in a way that's sensitive to the fact that these things happen to real people who may be reading. Crude's style of rhetoric is incredibly insensitive.

My 'style of rhetoric' in this conversation has been to make some pretty bland observations, and argue against what I think is an obviously bad standard.

Let me ask: is a man who is accused of rape or sexual assault, wrongly, deserving of any empathy? Do you really think your previous claim that he has 'suffered no permanent damage' - while at the same time endorsing a presumption of his guilty, even if he was cleared of the charges, even if he was found not guilty - is empathic?

I'll ask again: a trial, in and of itself, is going to involve a woman accusing someone of rape/SA tough questions. If there are inconsistencies, they will be pointed out. The prospect of her claim being judged not to be credible, or even that she is lying about the claim, is a live option by necessity.

Do you therefore think that trials should be skipped, and we just proceed right to the sentencing in such cases? I guarantee you, this will scare the living hell out of rapists. Actually, a lot more than rapists, but they'll be almost completely enclosed in that particular Venn diagram.

Charming Disarray said...

"I'm still waiting for her to confirm or deny my latest impressions, but my shot in the dark is that she didn't mean that all accused men should be treated as if they are guilty even after they are cleared, just that she doesn't care if they are, as long as it makes the rape rate go down. (Cold blooded of her? Well, she admitted as much.)"

I read this again more carefully.

It hardly seems to matter at this point, but the part I don't care about is that he had go through an unpleasant ordeal, not that I don't care if people think he's guilty. I didn't make any comment on how other people should or are treating him after being acquitted. It simply didn't cross my mind.

My personal, internal reaction is "Where there's smoke, there's fire." I didn't say anyone else should feel that way or comment on other peoples' reactions at all. That's just my gut instinct most of the time, although probably if it was a guy I knew to be a decent and kind person person, I would react otherwise.

At the risk of making the conversation ever more complicated, I'm going to make one more comment on the guy I knew who was taken to court over this same kind of situation. I initially believed him for no other reason than because he was my friend. This was in spite of the fact that he was, in many other ways, a manipulative, selfish, volatile person, and I was too naive to see that until I got a bit older. Now that I see his character more clearly, not only am I no longer friends with him, but I also have no problem believing him guilty, particular because of some of the details about the situation that he told me himself.

Now, I'm not a court of law or even on a jury, but I do judge man based on his own behavior. I knew that that guy was a creep towards women in general. You can't go to jail just for being a creep, but you can get a very reputation for being untrustworthy and a predator. This is just how people are, particularly when it comes to issues of safety.

So while I agree with Darwin's point that not sleeping around is a good way to avoid this situaton entirely, I would go a bit farther and say that a man who is good, decent and respectful towards women is VERY unlikely to either get accuse of rape, or even if he is, that people will continue thinking he's guilty even after he's acquitted. The hand-wringing over the possibility of this happening strikes me as about necessary as worrying about getting struck by lightning.

Charming Disarray said...

Crude, I'm going to throw you a little bone.

If you makes you feel any better, I think it's one of the sadder effects of the morally degraded society we live in that people are sometimes weird about single men being around kids, often for no other reason than because they're there. That seems incredibly sad and unfair to me, and is not something that I, as a woman, would ever have to deal with. I once asked a guy I knew if he was going to pass out candy on Halloween, and he said "No, people don't want some single guy who lives alone giving candy to their kids." He didn't seem that concerned about it, but I felt bad for him.

So I am perfectly capable of seeing men as the victims of a culture of suspicion. I just don't think it applies to campus sexual assault, where women are much more often the victims and then are victimized a second time by being treated like liars and worse.

Crude said...

Disarray,

If you makes you feel any better

Not necessary. See, my feelings aren't driving my arguments here. I am vastly more concerned with policies and cultural approaches that do the right and reasonable thing and get the best results. You don't have to worry about my feelings when you simply disagree with me - I think there comes a point where concern about emotional responses is off in the land of irrational behavior.

So I am perfectly capable of seeing men as the victims of a culture of suspicion. I just don't think it applies to campus sexual assault, where women are much more often the victims and then are victimized a second time by being treated like liars and worse.

And I'm entirely capable of realizing that campus culture, and modern culture generally, rather sucks. You don't have to convince me of this because I agree with it. I have no doubt that on a campus in particular there are unique problems that have to be dealt with.

