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Anonymity for the accused: reaching for a compromise

In the hours since the acquittal of Michael Le Vell on all counts of child rape and abuse charges, I have, like many others, found myself wrestling with severely unpleasant emotional reactions.

Like all but a handful of observers, I was not in court for the trial. I do not know who the central witness was, or much that is meaningful about her other than that she is a girl, now aged 17. I do not know her relationship to Le Vell, I do not know anything about her personal history or circumstances. I do know that there was evidence provided to the court which could not be reported, lest it compromise the complainant’s anonymity. I can assume that some of the evidence and arguments presented by the defence will have been considered relevant and significant by the jury, other evidence and arguments will not, but I have no way of knowing what each of those might have been. Almost everyone else in the country is in the precise same position as I am.

With that in mind, I have been disgusted and appalled by the innumerable tweets and message-board comments I’ve seen calling for the witness in this trial to be named and shamed, imprisoned for making false allegations or simply abused and insulted by people calling her variations on “a lying little bitch.” In any case like this there is an enormous gulf between proving the defendant guilty beyond all reasonable doubt and confidently stating that the accuser is vindictively deceitful and dishonest. We simply don’t know.

I have also been disgusted and appalled by the innumerable tweets I’ve seen declaring the jury’s decision irrelevant, asserting that there would be no reason for the complainant to bear false witness and that Le Vell is possibly, probably or even (as I’ve seen written) certainly guilty, despite the jury’s verdict.

Inevitably, the case has once again raised the question of anonymity for the accused in rape and sexual abuse trials. The people who have today been asserting Le Vell’s probable guilt, even by the indirect use of the hashtag #ibelieveher, should be aware that they are providing the single strongest argument for the introduction of anonymity I have ever seen. Our judicial system is far, far from perfect and is in many ways in need of reform, but it is the only one we have got, and unless we prefer the justice of the pitchfork and the witchfynder, the single most important principle underpinning it has to be that every one of us is innocent until and unless proven guilty. Why is there a need for anonymity for rape defendants? Because even when someone is acquitted, large numbers of people continue to assert their guilt, and that was vividly proven on Twitter this week. People ask why we don’t make the same demand for murder, armed robbery or other crimes? The answer is primarily because when someone is acquitted on such charges, the rest of us are much, much more likely to accept and believe the verdict.

Now I have got that off my chest, I should explain that I am still not entirely convinced by the arguments for anonymity. The most convincing counter-argument is that when one victim of a serial offender comes forward, it will encourage other victims of the same attacker to do likewise, greatly improving the chances of securing justice and protection for all. This is an important factor which cannot be wished away. However if one begins to look more closely, some space for compromise begins to open up.

One example often used is serial rapist John Worboys, the taxi driver eventually convicted of 12 rapes, but believed to have been responsible for over a hundred more. However (I presume) few if any of his victims knew his name or had particularly good recognition of his face. What they recognised was his precise modus operandi . The key moment in catching him was when media and police eventually described not him, but his method, at which point many more victims approached saying “this is exactly what happened to me too.”

The other examples being quoted this week are Stuart Hall and other alleged or convicted offenders in the Operation Yewtree investigations. Again, these cases are less clear cut than they appear. What has happened in the aftermath of the Savile revelations is that many witnesses have come forward to report being victims of a wide number of offenders who were celebrities and stars in television and pop culture. When it emerged that children (and indeed adults) had been abused by stars of TV and radio, other victims came forward to identify different alleged offenders.  What both Yewtree and Worboys suggest to me is that, at least in some cases, publicising the circumstances and (within reason) details of alleged sexual offences is a much more significant move than naming the offender.

So this is a question where the arguments on both sides, for and against, can be convincing. I’m not sure why the debate must be held on an absolute, all or nothing basis. British law (and I’d imagine similar applies in other countries) holds plenty of provision for reporting restrictions. Under contempt of court laws, judges can demand secrecy in cases of youth offending, family law, blackmail and more. Crucially, the judge also has the power to lift reporting restrictions in many of those cases, if the circumstances require or allow it.

Rape and sexual assault charges happen under many different circumstances. Sometimes police and prosecutors might judge it likely that there are other potential victims at large who could be persuaded to come forward if the alleged attacker is identified. In other cases (particularly familial and domestic abuse) the chances of there being other, as yet unidentified victims would be minuscule. I see no reason why there couldn’t be an assumption of anonymity which could be lifted at any time by the presiding judge, if investigators plead that it offers significant prospects of helping the case.

Whether or not this might have applied to or helped Michael Le Vell, I do not know and shall not speculate.  However I do think that this debate, which at times seems intractable and polarised, might offer more scope for compromise and nuance than is normally allowed.

Comments

  1. says

    Why is there a need for anonymity for rape defendants? Because even when someone is acquitted, large numbers of people continue to assert their guilt, and that was vividly proven on Twitter this week.

    You’re fucking kidding, right? It couldn’t be because

    the innumerable tweets and message-board comments I’ve seen calling for the witness in this trial to be named and shamed, imprisoned for making false allegations or simply abused and insulted by people calling her variations on “a lying little bitch.”

    and the various rape threats and other threats of violence that would be directed at a specific person–already a survivor of a traumatic experience? For fucking ever.

    And the idea that just because someone’s been found not guilty in a court, we should then turn off our own reasoning faculties and assume he’s innocent, especially when it comes to cases of sexual assault (look up the reporting and conviction statistics) is preposterous. I’m not even reading the rest of this crap rape apology post.

  2. Ally Fogg says

    Ibis3

    and the various rape threats and other threats of violence that would be directed at a specific person–already a survivor of a traumatic experience? For fucking ever.

    No, it couldn’t (or shouldn’t) be because of that, because that has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on the innocence of the defendant. It is a completely different issue, and the latter does not arise from or justify the former, or vice versa.

    And the idea that just because someone’s been found not guilty in a court, we should then turn off our own reasoning faculties and assume he’s innocent, especially when it comes to cases of sexual assault (look up the reporting and conviction statistics) is preposterous.

    So when you know for a fact that you do not have access to all the relevant information and evidence, what exactly are you using for your “reasoning faculties”?

    And yes, when a jury has found someone not guilty, you absolutely should consider them innocent unless you have very strong evidence to suggest a miscarriage of justice has taken place. Because otherwise you might as well just throw someone in the pond and see if they float.

  3. chasstewart says

    Rape apology? Could you explain this better? Ally wrote that some anonymity should be lifted (like modus operandi) so that other rapes can be prevented and the rapist to be brought to justice. How can you call that rape apology? He’s just being a bit nuanced in his approach.

  4. David Jones says

    I’m unconvinced about anonymity for the accused. I’m suspicious of treating the accusation of rape as uniquely terrible and I’m very much in favour of the justice process being as open as possible. We really should try to encourage the view that an accusation is just that – an accusation, not a knock -down proof of guilt.

  5. Ally Fogg says

    @David Jones

    We really should try to encourage the view that an accusation is just that – an accusation, not a knock -down proof of guilt.

    Yeah, if we could actually do that the whole issue would become null and void. I’m a bit pessimistic about it happening though, for reasons comment #1 underlines.

  6. says

    @4: We already do this by providing more anonymity for the accuser than in other crimes. I think the error people make on this issue is generalizing about all of society and it turns into an argument about whether people will believe that the accuser is a lying bitch or the accused is a rapist that beat the system, regardless of what the court finds. Both actually happen in significant numbers.

  7. David Jones says

    I wouldn’t like to be in either’s shoes. One’s been found not guilty but is still condemned by some; the other’s been asserted to be guilty by some.

    But sometimes events don’t have perfect resolutions. Perhaps a horrible consequence of being found not guilty in court is that inevitably a lingering suspicion remains and yet there’s nothing to be done about that – except to plead for a little more civility. I still say that openness is too valuable to give up.

  8. David Jones says

    Ace – we’ve decided to provide anonymity for the accuser for pragmatic reasons; we need women (mainly) to be willing to pursue the thing to court. This is because the crime is often perceived to be uniquely shameful and distressing – something i think i remember Germaine Greer arguing against years ago – but I’m talking not about the crime per se but what we make of an accusation.

  9. says

    @Ally: I think you are wrong that people are less likely to believe a not guilty verdict in the case of rape than other crimes. There are certainly more people lined up to reject a guilty verdict, but if people generally accepted acquittals, we wouldn’t have the Dirty Harry series or Nancy Grace or the cultural memes we do about defense lawyers or technicalities like fruit of a poison tree. See Casey Anthony, OJ Simpson or George Zimmerman.

  10. Trophy says

    @Ally:
    And yes, when a jury has found someone not guilty, you absolutely should consider them innocent unless

    I don’t completely agree with that, specially when it comes to this kind of rape cases. For instance, in this case we can safely assume there is no physical evidence of sexual activity (since she was a minor at the time). Given that, most likely the trial boiled down to testimonies, maybe some witnesses, accused, and the accuser. And to be honest, trials that rely on testimonies can be a mess, a big damn circus with arbitrary results. Being aqcuited of a crime in a trial that is mostly based on testimonies does not tell me anything.

    In fact, if only testimonies are available, and if we insist on the standard of “conviction = guilty beyond reasonable doubt” then automatically, most rapist should be acquitted because it is almost never possible to prove “guilty beyond reasonable doubt” based on the testimonies, regardless of how confident and detailed is the victim’s testimony (e.g., see this for fascinating case).

    Also, given how our memory works, it’s reasonable, natural, and damn expected for anyone’s memory to be full of holes an inconsistenties. In trials that are based on testimonies, those can be damning. Even if you are telling the truth, if you have forgotten a small detail, or are mistaken about a minor issue, that can be used by the lawyer or the prosecutor to completely blow your credibility out of water. So, no, sometimes being acquited in a trial doesn’t tell me anything.

  11. Gjenganger says

    Excellent and well-considered as always.

    People ask why we don’t make the same demand for murder, armed robbery or other crimes? The answer is primarily because when someone is acquitted on such charges, the rest of us are much, much more likely to accept and believe the verdict.

    I am not sure that people alwaysbelieve the verdict, but anyway it should be enough that they accept it. Not everybody presumes that O.J. Simpson and DSK are necessarily innocent, but we accept that we do not know for sure and that they deserve to be treated as normal, innocent people, whatever we estimate they did. That is the part that still works for murder but breaks down for rape and, especially, paedophilia. Once people think that somebody may well be guilty of one of these crimes, they are no longer willing (or able) to treat them normally.

  12. Gjenganger says

    @Trophy 11

    sometimes being acquited in a trial doesn’t tell me anything.

    It may not prove much, but somebody who has been acquitted has the right to be treated normally and politely, not to get fired, etc. Whatever you think they may have done, you cannot condemn people as rapists on the basis of just unsubsantiated allegations.

  13. SteveF says

    I’m not sure anonymity for either is realistic in this day and age. It’s an absolutely trivial matter to figure out who the victim was. I can’t imagine it would be any easier to protect the identity of the accused.

  14. SteveF says

    All of which is to say, the problem is one that cannot be solved by anonymity but only by reducing the need for anonymity via other societal changes. Apologies for the double post.

  15. JT says

    Had the accuser been an adult would we then be privy to their personal history as is the case with the accused?

  16. Ally Fogg says

    JT – No, not in a rape trial, we’d face the exact same issues.

    Although it is probably true (in general terms, not necessarily in this case) that there are likely to be more issues of evidence which can not be made public because it could lead to the accuser being identified.

  17. Paul says

    If you believe that someone should be viewed as being innocent until proven guilty then surely it’s right their reputation is protected until the case against them has been proven. Michael Le Vell has been found not guilty of the charges made against him and yet his reputation’s now in tatters.For there’ll always be people who believe there’s no smoke without fire and that he’s a nonce. And he’s going to have to live with that until the day he dies.

    Personally i believe that all those accused of sex crimes should be granted anonymity until and unless proven guilty.For i don’t believe the destruction of the reputations of potentially innocent people is a price worth paying to either increase the conviction rate for sex offenders and/or encourage more victims to come forward. What i’m not entirely sure about is what to do with those who make allegations against those who’re subsequently found to be not guilty. For the fact someone is found not guilty doesn’t always mean they haven’t committed the crime-it means the case against them hasn’t been proven. So my gut feeling is that the anonymity of those who make allegations which don’t stand up in court must be protected until and unless it can be proved beyond reasonable doubt that they’ve lied.

  18. redpesto says

    Fogg:

    So this is a question where the arguments on both sides, for and against, can be convincing. I’m not sure why the debate must be held on an absolute, all or nothing basis.

    1 – The adversarial model of the English legal system (correct me if I’m wrong, but in Scotland a jury can return a verdict of ‘Not Proven’).

    2 – The same adversarial model is replicated in individual/group responses, reflecting confirmation biases, ideologies and beliefs around gender as well as sexual behaviour, as well as other personal responses. Throw in social media, and you have a toxic model of near-tribal loyalities played out over the internet..

    The possibility that when it comes to a trial (a) an accuser is to be believed and (b) the accused is innocent until proven guilty (beyond reasonable doubt) is precisely the kind of ‘compromise’ some people apparently refuse to accept (hence one group leaping to the conclusion that the accuser must be lying after a ‘not guilty’ verdict and another group resorting to ‘no smoke without fire’ assumptions of the defendant’s guilt).

  19. Norman Hadley says

    When it comes to rape, I always think people should consider the same-sex scenario first, to eliminate the distorting effects of pink-team/ blue-team loyalties. So the Nigel Evans allegations may be more instructive.

    Also (and perhaps more controversially) I am always dismayed by the leeway granted to adult victims who come forward years or decades later. It seems to me the one instance where a modicum of victim blaming is justified because an unchallenged perpetrator can so often become serial.

  20. JT says

    @Ally 17

    Isnt that in a way treating the accuser in an infantile way. It is basically saying that they should not be held to the same possible negative outcomes that the accused would encounter for fear it could harm them. The accused is not afforded the same courtesy. Technically if the accused is found innocent it does imply that the accuser lied or at least that is a reasonable perspective.

  21. redpesto says

    Norman Hadley (@20):

    When it comes to rape, I always think people should consider the same-sex scenario first, to eliminate the distorting effects of pink-team/ blue-team loyalties. So the Nigel Evans allegations may be more instructive.

    Not necessarily – you lose the ‘pink-team/ blue-team loyalties’, but you have to factor in homophobia.

  22. Gjenganger says

    @JT 22

    Technically if the accused is found innocent it does imply that the accuser lied or at least that is a reasonable perspective.

    No. The accuser is found innocent if there is not enough evidence – or in other words if nobody can prove what happened. The accused is also found innocent if the accuser did not consent (a matter of her mental state) but the accused reasonably believed that she did (a matter of his mental state). The process is biased in favour of acquitting the accused – as it should be – but we can not then punish the accuser whenever there is an acquittal.

