Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Denunciation as a form of punishment

My father, who was a lawyer, had a conversation with me when I was a teenager on the subject of rape.  I can't remember how it started, but ultimately he told me that allegations of rape were hard to defend against, and that angry women might seek revenge against an innocent person by alleging rape falsely.  Therefore the authorities were hesitant to prosecute such accusations because they could destroy reputations and even lives of innocent men.

  Of course, that was before rape kits and DNA and such.  But he had a point. 

  Now this Me too business has gone too far.  Mere assertions of rape or even loutish behavior are enough to destroy lives. No proof is necessary.  After the first accusation, more complaints pile up.  The accused grovel in public statements and lose their jobs immediately. Their wives leave them.  I wouldn't be surprised to hear that the family dog has bitten the offender. 

  Take Al Franken.  I never thought the day would come when I would defend Franken.  But mere accusations of boorish behavior--which is all that has been alleged--should not have destroyed his career and his livelihood.  And that photograph of him leering over that unconscious woman clearly is not harassment.  Rather, it is sophomoric showing off.  If every man who behaved clownishly were deprived of his job, there would be far less employment in this country.

  Being a nasty person is not a criminal offense.  If a man behaves boorishly, a woman should have enough self-respect to defend herself, not to accuse him of harassment years later, when nothing can be proved and all witnesses have forgotten the circumstances.

  There are other ways of being boorish.  Of being a lousy employer, of picking on subordinates.  If your boss behaves criminally, report him to the authorities.  If he's just a mean son-of-a-bitch, suck it up or look for another job.  Behave  like a grown-up. 

  My fear is that men will be reluctant to hire women.  Hiring a woman would be like giving someone a loaded gun.  It's likely to go off unexpectedly. 

  No one gets a chance to defend himself.  No one gets to confront his accusers. The press acts a judge and jury and the public buys it.  It's not a good way to run a country.

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