"Innocent Until Proven Guilty" & Consequences for Being Accused.

SLAM: debunk creationism, pseudoscience, and superstitions. Discuss logic and morality.

Moderators: Alyrium Denryle, SCRawl, Thanas

Post Reply
User avatar
Crazedwraith
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 10410
Joined: 2003-04-10 03:45pm
Location: Cheshire, England

"Innocent Until Proven Guilty" & Consequences for Being Accused.

Post by Crazedwraith » 2017-11-09 08:28am

It's something I've wondered about in the recent wave of sexual scandals, Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and a spate British politicians. There are public accusations and these people suffer consequences. Weinstein was fired from his company, Spacey's series was suspended and he's been entirely erased from a film he was in in post production. A Welsh politician was suspended from his party and committed suicide in distress at not feeling able to defend himself properly from the accusations.

And this was all done without a day in court, a trail or much in way of process that I can see. Now I'm sure this is all legal, but is it moral under the principle behind innocent until proven guilty?

ETA/NB: I realise false accusations are not considered likely. I'm not trying to actually defend these individual's but I am interested in the principles of the matter and the possibility of trail by media rather than due process.
To the brave passengers and crew of the Kobayashi Maru... sucks to be you - Peter David

User avatar
LaCroix
Sith Marauder
Posts: 4511
Joined: 2004-12-21 12:14pm
Location: Sopron District, Hungary, Europe, Terra

Re: "Innocent Until Proven Guilty" & Consequences for Being Accused.

Post by LaCroix » 2017-11-09 08:34am

"Innocent until proven guilty" is a legal term. Only the state is bound to that principle. Just like "Free speech", which also only applies to the state not censoring you, there is no obligation for private citizens to adhere to it.

If you suffer personal damages due to accusations, you are supposed to settle that in civil court after you are cleared in the legal case.
A minute's thought suggests that the very idea of this is stupid. A more detailed examination raises the possibility that it might be an answer to the question "how could the Germans win the war after the US gets involved?" - Captain Seafort, in a thread proposing a 1942 'D-Day' in Quiberon Bay

I do archery skeet. With a Trebuchet.

User avatar
Crazedwraith
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 10410
Joined: 2003-04-10 03:45pm
Location: Cheshire, England

Re: "Innocent Until Proven Guilty" & Consequences for Being Accused.

Post by Crazedwraith » 2017-11-09 08:44am

Thank you. I do realise that, I apologise if I was not clear on that.

There is still a moral imperative behind the legal term though. Or it is least that's my supposition. You're getting punished for stuff you might not actually have done. And even if you can claim it back afterwards, that's a lot of time an effort to reverse unjust punishments and there's harm that's done that can't just be cured by a civil court awarding damages.

On the other hand of course, the quieter an accusation is the more easier it is for powerful people to squash it if they are guilty. So there's a balance there. Big Public accusations do obviously have a place.
To the brave passengers and crew of the Kobayashi Maru... sucks to be you - Peter David

Patroklos
Jedi Council Member
Posts: 2335
Joined: 2009-04-14 11:00am

Re: "Innocent Until Proven Guilty" & Consequences for Being Accused.

Post by Patroklos » 2017-11-09 08:53am

LaCroix wrote:
2017-11-09 08:34am
"Innocent until proven guilty" is a legal term. Only the state is bound to that principle. Just like "Free speech", which also only applies to the state not censoring you, there is no obligation for private citizens to adhere to it.

If you suffer personal damages due to accusations, you are supposed to settle that in civil court after you are cleared in the legal case.
All true. The problem is that the only recourse available to you is money, and only if the false accuser or whatever has money to give you. Is it possible to compensate someone for the loss of their health? When their family or kids have disowned you for years with those relationships unrecoverable? When people have committed suicide? When the most productive years of your professional career are lost? We have plenty of cases where known false accusations still haunt people because the media isn't as concerned about broadcasting absolution than they are salacious accusations.

I have more of an issue when the state does the same thing through wrongful convictions, because then there is also prison or death to worry about. But we have far more controls on the state than the mob.

User avatar
LaCroix
Sith Marauder
Posts: 4511
Joined: 2004-12-21 12:14pm
Location: Sopron District, Hungary, Europe, Terra

Re: "Innocent Until Proven Guilty" & Consequences for Being Accused.

Post by LaCroix » 2017-11-09 10:55am

So you want mind police, then?
A minute's thought suggests that the very idea of this is stupid. A more detailed examination raises the possibility that it might be an answer to the question "how could the Germans win the war after the US gets involved?" - Captain Seafort, in a thread proposing a 1942 'D-Day' in Quiberon Bay

I do archery skeet. With a Trebuchet.

User avatar
Crazedwraith
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 10410
Joined: 2003-04-10 03:45pm
Location: Cheshire, England

Re: "Innocent Until Proven Guilty" & Consequences for Being Accused.

