Rapists don’t look like rapists, continued


As I previously mentioned, rapists have a strong interest in not looking like rapists. Being seen as a menacing creep, an awkward and disturbed loner, or even marginally likely to cause harm to anyone, is directly contrary to their goals. For someone looking to commit rape, anything that might alert others to this intention and capability is simply not in their interest.

Many people don’t seem to understand this, and believe that women somehow ought to be capable of, and responsible for, avoiding potential rapists. The fact that rapists often look like everyone else – meaning that anyone around us could possibly be a rapist – makes this an impossible expectation. Perhaps people believe that if someone has the potential for such monstrosity, the horror of it would be readily evident at all times, beyond anyone’s ability to disguise, and visible for the rest of us to perceive and avoid. But this isn’t the case at all. In fact, the exact opposite is often true.

In a piece on Jerry Sandusky and the strategies of child molesters, the New Yorker explains that they groom not only potential victims, but also entire communities. By cultivating a wholesome image of fun, friendliness and approachability, they obtain easier access to children, while avoiding everyone else’s suspicion:

“Many molesters confirmed that they would spend anywhere from two to three years getting established in a new community before molesting any children,” van Dam writes. One pedophile she interviewed would hang out in bars, looking for adults who seemed to be having difficulties at home. He would lend a comforting ear, and then start to help out. As he told van Dam:

I was just a friend doing things a friend would do. Helping them move, going to baseball games with them. What I found myself doing was getting close to the kids, becoming more of a father figure or a mentor, doing things for them that the parents weren’t doing because the parents were out getting drunk all the time. And, of course, it made it easy for me to baby-sit. They’d say, “Oh yeah. We can off-load the kids with Jimmy.”

No one would expect that these lovable, happy guys who are great with children would actually abuse them, and when their crimes do come to light, those around them find it simply unbelievable. They can’t accept that someone like that would do such a thing:

“We weren’t really prepared to call the police and make it into a police investigation,” one of the mothers told van Dam. “It was an indiscretion, as far as we were concerned at this point. It was all vague: ‘Well, he put his hands down there.’ And, ‘Well, it was inside the pants, but fingers went to here.’ We were all still trying to protect Mr. Clay’s reputation, and the possibility this was all blown up out of proportion and there was a mistake.”

The families then learned that there had been a previous complaint by a child against Clay, and they took their case to the school superintendent. He, too, advised caution. “If allegations do not clearly indicate sexual abuse, a gray area exists,” he wrote to them. “The very act of overt investigation carries with it a charge, a conviction, and a sentence, a situation which is repugnant to fair-minded people.”

Indeed, they often find it so difficult to accept, they’ll actively defend and protect the abuser:

The pedophile is often imagined as the dishevelled old man baldly offering candy to preschoolers. But the truth is that most of the time we have no clue what we are dealing with. A fellow-teacher at Mr. Clay’s school, whose son was one of those who complained of being fondled, went directly to Clay after she heard the allegations. “I didn’t do anything to those little boys,” Clay responded. “I’m innocent. . . . Would you and your husband stand beside me if it goes to court?” Of course, they said. People didn’t believe that Clay was a pedophile because people liked Clay—without realizing that Clay was in the business of being likable.

Because the abuser is considered to be so above reproach, those who are suspicious of him are instead found to be at fault:

“I was running into my colleagues who were saying, ‘Did you know that some rotten parents trumped up these charges against this poor man?’ ” one teacher told van Dam. The teacher added, “Not just one person. Many teachers said this.” A psychologist working at the school thought that the community was in the grip of hysteria. The allegations against Clay, he thought, were simply the result of the fact that he was “young and energetic.” Clay threatened to sue. The parents dropped their case.

Clay was a man repeatedly accused of putting his hands down the pants of young boys. Parents complained. Superiors investigated. And what happened? The school psychologist called him a victim of hysteria.

While it’s always disgusting to see people side with accused rapists and doubt their victims, it shouldn’t be surprising. Abusers thrive on grey areas, their carefully constructed reputations, the perceived impossibility of their actions, and the willingness of others to defend them and interpret their behavior in the most charitable way possible.

Comments

  1. williamburns says

    “While it’s always disgusting to see people side with accused rapists and doubt their victims”

    No, it isn’t always disgusting. Sometimes accused rapists are innocent, as in the case of the Scottsboro Boys. Accusation should never be treated as something which cannot be doubted.

      • Happiestsadist, opener of the Crack of Doom says

        What? You’re surprised? What’s a little truth (you know, the fact that only around 2% of rape allegations are false) when there’s victim-blaming and doubting to be done?

