Recently, a lot of sexual harassment and abuse cases have come to light in the American and international media. Powerful men, some known scumbags, some respected allies of the women’s movement, have been exposed as serial creeps, harassers, abusers, and assaulters.
What is clear is that there is and has been an epidemic of mistreatment of women in almost all fields– something that is not surprising to women as individuals, but the scope and grim repercussions to women who have tried to speak up are probably surprising to many of us.
Many people denounce what is called “the court of public opinion”. Innocent until proven guilty, goes the cry. Present the evidence in a court of law before passing judgement.
The problem with that viewpoint is that the justice system has failed women (and men, and children, and other victims of sexual crime) time and time again. Roman Polanski, Woody Allen, Bill Cosby, Donald Trump all live freely despite the –stay with me here– absolute knowledge of their wrong-doing. Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Louis CK and others may never face their accusers in court, and if they did, what would be the outcome? Again, the system has let the victims of sexual abuse down over and over, because of a rule about the burden of proof that is arbitrary, unfair, ineffective, and vulnerable to manipulation and biased interpretation.
So if the courts fail us, then I am grateful to the so-called Court of Public Opinion, wherein we see serial abusers vilified, losing their jobs and prestige, and having to face their accusers without the benefit of automatic court protection.
The number of women who make false claims is infinitesimally small, because there is rarely a gain to be made that balances the public doubt and the humiliation of the legal system. So perpetrators go free and victims are silenced while their lives are altered forever.
So, welcome, Court of Public Opinion. You have done well this past month. You have doled out justice where none could be found in any other avenue.
Well done, public.
… And on a lighter note, because it is Wednesday, and unrelated to this topic or the prompt, may I present two of my favourite cartoons which have been dying to appear here at Fluffy Pool:
Keep writing, keep paying attention. 🙂