  23. says

    It’s funny – I’ve never read a reasonable comment that included its author advertising their refusal to read something. It seems akin to saying, “My mind is closed!”

    JT

    Technically if the accused is found innocent it does imply that the accuser lied or at least that is a reasonable perspective.

    She may have been lying but it is also possible that she was painfully deluded.

  24. Norman Hadley says

    Hi red pesto (23)
    True, but even the most bigoted homophobe can consider a scenario where both accuser and accused are openly gay or lesbian.

  25. Ginkgo says

    “Technically if the accused is found innocent it does imply that the accuser lied or at least that is a reasonable perspective.”

    Not at all reasonable. Lying requires two things: false content and knowingly conveying it. You cna easily convey false content you believe at the time to be true.

    True stroy – There is a team of a man and a woman who travel around the Midwest and Mid South giving talks on false rape accusations and bad convictions. She was raped and he was convicted of the rape, and was then exonerated, DNA evidence I think. He was convicted based on her identification of him.

    She feels horribly guilty about it and that motivates her to help in this effort, but if you look at the way this was handled, she was guilty of NOTHING. The prosecution and the police browbeat an identification out of her. In fact she was re-victimized. When a rape victim gets shaming and disbelief, that is vicitimizing, but this mistreatment and manipulation of a victim for “evidence” is a second form of victimization.

    She couldn’t make an exact identification – she’d been busy getting raped at the time and couldn’t get a clear look – but they finally broke her and she identiifed this guy. And it turned out to be the wrong guy.

    Both were vicitmized by the system in their own way.

  26. carnation says

    This is an area that requires some attention. My gut instinct is anonymity until at least trial and a police protocol concerning those arrested and questioned but not charged being granted anonymity. The latter could be enacted far quicker than the former.

    I actually believe these measures have the potential to encourage complainants.

    Will write more later.

  27. Copyleft says

    A sensible and evenhanded policy would be to keep the identity of both accuser AND defendant confidential to all but legal and court authorities until after the trial.

    But that would get in the way of mob hysteria, so it’s not gonna happen.

  28. Copyleft says

    BenSix @ 25: That’s an important point. People underestimate how much they can honestly, sincerely, and with vivid detail be 100% wrong on what they’re sure they saw and remember. Neuroscience studies have shown us that ‘memory’ is a process of active-reconstruction, and that ‘eyewitness testimony’ by all rights should be laughed out of court in most cases, replaced by expert analysis of physical evidence alone.

    That’s an ideal, of course; messy reality has to rely on deeply flawed human interpretation, re-interpretaion, false assumptions, sweeping unconscious rewrites of reality, etc. etc. In far too many cases, the REAL ‘truth” can never be known, regardless of the verdict.

  29. Gjenganger says

    @24 Gjenganger

    No. The accuser is found innocent if there is not enough evidence

    B*ll***s! That should have been
    “No. The accused is found innocent if there is not enough evidence”

  30. David Jones says

    He was convicted based on her identification of him…she was guilty of NOTHING. The prosecution and the police browbeat an identification out of her

    I disagree. She was guilty of something – not legally of course but morally – even if there’s a mitigation. To draw an analogy from the legal process again – and don’t take this the wrong way – it’s why mitigation is used in deciding upon sentence but not upon guilt.

    She couldn’t make an exact identification

    But she did make an identification didn’t she? And I think saying they ‘broke’ her is a bit steep. I can see that language may be appropriate for some torture and interrogation scenarios; not for this.

  31. JT says

    Not at all reasonable. Lying requires two things: false content and knowingly conveying it. You cna easily convey false content you believe at the time to be true.(Gingko)

    Well, I guess you can give her the benefit of the doubt and assume she didn’t knowingly convey false evidence but you don’t really know that. Im thinking it is reasonable to also assume she could have lied.

  32. Ginkgo says

    DJ @ 23 – “But she did make an identification didn’t she? And I think saying they ‘broke’ her is a bit steep. I can see that language may be appropriate for some torture and interrogation scenarios; not for this.”

    I see what you are saying, and yeah, she did the wrong thing in the end, but I think you underestimate the zeal of police to close cases and the political ambitons of prosecutors eager to develop a brand of being hard on crimes against women or whatever, ala Mike Nifong – and thereby victimiing women.

    And for all we know, and this was my point that I failed to spell out – she may at the time have truly thought he was the rapist. If so then she turned out to be wrong in the end, but she never lied.

  33. Ginkgo says

    JT @ 24 – “Im thinking it is reasonable to also assume she could have lied.”

    She could have lied, that’s reasonable – but it’s also irelevant. All that is relevant is whether or not she did lie. Big difference.

    I think the only standard for people making rape accusations is good faith, the same as for any other crime. It is not the complainant’s job, whether the complaint be rape, robbery or whatever, to make a case to the police, to have to convince the police of anything. They simply give information and then it is up to the police to evaluate it and investigate if they decide there’s anything worth investigating.

    It should be no different than any other information they recieve. The police get lots of shaky tips, all the time. There are shaky tips that run into very solid cases. The point is that vetting and checking this information is a policie procedure, not the responsibility of the complainant.

  34. JT says

    @Ginkgo

    The good faith standard is fine, until the trial is done. If the accused is proven to be innocent do you suggest we still continue to believe the accuser in good faith? Because if you do, then obviously that makes it pretty shitty for the individual who was found to be innocent.

  35. hjhornbeck says

    You’re conflating two different burdens of proof, Fogg.

    We grant the judiicial system the ability to temporarily suspend a person’s rights, in order to protect the rest of society. In return, we demand they meet a high burden of proof before acting to restrict someone’s rights, to minimize the number of false positives (and thus innocents thrown in the slammer).

    Private individuals, though, are not granted the power the judicial system has. As such, we can and do operate according to a lower burden of proof. Thus it’s entirely reasonable for the judicial system to declare someone not guilty, but have some of the general public declare them guilty, and for both to act according to their conclusions.

    If this does not seem reasonable, then we can either reduce the burden of proof for the judicial system (bad idea), or raise the burden of proof for the general public to match. But if we do the latter, we must now demand proof beyond a reasonable doubt that a bike helmet or seatbelt will protect us in a crash, the meal we eat is safe, and so on.

    You could salvage a reasonable position by stating that, in this case, the public should bump up their burden of proof a bit. But now you’ve got to ask what level of proof is justified here, why this does not contradict the leveils of proof we have elsewhere, and even then we’ll still run into situations where the decisions of a court and the public disagree.

    I instead suggest conceding that some of the public are justified in saying Michael Le Vell is guilty by their burden of proof.

  36. JT says

    The reason I say this is because it is obviously an unfair playing field presently for the accuser and accused after a trial is done. We don’t release any info on the accuser after the accused is found to be innocent. It seems the good faith idea plays out after the facts have been presented. I think that is wrong. In a sense it allows the accused to still be trashed(after being found innocent) while the accuser gets to live in relative anonymity even though they may have not really been telling the truth.

  37. Ally Fogg says

    @ hjhornbeck

    You could salvage a reasonable position by stating that, in this case, the public should bump up their burden of proof a bit. But now you’ve got to ask what level of proof is justified here, why this does not contradict the leveils of proof we have elsewhere, and even then we’ll still run into situations where the decisions of a court and the public disagree.

    I instead suggest conceding that some of the public are justified in saying Michael Le Vell is guilty by their burden of proof.

    I think that would be a reasonable point if we had the same access to all the evidence, all the background that the court / jury had.

    In a case like OJ Simpson or George Zimmerman, where everything was televised, all the evidence available to inspect and consider at our leisure, then yes, I think it is reasonable for a member of the public to form and share a reasonably strong opinion as to guilt or innocence.

    But in a case like this, you are saying it is reasonable for people to form a judgement based on little more than heavily redacted (and editorialised) newspaper reports. Under those circumsances, I don’t think there is any moral justification for declaring the jury to be wrong. That’s my feeling about this case, and it is also my feeling about the Ched Evans case, which went the other way.

  38. says

    Ally, for the most part, the prosecution submits evidence and the defense responds. I suppose it’s possible that the defense found some airtight alibi which can’t be released to the public for some reason, but it’s highly unlikely. This seems like an odd place to take a stand.

  39. Birric Forcella says

    Ally vastly underplayed one of the major arguments for withholding the accused’s name. In some cases the details and modus operandi allow other victims to come forward. However, modus operandi and other details can be disclosed without giving a name. Many crimes were seen as related long before the name of the perpetrator was known, from Son of Sam to the Zodiak killer.

    Either withhold both names or disclose both names.

  40. hoary puccoon says

    I didn’t see it mentioned here– one of the reasons for public trials is to protect the accused. If there are 37 potential witnesses able to testify to the innocence of the accused, but none of them realize the innocent person is on trial, they don’t do much good, do they?

    Unless there is a strong reason to believe that people on trial for rape are more likely to be judged in the “court” of public opinion than people on trial for other crimes, their problems with possibly being accused by the public at large really need to be weighed against the dangers of secret trials. in secret trials, the government could easily convict anyone, without evidence and without interference. This is obviously not what we should want.

  41. Ally Fogg says

    Ace of Sevens

    I wouldn’t be sure of that. I’m being really, really careful in how I choose my words here (and I’d urge everyone else to do the same) but it is hypothetically possible that, for example, if we knew more about the nature of the relationship between accuser and accused it might shed a lot of light on why the jury saw reasonable doubt as to the truth of the allegations.

    There are other factors too, though. Court reporters are (understandably and correctly) cautious about reporting the more explicit anatomical details of sexual abuse trials. Press reports in this case rather glossed over the medical testimony that revealed the alleged victim to have an intact hymen and no physical signs that she had ever had sexual intercourse, despite alleging multiple incidents of rape. That is not definitive, but it is at least possible that there was extensive questioning about the alleged details of penetrative sex, none of which we heard.

    I repeat, this is a cautious and hypothetical example of the kind of thing that might have been discussed at length in court but which the rest of us are not privy to. There could easily have been many other bits of evidence that we know (literally) nothing about.

  42. Ginkgo says

    JT @ 36 – “The good faith standard is fine, until the trial is done. If the accused is proven to be innocent do you suggest we still continue to believe the accuser in good faith? Because if you do, ”

    JT, you are missing the distinction between false information and a lie. That distinction is intentionality, one of the semantic features of the verb “to lie.”

    The acquittal means the complainant’s information was false on some essential or on all points. It means he is innocent as far as the law (and society’s judgment) goes. It does not mean she was lying. (And I do not mean this case at all.)

  43. JT says

    @Ginkgo

    Youre missing my point. The fact is she possibly could be lying. Youre assuming it could only be false information. Just because someone makes a claim doesn’t exclude the possibility that they may be consciously lying. Im thinking we after the good faith stage and subsequent innocent verdict maybe in some cases we should revisit how truthful the accusers are. The problem lies in that we wouldn’t have any public information to go by.

  44. Jacob Schmidt says

    She feels horribly guilty about it and that motivates her to help in this effort, but if you look at the way this was handled, she was guilty of NOTHING. The prosecution and the police browbeat an identification out of her. In fact she was re-victimized. When a rape victim gets shaming and disbelief, that is vicitimizing, but this mistreatment and manipulation of a victim for “evidence” is a second form of victimization.

    Ginkgo

    This. It’s known to happen in other crimes; the police tend to push for the conviction they want. It shouldn’t be remotely surprising that it happens in rape cases, too.

    JT

    Youre missing my point. The fact is she possibly could be lying. Youre assuming it could only be false information. Just because someone makes a claim doesn’t exclude the possibility that they may be consciously lying.

    No.

    Go look back at what you wrote: “Technically if the accused is found innocent it does imply that the accuser lied or at least that is a reasonable perspective.

    Im thinking it is reasonable to also assume she could have lied.

    You weren’t advocating for the mere possibility that she’s lying.

  45. mildlymagnificent says

    It may not prove much, but somebody who has been acquitted has the right to be treated normally and politely, not to get fired, etc.

    But proven beyond reasonable doubt is not the standard for employment – it’s balance of probabilities, and even that is not as strong as the criteria used in civil courts anyway.

    As an employer, I’d have no qualms about sacking someone I’d employed as an accountant if they’d been found not guilty of fraud or embezzlement – unless the reason for the acquittal was proof that they’d been framed by the real guilty party. (And I was also convinced that the employee wasn’t incompetent in not picking up the financial problems themselves.) If I ran a childcare business or one providing services to women, I’d not need much convincing that employment should be terminated if they were accused but not convicted of a sexual offence – unless, again, there was real evidence that they’d been incorrectly identified or dishonestly or unfairly targeted by someone.

  46. says

    when a jury has found someone not guilty, you absolutely should consider them innocent

    When someone is found not guilty, it does not mean they are innocent, but that there is reasonable doubt of their guilt. If innocence is proven, charges are dismissed.
    I don’t believe OJ or Zimmermann are innocent, why should I particularly believe this of people acquitted of rape? Especially as statistics show only a small percentage of rape accusations are false, see the numbers.

    Norman Hadley@21
    No, you got it right the first time. That is victim-blaming. There are very good reasons why victims may not report. The only person responsible for a rape is the rapist.

    JT@22
    Protecting witnesses from rape and death threats which invariably ensue is not “treating them in an infantile way”.

    JT@47
    Less than 10% of rape accusations result in a conviction, so 90% don’t.
    Statistics show only 6% of rape accusations are false.
    So if a rape accusation does not lead to a conviction, this is due to a false allegation less than10% of the time.
    Concluding “false accusation” from “no conviction” is clearly unreasonable.
    _
    citations in Jason’s numbers post linked above.

  47. says

    @Delft

    I don’t believe OJ or Zimmermann are innocent, why should I particularly believe this of people acquitted of rape? Especially as statistics show only a small percentage of rape accusations are false, see the numbers.

    Those numbers don’t have anything to do with this situation. You are effectively saying that because police think only about 7% of reported rapes are unfounded, the vast majority of people found not guilty are actually guilty. This doesn’t follow, especially when you consider that an unfounded case by definition is one that wasn’t worth bringing to a prosecutor, so those numbers assume that everyone charged is guilty if you try to use them this way. (They were not intended to be used this way.)

    Ally: The main weakness in your argument is I’m seeing no evidence that people are any more likely to think acquitted alleged rapists are actually guilty than people acquitted of other crimes. I don’t know enough about this case to know how reasonable it is here, but not seeing the issue. Also:

    British law (and I’d imagine similar applies in other countries) holds plenty of provision for reporting restrictions.