My problems come in when you state that good, decent, respectful men are very unlikely to be accused of rape or sexual assault. Where does this claim come from? Is it just gut instinct? Doesn't this run contrary to many allegations of rape and sexual assault? You yourself just talked about how you believed some guy you used to know, but your perception of him was flawed.

I'd end up asking just what marks a man as good, decent and respectful. I wonder if the 'guys people get a bad feeling about' are Larry Flynt creeps, or socially awkward/guys with social anxiety. I question the 'where there's smoke, there's fire' judgment. It's one thing to talk about a personal intuition. It's another thing to make social and legal proclamations based on that intuition.

See, I really do have great concern for women who are sexually assaulted or raped. But I am absolutely on guard against poor reasoning, especially where emotions are involved. Every issue of note that I see discussed nowadays inevitably involves a tremendous helping of 'Here's a whole bunch of terrible ideas being promoted by very emotional people'.

Now, if you don't think that men who are accused of rape/SA should by default be regarded as guilty - even after being cleared of the charges - well, that's great. Clearly I misread something, or you changed your mind. But there's a good share of claims I question, and I do not do so lightly.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Crude said: "Darwin zeroed in on the exact words she said that he found problematic."

It was precisely his doing so that made me go back and try to give Charming a fairer reading! You see, I had thought he was objecting only to the second comment ("The guy in the article may be totally innocent--I doubt it, given the prevalence of these kinds of crimes"), but then he revealed that he felt the prejudice started with the first comment, in which she considered this case on par with a certain "Steubenville" case. (I don't follow US news, so I had no idea what happened there until Darwin mentioned that some men had filmed themselves having sex with an unconscious woman.)

So I asked myself what these two totally different cases had in common, which was simply that they got a lot of media attention and that the men involved went through "an unpleasant ordeal" (cf. one of her latest comments). And she sees this as a good thing because it might make the rape rate go down.

That she said of a cleared man, "He's probably guilty anyway," is definitely distasteful, but she has one of those "Where there's smoke, there's fire" policies. And she has apparently had very real experiences at college in which the man was guilty every time. She has just added that she could become convinced of a man's innocence after weighing more of the story, but I think it's safe to extrapolate that she finds it more useful to assume his guilt in a public forum in order to create an environment in which women feel safe about speaking up.

Is it unfair to the man? I can see how that might be so, but this is what brings us full circle, back to Darwin's point! If you're going to create a system/environment in which rape victims are taken seriously, it will also be a system/environment in which alleged rapists are treated really badly. This will happen not just in a campus tribunal, but also in a blog combox! =P

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Charming -- Earlier, I couldn't understand why you called yourself an "irrational racist" in response to my comment that you had insulted the Darwins. Then I took another shower (What? It's hot where I live!) and realised that you did so because of the way I compared your comments to those of my race realist friend. It was not my intention to suggest you were racist. (Sexist, maybe. ;-) But not racist. And note that this parenthetical comment is just light ribbing!)

I want to apologise for hurting your feelings. I really did think that your second comment was very prejudiced and that your subsequent replies were very unfair to Darwin, but I should have found a way to say so that did not appear to insult you. That you thought I was your enemy or not taking you seriously was never my intention. Rape is a very serious crime, and although I'm not as strict as you are when it comes to looking out for those with tender feelings, I am on your side when it comes to the things that matter. I think everyone here is. =)

The captcha gives me the two words "Outcomes" and "ileavit," I will "leavit" now and hope that the "outcomes" are favourable. ;-)

Crude said...

Enbrethiliel,

That she said of a cleared man, "He's probably guilty anyway," is definitely distasteful, but she has one of those "Where there's smoke, there's fire" policies.

I don't see how stating the view as a policy really matters. You probably don't mean it this way, but I parse that as 'well, it's distasteful - but it's her policy, so I suppose it's okay in light of that.'

but I think it's safe to extrapolate that she finds it more useful to assume his guilt in a public forum in order to create an environment in which women feel safe about speaking up.


I want to repeat. The assumption of guilt is bad enough. But an automatic, default assumption of guilt, *even after an investigation, even after charges have been dismissed, or the man has been found not guilty*? To have that be a personal instinctive reaction as one thing, but if we're getting into the territory of saying this is what the default attitude of society should be, I'm going to oppose it.