Post by Crazedwraith » 2017-11-09 12:46pm

LaCroix wrote:
2017-11-09 10:55am
So you want mind police, then?
Personally, I was never questioning making up your own mind and beleiving what you want about these people. That would be impossible to avoid.

I'm questioning at what point private organisations and entities should sanction you for allegations made against you.
To the brave passengers and crew of the Kobayashi Maru... sucks to be you - Peter David

User avatar
Alyrium Denryle
Minister of Sin
Posts: 22023
Joined: 2002-07-11 08:34pm
Location: The Deep Desert
Contact:

Re: "Innocent Until Proven Guilty" & Consequences for Being Accused.

Post by Alyrium Denryle » 2017-11-09 12:50pm

Crazedwraith wrote:
2017-11-09 08:28am
It's something I've wondered about in the recent wave of sexual scandals, Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and a spate British politicians. There are public accusations and these people suffer consequences. Weinstein was fired from his company, Spacey's series was suspended and he's been entirely erased from a film he was in in post production. A Welsh politician was suspended from his party and committed suicide in distress at not feeling able to defend himself properly from the accusations.

And this was all done without a day in court, a trail or much in way of process that I can see. Now I'm sure this is all legal, but is it moral under the principle behind innocent until proven guilty?

ETA/NB: I realise false accusations are not considered likely. I'm not trying to actually defend these individual's but I am interested in the principles of the matter and the possibility of trail by media rather than due process.
Most false accusations against private persons are ridiculously easy to disprove/fail to verify. The only way they make the news is if the fact that the accusation was false makes the news, or if the person gets really really unlucky and the original accusation goes viral or something.

Against a more public figure... I tend to give the first one a pass on my outrage. My default is to believe the alleged victim because it is still the most likely scenario, but famous people also tend to draw out the crazies and I know this. Once there are two or more...well... the probability of the accusation being false starts to get astonishingly low. For instance, I have a fucking spreadsheet of Harvey Weinstein's victims. There are over a hundred of them, all conforming to a similar pattern of behavior on his part. Kevin Spacey? There's more than one of them as well, it seems he really does like young teenage boys and the initial accusation was not a one-time "I was really drunk and don't remember that" sort of thing.
GALE Force Biological Agent/
BOTM/Great Dolphin Conspiracy/
Entomology and Evolutionary Biology Subdirector:SD.net Dept. of Biological Sciences


There is Grandeur in the View of Life; it fills me with a Deep Wonder, and Intense Cynicism.

Factio republicanum delenda est

User avatar
Vendetta
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 10460
Joined: 2002-07-07 04:57pm
Location: Sheffield, UK

Re: "Innocent Until Proven Guilty" & Consequences for Being Accused.

Post by Vendetta » 2017-11-09 01:03pm

Many of the consequences that are being suffered by people like Spacey are the downside of fame.

When your name is worth money, people will pay you money to have your name on their product.

When your name is suddenly not, people will distance themselves from your name lest whatever negative odor attaches to your name attaches to their product by proxy.


(This is ironic in the case of people who have been up to now protected by their power within an industry, because exactly this result is the reason people have been unwilling to make their experiences public, loss of business because your name is suddenly poison).

User avatar
LaCroix
Sith Marauder
Posts: 4511
Joined: 2004-12-21 12:14pm
Location: Sopron District, Hungary, Europe, Terra

Re: "Innocent Until Proven Guilty" & Consequences for Being Accused.

Post by LaCroix » 2017-11-09 01:16pm

Crazedwraith wrote:
2017-11-09 12:46pm
LaCroix wrote:
2017-11-09 10:55am
So you want mind police, then?
Personally, I was never questioning making up your own mind and beleiving what you want about these people. That would be impossible to avoid.

I'm questioning at what point private organisations and entities should sanction you for allegations made against you.
But if they are allowed to make up their minds and excercise their freedom of association, then everything is fine, isn't it? After all, why would you force people to keep in contact or business with a person they don't want to do business (even if it may be due a wrong accusation). How would you think this could be done? Only by policing people and having a higher instance second-guessing all their decisions and deciding wether they are allowed to associate /non-associate. You will, of course, realize how bad this will work out if some else will make moral decisions for you, and has the power to enforce them.

The question of companies firing you is more a question of worker's rights and proper minimum work contract requirements than a moral one.
A minute's thought suggests that the very idea of this is stupid. A more detailed examination raises the possibility that it might be an answer to the question "how could the Germans win the war after the US gets involved?" - Captain Seafort, in a thread proposing a 1942 'D-Day' in Quiberon Bay

I do archery skeet. With a Trebuchet.

User avatar
TheFeniX
Sith Marauder
Posts: 4612
Joined: 2003-06-26 04:24pm
Location: Texas

Re: "Innocent Until Proven Guilty" & Consequences for Being Accused.