    You imagine incorrectly here. My understanding is the UK is an outlier here. I’m not terribly familiar with other countries, but in the US, some jurisdictions prohibit the court from identifying the accuser, but the press is still free to report it if they can get ahold of this information. The US has virtually no restrictions on the press beyond libel laws. Most countries have more restrictions than that, but hardly extensive.

  48. JT says

    @Delft

    Then I hope you have the same concerns for the accused because im sure they get their share of physical threats too. I hope you dont think that just because they may be male they can handle it because you know………..that would be…….sexist.

  49. hjhornbeck says

    Fogg @39:

    But in a case like this, you are saying it is reasonable for people to form a judgement based on little more than heavily redacted (and editorialised) newspaper reports.

    Yes, it is very reasonable. I know nothing about this case, except what I learned from of a quick scan of your link, which means I know:

    – Police in the UK and elsewhere are almost always biased against the victim.
    – Sexual assault is a difficult crime to prosecute, for reasons including the aforementioned police bias, and the difficulty of obtaining physical evidence.
    – Famous people usually have more resources to defend themselves than the non-famous, allowing them to afford better lawyers and making them tougher to prosecute.
    – Many people know the above, which combine with pervasive myths about sexual assault to discourage false reports.
    – Despite their biases, the police believed the gathered evidence was enough to be worthy of going to trial, even though they had the option not to (and already exercised that option once).
    – Making the accuser anonymous eliminates a direct profit motive, further discouraging false claims.
    – Making the accuser anonymous restricts the types of evidence that can be presented, making a conviction more difficult and discouraging false claims.
    – At no point during several years worth of intense examination did the victim recant or confess to false charges, even though it would have ended the scrutiny.

    Would I convict him, based on the above? No way! Would I start tweeting under that hashtag? Not enough evidence to justify my time. However, based solely on the evidence above, stating “it is more likely that Le Vall committed sexual assault than that he did not” is quite reasonable, and if I bothered to dig for more evidence I could quite easily gather enough to justify shouting on Twitter.

    Under those circumsances, I don’t think there is any moral justification for declaring the jury to be wrong.

    Agreed. Concluding something at a low balance of evidence, but failing to conclude the same thing at a higher balance, is not contradictory or immoral in the least.

  50. hjhornbeck says

    JT @51:

    Then I hope you have the same concerns for the accused because im sure they get their share of physical threats too.

    From the article Fogg linked to:

    An ITV spokesman said: “We are looking forward to meeting with Michael to discuss his return to the programme.”

    He doesn’t seem to be paying much of a penalty. Our society tends to treat whistle-blowers much more harshly than the criminals they bring to light. Focusing just on Steubenville, we find one whistle-blower could be incarcerated five times longer than the rapists he exposed, multiple TV anchors on CNN and elsewhere pitied the poor rapists, and students there are currently receiving training in how to manage their social media appearance (aka. how to avoid broadcasting your criminal behavior to the world).

  51. Jacob Schmidt says

    <blockquote.I hope you dont think that just because they may be male they can handle it because you know………..that would be…….sexist.

    Heh.

  52. says

    @hjhornbeck: Your analysis seems to be about a typical case an ignoring the facts of this one. I think the relevant differences are that this case came about as part of a police task force looking for television personalities who had committed statutory rape. Such a task force would have been far more prone to believing allegations than typical. Also, the defendant is a celebrity, who tend to attract more stalkers than the average person. Ally seems to be more familiar with the facts of the case than I, but he seems to think the evidence strongly favored the defense narrative. I think it’s inadvisable, to say the least, to judge people’s guilt based on statistical info with basically no specifics on the case.

  53. Thil says

    37

    “If this does not seem reasonable, then we can either reduce the burden of proof for the judicial system (bad idea), or raise the burden of proof for the general public to match. But if we do the latter, we must now demand proof beyond a reasonable doubt that a bike helmet or seatbelt will protect us in a crash, the meal we eat is safe, and so on”

    demanding that products I buy be safe beyond reasonable doubt effects no one but me and people who chose to make money by selling them. if Michael Le Vell was falsely accused that’s not his fault and continuing to be suspicious hurts him regardless of him having done nothing different from anyone else

  54. wtfwhateverd00d says

    It should be treated like ANY other case from robbery to burglary to assault to murder.

    If people look badly on the accuser for being raped, society needs to get over that. Just as society got over gay marriage.

    But for fairness for all, rape has to be treated just like every other crime in society is treated.

  55. Thil says

    @wtfwhateverd00d

    “If people look badly on the accuser for being raped, society needs to get over that”

    and the victim of the mob needs to pay in the mean time?

  56. Norman Hadley says

    Good morning delft.

    You repeat the much mentioned saw ” The only person responsible for a rape is the rapist”
    Can I ask you this, then – do you believe in the existence of rape culture?

    (Harrowing and well written skepchick link by the way)

  57. says

    Ace of Sevens@50

    Those numbers don’t have anything to do with this situation.

    Yes, they do. 10% of accused are convicted, in 6% the accusation is thought to be false (though this is often due to the victims recanting due to police harassment, not because they were actually lying). Yet in the remaining 84% you and JT are arguing it’s always the victim who is lying – no, that is not reasonable.

    JT@51
    Seeing how rapists who are convicted, and who posted the footage of the rape on the social media are persecuted… no, wait, they’re not. It’s the victim who is blamed and hounded.

    Norman Hadley@60
    Blaming anyone for the rape other than the rapists, especially the victims (as you did) is rapeculture.

  58. Ally Fogg says

    @Delft (and others)

    Bear in mind that many rape cases do not come down to either one person or the other lying through their teeth.

    In many (I’d hazard a guess the majority) the great bulk of the facts are not in dispute, the judicial system is being asked to make a judgement about consent or otherwise. Many cases the only thing up for argument is a quite subtle question of consciousness “I believed she wanted this to happen” versus “He knew I didn’t want this to happen.” In those cases, both parties might genuinely believe (or convince themselves) that they are telling the truth.

    Cases where it is up for dispute whether the actual sexual incident occurred at all (like this one) are actually very rare.

  59. says

    Hi again Delft(61). You say

    Blaming anyone for the rape other than the rapists, especially the victims (as you did) is rapeculture.

    But that thought seems fundamentally incoherent to me. Because if people (including, according to your accusation, me) are creating a culture in which rape is more likely, it follows that they/we must be partly (let me say that word again- partly) responsible for the prevalence of that contemptible crime. As I understand it, it’s fundamental to the rape culture concept that rapists are more likely to rape in a culture where they think they can get away with it.

    So you, me, Kenneth Clarke, Nick Ross, Helen Mirren, Jimmy Carr and every single agentic adult in the land (to labour the point, in the culture) bears some small responsibility for how we discuss rape. We have a duty to talk about it sensitively and thoughtfully and if we fail in that duty, we should be held responsible (or, if you prefer, accountable) for our part in our culture’s shortcomings.

    If you agree with this (and I hope you do) then you’ve disavowed your earlier assertion that “The only person responsible for a rape is the rapist.”

    I’m sorry if this comes across as a bit cold. I don’t have any first-hand or second-hand experience of rape so my approach is perhaps a bit abstract. I just don’t think your first assertion stands up to rational scrutiny.

    Try a scenario in which all the protagonists are male. Alan and Brian are best friends. Both gay but lovers. Alan dates Colin for a time but breaks it off after Colin rapes him. Alan watches silently as Colin starts dating Brian.

    Now it would seem to me unreasonably doctrinaire to assert that Alan has no responsibility whatsoever to warn his best friend of Colin’s true nature. And, for me, that responsibility doesn’t melt like summer snow the moment Colin commits the second (and foreseeable) rape. Hence I think there’s room for a “nuanced allocation of responsibility” (jail for Colin, measured reproach for Alan, total absolution for Brian) in that case. As I said earlier, I think that’s the one instance where we should be cautious about absolving prior victims of all responsibility (the responsibility to report and prosecute, not responsibility for their own ordeal).

    I hope that all makes sense to you. At this point I could give you a long list of things I’m not saying – “Rape is AOK”, “The earth is flat”, “9/11 never happened” etc, but I’m going to trust in your integrity that I don’t need to do that.

    [This is highly relevant to Ally’s article, of course, because the reluctance of victims to come forward is usually the commonest argument against anonymity for defendants.]

  60. Staff to three cats... says

    @ 52 hjhornbeck

    I can’t help but notice the assumption of police bias that you make on three separate occasions.

    As someone who was falsely (and demonstrably, when the alledged incident took place I was asleep in the back of a car full of people being driven by an off-duty policeman, in another county) accused by name (so not really an issue of a dodgy lineup) of rape, I was wondering if you could actually provide some citations for this. Because it really didn’t feel like they were biased in my favour while I was sat in a paper suit while they were checking out where I was.

  61. Jacob Schmidt says

    Because if people (including, according to your accusation, me) are creating a culture in which rape is more likely, it follows that they/we must be partly (let me say that word again- partly) responsible for the prevalence of that contemptible crime.

    Yes, you have a point. Kind of.

    The fact of the matter is, the rapist is responsible. Full stop. No question. That was their actions; it’s on their head. The problem with rape culture is that it’s used to deflect responsibility from rapists, thereby making it easier to rape and get away with it.

    A huge part of this is “victim blaming.” Stuff like “she shouldn’t have been wearing that”; ” she should’be cabbed home” (never mind that she couldn’t afford it); “she shouldn’t have been out that late”*** (never mind that she works that late); etc. It’s ostensibly good advice, but all it really does is deflect responisbility from the rapist onto the victim. Except there is no clear cut “rape scenario”; it happens all kinds of ways to all kinds of victims.

    Now it would seem to me unreasonably doctrinaire to assert that Alan has no responsibility whatsoever to warn his best friend of Colin’s true nature.

    That only makes sense if Alan was responsible for Colin’s actions. He really isn’t.

    I’d argue that Alan should warn Brian, except he has no idea how Brian will react. It may be that Brian reacts with some victim blaming, “you just regret drunken sex” bullshit.

    I hope that all makes sense to you. At this point I could give you a long list of things I’m not saying – “Rape is AOK”, “The earth is flat”, “9/11 never happened” etc, but I’m going to trust in your integrity that I don’t need to do that.

    Yet you still do that.

    This is highly relevant to Ally’s article, of course, because the reluctance of victims to come forward is usually the commonest argument against anonymity for defendants.

    I submit to you that placing responsibility on the victim to come forward will lead to less victims coming forward; if there’s a consequence for not coming forward soon enough to protect another victim (never mind that the prior victim will likely get dismissed), that’s just gonna place a barrier on previous victims from reporting.

    It also places a rapist in an odd position of power. He or she can then say, “Well I raped him/her too,” forcing the previous victim to deny ever being harmed or faces consequences for not reacting to a traumatic experience the way others think they should.

    ***Incidentally, whenever I walk around at night, it’s all men. I see very few women, and most that are outside are mere feet away from being inside,

  62. Adiabat says

    Norman Hadley (64):

    We have a duty to talk about it sensitively and thoughtfully and if we fail in that duty, we should be held responsible (or, if you prefer, accountable) for our part in our culture’s shortcomings.

    And of course society’s refusal to castrate rapists and the populace’s reluctance to pay a £100* tax to provide bright lighting for every dark alleyway in the country also contributes to the prevalence of rape, hence is rape culture. Therefore anyone who thinks that we shouldn’t castrate rapists or all pay £100 extra tax is contributing to rape culture, and bears some responsibility for the prevalence of rape.

    Unless of course people think that Rape Culture can sometimes actually be ‘Good’ or ‘sensible’ or can contribute to a fair and just society. But then if this is so then what purpose is there is denouncing something as “part of Rape Culture”. What exactly does that add to the discussion?

    *note – this is a complete guess as to the cost of doing this. I don’t think it will be cheap.

  63. Jacob Schmidt says

    Adiabat

    Therefore anyone who thinks that we shouldn’t castrate rapists or all pay £100 extra tax is contributing to rape culture, and bears some responsibility for the prevalence of rape.

    I actually become suspicious when someone tells me they think rapists should be castrated; it seems like most people who say so are trying to play the, “I hate rape more than you so you can criticize me for defending rape” game. It’s usually some variant of, “I hate rape, but she wasn’t really raped; that just drunken regret.”

  64. Adiabat says

    Jacob Schmidt (69): I agree that happens. Yet refusing to castrate rapists is still part of Rape Culture, and that view you expressed in your post is contributing to that aspect of rape culture.

  65. Jacob Schmidt says

    Can’t tell if serious….

    Unless you’re being sarcastic and mocking a common strawman, that’s just bloody stupid.

  66. Copyleft says

    Until the court makes a ruling on a given case, any use of the term ‘rapist’ or ‘victim’ is premature. There are only accuser and accused, plaintiff and defendant.

  67. SteveF says

    I think part of what Adiabat is getting at in #67 is the weakness of using causation as the sole determinant of legal and moral responsibility.

  68. Adiabat says

    Jacob Schmidt (71): Can you explain what is bloody stupid about my point?

    I’m just using the concept of Rape Culture as commonly used and logically applying to areas where its adherents, likely due to their personal political views, don’t normally apply it. Rape Culture is often described as simply referring to norms and aspects of a culture which increase the prevalence of rape. Since it can be argued that castrating rapists could reduce the prevalence of rape then, logically, norms and views regarding not castrating rapists must be part of Rape Culture.

    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe we should impose this “cruel and unusual punishment”, yet such a view inevitably leads to the conclusion that not only do I support this aspect of Rape Culture, but I must also believe that parts of Rape Culture must be ‘Good’ and contribute to a fair and just legal system that respects universal human rights.

    Views on castration are just one cultural norm or opinion that I, and probably you, hold which unfortunately falls under the umbrella of “Rape Culture”. Disagreeing with a tax to provide bright lighting to all dark alleyways is another. Same with funding nightly police patrols of secluded woodland.

    If I’ve made a mistake in my reasoning, or if I’m using a strawman definition of Rape Culture, then please explain? Is it only views which increase the prevalence of rape and aren’t part of your political views that can possibly be classed as Rape Culture?

    Also keep in mind that, so I’ve been informed by an enlightening feminist, that disagreeing with someone that something is Rape Culture is part of Rape Culture. (okay, that last line was sarcasm :))

  69. says

    Yet in the remaining 84% you and JT are arguing it’s always the victim who is lying – no, that is not reasonable.

    Where did I say anything like that? My point is that police statistics out how many cases are unfounded are useless for arguing about how many people acquitted are actually guilty because all cases that go to trial are considered founded by the police. That doesn’t mean everyone who is acquitted is a victim of a false allegation, , just that the numbers you quoted have nothing to do with what you were trying to argue.

