Sexual assault, etc. in the news

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Re: Sexual assault, etc. in the news

Postby Koseph Jarpenter » Tue Dec 05, 2017 10:40 am

It seems inevitable that in the climate of so many people coming forward telling stories of sexual misconduct, some men will get a raw deal. While I feel sympathy for those potential cases, and agree with zanelord that I want more information released for my own personal judgment of these individuals, a few powerful white men potentially getting cast in an unfairly negative light in the court of public opinion seems like a pretty small price to pay for the positive impact this all has for victims of sexual misconduct and society as a whole.

The potentially quick-to-fire actions of major organizations without clear "due process" does seem potentially motivated by PR moves, though its hard to say. Even if that's the case though, there are a lot of alternatives (minimizing, keeping things quiet, excusing) that are a lot worse, and have been the MO for a long time. Given that the world is not great at subtlety, I'm mostly on board with how things have been handled up to this point.
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Re: Sexual assault, etc. in the news

Postby Juan » Tue Dec 05, 2017 1:18 pm

the "shades of grey" argument is really this in practice: in a case that is anything less than egregious, the rights of the accused (who is usually a white man) must be protected above all else, including the well-being of the (probably female) accuser.


"Shades of grey" doesn't really capture my concern about the rights of the accused, but I do have some concern about the way these cases seem to be tried in the court of public opinion. If I could craft my perfect world, there would be different evidentiary standards in cases of sexual assault and sexual harassment allegations, because there are just too many social and historical factors that make proving guilt that much more difficult, and there is less of a likelihood of false accusations there. Certainly, when a number of women come forward with the same description of an assault or abuse of power, I think that should carry tremendous weight. But I would like for all of that to be spelled out and made official. There should be a clear explanation for why survivors get a greater benefit of the doubt, why you can responsibly relax some of the burden of proof that would exist in other cases of moral transgression, etc.

My concern is really that there just be a process and transparency about its internal logic. Our country/society is really not that morally grounded and is very prone to group-think. I think for most people going along with this current wave of chickens coming home to roost, it does not represent a fully realized moral evolution, it's just a social psychological participation in a tipping point. Which is fine, when the tipping point is in the direction of justice. But if we get too comfortable with this way of doing things outside of clear processes and institutions, it risks bleeding over into other areas. Think of how much we relaxed our sense of the burden of proof for people from majority Muslim nations post-911. The way we have always presumed guilt based on narratives of Black criminality. The way organs of government can easily engage in character assassination to diminish the perceived trustworthiness of whistle blowers. I'm not saying that powerful white men are now being pushed to the margins in the way those groups have been. Just that similar methods can be used to accomplish bad things. So while Woody is right that we're not great at subtlety, I still wish there were some way to make it clear though this is a relatively safe area for mob justice, it shouldn't be seen as totally unproblematic.

Also, for the record: Nategoat's student sounds like a piece of shit. Even with an adolescent's shrunken frontal lobe, it takes a special kind of mean to think it's acceptable to call someone a cunt in the classroom. I'm not particularly concerned with the Title IX people bringing the hammer down on him. I just thought it would be outrageous if their disciplinary actions precluded faculty members from also intervening to control their own class rooms.
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Re: Sexual assault, etc. in the news

Postby greg not hairball » Tue Dec 05, 2017 2:03 pm

One difficult aspect of this situation is that the normal means of adjudicating these cases have totally failed for a really long time. You would hope that police, courts, employers etc. would be able to hold these predators accountable, but that has not been the case. That leaves the court of public opinion as the only place where these cases are being tried, so to speak. It is a shame that everyone gets the same punishment without due process, but I wouldn't blame the mob in this case which is just filling the vacuum that traditional courts have left.
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Re: Sexual assault, etc. in the news

Postby will91 » Tue Dec 05, 2017 2:36 pm

Surprising level of tolerance here for mob justice. Due process is a legal concept, yes, and so not always required in the employment context (or private contracts generally). But it is also a very important ethical principle, favoring fairness and proportionality in decision-making by groups/corporations/polities, that is too frequently devalued -- or worse, delegitimized -- when social issues get heated.

Perhaps of interest, Tamara L. was the Reporter for an ABA task force that issued a report on these issues in the campus context: https://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/publications/criminaljustice/2017/ABA-Due-Process-Task-Force-Recommendations-and-Report.authcheckdam.pdf
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Re: Sexual assault, etc. in the news

Postby corn diesel » Tue Dec 05, 2017 3:41 pm

FWIW, I think Bari Weiss has done the world in favor in how she has wrestled with her own reactions to these issues in her column at NYT. I run around in a similar circle in how she has thought about Al Franken. Still not sure if I prefer he resign, if he deserves credit for taking the high road in calling for his own ethics investigation, whether that would be giving him too much credit, if I'm engaged in motivated reasoning because I like his politics or I identify with masculinity in a way that needs "good guys like him." I think it's probably all of the above with different points of emphasis depending on when I'm thinking about it.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/28/opinion/metoo-sexual-harassment-believe-women.html?_r=0

One other point I would make here (and this point is not original to me). The logic of sticking it to powerful white men (which I generally support) can prevent us from seeing this for the broader issue it really is. Regular non-famous men commit sexual assault all the time, and their victims can't count on the public support that results from coming forward like these women have. There's a similar problem in the national focus on sexual on college campuses. Obviously, that's a huge problem, but it turns out a huger problem is sexual assault off campuses: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/storyline/wp/2014/12/19/rape-on-campus-not-as-prevalent-as-it-is-off-campus/?utm_term=.88a74e81f873.
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Re: Sexual assault, etc. in the news

Postby corn diesel » Wed Dec 06, 2017 4:30 pm

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