Post by TheFeniX » 2017-11-09 02:44pm

Alyrium Denryle wrote:
2017-11-09 12:50pm
Most false accusations against private persons are ridiculously easy to disprove/fail to verify. The only way they make the news is if the fact that the accusation was false makes the news, or if the person gets really really unlucky and the original accusation goes viral or something.
I lost my post, but you did a better job anyway. It's really hard to keep up a fabricated story since investigators are, generally, good at investigating. Many things can throw it off. Like in general, saying it happened so fast, but they give an extremely detailed account of what they think investigators want to hear. Meanwhile, in a few documentaries I've watched, they usually get "odd" details which are focused on. Like instances of a necklace moving back and forth during the act, an oddly detailed description of some random object in the area. Because, as one investigator put it, these men and women aren't looking to make an eye witness account of their victimization, they are scared and possibly panicked so they try to find something to focus on to try and forget they are being raped.

And yes, when you're a "face man/woman" and that face gets a blemish, it's hard to ignore the accusations piling up. Even in something legal. There's nothing illegal in America about making racist or bigoted remarks. Or even being accused of them. But you can sure get shitcanned for it.

Simon_Jester
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 30099
Joined: 2009-05-23 07:29pm

Re: "Innocent Until Proven Guilty" & Consequences for Being Accused.

Post by Simon_Jester » 2017-11-09 02:48pm

I think to stick to the topic of the moral imperative...

Basically, insofar as you have power over someone, you have a responsibility to avoid acting on an unsubstantiated allegation.

Allegations can be substantiated either by a pattern of similar allegations coming forward, or by investigating a single allegation.
This space dedicated to Vasily Arkhipov

Patroklos
Jedi Council Member
Posts: 2335
Joined: 2009-04-14 11:00am

Re: "Innocent Until Proven Guilty" & Consequences for Being Accused.

Post by Patroklos » 2017-11-09 04:01pm

TheFeniX wrote:
2017-11-09 02:44pm
Alyrium Denryle wrote:
2017-11-09 12:50pm
Most false accusations against private persons are ridiculously easy to disprove/fail to verify. The only way they make the news is if the fact that the accusation was false makes the news, or if the person gets really really unlucky and the original accusation goes viral or something.
I lost my post, but you did a better job anyway. It's really hard to keep up a fabricated story since investigators are, generally, good at investigating. Many things can throw it off. Like in general, saying it happened so fast, but they give an extremely detailed account of what they think investigators want to hear. Meanwhile, in a few documentaries I've watched, they usually get "odd" details which are focused on. Like instances of a necklace moving back and forth during the act, an oddly detailed description of some random object in the area. Because, as one investigator put it, these men and women aren't looking to make an eye witness account of their victimization, they are scared and possibly panicked so they try to find something to focus on to try and forget they are being raped.

And yes, when you're a "face man/woman" and that face gets a blemish, it's hard to ignore the accusations piling up. Even in something legal. There's nothing illegal in America about making racist or bigoted remarks. Or even being accused of them. But you can sure get shitcanned for it.
I think the point is there isn't always an investigation, or pretty severe action takes place during an investigation. If you are innocent until proven guilty, nothing should really happen to you until you are indeed proven guilty. Its one thing to have an investigation and then enforce consequences against you, its quite another to pile on some consequences and then investigate. Having a kangaroo court investigation is a separate issue.

In the state justice system there are strict (generally anyway) circumstances where some consequences are applied first, usually when the preliminary evidence is so strong up front to an impartial judge (another important distinction most private organizations don't employ), plus the crime in question is of a nature that its better to error on the side of caution (violent crimes usually) or you are a flight risk. Almost none of these are true in the private world, and if they are there is probably a concurrent government investigation to do that for them.

And I have to state again that easily disproved or not the damage is often done just through the accusation, doubly so when punishment is doled out before substantiation because it validates the accusation in lieu of any investigation the results of which can now be considered suspect if they even get publicized at all. Rumor and inuendo have ruined many a life without the need for an employer HR department stamping their seal of approval on them and only later whiting it out from your record.

I don't want to get bogged down in sexual type accusations because there are a lot of things this can be applied to outside of that, but since the recent headlines are full of this sort of thing (real or imagined) do you want to be the young man at a job interview who has to show a two year gap in his education record, then explain how its okay because I was only ACCUSED of being a sexual peditor BUT ITS OKAY I WAS LATER EXHONERATED! Or how about you were fired for thievery from your last job BUT ITS OKAY THE CHARGES WERE DROPPED FOR LACK OF EVIDENCE! The damage is done as soon as you broach those topics, because in both such instances we are culturally wired to still view such persons with suspcion. Were they innocent, or did they just get away with it...