  70. Adiabat says

    SteveF (73): That’s partly it. There may be other reasons why someone reinforces something that would come under Rape Culture. As Norman Hadley shows not telling new partners about a rapist ex is part of Rape Culture, yet others have argued that there are valid reasons for supporting that particular aspect of Rape Culture. (This will only be hard to understand if you also believe that Rape Culture is always bad and always needs to be opposed. Sometimes, such as in the cases I highlighted, it is actually the morally correct thing to support an aspect of Rape Culture.)

    This however does raise the question of “what use is the concept of Rape Culture?”

    It’s often used to end any further analysis: “It’s Rape Culture, therefore Bad”, but as shown this isn’t true. It’s also seems to be often used as a rallying cry, but if not all aspects of it are bad and further analysis is required to determine whether an aspect is bad, then it’s useless as a rallying cry: Saying something is “Rape Culture” tells us nothing at all about it and what we should think about it so why bother with the label and why not just get straight to the analysis?

  71. SteveF says

    @76 Adiabat:

    Well, I was reading you as pointing out that qualifying as part of “Rape Culture” can’t be based purely on causation, because that results in allowing things under the umbrella of “rape culture” that I suspect most would be uncomfortable with.

  72. Adiabat says

    Basically, I’m saying that if we used Norman’s standard for responsibility, which is that if someone contributes to rape culture they are in some way responsible for rape, unless one always takes the side on an issue based on it’s ability to reduce the prevalence of rape, irregardless of other considerations such as human rights, then they are to be held in some way responsible for all rapes.

    This creates the situation where you are placing your responsibility to do everthing you can do to reduce rape as a higher moral perogative than other things, such as opposition to cruel and unusual punishments.

    The conclusions one goes to from here depends on the individuals view of morality and moral prioritisations.

  73. Adiabat says

    SteveF ():

    Well, I was reading you as pointing out that qualifying as part of “Rape Culture” can’t be based purely on causation, because that results in allowing things under the umbrella of “rape culture” that I suspect most would be uncomfortable with.

    You’re right, that’s exactly it. Part of what I’m describing is a consequence of defining Rape Culture as a term for the cultural norms etc which make rape more likely. This seems to be the working definition for most people who use the term. We could come up with other conditions for the term to exclude things that make us uncomfortable but if we do that aren’t we just playing political games to exclude our own political views from scrutiny and to create a term with no purpose other tahn to criticise those with views we disagree with?

    P.S The confusion is probably because I’m making several points at the same time: I’m replying to Norman while also highlighting an uncomfortable truth about the concept of Rape Culture. Plus I’m terrible at explaining things :(

  74. says

    Why is there a need for anonymity for rape defendants? Because even when someone is acquitted, large numbers of people continue to assert their guilt…

    That’s true of just about every other crime on the books. In fact, in some ways it’s MORE true for other crimes than for rape, since accused rapists tend to have defenders and apologists that, say, accused robbers and murderers don’t have. So your reason for giving accused rapists a special break is bogus.

    And think of what you’re really advocating here: “anonymity for the accused” means someone is arrested and charged for a crime, and the public are kept in the dark about it. That doesn’t just mean the public can’t presume him guilty; it also means the public can’t observe the proceedings and determine whether the justice system is working at all! “Anonymity for the accused” would serve to cover up all manner of police, prosecutorial and judicial misconduct, since no one would even know where or when to look for it. Just ask yourself what “anonymity for the accused” might have meant in the Trayvon Martin case.

    And you post this idea on the anniversary of the Pinochet coup in Chile, which was so well known for its secret “justice?” That just makes the whole post all the more ridiculous.

  75. Adiabat says

    Raging Bee (80):

    And think of what you’re really advocating here: “anonymity for the accused” means someone is arrested and charged for a crime, and the public are kept in the dark about it.

    Good point, though I imagine giving the defendant a right to waive anonymity would solve this problem. I believe some legal systems already allow some accusers the option of waiving their anonymity.

  76. Norman Hadley says

    Hi Jacob. Please forgive any brevity as I am on a phone in the back of a moving car.

    Firstly, I think your argument is unimpeachably well meaning. You want to protect the sanity and autonomy of harmed people.

    But you, in my eyes, stumble into two logical fallacies in the process. The first is that responsibility isn’t “deflected” or shared like a finite pie. A reasonably sophisticated mind can identify and punish a primary aggressor while also looking for other guilty protagonists (eg we ask who supplied the gun to the spree killer without agonising that we are deflecting responsibility from the perpetrator just by asking the question)

    The second mistake is to suppose that some people (ie victims) can be considered outside the culture. They can’t, and as Adiabat notes, that’s not a comfortable thought

  77. says

    And since the defendant is the one being charged with a crime, the idea that he would have a meaningful informed choice in this matter is laughable. If a dirty cop or prosecutor wants to charge a guy in secret, they can use their power to deter their victims from waving anonymity.

    And if he was arrested and charged in secret, how would anyone else — including his lawyer — know whether he was being offered a chance to waive anonymity?

  78. Adiabat says

    Raging Bee (83): Did you seriously just make up police corruption in an imaginary legal system?

    Sure dirty cops and prosecutors may exist, but if you’re going to invoke ‘people in authority not following that system’ as an argument for why that system wouldn’t work surely the argument is equally applicable to any legal system, including the current one:

    “Our current legal systems need getting rid of cause a dirty cop might just decide to pop a cap in somone’s ‘ass’ and bury them in the woods!”

  79. Adiabat says

    Raging Bee (84):

    …(okay, that last line was sarcasm)

    No, it was just lazy and stupid.

    and true, which is the most worrying point of all. Do you deny that adherents of the theory of “Rape Culture” have claimed that denying something is Rape Culture is part of Rape Culture?

    The only reason I pointed out my sarcasm for that line is that I wouldn’t seriously use it as an argument.

  80. Thil says

    80

    “That’s true of just about every other crime on the books. In fact, in some ways it’s MORE true for other crimes than for rape, since accused rapists tend to have defenders and apologists that, say, accused robbers and murderers don’t have. So your reason for giving accused rapists a special break is bogus”

    it does not follow that the existence of rape apologists mean you’re any more safe than murders. It’s not like the people defending you on facebook and in YouTube videos are going to go be your body guard

  81. Ally Fogg says

    Raging Bee (80)

    And think of what you’re really advocating here: “anonymity for the accused” means someone is arrested and charged for a crime, and the public are kept in the dark about it.

    That happens all the time. Virtually every crime that is committed by under 18s, for starters. Here’s an example from this very day. We cope. But as with under 18s, the public needn’t be kept completely in the dark about it, they can hear what is alleged to have happened, where it is alleged to have happened, how, when, etc.

    That doesn’t just mean the public can’t presume him guilty; it also means the public can’t observe the proceedings and determine whether the justice system is working at all!

    Not only is that not entirely true (see above) it also ignores the fact that this is already true to a large extent, as the Le Vell case demonstrated. There are significant parts of the evidence that we are not allowed to hear because it might compromise the anonymity of the alleged victim. And yet I presume you are not campaigning to have those restrictions lifted?

    And since the defendant is the one being charged with a crime, the idea that he would have a meaningful informed choice in this matter is laughable. If a dirty cop or prosecutor wants to charge a guy in secret, they can use their power to deter their victims from waving anonymity.

    Sorry, but if this is aimed at the OP, I have no idea what you are talking about. It bears no resemblance to anything I’ve suggested.

  82. Adiabat says

    Ally (88):

    Sorry, but if this is aimed at the OP, I have no idea what you are talking about. It bears no resemblance to anything I’ve suggested.

    I believe it was a response to my suggestion for a mechanism where the defendants anonymity may be waived by the defendant if people genuinely have a concern that anonymity will result is some Soviet-esque legal system where political prisoners are being tried behind closed doors.

    It took me all of two seconds of thought to come up with after seeing RB argument.

  83. Gjenganger says

    @Raging 80

    That’s true of just about every other crime on the books. In fact, in some ways it’s MORE true for other crimes than for rape, since accused rapists tend to have defenders and apologists that, say, accused robbers and murderers don’t have. So your reason for giving accused rapists a special break is bogus.

    That argument pops up every now and again, but I do not think it holds. Basically rapists have more defenders because they are more stigmatized. Rape (and paedophilia) are seen are particularly infamous crimes. People will totally condemn anybody convicted (or even accused) of such a crime. So, if you cannot bear to cut all contact and respect for your son / friend / favorite activist, your are forced to either deny the facts or defend the indefensible. Neither side can accept the verdict (or suspicion), keep seeing the person as a person, and move on.

    Look at it this way: if Roman Polanski had been convicted of armed robbery all those years ago – rather than statutory rape – who on either side would still care?

  84. says

    Quotign Ally:

    That happens all the time. Virtually every crime that is committed by under 18s, for starters. Here’s an example from this very day. We cope. But as with under 18s, the public needn’t be kept completely in the dark about it, they can hear what is alleged to have happened, where it is alleged to have happened, how, when, etc.

    I don’t know a whole lot about the UK justice system, but in the US, this law only applies to people being charged as minors. Significantly, such people aren’t facing prison, but the far more rehabilitation-focused juvenile justice system. If convicted, they will not have a criminal record. The stakes are rather different.

    Quoting Gjenganger:

    Look at it this way: if Roman Polanski had been convicted of armed robbery all those years ago – rather than statutory rape – who on either side would still care?

    Mark Wahlberg was convicted of racially motivated assault and people still care about that. The only reason he hasn’t gotten as much attention as Polanski is it happened when he was 16 and not famous. See also, OJ and any other famous person who had a high-profile criminal trial after becoming famous.

  85. Gjenganger says

    @91 Ace of Sevens

    Mark Wahlberg was convicted of racially motivated assault and people still care about that. The only reason he hasn’t gotten as much attention as Polanski is it happened when he was 16 and not famous. See also, OJ and any other famous person who had a high-profile criminal trial after becoming famous.

    I do not think those are good counterexamples. I do not know Mark Wahlberg, but racially motivated anythign is another example of a crime that is seen as particularly infamous and polaizing. As for OJ, he is not only famous, his trial was reported in unique detail – and the verdict was found uniquely unconvincing.

  86. says

    Ally Fogg@62
    You argue @3 that we should presume innocence where the verdict is “not guilty”. The numbers show that this is not a reasonable assumption to make. It has nothing to do with the details of this particular case.

    Norman Hadley@64
    The person responsible for rape is the person who decides to commit it. Others may bear responsibility for helping to create a culture in which the rapist believes they can get away with it, but the responsibility for committing it still lies to 100% with the rapist. Why? Decent people live in exactly the same culture and don’t commit rape.
    It’s interesting that you berate victims for not warning others, but you don’t protest against anonymity for those accused of rape which would make the “warning” impossible. Maybe there should be a word for that, oh wait, there is: victim-blaming.

    Ace of Sevens

    Those numbers don’t have anything to do with this situation. You are effectively saying that because police think only about 7% of reported rapes are unfounded, the vast majority of people found not guilty are actually guilty.

    No. I’m saying it is not reasonable to assume “not guilty” means innocent (Ally) and the accuser lied (JT).
    Of course, taking into account how traumatic it is to go through a rape trial as accuser, how much harassment an accuser is likely to suffer, how little they stand to gain if the accusation is untrue, and how hard it is to prove a rape allegation in court, I do think it more likely someone acquitted of rape is guilty than not.

  87. Jacob Schmidt says

    Rape Culture is often described as simply referring to norms and aspects of a culture which increase the prevalence of rape.

    Wikipedia:

    Rape culture is a concept which links rape and sexual violence to the culture of a society, and in which prevalent attitudes and practices normalize, excuse, tolerate, or even condone rape.

    Not castrating rapists isn’t done in normalization (or similar) of rape; it’s done because not being castrated is a basic bodily right.

  88. JT says

    @Delft

    No. I’m saying it is not reasonable to assume “not guilty” means innocent (Ally) and the accuser lied (JT).(Delft)

    Im thinking it is just as reasonable as assuming “not guilty” can still mean guilty and the accuser told the truth even though the accused was found not guilty. I think adiabat had it right a while back in the convo. It probably would be more along the lines of equality if the names and info of both the accused and accuser are kept private until after the verdict. If we cant do that then fair is fair and we should release both sides. If you are concerned equally about innocent people being victims then I believe this is the proper way to look at things.

  89. Tamen says

    Jacob Schmidt:

    Not castrating rapists isn’t done in normalization (or similar) of rape; it’s done because not being castrated is a basic bodily right.

    That sort of implies that castrating rapists isn’ done. But it is done, from Wikipedia’s article on chemical castration:

    California was the first U.S. state to specify the use of chemical castration as a punishment for child molestation, following the passage of a modification to Section 645 of the California penal code in 1996.[13][14] This law stipulates that anyone convicted of child molestation with a minor under 13 years of age may be treated with Depo Provera if they are on parole after their second offense and that offenders may not reject the treatment.[13][14][15][16]

    The passage of this law led such similar laws in other states as Florida’s Statute Section 794.0235 which was passed into law in 1997.[17] As in California, treatment is mandatory after a second offense.

    At least seven other states, including Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, Oregon, Texas and Wisconsin, have experimented with chemical castration.[5] In Iowa, as in California and Florida, offenders may be sentenced to chemical castration in all cases involving serious sex offenses. On June 25, 2008, following a Supreme Court ruling (Kennedy Vs. Louisiana) that the execution of child rapists where the victim was not killed was unconstitutional,[18] Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal signed Senate Bill 144, allowing Louisiana judges to sentence convicted rapists to chemical castration.


    On April 30, 2010, a man in the United Kingdom found guilty of attempting to murder a 60-year-old woman in order to abduct and rape her two granddaughters agreed to undergo chemical castration as part of the terms of his sentence.

    From the Wikipedia article on castration:

    In modern times, the Czech Republic practices surgically castrating convicted sex offenders. According to the reports compiled by Council of Europe, a human-rights forum, the central European country physically castrated at least 94 prisoners in the 10 years up to April 2008.

    Don Grubin, a professor at Newcastle University’s Institute of Neuroscience who also runs a chemical castration program backed by the U.K.’s Ministry of Justice, was initially opposed to physical castration. After visiting the Czech Republic, however, he agreed that some form of castration might be of benefit to some sex offenders.

    A closer look at the nine US states which have a program for chemical and/or physical castration of sex offenders can be found in this paper: http://www.jaapl.org/content/31/4/502.full.pdf

    I did look into some of the research on this a few years back and whether it’s effective or not is up for debate and not clear. I also worry about how consensual it is when for instance physial castration is presented as a requirement for ever getting out on parole. Hence I personally are against castration in any form as a mandatory part of any sentencing/parole etc.