I am not a fan of a presumption of guilt in any situation, rape or otherwise.

Is it unfair to the man? I can see how that might be so, but this is what brings us full circle, back to Darwin's point! If you're going to create a system/environment in which rape victims are taken seriously, it will also be a system/environment in which alleged rapists are treated really badly.

I disagree with that estimation. What I've argued here is that a presumption of guilt, especially a presumption that sticks even after charges are cleared, is madness. Even moreso in situations where accusations can come literally years after the alleged acts, among adults. And noise in the direction of 'well, if you come off the wrong way or people have a bad feeling about you, you probably deserve to be viewed as guilty anyway' doesn't help.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

I'm not saying it's okay because it's her policy. I'm saying that:

a) I now understand where she is coming from (which was the main intellectual puzzle for me); and
b) I don't see how anyone is going to change her mind.

And I really don't think she's saying that guilt-no-matter-what should be the default assumption.
As she said recently, the thought of how an innocent man might be treated after the trial never crossed her mind. We could say that her comments gave the impression that she wants accused men to be personae non gratae forever, but that's not what she intended to say. She just personally believes this guy is guilty--probably the way a bunch of people believed the acquitted O.J. Simpson was guilty.

I think I've been clear about what I think on the issue, so to continue arguing with Charming on this point seems as futile as arguing with Protestants about sola Scriptura, which, frankly, is another kind of "madness." ;-) But right or wrong, do you really think some combox warriors are going to back down?

Charming Disarray said...

Sigh. Look, in real life, it's just not that cut and dried. Even if I wanted to, it would be absurd to always presume guilt every single time any man was ever accused of any sexual misconduct. I don't particularly know what I would get out of it, either. It sounds like a giant waste of energy.

I do think, however, that because there's a high level of incidences of assault that college men evidently just see as a regular Saturday night, in this kind of scenario, I'm going to have a harder time believing his innocence. I'm sorry, but that's how it is. If those kinds of things occurred less frequently and were less engrained in the "hook-up" culture, it might be a different story.

This is a recent Dear Prudie letter:
http://www.slate.com/articles/life/dear_prudence/2013/04/dear_prudence_my_sister_in_law_tried_to_seduce_me.html

It's a from a teenager whose sister in law made a pass at him and then, when he told his brother, got blamed by his family because she accused him of being the aggressor. I think the sister-in-law's behavior is criminal and Prudie's advice about getting a lawyer and possibly taking legal action is right, and I think the woman should be held punished for her actions. I also think the teenager was right to sound the alarm on this woman. A lot depends on situation. I don't just always take the woman's side because she's a woman.

I can't really respond to anything else. I just don't have time, and this conversation got much bigger than I ever thought it would. Enth., I owe you an email. Mrs. Darwin, I apologize for mentioning your daughter in a hypothetical situation. I didn't mean any malice by it or do it for shock value, but I can see that it upset you and I understand why, as it was an imprudent and inappropriate comment.

Crude said...

Enbrethiliel,

I don't see how anyone is going to change her mind.

That's never really my goal in these conversations anyway. At least not with people who you call 'combox warriors'.

And I really don't think she's saying that guilt-no-matter-what should be the default assumption.

I don't think so either. I think she can name situations where she'd say innocence should be the verdict. But a default is a default position, not a no-matter-what position. And it apparently is the default even after an investigation and a clearing.

Anyway, I'm not interested in evaluating her thoughts. My interest is her arguments.

She just personally believes this guy is guilty--probably the way a bunch of people believed the acquitted O.J. Simpson was guilty.

I think the difference in grounds is extreme. Unless she's privy to information none of us know, her assumption of guilt is along the lines of 'because you wouldn't have been accused of it unless you had it coming'. With OJ Simpson, that was a trial on TV that everyone was watching in detail after detail. The prevailing sentiment wasn't that he was guilty because hey, otherwise why would he be charged.

But right or wrong, do you really think some combox warriors are going to back down?

Again, not really my concern. Nor do I think the conversations in comboxes are ever particularly important - this is low stakes stuff. But I think it's worthwhile to be willing to argue against an idea, especially if it is being promoted with an emotional angle.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Charming -- Thank you! =)

Crude -- I think Charming just addressed your concern in her latest comment.