User avatar
Elheru Aran
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 12217
Joined: 2004-03-04 01:15am
Location: Georgia

Re: "Innocent Until Proven Guilty" & Consequences for Being Accused.

Post by Elheru Aran » 2017-11-09 05:18pm

To a certain degree my feeling is this:

If you are willing to accept becoming a public figure, then you need to accept that some parts of your life won't be as private as others. You need to accept that if you screw up, odds are good it's going to get aired, unless you have the clout to hide it-- and even that may not help, and may in fact make the problem worse. If the accusation is false... you should be able to explain why and how it's false. IE: woman accuses male celebrity of molesting her in his hotel room; male celebrity should be able to have his agent call the hotel, pull up the security tapes, lawyer up and ask if she had a rape kit taken, things like that. There's a whole protocol for dealing with false claims, and I guarantee that there are probably a *lot* of those in the life of any celebrity.

There are a few solutions. The easiest is to just be squeaky clean. Don't screw with anybody you aren't allowed to screw with. Have rules like 'never alone in the trailer with someone who could compromise me', etc. A slightly less easy but perhaps more realistic solution is to keep your private and public lives strictly apart-- a lot of celebrities do this with their family lives. Another is to more or less become a recluse; shun publicity and only come out to do whatever made you famous to start with. This latter one has its risks because it's going to make you a parapazzi magnet trying to dig up dirt or even just details on you, though.
It's a strange world. Let's keep it that way.

User avatar
Bedlam
Jedi Master
Posts: 1259
Joined: 2006-09-23 11:12am
Location: Edinburgh, UK

Re: "Innocent Until Proven Guilty" & Consequences for Being Accused.

Post by Bedlam » 2017-11-09 05:49pm

Elheru Aran wrote:
2017-11-09 05:18pm
IE: woman accuses male celebrity of molesting her in his hotel room; male celebrity should be able to have his agent call the hotel, pull up the security tapes, lawyer up and ask if she had a rape kit taken, things like that. There's a whole protocol for dealing with false claims, and I guarantee that there are probably a *lot* of those in the life of any celebrity.
Well to take into account some of the Weinstein allegations they are about events 15 years ago where the victim says were to scared to report anything for fear of not being believed and the effect it would have on their careers. So in those cases there are unlikely to still be any security tapes, memories of other people around them at the time as to what was seen, said and happened are likely to be blurry and nothing like a rape kit was taken. So from that it would be very hard to prove allegations one way or another.

User avatar
Elheru Aran
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 12217
Joined: 2004-03-04 01:15am
Location: Georgia

Re: "Innocent Until Proven Guilty" & Consequences for Being Accused.

Post by Elheru Aran » 2017-11-09 06:08pm

Bedlam wrote:
2017-11-09 05:49pm
Elheru Aran wrote:
2017-11-09 05:18pm
IE: woman accuses male celebrity of molesting her in his hotel room; male celebrity should be able to have his agent call the hotel, pull up the security tapes, lawyer up and ask if she had a rape kit taken, things like that. There's a whole protocol for dealing with false claims, and I guarantee that there are probably a *lot* of those in the life of any celebrity.
Well to take into account some of the Weinstein allegations they are about events 15 years ago where the victim says were to scared to report anything for fear of not being believed and the effect it would have on their careers. So in those cases there are unlikely to still be any security tapes, memories of other people around them at the time as to what was seen, said and happened are likely to be blurry and nothing like a rape kit was taken. So from that it would be very hard to prove allegations one way or another.
Yeah, those fall under the umbrella of 'very powerful public figure' where even a true accusation can be hard to make in the first place. Weinstein produced hundreds of films and had clout right and left. Same problem with media moguls and the 'casting couch' back in the day, or even recently as we've seen.

It's easy for a powerful man (it's almost always a man) to dismiss one accusation and clobber them with lawyers-- or hush them up the same way. Even multiple accusations. But when they start adding up, and particularly when recent allegations start coming to light, that's when things start getting sticky.
It's a strange world. Let's keep it that way.

User avatar
Zixinus
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 6572
Joined: 2007-06-19 12:48pm
Location: In Seth the Blitzspear
Contact:

Re: "Innocent Until Proven Guilty" & Consequences for Being Accused.

Post by Zixinus » 2017-11-10 01:58pm

I think when it comes to rape, and sexual molestation/harassment in particular, the problem is exactly that many guilty walk away not charged. And people KNOW that.

So when a false positive of rape happens, it isn't an irrational bias that taints the guy. It's actually following common statistics, that show that only a relatively small portion of rape that was reported lead to actual convictions. This can be about 30% or so.

So, the guy that got false accused but was cleared by investigation sounds exactly like a guilty guy. This is not the case of rape reporting having dis-appropriate power, this is a side-effect of lack of justice affecting the innocent as well as not punishing the guilty.