    On to the actual topic at hand:

    Where I live both accuser and the accused are generally kept anonymous in media reports for all crimes. The exception is if the accused is a public figure or if the specific instance of crime is considered of public interest – Jane Doe raping John Doe isn’t while a mayor (Øygarden) accused and tried for statutory rape of a young girl was. This anonymity even holds after a conviction – for instance the woman convicted for raping a man wasn’t named in any media (neither was the victim’s name).

    The accused (and the accuser) may chose to out themselves in the media, but the media have self-policing rules mandating them to protect people from themselves to a certain extent. Other circumstances may also prohibit the media from publishing the accused name even if he wants it published – if he is accused of raping his wife then publicizing his name would also indirectly mean publicizing the accusers name.

    There is no perception of a problem with “hidden” courts and comparisons to Chile during Pinochet’s dictatorship due to not publishing the name of accusers and accused in crimminal cases feels pretty silly.

    Ally’s point about MO and other circumstances being published helping finding other victims/other victims coming forward even without publishing the name seem to me to be a strong point.

  90. Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts says

    Delft,

    You argue @3* that we should presume innocence where the verdict is “not guilty”. The numbers show that this is not a reasonable assumption to make. It has nothing to do with the details of this particular case.

    QFT. Ally’s comment @2 was speaking in generalities, not of the details of this case. He said,

    And yes, when a jury has found someone not guilty, you absolutely should consider them innocent unless you have very strong evidence to suggest a miscarriage of justice has taken place. Because otherwise you might as well just throw someone in the pond and see if they float.

    Emphases added. I agree with Delft here that assuming innocence in the absence of specific “very strong evidence to suggest a miscarriage”, goes against the statistics re false reporting and rates of conviction.

    If you are concerned equally about innocent people being victims then I believe this is the proper way to look at things.

    You speak as if accusation of rape are false as often as not. This is not true.

    *I think you meant @2 here

  91. Jacob Schmidt says

    Tamen

    That sort of implies that castrating rapists isn’ done.

    Sorry, that was clueless of me. I’ll amend that to, “Castrating rapists [should not] be done…”

  92. JT says

    You speak as if accusation of rape are false as often as not. This is not true.(Woomonster)

    Considering we don’t really have very many actual facts on how frequent false rape accusations happen then we cant really be sure. But for argument sake I will give it to you. I do think though, in the sense of fairness and equality, maybe we should give the found innocent what they just went through the courts for. A verdict of “Not Guilty”. I will leave it to others who actually have evidence proving otherwise to say whether or not they are innocent. There is one thing that I do believe with all my heart. There are men and women in this world who are just downright despicable, shitty people. I have found that, for the most part, they just have different ways of expressing it.

  93. JT says

    I do find it somewhat interesting that Ally’s last post was about how often both men and women commit sexual assault and turns out that it is very close in percentage. I wonder, down the road, will we end up with similar results in regards to rape and false rape accusations?

  94. Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts says

    I wonder, down the road, will we end up with similar results in regards to rape and false rape accusations?

    What do you wonder, that we will find that false rape accusations are close in percentage to true accusations, or that both men and women will be found to make false accusations as often as each other?

    If it is the former, you have got to be fucking shitting me.

  95. hjhornbeck says

    Ace of Sevens @55:

    Your analysis seems to be about a typical case an ignoring the facts of this one.

    Fogg is using this case to suggest it may not ever be reasonable to say someone committed sexually assault when a jury has found them not guilty of the crime. I’m arguing it can be reasonable. Since we’re both aiming at the general case, and not a specific one, pointing to general statistics is more effective than referring to one specific case.

  96. says

    Basically rapists have more defenders because they are more stigmatized.

    The experience of the Stubenville rapists cases some HUGE doubts on that notion.

    Look at it this way: if Roman Polanski had been convicted of armed robbery all those years ago – rather than statutory rape – who on either side would still care?

    The reason people still care about Polanski is that: a) he buggered off to France rather than serve a LIGHT sentence for the RELATIBELY MINOR crime to which he had pled guilty; and b) he admitting to having committed far worse crimes than the one to which he had pled guilty, and pretty much got away with the worse crimes. Short answer: we’re not still mad at Polanski because he was charged with rape; we’re still mad at him (and the incompetent CA authorities) because he he managed to avoid accountability for his crimes.

  97. Norman Hadley says

    Evening, delft. Just out of interest, how would you describe a rape victim who goes on to rape some one else? I gather this scenario is not uncommon in child abuse cases.

  98. says

    Considering we don’t really have very many actual facts on how frequent false rape accusations happen then we cant really be sure.

    Actually — as has been discussed here more than once — we do have enough statistics to at least strongly imply that false rape claims are a pretty small fraction of total reported incidents.

    Also, I think I should point out that we don’t make a huge deal about allegedly false mugging, theft or murder claims, even though we know not all defendants on such charges are convicted. So it seems a bit bogus to be making a big deal about the possibility of false rape claims.

  99. hjhornbeck says

    Ally Fogg @ 62:

    In many (I’d hazard a guess the majority) the great bulk of the facts are not in dispute, the judicial system is being asked to make a judgement about consent or otherwise. Many cases the only thing up for argument is a quite subtle question of consciousness “I believed she wanted this to happen” versus “He knew I didn’t want this to happen.”

    I’ll go a bit farther than you. Since sexual assault is defined as non-consentual sexual touching, in 100% of all sexual assault cases the judge or jury must consider whether or not the act was consentual.

    Cases where it is up for dispute whether the actual sexual incident occurred at all (like this one) are actually very rare.

    You are both right and wrong. As police have a difficult time prosecuting a crime with no evidence, and both police and victims usually buy into the myth that it is only rape if the victim resists, sexual assaults that do not result in physical injury will either not be reported or be far more likely to get dismissed as false. Conversely, sexual assaults which result in injury will be far more likey to be reported. One study of a decade of police reports from the USA put the number of rapes that featured injury at 100%. So yes, trials where there is no physical injury to the victim are rare.

    However, that does not mean sexual assault or rape without injury is rare. And it suggests that such cases, when they do manage to run the gauntlet of the justice system up until a verdict, are unlikely to be false.

  100. Ally Fogg says

    Delft & Woo_monster

    I had a very similar discussion on using statistical probabilities on another blog elsewhere earlier, so allow me to just cut & paste:

    Yes, those who are acquitted of sexual offences, and indeed those who are convicted of sexual offences, will often continue to receive the support and love of (at least some of) their family and friends, which is natural, and if they’re a famous footballer or pop star or suchlike they will continue to receive the devotion of their fans, and I agree that in cases like Ched Evans, where the system has declared them guilty beyond all reasonable doubt, that is horrible and disturbing to see,

    But all of that can happen while – simultaneously – many, many other people are judging them, abusing them, discriminating against them etc etc etc. If that is happening to someone who has indeed committed rape or similar and got away with it, then I couldn’t care less, they deserve everything they get.

    However if it is happening to someone who genuinely has been wrongly accused, then it is a terrible thing to have to carry through life. And it is very well documented that for some it leads to severe emotional and mental health problems, addiction, self-harm, even suicide.

    The problem is that in most cases, most of us have absolutely no way of knowing whether someone who has been cleared of the charges (at whatever stage) has been rightly or wrongly cleared. So it then becomes a moral question of whether we wish to participate in the stigmatisation and persecution of someone that the judicial system has declared to be innocent.

    Yes, the statistics would suggest that most people who have been accused but not convicted of rape are probably guilty, but I’m really not comfortable with judging people on statistical probabilities, because that inevitably involves punishing the innocent minority along with the guilty majority. That’s something I’m deeply uncomfortable with.

  101. Jacob Schmidt says

    Ally

    The problem is that in most cases, most of us have absolutely no way of knowing whether someone who has been cleared of the charges (at whatever stage) has been rightly or wrongly cleared. So it then becomes a moral question of whether we wish to participate in the stigmatisation and persecution of someone that the judicial system has declared to be innocent.

    Is that how the law works in the UK? Generally, in a criminal court, “not guilty” means “not proven beyond reasonable doubt” rather than “innocent”. I’ve only seen official declarations of innocence in cases where it was proven that the accused was innocent.

    Another thing is that “beyond reasonable doubt” is actually a rather high bar to clear. Dana Hunter has a good breakdown of the different standards of evidence. While I agree that without meeting the “beyond reasonable” standard no prosecutorial action should be taken, that doesn’t mean some action isn’t warranted.

  102. David Jones says

    Jacob: a person is found ‘not guilty’, not ‘innocent’. They’re presumed to be innocent in the first place, just like everybody else in the population and it’s the prosecution’s job to positively prove them guilty beyond reasonable doubt. I don’t think you’ll have ever seen an official declare someone innocent. It’s not their job.

    ‘Beyond reasonable doubt’ has very specific meaning, supported by a wealth of judicial & other legal debate, opinion etc. I’m meeting a law-type friend tomorrow evening, I can ask her about what it means, exactly, in the UK if you’re interested.

  103. Jacob Schmidt says

    I was thinking of cases like this. Perhaps “declared innocent” is media speak rather than legal speak. If so, I apologize for the misstep.

  104. Thil says

    @Ally Fogg

    “If that is happening to someone who has indeed committed rape or similar and got away with it, then I couldn’t care less, they deserve everything they get”

    what about people who’ve done their time and got out, should they be hounded too? what about just for the rest of their parole if they get out early?

    what about people who commit other crimes, should murders and robbers be hounded too if they get off? does motive play a factor in this, if I kill someone for money do I deserve less shit through the letter box than a sadist?

    if you actually think there are acceptable situations where you can take it upon your self to harass people do you mind telling me what they are?

    If it was anyone else writing I’d just assume that was an unthinking statement made by someone largely indifferent to the subject who doesn’t care about the consequences of their words. But hay it’s you talking so I KNOW BETTER

  105. Ginkgo says

    Ally @ 107 – “So it then becomes a moral question of whether we wish to participate in the stigmatisation and persecution of someone that the judicial system has declared to be innocent.”

    Yes. Do we continue to stigmatize a person that our own judicial system, the one we have established and empowered to execute laws our elected legislators have enacted, has cleared? Or do we accept the judgment, whatever logical loose ends there may be, as final? In other words, do we take responsiblity for the actions of people who are after all our creatures and agents?

  106. Sasori says

    > publicising the circumstances and (within reason) details of alleged sexual offences is a much more significant move than naming the offender.

    I think that this might lead (in some cases) to a similar brouhaha where sometimes true sometimes false details of the alleged defendants were posted all over the internet, similar to the Yewtree investigation (the twitter list of pedophiles etc). But I think that’s better than people on both sides of the ‘he did it’ ‘she’s a liar’ mobs making peoples lives hell.

    A sensible commenter in another thread somewhere also said that the Police could keep a database of the names of people when this kind of thing is reported (even circumstantially and keep no crimed names) and this could be checked when investigating reports (I imagine something similar to this happens already but it’s not as easily available). Knowing that rape/sexual assault seems mostly to be commuted by a small number of recidivists this might have an effect.

  107. bugmaster says

    @Ally 107:

    Your comment reads like a black-and-white moral stance, but in reality, it’s just a matter of probabilities.

    Let’s imagine that you somehow knew that, out of every 1000 men who were accused of rape and then found not guilty, 1 was actually guilty. You don’t know which one, though. Would you be willing to treat all of them as rapists, just in case ? I am guessing your answer would be “no”.

    But what if you knew that, out of every 1000 such men, 999 were actually guilty, and only 1 was innocent ? Would you reverse your stance in this case ?

    If not, then what if out of 1,000,000 defendants, 999,999 were guilty ? Where do you draw the line ?

    In the real world, we don’t actually know the true probability of an acquitted defendant being guilty. We have to estimate it, based on various factors. If you believe that our justice system is hopelessly sexist and corrupt, this probability will be close to 1 (i.e., 100%). If you believe that the justice system is more or less fair, the probability will be a lot lower, maybe something like 0.1, and in this case treating acquitted defendants as innocent might make sense.

    As far as I understand, though, many feminists do believe that our justice system (as well as the rest of our society) is hopelessly sexist and corrupt, and they would thus advocate that the estimated “collateral damage” of 1 in 1,000,000 is acceptable.

  108. says

    @bugmaster: I don’t that’s a fair frame. Believing that a significant number of innocent people are being prosecuted isn’t exactly a belief in a just system. It’s more a question of the relative strength of two kinds of corruption: rape apologetics vs Nancy-Grace authoritarianism. There’s tendency to disbelieve alleged rape victims, but there’s also a tendency to think anyone who is arrested, much less charged, must be guilty of something.

  109. Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts says

    @107 Ally Fogg, (italics added)

    Yes, the statistics would suggest that most people who have been accused but not convicted of rape are probably guilty, but I’m really not comfortable with judging people on statistical probabilities, because that inevitably involves punishing the innocent minority along with the guilty majority. That’s something I’m deeply uncomfortable with.

    I don’t see how this, especially the part I italicized, is consistent with your comment @2, which was,

    And yes, when a jury has found someone not guilty, you absolutely should consider them innocent unless you have very strong evidence to suggest a miscarriage of justice has taken place. Because otherwise you might as well just throw someone in the pond and see if they float.

    Which is it, that you should not make a judgement (even though statistics strongly point one way*) or that you should “absolutely consider them innocent” (although you know that in the case of rape accusations, much more often than not, your judgement of innocence will be wrong)?

    *Yes, I know that there is still a jump from applying general statistics to a specific case. For now, I am simply trying to figure out how your comment @107 makes sense in light of your comment @2

  110. Thil says

    @Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    Seriously has no one in this comment section ever heard of giving people the benefit of the doubt?

  111. bugmaster says

    @Ace of Sevens 115, Thil 116:

    My point wasn’t to say, “Everyone should treat acquitted defendants as rapists anyway”, or “Everyone should treat acquitted defendants as innocent”. My point was that your decision on how to treat them should not be a binary choice based on deontological rules, but rather a probabilistic one based on your estimate of the accuracy of our justice system. Maybe you treat everyone as guilty; maybe you treat everyone as innocent; maybe you roll a d6 and treat them as guilty on a roll of “1”, it all depends on what you think the odds are.

    And I can’t tell you what the odds are because I’m not a criminologist (nor a woman, for that matter).

  112. karmakin says

    Again, this is where the conflation of what are drastically different events are really hampering our understanding on what is going on and how to combat it.

    Situation A: Person is charged with jumping someone and raping them. There’s going to be little to no sympathy for this person. There might be some factual doubts on the situation…but there’s going to be little to no sympathy for the accused themselves.