        • williamburns says

          I did not blame victims, nor do I believe that 2%=0. There is no crime for which accusation should be treated as proof of guilt. That is the logic of witch-hunting.

      • Brownian says

        When I was seventeen, I was wrongly accused of a violent crime, and spent considerable amount of time and expense via court appearances and lawyers’ fees to prove my innocence.

        At the same time, word had circulated through my school that I was some sort of white supremacist, and I had to deal with getting jumped by multiple people whenever I was on school grounds after hours, such as any social function.

        I’d never thought to use these experiences to doubt that violent crime happens or that racism exists.

        I mean, as far as false accusations go, I’ve fucking been there. And the fact they happen is no excuse for the kind of victim-blaming the so-called skeptical community loves to perpetuate.

      • says

        You need to calm down.

        “Well, you know, Sally, better that 100 women be raped and never see justice than a few people on a blog insult some random rapist. Because blog comments = trial by jury.”

        There is a strawman if I ever saw one.

        Zinniajones phrased an assertion incorrectly. Williamburns was pointing it out. Nothing he pointed out is on the side of victim-blaming and ignoring the issue of sexual assault. That is why you need to chill. -___-

  2. Luna_the_cat says

    I have, on multiple occasions, tried to have conversations with my idiot brother and idiot-brother’s-idiot-wife, about the fact that they have (again) hooked up with a con-man who is in the business of bilking them, and using their enthusiasm in his defense to bilk others. But they LIKE him; he says all the right things to them, and he flatters them, and offers them things!

    I’ve tried to point out that con-men are in the BUSINESS of being likeable; if people didn’t like them, people wouldn’t trust them and wouldn’t be willing to go along with what they say. But, if they can get people to LIKE them, then people will not only trust them, they will defend them against accusations of untrustworthiness, and will discount or ignore evidence of that untrustworthiness. A con-man who appears untrustworthy and unlikeable is a failure. A con-man who appears to be exactly the same as a genuinely nice guy who is doing good things, is a successful con-man.

    THAT is why objective evidence of their activities really matters and cannot safely be discounted.

    They cannot even grasp this with regards to money, though over the decades they have lost tens of thousands of dollars to various shysters and embezzlers and medical quacks. And unsurprisingly, idiot-brother’s-idiot-wife was previously married to a man who was abusing her son. She didn’t believe it until she actually walked in on it happening. If she hadn’t walked in on it, a hard thing to explain away, then who knows how many years it might have continued.

  3. says

    Accusation should never be treated as something which cannot be doubted.

    Given that you’re posting on a FreeThought community of blogs, a group of people who treat ALL truth claims as doubtable, and realize that ALL conclusions about the nature of reality are provisional and subject to revision upon discovery of new evidence, what the fuck is your purpose in coming here and lecturing us about this as if we don’t fucking know?

    • williamburns says

      Why don’t you read my initial comment, which responds to Zinnia’s claim that defending accused rapists is ALWAYS disgusting. Doesn’t sound terribly skeptical to me.

      • says

        Okay, Will, here’s the thing – have you ever raced to be first to comment on a post about terrorism to claim that not all people accused of such crimes are guilty’? How about the banksters – did you leap to the defence of Goldman Sachs executives on the grounds that they’d not been convicted of any offence? Or here’s an easier one – George Zimmerman. Ever insisted on pointing out that he’s not been convicted of killing anyone? What some people here find deeply obnoxious it how it always seems to be rape that triggers the automatic justice circuitry in a certain type of ‘skeptical’ brain. Not entirely unreasonable to wonder if it is a smokescreen for a rather different impulse…

        • laurentweppe says

          have you ever raced to be first to comment on a post about terrorism to claim that not all people accused of such crimes are guilty’?

          To be fair, the ratio of people falsely accused of terrorism and punished for it in post 9/11 has been notoriously higher than the ratio of false positives leading to undeserved sentences in rape cases.

  4. blorf says

    Also rapists have to start somewhere, right? There is always a first victim, meaning there is always one attack that has no precursor. So even if you could identify a rapist instantly, you would still not be safe from would-be-rapists. Couple this with the need for men to make themselves likeable to get anywhere with a prospective romantic partner and you have a recipe for the rape culture. Really the only way to fix this is to make rapists universally reviled.

  5. says

    Two things…

    First, I agree with williambrown. In Zinnia’s article she made an absolute claim that “it’s always [emphasis added] disgusting to see people side with accused rapists and doubt their victims.” Absolute claims are rarely true, as is the case here. That was williambrown’s comment, and a valid one at that. What if I have firsthand knowledge that an accused rapist is innocent? What if I was with the accused man or woman when the alleged rape occurred? What if I witnessed someone else performing the rape? Is it then wrong of me to speak out for justice for the accused? Remember, it’s “accused,” not “convicted.”