Or, if the statistics are taken at face value, most "false accusations" are overwhelmingly cleared. Not something most people will buy, do to how most cultural norms (that still stuck in many ways with pre-industrial conceptions of sexuality) punish the victims of rape.

Either way, "false reporting" does not seem to be an endemic problem.
Credo!
Chat with me on Skype if you want to talk about writing, ideas or if you want a test-reader! PM for address.

User avatar
Alyrium Denryle
Minister of Sin
Posts: 22023
Joined: 2002-07-11 08:34pm
Location: The Deep Desert
Contact:

Re: "Innocent Until Proven Guilty" & Consequences for Being Accused.

Post by Alyrium Denryle » 2017-11-10 04:03pm

Zixinus wrote:
2017-11-10 01:58pm
I think when it comes to rape, and sexual molestation/harassment in particular, the problem is exactly that many guilty walk away not charged. And people KNOW that.

So when a false positive of rape happens, it isn't an irrational bias that taints the guy. It's actually following common statistics, that show that only a relatively small portion of rape that was reported lead to actual convictions. This can be about 30% or so.

So, the guy that got false accused but was cleared by investigation sounds exactly like a guilty guy. This is not the case of rape reporting having dis-appropriate power, this is a side-effect of lack of justice affecting the innocent as well as not punishing the guilty.

Or, if the statistics are taken at face value, most "false accusations" are overwhelmingly cleared. Not something most people will buy, do to how most cultural norms (that still stuck in many ways with pre-industrial conceptions of sexuality) punish the victims of rape.

Either way, "false reporting" does not seem to be an endemic problem.
When you consider the non-report rates, the rate at which rapist are actually punished for their crimes is about equal to the rate of false reporting. Between 2 and 8 percent.
GALE Force Biological Agent/
BOTM/Great Dolphin Conspiracy/
Entomology and Evolutionary Biology Subdirector:SD.net Dept. of Biological Sciences


There is Grandeur in the View of Life; it fills me with a Deep Wonder, and Intense Cynicism.

Factio republicanum delenda est

User avatar
mr friendly guy
The Doctor
Posts: 10018
Joined: 2004-12-12 10:55pm
Location: In a 1960s police telephone box somewhere in Australia

Re: "Innocent Until Proven Guilty" & Consequences for Being Accused.

Post by mr friendly guy » 2017-11-11 02:12am

I don't think Weinstein or Spacey are the best cases to argue the OP point to be honest. Based on their statements, they admit something unsavoury occurred, although Weinstein denies some claims (?which ones). Even if the most egregious accusations were false, they lesser ones are good enough for a company protecting their brand to want to distance themselves from Weinstein and Spacey.

A better example to use would be Fatty Arbuckle, Hollywood's first sex scandal. He lost a lot of work because of accusations of murder and was in heavy debt when he was finally found not guilty. There was lots of factors that make the case against him look weak to be honest.
Never apologise for being a geek, because they won't apologise to you for being an arsehole. John Barrowman - 22 June 2014 Perth Supernova.

Countries I have been to.
Australia, Canada, China, Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, Germany, Malaysia, Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Sweden, USA.
Always on the lookout for more nice places to visit.

User avatar
Ender
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 11281
Joined: 2002-07-30 11:12pm
Location: Illinois

Re: "Innocent Until Proven Guilty" & Consequences for Being Accused.

Post by Ender » 2017-11-11 01:46pm

Zixinus wrote:
2017-11-10 01:58pm
I think when it comes to rape, and sexual molestation/harassment in particular, the problem is exactly that many guilty walk away not charged. And people KNOW that.

So when a false positive of rape happens, it isn't an irrational bias that taints the guy. It's actually following common statistics, that show that only a relatively small portion of rape that was reported lead to actual convictions. This can be about 30% or so.

So, the guy that got false accused but was cleared by investigation sounds exactly like a guilty guy. This is not the case of rape reporting having dis-appropriate power, this is a side-effect of lack of justice affecting the innocent as well as not punishing the guilty.

Or, if the statistics are taken at face value, most "false accusations" are overwhelmingly cleared. Not something most people will buy, do to how most cultural norms (that still stuck in many ways with pre-industrial conceptions of sexuality) punish the victims of rape.

Either way, "false reporting" does not seem to be an endemic problem.
It is about the same as false reports of any other crime. Because that's what the accusers are - witnesses.

Now the way public opinion reacts and how we balance the idea of forgiveness with the new reality that everything is permanently recorded (thanks internet), sure there is some fruitful grounds for discussion there. But worrying about false accusations is basically the same as worrying about any other lying witness, and we've got a fair amount of experience in handling that as a society.
بيرني كان سيفوز
*
Nuclear Navy Warwolf
*
in omnibus requiem quaesivi, et nusquam inveni nisi in angulo cum libro
*
ipsa scientia potestas est

Simon_Jester
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 30099
Joined: 2009-05-23 07:29pm

Re: "Innocent Until Proven Guilty" & Consequences for Being Accused.