    Situation B: Person is charged with overestimating the consent of a prospective partner. I can see how there would be empathy for this person, because there’s a lot of people out there who think “But for the grace of god go I” and all that jazz. People can put themselves in those shoes and see how they could act in the same way.

    Now of course, this is a major problem. And I agree that this is rape culture, that we empathize with such a person. I just don’t think we’re ever going to do anything about it. Because in utilitarian terms, to do something about it (and it starts with our alcohol-infused culture, to be blunt), the cost for most people I think is much higher than they’re willing to pay…unless they push much of that cost onto other people.

  113. says

    Morning delft.

    The point of my question in 104. (if it isn’t obvious) is to show how people don’t always fit neatly into categories of victims and villains. Whilst I admire your vigilance in making sure we don’t blame victims for being raped that vigilance can easily be misplaced if it prevents from asking anything of victims for the moral choices they make for the rest of their life.

    I think we can do that without detracting from our loathing of the perpetrators.

  114. Gjenganger says

    @Karmakin 120
    Bravo!

    @ Ally Fogg 107
    Exactly right.

    @Gingko 112
    Yes

    @Raging 103
    Steubenville: On the contrary, it illustrates my point. The young men were the sons of a small community, and the local football team, to which a lot of people attach their emotions. Deciding they were rapists would require throwing away all that emotional attachment. You can say “I love my son, and I admire his football, but yes, he deserves his sentence for theft”. You can not say the same for rape, so people go to extreme lengths to protect their emotional investment in the man.

    Polanski: You have some points, but people would still care a lot less if this had been armed robbery.

    @Raging 105
    No, we do not have a pretty good idea how many rape accusations are false – the best we can do is a good guess.
    First, because we would need to know what actually happened in each case, and we do not. All we know is how many accusations the police judges to be most likely false. An accusation is not true just because the police think it is likely to be true. Just like it is not false just because the police thinks it is likely to be false, right?
    Second, building on Allys post 62, many rape cases hang on He: “I was sure she was OK with that“. She “He knew I was not OK with that“. Which means that the victim can say in good faith she was raped, and the accused can say in good faith he was innocent. There may not always be good faith (on either side), but how could you ever decide if you were not there?

  115. mildlymagnificent says

    You can not say the same for rape, so people go to extreme lengths to protect their emotional investment in the man.

    People do this for GBH and for murder, so why not for rape?

    Not every family or group of friends, nor all the individuals within those groups, but most people with family members convicted of serious crimes do maintain relationships with them. Admittedly, many such people take the “fell in with a bad crowd” line, but no matter. They still find a way to say he’s my son/ brother/ friend/ husband and I’ll stand by him regardless of what he has or hasn’t done.

  116. Gjenganger says

    @123 mildlymagnificient

    People do this for GBH and for murder, so why not for rape?

    I do not know why – and it obviously depends on individual cases. But I would say that it seems to be generally harder for rape. Rape seems to taint the entire person as evil much more than GBH does. Somehow ‘yes he is violent, but he is still my husband and it does not change our relationship’, comes across more easily than ‘yes, he is a rapist, but…’.

    We see the same mechanism for paedophilia (just more strongly). Paedophilia definitely taints the whole person, and anybody who stands by him too. ‘Yes, he abuses little girls, but…’ would not be tolerated, would it?

  117. Adiabat says

    RE: The statistics argument for believing the acquitted defendant is guilty:

    All the stats indicate is that it is likely that the accuser was actually raped, and isn’t falsely accusing, your stats in no way show that it was likely that this particular defendant did it. Therefore your argument for it being acceptable to believe a defendant actually did it when he has been acquitted is erroneous.

    The conviction rate (as opposed to attrition rate) for rape is actually the same as for most other crimes (can remember now – was it the Stern Report that showed this?) so there is nothing to suggest that this particular defendant is any more guilty than a defendant found not guilty for any other crime.

  118. Adiabat says

    Jacob Schmidt (94): I don’t see how the wiki quote detracts from my point. The line of mine summarising Rape Culture that you quoted is a common interpretation of the wiki line. “prevalent attitudes and practices normalize, excuse, tolerate, or even condone rape” leads to an increase in the prevalence of rape. That increase in the prevalence is why Rape Culture is seen as something to fight against. Remove that idea of causation and your left with the situation where the common attitude of “fighting Rape Culture” would do nothing to reduce rape.

    Not castrating rapists isn’t done in normalization (or similar) of rape; it’s done because not being castrated is a basic bodily right.

    The motives why people don’t agree with castration has no impact on whether such views are part of Rape Culture: there is no clause in that wiki quote you gave which excludes views that are adopted because the person holding the view is factoring in other moral issues, such as universal human rights.

    Plus (not that my argument depends on this due to the above paragraph), not castrating rapists, could easily come under “tolerate” in that wiki quote. The sentence that is prescribed by any given legal system can be seen as an indication of how tolerant it is of the crime; a crime which requires a lower sentence is tolerated more by society than one which requires a higher sentence. For example countries with give the death sentence for drug-related crimes, such as Thailand and Peru, tolerate those crimes less than countries which give the criminal a ‘slap on the wrist’.

  119. mildlymagnificent says

    Gjenganger, you’re right.

    I was going to contrast the attitudes of friends, neighbours and families to people convicted of child abuse rather than of rape but somehow overlooked it. Generally, the responses are very different.

  120. Jacob Schmidt says

    That increase in the prevalence is why Rape Culture is seen as something to fight against.

    Partially: some aspects of rape culture also further victimize rape victims (victim blaming, for instance; rape victims tend to be less traumatized by their assault when they don’t have people around them telling them it was their fault). This also needs to be opposed (and has nothing to do with street lamps).

    The motives why people don’t agree with castration has no impact on whether such views are part of Rape Culture: there is no clause in that wiki quote you gave which excludes views that are adopted because the person holding the view is factoring in other moral issues, such as universal human rights.

    Plus (not that my argument depends on this due to the above paragraph), not castrating rapists, could easily come under “tolerate” in that wiki quote.

    Christ you’re clueless.

    If your problem is that the definition isn’t so narrow and specific that it can’t be twisted into something ridiculous, then you’re gonna spend a lot of time complaining about much of any language (fun fact: under some definitions of bigotry, I am technically a bigot for not liking bigotry).

    Now, here’s the real question: when people talk about rape culture, do they talk about street lamps and castrating rapists? Or do they talk about prevalent attitudes in society that normalize or condone rape?

    Finally, I have to ask you to stop tolerating terrorists since you aren’t out killing them.

  121. Jacob Schmidt says

    Also: law and culture aren’t the same entity. They can be related, yes, but tolerance under law and tolerance within culture are two separate things.

  122. Jacob Schmidt says

    Oh, and also:

    For example countries with give the death sentence for drug-related crimes, such as Thailand and Peru, tolerate those crimes less than countries which give the criminal a ‘slap on the wrist’.

    This is monumentally stupid. That a given country has a a harsh penalty for rape doesn’t mean it prosecutes all forms of rape. Greece, for instance, doesn’t prosecute rape if the victim was drunk; Greece only considers rape via physical force. Greece could murder rapists on sight and the countries laws would still be tolerant of rape.

  123. Adiabat says

    Jacob Schmidt:

    Now, here’s the real question: when people talk about rape culture, do they talk about street lamps and castrating rapists? Or do they talk about prevalent attitudes in society that normalize or condone rape?

    Well, those examples are prevalent, normalized, attitudes which show a tolerance of rape, but I assume you’re playing word games to make it seem as though the items in the first question don’t fit in the categories in the second question. I’ll read your questions as: “Why don’t people who talk about rape culture talk about aspects of rape culture such as increasing street lamps to alleyways and castrating rapists to deter rape?”

    My guess is that the people who talk about Rape Culture simply haven’t thought to apply the theory to views and attitudes that they agree with, instead preferring to target attitudes that they don’t like. It’s as if the thought that maybe they hold views with make rape more likely, AND that those views may still be the ‘right’ views to hold, never occurred to them. They may think that the reasons why those attitudes that increase the prevalence of rape should be held are so obvious that they it never occurred to them that they also fall under the banner of Rape Culture and indicate that it is possible for an attitude to be part of Rape Culture while also being the correct attitude to have. They may have steered away from this train of thought because that indicates that Rape Culture may not always be something to ‘fight against’ and it’ll mean that they’ll have to think about an attitudes affect on society and the reasons why it is held rather than engage in their Pavlovian “Rape Culture” response. Basically, it’ll mean that saying something is rape culture no longer automatically means that it is bad or an incorrect attitude to have.

    Either that or they just don’t want to apply the theory to views they hold, which seems the more likely explanation judging by your response.

    Yes, you may have good reasons for the views you hold which support Rape Culture, but they still support Rape Culture by your own definition. I find it ridiculous that I’m getting blamed for making the theory appear flawed when all I’m doing is using definitions you, and your fellow adherents, came up with. If those definitions produce results that makes your theory appear a joke then it is your responsibility to come up with new ones. For example, in your “bigotry” example you couls add the caveat that the term only applies to non-optional identifiers. Problem solved.

    Why not do that now? Give one reason why your views are exempt from being considered part of Rape Culture. Hell, why not provide a revised definition, or caveats in addition to the one you gave, instead of just resorting to insults?

    Finally, I have to ask you to stop tolerating terrorists since you aren’t out killing them.

    I tolerate terrorists to the point where I don’t let stopping them become the ‘be all and end all’ in my life, yes. Was there some point you think you’re making? ‘Toleration’ isn’t a binary value you know. (You do know that, don’t you?)

    Also: law and culture aren’t the same entity. They can be related, yes, but tolerance under law and tolerance within culture are two separate things.

    Jeez, now you’re grasping at straws. That example was just that, a single example to demonstrate a basic principle about tolerance. The same principle applies to “culture” as well, as well as the views of individuals. For example, by not agreeing to castrate rapists you are tolerating rape to the point where, in your view, reducing the prevalence of rape doesn’t include ignoring human rights. This is a very noble position to take. It’s still quite a low level of tolerance for rape, and is an admission that an attitude that would come under Rape Culture, by your own (and most people’s) definition, is actually the ‘correct’ attitude to take. For you, supporting this aspect of Rape Culture is the better option.

    This is monumentally stupid. That a given country has a a harsh penalty for rape doesn’t mean it prosecutes all forms of rape.

    A country may be more tolerant of some forms of rape more than others, so I don’t know what you think you’re arguing here. This is so simple I feel silly that I have to point it out but surely you know that it is possible for an individual, or a legal system, to have different attitudes towards different things, even things which are in some ways similar? You do know that some of these attitudes may be considered ‘good’ while (and this is the miraculous bit) other attitudes may be considered ‘bad’?

    Your argument doesn’t detract at all from the very basic principle I’ve demonstrated.

  124. Jacob Schmidt says

    I’ve rearranged the response here; it does not reflect the order you in which you wrote.

    I tolerate terrorists to the point where I don’t let stopping them become the ‘be all and end all’ in my life, yes. Was there some point you think you’re making?

    That there are different extents of toleration; toleration due to a higher, toleration due to lack of agency, toleration due to indifference and toleration due to advocation are all 4 separate things. Rape culture deals with the latter 2. Which, you know, is how the word “toleration” is usually used.

    Well, those examples are prevalent, normalized, attitudes which show a tolerance of rape, but I assume you’re playing word games to make it seem as though the items in the first question don’t fit in the categories in the second question.

    Only under the most broad definition of tolerance, which is not being used.

    Yes, you may have good reasons for the views you hold which support Rape Culture, but they still support Rape Culture by your own definition.

    Nope.

    They may think that the reasons why those attitudes that increase the prevalence of rape should be held are so obvious that they it never occurred to them that they also fall under the banner of Rape Culture and indicate that it is possible for an attitude to be part of Rape Culture while also being the correct attitude to have.

    So rape culture is useful areas where it is used, but not useful in areas where it isn’t. Even taking your premises as true, your criticism is asinine. It’s merely pedantry; worse, it’s false pedantry.

    A country may be more tolerant of some forms of rape more than others, so I don’t know what you think you’re arguing here.

    That simply having a harsh penalty for rape is a poor measure for a country’s tolerance of rape.

    This is so simple I feel silly that I have to point it out but surely you know that it is possible for an individual, or a legal system, to have different attitudes towards different things, even things which are in some ways similar?

    I just spelled out a case where such was true. Why are you asking this? You’re pointing out the thing I just spelled out.

  125. Jacob Schmidt says

    Rape culture deals with the latter 2.

    I should expand: rape culture also deals with “tolerance due to lack of agency” in a round about way. One aspect of rape culture is the idea that sexual assault is just “boys being boys” and that there’s nothing you can do about it. Some people pretend that there is a lack of agency in the matter, when really there isn’t.

  126. Adiabat says

    Jacob Schmidt (132 & 133):

    I should expand: rape culture also deals with “tolerance due to lack of agency” in a round about way.

    So basically you’re playing games with definitions to purposefully exclude the things that you don’t want classed as Rape Culture, while still including the things you want. Gotcha…

    Sorry but your going to have to try harder than that; you haven’t even provided a source which demonstrates that this ‘magic’ definition of tolerance which somehow makes my point invalid is the one used by those who use Rape Culture theory. Perhaps you could point out the bit in the wiki article you quoted that the tolerance mentioned is only referring to your ‘magic definition’ which proves you right and me wrong? I’m having trouble finding it.

    I’ll pick up any responses another time as I have to go.

  127. Jacob Schmidt says

    So basically you’re playing games with definitions to purposefully exclude the things that you don’t want classed as Rape Culture, while still including the things you want. Gotcha…

    What the fuck are you talking about? What I described falls under “normalization”; the idea that sexual assault is normal and can’t be helped anyhow. I don’t need to play with anything. It’s in the definition explicitly.

    Sorry but your going to have to try harder than that; you haven’t even provided a source which demonstrates that this ‘magic’ definition of tolerance which somehow makes my point invalid is the one used by those who use Rape Culture theory.

    You’re an idiot. Full stop.

    There’s no “magic definition”. The standard one works fine. Tolerance due to acceptance or indifference is still tolerance. That the word could mean more than intended is meaningless, since that’s also true of many words (did you know the word “set” also means to incite violence? Did you incite violence at the dinner table, or did you set it? The term also means to fix a price or value. Are you selling that dinner table of yours, or are you putting out dishes?). You have yet to show that the “tolerance” is being used the way you’re describing. In fact, you admit that it isn’t being used that way. All you’re doing is twisting lingual ambiguity; the sort of ambiguity present in nearly anything written that isn’t formal logic or lojban; the sort of ambiguity anyone operating in good faith can muddle through without any problems; and pretending that a phrase must mean something when it doesn’t.