But I have to add that I have never read her stance as "You wouldn't have been accused of it unless you had it coming", but as something closer to, "Given the circumstances, I have really hard time believing you're innocent".

Crude said...

Enbrethiel,

I think Charming just addressed your concern in her latest comment.

This conversation seems to be dying down, but I'm going to repeat my concern. No, I did not think what was being defended here was 'Men are ALWAYS guilty of rape if they're accused, period, no matter what'. I said outright, I was certain that Disarray could come up with examples of exceptions. It was the default, the standard mode and - here's the important part - the application of this even in cases like the OP, where all we have is a 'not guilty' or 'cleared of charges' result.

But I have to add that I have never read her stance as "You wouldn't have been accused of it unless you had it coming", but as something closer to, "Given the circumstances, I have really hard time believing you're innocent".

That would be far easier to believe if, at some point, the particular circumstances (beyond 'you're a male in a university') were cited as a reason for doubt. This was not a conversation about skepticism of a claim of innocence based on evidence particular to the case. At least not evidence beyond 'you were accused, you're a man at a university', as far as being discussed in this thread goes.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Maybe I need to take another shower now, Crude, because I don't understand which of your points you don't think has been sufficiently addressed.

Here's my current grasp of where you're coming from . . . You think it is madness to presume that someone is guilty even after charges are cleared. (I agree.) But you're willing to make exceptions for cases such as the O.J. Simpson trial, in which a lot of detailed evidence is available. So it offends your sense of justice that Charming is making a similar exception in a case when no detailed evidence is available and all we have is a very broad profile. Is this correct?

Crude said...

Maybe I need to take another shower now, Crude, because I don't understand which of your points you don't think has been sufficiently addressed.

If addressed amounts to 'everyone here is in agreement', that's probably not possible here, and not what I'm going for. Like I said, the conversation's pretty well died down now.

So it offends your sense of justice that Charming is making a similar exception in a case when no detailed evidence is available and all we have is a very broad profile. Is this correct?

All we have is a very broad profile of someone who was investigated and cleared by an investigative committee that, if anything, was not biased towards the accused. Regarding a claim about an act that was several years old at the time of pursuit.

Now, a good portion of the initial argument here centered around Darwin's refusal to regard Grossman as guilty, even after having been cleared - on the grounds that it was expected of him, based on a prior conversation, to take a woman at her word if she claimed rape or sexual assault. (Remember: the problem here was Darwin not automatically doing this, even after the guy was cleared.) On top of that, there was the suggestion that Grossman didn't suffer any permanent damage.

That, bound together with what really seemed like a 'this is how people should view these things, for the sake of the victims' attitude is what I objected to.

But really, at this point, everything has been hashed out as well as it can be. Well, you know, except for the whole 'Crude, you personally are making women feel unsafe and have no empathy and Darwin should ban you because of your tone' aspect, which by all rights I should raise a stink about but really I have trouble being bothered to do so. So it's not like I'm sitting here demanding more answers. What's been said has been said, I got some answers. What more could I reasonably want?

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

"Addressed" certainly does not imply "everyone here is in agreement." I was just wondering if you felt that you had been heard--or whether you, like Charming and Darwin earlier, felt that all your valid points were being inexplicably, maybe even wilfully ignored.

It seems that the latter is not the case. =)

And I don't think you are making women feel unsafe, but I don't speak for all women. (Of course, neither does Charming.)

I see one more hair to split, but I'll bet I'm the only one who does, so I'll drop my dream of getting this to 100+ comments and stop now. (Famous last words? LOL!)

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Post Scriptum!!!

I was just on Cracked.com, reading the article 6 New Kinds of Anxiety the Internet Gave Us, which has this line:

"Hey, how many males reading this had to, in the last year, Google the phrase 'rape culture' because you were accused of being part of it, yet had no idea what it was?"

ROFLMAO!

For more context, the author David Wong (one of my favourite Cracked editors) explains: "I'm talking about when you suddenly realize, out of the blue, that some completely benign topic, or very mild joke, is the subject of someone else's bitter, ongoing conflict."

Jenny said...

This post is screaming to have 100 comments. :)