Post by Simon_Jester » 2017-11-12 11:23am

Zixinus wrote:
2017-11-10 01:58pm
I think when it comes to rape, and sexual molestation/harassment in particular, the problem is exactly that many guilty walk away not charged. And people KNOW that.

So when a false positive of rape happens, it isn't an irrational bias that taints the guy. It's actually following common statistics, that show that only a relatively small portion of rape that was reported lead to actual convictions. This can be about 30% or so.

So, the guy that got false accused but was cleared by investigation sounds exactly like a guilty guy. This is not the case of rape reporting having dis-appropriate power, this is a side-effect of lack of justice affecting the innocent as well as not punishing the guilty.

Or, if the statistics are taken at face value, most "false accusations" are overwhelmingly cleared. Not something most people will buy, do to how most cultural norms (that still stuck in many ways with pre-industrial conceptions of sexuality) punish the victims of rape.

Either way, "false reporting" does not seem to be an endemic problem.
That seems a bit inside-out. The very low rate of rape convictions cannot be used to prove that only a very small fraction of rape accusations are false. If anything it would be weak evidence in favor of the idea that more accusations are false, because hopefully a false accusation is more likely to be thrown out of court than a true one.

For instance, If I told you that 99% of arson charges in America resulted in a "not guilty" finding or the charges being dropped, you would probably assume that a lot of people are being falsely accused of arson. I'm not sure we can turn around and do the opposite for rape and sexual harassment, just because there exists a "rape culture" and not an "arson culture."

Furthermore, part of the issue here is, as noted, that a false accusation of rape or sexual harassment can destroy a career through character assassination before the accused is exonerated. Or the issue may never even come to trial because seriously, how do you hold anything like a fair trial for an incident that happened in a relatively private location thirty years ago? Statutes of limitations exist for a reason, and a big part of that reason is because it's effectively impossible to mount an airtight prosecution or any meaningful defense regarding a crime that happened decades ago and left behind little or no durable evidence.
Ender wrote:
2017-11-11 01:46pm
It is about the same as false reports of any other crime. Because that's what the accusers are - witnesses.

Now the way public opinion reacts and how we balance the idea of forgiveness with the new reality that everything is permanently recorded (thanks internet), sure there is some fruitful grounds for discussion there. But worrying about false accusations is basically the same as worrying about any other lying witness, and we've got a fair amount of experience in handling that as a society.
The tricky question is how we adapt the worry about false accusations to the specifics of sexual harassment. And to memes I've seen floating around Twitterspace like "we believe all victims, or we believe none of them."

There is a line between creating a culture where victims of sexual harassment can and do come forward and get to hold their harassers accountable... And painting big bullseyes on all celebrity figures for legalized character assassination.

But just as our judiciary actually has some pretty significant protections in place to stop you from being convicted of theft by a false witness, so our court of public opinion would need some protection against people being blown up by character assassination.
mr friendly guy wrote:
2017-11-11 02:12am
I don't think Weinstein or Spacey are the best cases to argue the OP point to be honest. Based on their statements, they admit something unsavoury occurred, although Weinstein denies some claims (?which ones). Even if the most egregious accusations were false, they lesser ones are good enough for a company protecting their brand to want to distance themselves from Weinstein and Spacey.

A better example to use would be Fatty Arbuckle, Hollywood's first sex scandal. He lost a lot of work because of accusations of murder and was in heavy debt when he was finally found not guilty. There was lots of factors that make the case against him look weak to be honest.
This might actually be part of the required protection. Recent accusations that can be meaningfully investigated, or patterns of investigations that persist among many individuals over an extended time, should be weighted as far more damning to a person's character than a single person 'coming forward' thirty-five years later and saying "they groped me in an elevator but I didn't want to say anything."

This is not because that single person is assumed to be lying, or because we don't value them or don't care about whatever suffering they may have experienced. It's because we do care about literally everyone, and your worth as a human being does not suddenly evaporate the moment you are accused of wronging a second human being.

If, on the other hand, you are accused of wronging a third, fourth, and fifth through thirty-seventh human being, all in the same way on a regular basis over an extended period of time... yeah, your worth as a human being has boiled off into the atmosphere at some point in that process.
This space dedicated to Vasily Arkhipov

User avatar
Zixinus
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 6572
Joined: 2007-06-19 12:48pm
Location: In Seth the Blitzspear
Contact:

Re: "Innocent Until Proven Guilty" & Consequences for Being Accused.