    You’ve yet to show that use of rape culture theory has lead to anything problematic. I’ll reiterate: rape culture is useful areas where it is used, but not useful in areas where it isn’t. Even taking your premises as true, your criticism is asinine.

    Finally, you asked me to clarify the definition so that there was no longer confusion (entirely on your part) in the word “tolerance”. I have done so, yet you’re still complaining aimlessly. I don’t think you actually have a point.

  128. says

    hi…interesting stuff. i wonder if your readers might be interested in what i hope is a level-headed discussion of the media, twitter etc, which can be found here:
    <a href="subscraft.blogspot.co.uk"

  129. carnation says

    Some interesting points thus far.

    It seems to me that there are several thematic strands in this debate.

    Operation Yewtree is a pretty unusual police investigation. For one, there is the fame of the individuals subject to investigation, but also that an earlier generation’s attitudes to sexual abuse (and misuse of power/privilege) is being exposed.

    Stuart Hall’s guilty plea seemed to stun some people who liked to think it was a “witch hunt”. The details of another defendant’s alleged crimes, likewise, suggested contemporaneous criminality when detailsmof the charges were released.

    Vis a vis anonymity, the police could and should exercise far more caution about releasing details of those questioned in relation to sexual crimes, particularly if careers rely on a certain public image.

    There is a case for anonymity of sexual crimes suspects, but it’s highly unlikely to happen. The police and media agreeing to a procedure along the lines of “Harry in Afghanistan” is less unlikely and should perhaps be explored.

    All in all, it’s an exceptionally sensitive subject.

    The prosecution of famous men on the testimony of expensively discredited (by defence lawyers) women will confirm the prejudices of many in society. And in many cases, a guilty verdict won’t vindicate the woman giving testimony. How many, for example, would have believed Justin Lee Collins victim, regardless of the verdict, had audio recordings of his disgusting behaviour emerged?

    In instances like a sex crime or domestically abuse trial, the best people can hope for is a least worst option.

  130. Dani Wells says

    I think this requires a complete rethinking of our system. The NATURE of rape is something that cannot be factored out when coming up with a decent process. First, we have to give more strict punishment for rape. I think there should also be a social component to the punishment. (Like standing in the town square announcing to all that you are a rapist). Rape is SO hard to prove and convict b/c it’s totally possible to have NO physical evidence and yet a rape did occur. Or, as most rapes happen where the rapist KNOWS the person he raped so it becomes a defense of ‘she consented’. We also have to educate the public more. We need feminism here. We need it because it’s the single most important movement that has worked with rape victims and has many good theories about why it happens.

    I think the victim should have protection in this culture. Look at how we treat women. Our society must protect her until society turns out patriarchy for good.

    We can ask this question but it’s not the right question imho. Address patriarchy and then you have made a dent in rape culture.

  131. Adiabat says

    Jacob Schmidt (136): It’s a shame that you’re having to resort to insults because you have no decent arguments. After all your insults mean nothing to me and are “water off a ducks back”, as the saying goes. I’d much rather you calmed down and put some thought into your arguments, but I guess laziness is a hallmark of those who use rape culture theory; otherwise the theory would’ve been properly thought through before using it and we wouldn’t be having this discussion (yet somehow I’m to blame for it being a half-assed theory that fails to define the terms it is using).

    In the terrorist example my position was simply that I’ll put up with the existence of terrorism because I’d rather spend my time doing something else other than trying to stop it. In other words I’m tolerating it because to me other things take priority. The same applies to the Rape Culture examples I’ve used. This is a rather standard usage of ‘tolerance’. So I’m not “twisting linguistic ambiguity”. If anything it is your reply that’s doing this.

    What is the theoretical underpinning behind not allowing certain types of ‘tolerance’? You can’t just state that that’s how it is, there must be an objective basis underpinning it otherwise you are essentially arbitrarily choosing what counts and what doesn’t?

    Without this valid, objective reason why certain examples of tolerance are excluded your line that “rape culture is useful areas where it is used, but not useful in areas where it isn’t” is just you saying that your theory invalidates itself in many cases, and is an indicator that it isn’t a coherent well-thought-out theory.

    Why is my usage of the theory not valid, while the multitude of usages you seem to approve of are valid? Sorry but I’m not just going to take your word for it, hence why I asked you to try harder. As far as I can tell there is no real difference between my use of it and the use of many feminists, except for your arbitrary ‘magic’ definitions which makes it valid when they do it but invalid when I do it. And this validity is apparently decided completely at your whim.

    Finally, regarding your belief that my criticism is “asinine”: Do you seriously believe that if it is shown that there are occasions where upholding Rape Culture is preferable to the alternatives and that sometimes we should support it, there would be no impact on the usage of the theory? Can you really claim that the way people approach Rape Culture will remain unchanged? If so then you are deluded.

  132. says

    Oh boy. Yet another white dude confusing a Not Guilty verdict that ties the state’s hands with a verdict reading ‘Innocent’. There’s a reason why it’s “Not Guilty”. It doesn’t mean you didn’t do it – it means there isn’t sufficient evidence to wield the cudgel of state power for purposes of imprisonment. It doesn’t mean the rest of us are obligated to treat people as innocent. I don’t know the details of the case, and I don’t care. But I am tired as fuck of ignoramuses trying to use ‘innocent until proven guilty’ to mean shit it does not mean. It doesn’t even fucking apply to anyone but the god damn government, who it damn well needs to apply to.

  133. says

    Rutee Katrya,

    If you are a person who assumes guilty without sufficient evidence… then feel free too. I also feel free to assume your epistemology is an incoherent mess.

  134. Jacob Schmidt says

    It’s a shame that you’re having to resort to insults because you have no decent arguments.

    This claim would be more convincing if you actually addressed them. I’ll reiterate: “You have yet to show that the “tolerance” is being used the way you’re describing. In fact, you admit that it isn’t being used that way. All you’re doing is twisting lingual ambiguity; the sort of ambiguity present in nearly anything written that isn’t formal logic or lojban; the sort of ambiguity anyone operating in good faith can muddle through without any problems; and pretending that a phrase must mean something when it doesn’t.

    You can’t just state that that’s how it is, there must be an objective basis underpinning it otherwise you are essentially arbitrarily choosing what counts and what doesn’t?

    You just defined all morals as arbitrary.

    Without this valid, objective reason why certain examples of tolerance are excluded your line that “rape culture is useful areas where it is used, but not useful in areas where it isn’t” is just you saying that your theory invalidates itself in many cases, and is an indicator that it isn’t a coherent well-thought-out theory.

    I know cupcake, reading is hard.

    Do you seriously believe that if it is shown that there are occasions where upholding Rape Culture is preferable to the alternatives and that sometimes we should support it, there would be no impact on the usage of the theory?

    You’ve asserted that there are instances where your strawman version of rape culture is supported without issue (i.e. not castrating rapists). You can’t pretend it hasn’t happened yet.

    But ok, let’s grant everything you say for the sake of argument: do you honestly think “rape culture theory” is the only behavioural guide I or anyone else uses? Do you actually think, even if I were to grant your asinine assertion, I’m incapable of saying “yeah, that rape culture, but the only way to fix it is to commit bodily mutilation, so I’m against that.” Do you seriously think I’m incapable of weighing the (ostensibly) guaranteed rights of others in deciding a course of action? That’s what your argument requires. That’s the implicit assumption you need to make any sense.

  135. Jacob Schmidt says

    If you are a person who assumes guilty without sufficient evidence… then feel free too.

    No assumption was made, sheaf.

  136. Adiabat says

    Jacob Schmidt (143): If you’re the best that advocates for Rape Culture has no wonder the theory is such a mess. You can’t even grasp basic concepts which make a theory valid or useful. Okay I’m going to try and explain this as simply as possible to help you understand:

    You have yet to show that the “tolerance” is being used the way you’re describing.

    My use of tolerance in covered by the definition you provided, as my usage of the word is pretty standard. You’ve yet to show why it isn’t valid. If you think it shouldn’t be covered then you need to provide another definition. Simply stating that it’s not valid isn’t a valid argument. This isn’t hard to understand.

    I also don’t see where ‘good faith’ comes into it; we’re talking about the validity of a theory, in order to test its rigor we have to follow its definitions and applicability, and consequences thereof, to its logical conclusions. If we refuse to do so we are basically admitting that the theory doesn’t stand up to scrutiny and for it to work other people need to ignore its inconsistencies. I don’t see why your pet theory should get a ‘free pass’ in this regard. (It’s not even like I’m insisting that you have to use a particular ‘strawman’ definition; I’ve let you choose it yourself and invited you to refine it several times.)

    In fact, you admit that it isn’t being used that way.

    Not at all. I stated earlier, in my first reply to in fact, that Rape Culture is often commonly interpreted, and used, as referring to norms and attitudes in a culture which increase the prevalence of rape. My “admission” was simply that this usage logically covers attitudes which it’s adherents don’t apply it to. My question upon realising this is “why don’t they use it in these areas?” Your argument to answer this is circular, as your reply is that “they don’t use it for those attitudes because the theory doesn’t apply to those attitudes” and “the theory doesn’t apply to those attitudes because people don’t use it on those attitudes”.

    Unfortunately if you’re going to play this “how it’s actually used” card, which you adopted after realising how your definition supports my argument, then your position is even more untenable. To quote the anthology “Transforming a Rape Culture*”, a book that had input from thirty seven active feminists, Rape Culture refers to : “a culture in which rape is prevalent and is maintained through fundamental attitudes and beliefs about gender, sexuality, and violence.” So my example of Rape Culture becomes even more applicable if we go the direction you’re wanting to go in and argue for how it’s commonly used.

    You just defined all morals as arbitrary.

    We’re not discussing morals, we’re discussing an academic theory. But even with morals I can personally come up with some reason for holding one to be valid beyond “because I said so”. Why you can’t do this for your pet theory is beyond me.

    I know cupcake, reading is hard.

    Rofl, that’s precious! That has to be the most pathetic name-calling ever. I assume you’re going for the “patronise” route to make gullible readers think that my arguments aren’t valid rather than, you know, actually providing a decent argument against them. I don’t think that technique works except for those who are already predisposed to agree with you. Everyone else can see how transparent it is.

    But ok, let’s grant everything you say for the sake of argument: do you honestly think “rape culture theory” is the only behavioural guide I or anyone else uses? Do you actually think, even if I were to grant your asinine assertion, I’m incapable of saying “yeah, that rape culture, but the only way to fix it is to commit bodily mutilation, so I’m against that.” Do you seriously think I’m incapable of weighing the (ostensibly) guaranteed rights of others in deciding a course of action? That’s what your argument requires. That’s the implicit assumption you need to make any sense.

    Remind me which one of us finds reading hard again? Please see my post #76:

    This however does raise the question of “what use is the concept of Rape Culture?”… It’s also seems to be often used as a rallying cry, but if not all aspects of it are bad and further analysis is required to determine whether an aspect is bad, then it’s useless as a rallying cry: Saying something is “Rape Culture” tells us nothing at all about it and what we should think about it so why bother with the label and why not just get straight to the analysis?

    There’s nothing “implicict” or that I’ve missed that you’re able to claim discredits my point. I’ve already pointed out in post #76 that my arguments makes Rape Culture a useless behavioural guide and other principles must be brought in to decide the course of action to take. The point is that once this is realised what is the use of Rape Culture? It’s the same argument that discredits the bible as a behavioural guide: if you have to filter the bible through an external morality (which is what Christians do when they choose which bits to follow and which bits not to follow) then it is that external guide which is your guide to morality and not the bible. So why not just skip the bible-reading? Likewise, if something is designated as rape culture yet other ‘behavioural guides’ are required to determine whether you are for or against it then what is the point of Rape Culture?

    * http://www.amazon.co.uk/Transforming-Rape-Culture-Emilie-Buchwald/dp/1571312048

  137. Jacob Schmidt says

    If you think it shouldn’t be covered then you need to provide another definition.

    I did. I’ve clarified. You’ve rejected that clarification as a “magic definition” (this, incidentally, is where “bad faith” comes from).

    My question upon realising this is “why don’t they use it in these areas?”[1] Your argument to answer this is circular, as your reply is that “they don’t use it for those attitudes because the theory doesn’t apply to those attitudes” and “the theory doesn’t apply to those attitudes because people don’t use it on those attitudes”.[2]

    1) This question only makes sense if it isn’t being used that way.

    2) I didn’t actually argue that. Interestingly though, that is how words are defined (i.e. through common use).

    We’re not discussing morals, we’re discussing an academic theory.

    Indeed we are. Rape is a problem because of it’s immorality (as defined as a violation of rights); any point in time where you find yourself whether a proposed solution to the prevalence of rape is valid, you’re dealing in morals (assuming the proposed solution actually addresses anything; “eat apples” can be dismissed as a solution).

    I assume you’re going for the “patronise” route to make gullible readers think that my arguments aren’t valid rather than, you know, actually providing a decent argument against them.

    :sigh:

    I’m pointing out that you misread me. I’m being condescending ’cause holy fuck, this isn’t hard.

    This:
    “rape culture is useful areas where it is used, but not useful in areas where it isn’t” is just you saying that your theory invalidates itself in many cases, and is an indicator that it isn’t a coherent well-thought-out theory.?

    makes no sense. Nowhere in there is an admission of self invalidation, yet somehow you read that. This has nothing to do with the validity of my arguments, this is you misreading.

    Saying something is “Rape Culture” tells us nothing at all about it and what we should think about it so why bother with the label and why not just get straight to the analysis?

    Because people deny that rape is a problem in the first place. Such denial is problematic.

    “You shouldn’t grope people just because they’re dressed in slutty ways.”

    “But if she’s dressed in slutty ways, she’s asking to be groped.”

    The latter is a rather prevalent attitude. That attitude and other’s like it or compiled under a name called “rape culture”. Discussing these attitudes let’s us recognize them more easily. There’s a tolerance for rape in many cultures. There’s a tolerance, not based in the fact that cutting off a man’s penis is wrong, but based on the idea that rape is acceptable. This is a problem; these attitudes should be addressed.

    Even saying “rape is bad” isn’t enough. You get denials of what constitutes rape (“She said yes; sure, he would fire her if she said no, but she said yes” or “He’s a man, he can’t be raped. Men are always consenting”).

    I’ve already pointed out in post #76 that my arguments makes Rape Culture a useless behavioural guide and other principles must be brought in to decide the course of action to take.

    You asserted; you did not demonstrate.

    The fact that other principles need to be brought in (not that this is even true; this is merely granting your assertion) is meaningless. Such is true in many cases, including nearly every fucking criminal court case on the planet.

    It’s the same argument that discredits the bible as a behavioural guide: if you have to filter the bible through an external morality (which is what Christians do when they choose which bits to follow and which bits not to follow) then it is that external guide which is your guide to morality and not the bible.