Post by Zixinus » 2017-11-12 04:21pm

That seems a bit inside-out. The very low rate of rape convictions cannot be used to prove that only a very small fraction of rape accusations are false.
What it is meant to prove is that false allegations are a smaller problem than the overall problem of rape. And that the problems that stem from false allegations stem from the undervaluing of the seriousness of rape.
If anything it would be weak evidence in favor of the idea that more accusations are false, because hopefully a false accusation is more likely to be thrown out of court than a true one.
If that were the case, then false allegations is less likely because a very few of those reported of rape actually face serious jail-time.

To prove that there is a low number of false allegations compared to the overall reporting of rape would require direct research of statistics. like this one

It should be noted that research is difficult because of the intense victim-punishing nature of rape and difficulty of finding evidence. Even the police officers investigated have strong biases. If you try to verify whether the victim is telling the true, the victim might recant because they fear the punishment for false allegations. Because the victim is told that they are not a victim but someone who brought it on themselves and other variety of things. Or not even that, but because the reality of rape and the idea of rape is so different on the chain of justice from detective to judge, confidence is lost in the case in court before it could come to its full conclusion. There is also the fact that "false reports" may in fact be inaccurate but true reports about a rape, because the victim-blaming ideas are believed by the victim and because what actually happened is not the same as "real rape" is supposed to be, thus they alter their story for it to be "real rape".
Furthermore, part of the issue here is, as noted, that a false accusation of rape or sexual harassment can destroy a career through character assassination before the accused is exonerated.
Which I noted as likely developed because of the observations that "the police will likely do nothing to victims of rape". Ergo, once the allegation is out is more likely to exonerate the rapist than prove a suspect innocent. All the problems of rape investigations come up that would clear a genuinely innocent person: if the victim recants, it could be said that they were intimidated into it (even if not by the suspect's influence). If the police clears the suspect due to lack of evidence, that is believed that that anti-victim bias is present. And so on.

Only extremely clear cases, such as the suspect having a strong alibi or other strong outside evidence, can be it be clear.
Credo!
Chat with me on Skype if you want to talk about writing, ideas or if you want a test-reader! PM for address.

Simon_Jester
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 30099
Joined: 2009-05-23 07:29pm

Re: "Innocent Until Proven Guilty" & Consequences for Being Accused.

Post by Simon_Jester » 2017-11-12 05:31pm

Zixinus wrote:
2017-11-12 04:21pm
That seems a bit inside-out. The very low rate of rape convictions cannot be used to prove that only a very small fraction of rape accusations are false.
What it is meant to prove is that false allegations are a smaller problem than the overall problem of rape.
Well yes, but we're not still at the level of arguing "is rape an endemic problem in our society yes or no?" That debate was settled a long time ago. The question is no longer "do we need to do more about stopping rapes," but how much.

For that purpose, discussing secondary issues and tradeoffs is important.

It would be reasonable to say "false sexual harassment accusations are a smaller issue than sexual harassment as a whole, and are therefore irrelevant" if the debate was about sexual harassment as a whole, and false accusations were being brought up as a red herring. But that is not what is going on here. This conversation is entirely about the question of how we treat people who are accused of wrongdoing when the accusation has not been proven.

It's like, every developed nation except the US has long since agreed that the answer to "should the government pay for health care" is "yes." But every such nation still has to settle questions like "how much" and "when do we pay for this person's expensive treatment at the cost of cheaper treatment that could potentially do more good for more people?" You can't just shut down those conversations by saying "well, the triage question is clearly less important than the overall health care question, so let's not worry about it!" That might be valid if the debate was actually about whether or not to have state-funded health care. But if you've already settled that debate, sooner or later you have to have a non-shut-down, ongoing conversation about "how much do we pay for it" and "who gets priority for triage?" Those decisions have to be made, cannot be avoided, and will be made very badly if we constantly try to shut down debates on them as "being about a secondary issue."
And that the problems that stem from false allegations stem from the undervaluing of the seriousness of rape.
Still not buying this. If people think of rape and more generally sexual harassment which this conversation was about at first as super-serious, that won't automatically guarantee they have no desire to accuse their enemies of a super-serious crime.
If anything it would be weak evidence in favor of the idea that more accusations are false, because hopefully a false accusation is more likely to be thrown out of court than a true one.
If that were the case, then false allegations is less likely because a very few of those reported of rape actually face serious jail-time.
You're not running through the decision-making process on this one. There are many reasons to make a false accusation of many kinds. Many of these reasons have nothing to do with "I want this person to go to jail." Just as there are motives to falsely accuse someone of all sorts of other things. Including sexual harassment in general, which this discussion was at first about, not just rape.