    Uh, rape culture is an external guide. You don’t get to arbitrarily set it aside as something different.

    I’ve granted every possible assertion I could. You still have nothing. Even defining “tolerance” the way you want to, learning to recognize the prevalent attitudes that allow rape as acceptable is useful, even if we sometimes need to say “No, we can’t cut off his penis.” How do I know this? Because you use it, too. You’ve complain about the attitudes that make rape acceptable. You’ve complained about the lack of rape shelters for men. Do you object to teaching people to recognize problematic attitudes surrounding rape? No, you don’t.

    By the way:

    “a culture in which rape is prevalent and is maintained through fundamental attitudes and beliefs about gender, sexuality, and violence.” So my example of Rape Culture becomes even more applicable if we go the direction you’re wanting to go in and argue for how it’s commonly used.

    That definition is actually far more narrow than simple “tolerance of rape.” Your definition here contradicts your assertions.

    Your entire argument rests in interpreting everything in the most literal, general way possible. Once more: “All you’re doing is twisting lingual ambiguity; the sort of ambiguity present in nearly anything written that isn’t formal logic or lojban; the sort of ambiguity anyone operating in good faith can muddle through without any problems; and pretending that a phrase must mean something when it doesn’t.

    So, to recap: people, by and large, don’t use it the way you’re describing, it doesn’t have to mean what you think it has to mean, and, evening granting the former two, it’s still a useful concept.

    I think we’re done here.

  138. says

    Jacob Schmidt,

    Oh the implication by Rutee Katrya was clear: Even on insufficient evidence Rutee Katrya might treat people as not innocent. An implication that showed that hir epistemology is about as bad as your overall ability to employ definitions.

  139. Adiabat says

    Jacob Schmidt (146):

    So, to recap: people, by and large, don’t use it the way you’re describing, it doesn’t have to mean what you think it has to mean, and, evening granting the former two, it’s still a useful concept.

    I think we’re done here.

    Lol, the arrogance is astounding. You just keep repeating the same assertions without any argument.

    People do use it the way I’m describing, as they use the term Rape Culture to refer to attitudes that are likely to lead to an increase in the prevalence of rape. Granted, they don’t use it on the specific examples I’m bringing up, but there is no reason for them not to and this is the part that you are completely failing to justify.

    As for it being a useful concept: The way we test whether a particular theory is useful is by applying it to all areas that it is applicable to. You cannot just apply it to the things where the theory works and conveniently ignore the bits where it doesn’t work without giving a good reason why you’re ignoring those bits. That is how we test a theory. If you have to fiddle the situations that you apply Rape Culture to to make it useful, without justification, then it isn’t useful.

    Because you use it, too. You’ve complain about the attitudes that make rape acceptable. You’ve complained about the lack of rape shelters for men.

    No I haven’t, you might be thinking of the thread where I argued for more ‘DV’ shelters. Regardless, I am able to identify attitudes which may increase the prevalence of rape (like I do with every other issue from obesity to trolling to strep throat), factor in other considerations with regard to which of those attitudes is problematic or reasonable (something “Rape Culture” is unable to do), and argue for particular changes without once drawing upon the term, or theory behind, “Rape Culture”. To paraphrase LaPlace’s apocryphal words: “I have no need of that theory”, mainly because it’s useless.

    The rest of your post is gibberish: from the bit where you conflate discussing the theory of Rape Culture with discussing rape itself to the bit where you completely fail to grasp why something is a useless moral guide if it is unable to provide any guidance without resorting to the use of another moral guide.

  140. Jacob Schmidt says

    You cannot just apply it to the things where the theory works and conveniently ignore the bits where it doesn’t work without giving a good reason why you’re ignoring those bits.

    2 things:

    1) The problem only exists in the straw definition you’re using; I don’t use that definition. I’m ignoring nothing,

    2) “It doesn’t work in those circumstances” is all the justification I would need. It’s the same justification for the continued use of Bronsted-Lowry acid base theory, ideal gas laws, and countless other theories, laws and principles.

    If you have to fiddle the situations that you apply Rape Culture to to make it useful, without justification, then it isn’t useful.

    Your argument is self contradicting. You argue that only being useful under limited circumstances makes it not useful. The correct conclusion is that it’s only useful under limited circumstances.

    If you want a simple explanation that covers every situation, get out of acedemia. You won’t ever be pleased.

    No I haven’t, you might be thinking of the thread where I argued for more ‘DV’ shelters.

    Perhaps. I remember you arguing against “man always consents”. Non the less, I’m rather certain you are against such attitudes.

    Regardless, I am able to identify attitudes which may increase the prevalence of rape (like I do with every other issue from obesity to trolling to strep throat), factor in other considerations with regard to which of those attitudes is problematic or reasonable (something “Rape Culture” is unable to do) and argue for particular changes without once drawing upon the term, or theory behind, “Rape Culture”.

    Considering that you have yet to show that such is true, I think I’ll be dismissing that assertion.

  141. Adiabat says

    Jacob Schmidt (149): You obviously just aren’t getting it, and I’m running out of ways to explain it any simpler.

    For those theories you list there are reasons why they don’t apply in certain areas. For example Newton’s mechanics don’t apply to some situations, but anyone who uses it can explain why: they can refer to the Lorentz factor and what happens at speeds approaching the speed of light.

    All you’re doing is stating that your theory doesn’t apply because it doesn’t work in those areas. That’s not good enough. Do you even realise that before Einstein the fact that Newtons mechanics didn’t work for some situations was a cause of great concern for physicists? Do you realise that they spent decades, entire careers sometimes, trying to figure out why it didn’t work?

    In contrast all you do is stick your head in the sand and insult anyone who points out areas where your theory isn’t working as you intended. That’s not a sign of someone who cares about the truth, or accurately describing reality; it’s the sign of the ideologue.

    Oh, and I’m using the definition you gave. This is an area in this discussion that I’ve given you immense control over. I’ve invited you to add clauses and to change the definition as you see fit you accurately explain your pet theory. All I’ve asked is that you justify it with some good reason why a clause exist other than “the theory doesn’t work otherwise”.

    If you want a simple explanation that covers every situation, get out of acedemia. You won’t ever be pleased.

    You really don’t get it. I don’t mind if your pet theory doesn’t explain everything, I just expect any theory to give good reasons for any caveats and limits to its boundaries. For example, I don’t expect gas laws to cover solids, but then it’s easy to explain that solids are affected by fundamental forces that gases aren’t. We don’t just say that gas laws aren’t applied to solids “because they don’t work for solids”.

    Considering that you have yet to show that such is true, I think I’ll be dismissing that assertion.

    I think you don’t understand how the ‘burden of proof’ is applied. It’s not my role to convince you that your theory doesn’t do something. You don’t get to dismiss claims that your theory doesn’t do something when you failed to show that it does. This is really basic stuff Jacob.

  142. says

    “It doesn’t work in those circumstances” is all the justification I would need. It’s the same justification for the continued use of Bronsted-Lowry acid base theory, ideal gas laws, and countless other theories, laws and principles.

    I think there is some confusion here. We use the ideal gas laws in cases where the gas behaves approximately like a ideal gas, because then we can use the ideal gas laws to accurately model reality. The properties that correspond to ideal gas are objective distinctions that make them behave in the way we can predict.

    On the other hand, promoting ‘rape culture’ according to Adiabat ( will not take sides on this issue for the moment) would mean participating and/or tolerating a culture that through its actions increases the prevalence of rape and the right to bodily autonomy is such a feature of our culture. The distinction where to stop applying his definition of rape culture seems to him arbitrary, not grounded in the properties of the policies and actions in the culture but an entirely subjective distinction, qualitatively different from ideal gas laws where the use of the theory is dependent on the properties of the gas.

  143. Jacob Schmidt says

    For those theories you list there are reasons why they don’t apply in certain areas.

    Indeed, and in the case of castration, it doesn’t apply because of a confounding factor: the rights of the rapist. Such is not a factor when opposing the idea that raping someone drunk is acceptable, or indeed when opposing most cultural ideas about rape.

    In contrast all you do is stick your head in the sand and insult anyone who points out areas where your theory isn’t working as you intended. That’s not a sign of someone who cares about the truth, or accurately describing reality; it’s the sign of the ideologue.

    You do realize that your description of rape culture is not the idea I use, right? Have I not been clear on that? I remember writing that many, many times.

    Further, I’m happy to readjust and address any problems. I’m happy to admit when a definition is too general and needs a bit (or a lot) of work. But that’s not your conclusion. This is your conclusion is that it’s useless. Go ahead and ctrl-f for ‘useless'; nearly every use of the term is yours.

    That is why I think you’re being ridiculous.

    Oh, and I’m using the definition you gave. This is an area in this discussion that I’ve given you immense control over. I’ve invited you to add clauses and to change the definition as you see fit you accurately explain your pet theory

    You aren’t, or else you’d notice that I’d qualified the term “tolerance”, something you asked me to do several times after I’d already done so. I wrote that toleration due to indifference towards or advocation of rape was the issue at hand; not castrating a rapist because of his rights doesn’t enter into either category.

  144. Adiabat says

    Jacob Schmidt (152): It’s nice that you’ve stipulated the caveat that something that would otherwise be considered a part of Rape Culture ceases to be Rape Culture if fighting it would impact on human rights. As already pointed out it seems an arbitrary caveat that you’ve implemented just to make your theory work the way you want it to work (ie it doesn’t arise organically from your definitions) but I’m getting a bit tired of making this point, so fine, let’s accept it and continue.

    Now let’s look at the other example I brought up: holding the view that we should provide bright lighting to every dark alleyway in the country. It seems likely that doing this will reduce the prevalence of rape, so holding the view that we shouldn’t do it (which I assume is held almost universally in our culture) means holding a view that increases the prevalence of rape and so is part of Rape Culture. Do you also suggest the caveat that something ceases to be Rape Culture, even if it would otherwise fit the definition, if it is too expensive to fight it, or detrimental to the environment?

    At which point are you just inserting your personal politics as caveats so the theory works as you want it to work, rather than being used as a set of principles that can be applied by anyone to reach the same conclusion. For example, if I didn’t agree that castration was covered by ‘cruel and unusual’ punishment and so didn’t come under human rights, or I didn’t care about money or the environment, what’s to stop me using the theory, as currently defined, to reach a different conclusion than you do? And what’s to stop me adding my own caveats?

    I’m happy to admit when a definition is too general and needs a bit (or a lot) of work. But that’s not your conclusion. This is your conclusion is that it’s useless.

    Okay, I think I understand where you’re coming from.

    The problem with your position is that you are assuming that with a bit of work a definition could be found that is internally consistent and would cover the things you want it to cover, while excluding the things you want to exclude. I’m not so sure. If this is impossible then the theory is useless, for all the reasons I’ve already given. (I’m talking in terms of a valid theory about the real world; I’m not denying that it can ‘useful’ to those with a political aim. If you just want to claim it’s just a political tool to batter those you disagree with then we can end to this conversation now).

    Your current position is akin to those who used the ‘ether’ to explain various physical phenomena in the late 19th Century. It was ‘useful’ in one sense but ‘useless’ in another because in the end it didn’t tell us anything about reality and was scrapped.

    Re: Tolerance

    Sigh, we’ve covered this several times. Sheaf explains it very well: Your ‘qualification’ is arbitrary,”not grounded in the properties of the policies and actions in the culture but an entirely subjective distinction”. For example the tolerance of boys behavior as ‘boys will be boys’ is not the type of tolerance that comes under indifference towards or advocation of rape yet you allow this under Rape Culture. This way that your qualification changes depending on just whether you agree or not with the claim is also why I consider it ‘magic’. ‘Magic’ refers to the fact that it is not grounded in reason, logic or reality.

    When I ask you to qualify something I don’t just mean “state that it’s not included”. Otherwise you just arbitrarily exclude the things you want to exclude without reason. I mean something like “confliction with human rights aren’t included under the banner of Rape Culture because…” that’s something other than “… because then the theory doesn’t work as I want it to work”. Even something like “because the theory holds the upholding of humans rights as a higher priority than preventing rape” would be acceptable. Of course then you open it up to the claim that the theory is subject to the whims of the user, changing with each user’s personal moral code; it becomes not-so-much a description of cultural attitudes but rather a process of listing things you think are less important than reducing the prevalence of rape.

  145. Jacob Schmidt says

    Now let’s look at the other example I brought up: holding the view that we should provide bright lighting to every dark alleyway in the country.

    I’m happy to consider it. It it feasible? Would it work? It really isn’t clear that it would/ Would the money be better spent in other areas? The government only has so much money, and there are other matters at hand. Is there an environmental issue, where the over use of resources leads to harming others?

    This is not a clear cut situation.

    Do you also suggest the caveat that something ceases to be Rape Culture, even if it would otherwise fit the definition, if it is too expensive to fight it, or detrimental to the environment?

    I really don’t get why you’re so fixated on this. Even if I was forced to accept something as rape culture and am unable, I can still judge for myself based on other factors. Rape culture is a piece of the overall puzzle; I don’t put it forth as the end-all be-all of anything, and I don’t expect it to be perfect under all circumstances.

    Sheaf explains it very well: Your ‘qualification’ is arbitrary,”not grounded in the properties of the policies and actions in the culture but an entirely subjective distinction”.

    That’s not what “arbitrary” means; the properties are different. Tolerating rape because you can’t do anything (for whatever reason you lack the agency) is a completely different attitude than tolerating it because you don’t mind that people are raped.

    For example the tolerance of boys behavior as ‘boys will be boys’ is not the type of tolerance that comes under indifference towards or advocation of rape yet you allow this under Rape Culture.

    I covered this already. That’s normalization, a term already present in the definition. Here:

    As already pointed out it seems an arbitrary caveat that you’ve implemented just to make your theory work the way you want it to work (ie it doesn’t arise organically from your definitions) but I’m getting a bit tired of making this point, so fine, let’s accept it and continue.
    -snip-
    Even something like “because the theory holds the upholding of humans rights as a higher priority than preventing rape” would be acceptable.

    Preventing rape and combating rape culture is done because of human rights. You’re complaining about me (and asking me to do so, weirdly enough) reaffirming a principle already present.

    This isn’t “we’re against daisies.” Rape is a violation of human rights, and is combated as such. I have no choice but to consider the rights of all, otherwise they aren’t rights.

    Of course then you open it up to the claim that the theory is subject to the whims of the user, changing with each user’s personal moral code; it becomes not-so-much a description of cultural attitudes but rather a process of listing things you think are less important than reducing the prevalence of rape.[2]

    I don’t consider human rights to be a whimsical notion.

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