I'm not sure why you laser-targeted rape as your discussion point here, actually.
To prove that there is a low number of false allegations compared to the overall reporting of rape would require direct research of statistics. like this one

It should be noted that research is difficult because of the intense victim-punishing nature of rape and difficulty of finding evidence. Even the police officers investigated have strong biases. If you try to verify whether the victim is telling the true, the victim might recant because they fear the punishment for false allegations. Because the victim is told that they are not a victim but someone who brought it on themselves and other variety of things. Or not even that, but because the reality of rape and the idea of rape is so different on the chain of justice from detective to judge, confidence is lost in the case in court before it could come to its full conclusion. There is also the fact that "false reports" may in fact be inaccurate but true reports about a rape, because the victim-blaming ideas are believed by the victim and because what actually happened is not the same as "real rape" is supposed to be, thus they alter their story for it to be "real rape".
There is also the complicating factor that even if everyone involved has the best intentions possible, it may nonetheless be impossible to prove that a crime occurred. Such as sexual harassment, which this discussion was originally about, not rape alone.

I don't have to be stigmatizing someone or threatening to punish them to ask them "um, before I can take these charges to the district attorney, do you have some kind of evidence that could, y'know, prove what you say happened actually happened?"

I can totally 100% believe you on the bare fact of your accusation alone and still have to ask this question, because it is a very, very bad idea to flood the court system with criminal charges based literally entirely on the accusation of the plaintiff and on no other evidence whatsoever. Even if we are morally certain that 100% of these charges happened, there are reasons not to do that.
Furthermore, part of the issue here is, as noted, that a false accusation of rape or sexual harassment can destroy a career through character assassination before the accused is exonerated.
Which I noted as likely developed because of the observations that "the police will likely do nothing to victims of rape". Ergo, once the allegation is out is more likely to exonerate the rapist than prove a suspect innocent

All the problems of rape investigations come up that would clear a genuinely innocent person: if the victim recants, it could be said that they were intimidated into it (even if not by the suspect's influence). If the police clears the suspect due to lack of evidence, that is believed that that anti-victim bias is present. And so on.

Only extremely clear cases, such as the suspect having a strong alibi or other strong outside evidence, can be it be clear.
So... what exactly do you mean like this? I'm a bit confused by your conclusion.

Are you saying "if someone is accused, they will have a very hard time proving themselves innocent, and will therefore be hurt whether the accusation is true or not?"

Or are you saying something else?
This space dedicated to Vasily Arkhipov

User avatar
Vendetta
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 10460
Joined: 2002-07-07 04:57pm
Location: Sheffield, UK

Re: "Innocent Until Proven Guilty" & Consequences for Being Accused.

Post by Vendetta » 2017-11-19 06:23am

mr friendly guy wrote:
2017-11-11 02:12am
I don't think Weinstein or Spacey are the best cases to argue the OP point to be honest. Based on their statements, they admit something unsavoury occurred, although Weinstein denies some claims (?which ones). Even if the most egregious accusations were false, they lesser ones are good enough for a company protecting their brand to want to distance themselves from Weinstein and Spacey.

A better example to use would be Fatty Arbuckle, Hollywood's first sex scandal. He lost a lot of work because of accusations of murder and was in heavy debt when he was finally found not guilty. There was lots of factors that make the case against him look weak to be honest.
The issue really is that there are no "good cases" to argue it.

You can't prevent people from forming perceptions, and you can't prevent people from accounting for those perceptions when they choose who to associate with. You can't legally force people to ignore or pretend they didn't hear rumours and accusations, even if you legislate that they cannot be used as a proximate cause for dismissal or refusal to hire in the case of a highly public figure in a public role they aren't the proximate cause. The public reputation is.

If someone has a public reputation which is more likely to drive potential customers away from a product they are associated with, you cannot legally force the makers of the product to keep that person associated with it.

User avatar
FireNexus
Cookie
Posts: 1623
Joined: 2002-07-04 05:10am
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Contact:

Re: "Innocent Until Proven Guilty" & Consequences for Being Accused.

Post by FireNexus » 2017-12-09 01:07am

If I were to be arrested for drug possession, whether or not I was found guilty, I would be fired tomorrow. I haven’t read the policy enough to know exactly what other crimes are covered, but I bet sexual impropriety is one of them.

Employers regularly unload people for potential crimes without proof of guilt.
I had a Bill Maher quote here. But fuck him for his white privelegy "joke".

All the rest? Too long.

Ralin
Jedi Council Member
Posts: 2349
Joined: 2008-08-28 04:23am

Re: "Innocent Until Proven Guilty" & Consequences for Being Accused.

Post by Ralin » 2017-12-09 10:23am

FireNexus wrote:
2017-12-09 01:07am
If I were to be arrested for drug possession, whether or not I was found guilty, I would be fired tomorrow. I haven’t read the policy enough to know exactly what other crimes are covered, but I bet sexual impropriety is one of them.

Employers regularly unload people for potential crimes without proof of guilt.
Employers in the US do a lot of things that most of us probably consider unethical. Why do you think this is relevant when the topic is clearly whether or not it's moral to do so?

Post Reply