    Second, Freethoughtbogs has really taken a hit recently with some controversial articles and commenters. Although I take very little issue with the article, I do take issue with the tact of some of the commenters. The general belief in a vast majority of the atheist community is that some folks are completely unwilling to accept any disagreement, and will lash out at those with opposing viewpoints. Based on what I’ve read here, with unnecessary use of f-bombs and accusations of “derailment” when the comment directly correlated to the blog, that is exactly what happened here. How about some rational discussion? williambrown made a reasonable, civil comment, and was attacked…for what?

    His comment was a simple question of proper phrasing. That’s it.

      • ohioatheist says

        Perhaps the word unnecessary was, well, unnecessary. It’s never appropriate in productive, rational dialogue. If you want to have a rational dialogue, f-bombs are not necessary. It’s just crude.

        • Luna_the_cat says

          Being more concerned over the form of the language than the content of the argument is not so much “unnecessary” as “completely counterproductive.”

          • ohioatheist says

            You have no basis for your claim. In my original comment, the very first thing I opined on was the use of an absolute statement in Zinnia’s article. My second comment was about the crudeness of commenters. So to say that I am “more concerned” about use of f-bombs is factually unfounded, and is more your assumption about my state of mind than anything else.

    • Brownian says

      Here are some statistics on the underreporting of rape:

      1 out of 6 American women will be the victim of rape or attempted rape in their lifetimes.

      97% of rapists will not be convicted.

      Given those statistics for starters, is it at all unreasonable that whenever the topic of rape comes up, the first issue raised seems to be cast doubt on the victims and ponder the poor fate of the tiny fraction of individuals falsely accused?

      Why is this always the ‘rational discussion’ we must have? Why can’t you look up those statistics? Why do people like me have to force-feed them to you?

      • ohioatheist says

        At what point did I cast doubt on the claims of rape? I would take any claim of rape very seriously, as it is a serious matter. However, Zinnia’s statement suggests that anyone supporting someone accused of rape is deplorable, without any regard for the truth. Remember, she said “accused,” not “convicted.” That is what I take issue with. I would agree that supporting a convicted rapist is deplorable, but not someone merely accused. That is kangaroo court justice.

        I never made any claim about under-reporting of rape. I don’t doubt that rapes are under-reported. You’re projecting things into the conversation I never said. All I said was that Zinnia made an absolute statement, which is rarely true. In my professional field, I never make absolute statements in reports, letters, or emails, because absolutes can be easily refuted.

        I don’t need to be force fed anything, thank you.

        • Pteryxx says

          Notice what else Zinnia said after that clause you’re so busily taking issue with?

          and doubt their victims

          The whole point is that it is NOT reasonable to default to doubting the victim’s word while believing the accused. Evidence shows that rapists use plausible deniability to get away with rape over and over. The bias against victims is so strong that it frequently causes police to shirk investigations and ignore actual physical evidence of rape.

          Here’s the rest of the final paragraph you’re not reading:

          Abusers thrive on grey areas, their carefully constructed reputations, the perceived impossibility of their actions, and the willingness of others to defend them and interpret their behavior in the most charitable way possible.

          • ohioatheist says

            Referring to my original post, I outlined a situation in which you could doubt the accuser. If I was with the accused individual when the alleged rape occurred, I would have reasonable cause to doubt the accuser. I’m not suggesting that this is commonplace; however, this scenario contradicts Zinnia’s statement that all who “side with accused rapists” are deplorable.

            That is my sole argument. I make no claims about rape statistics, or the general validity of Zinnia’s blog. Please do not take my statement out of context, as I believe several have done.

        • Brownian says

          ohioatheist, it was not my intention to claim that you were trivialising the seriousness of rape, or doubting its prevalence. I apologise if that’s how I came across.

          What I intended to do, was to show the vast discrepancy between how often rape is not reported or not prosecuted and how infrequently false accusations occur, and why people are tetchy when the first comment on a blog about rape is about false accusations.

          • ohioatheist says

            Thank you for clarifying; however, I do not think he was addressing false accusations. He was stating that Zinnia’s statement was an absolute, which it should not be. It’s just a matter of poor word choice on her part. I do not think he was trying to somehow discount or disregard accusations of rape. I think people have read more into his comment than what was intended.

      • ohioatheist says

        Again, I never made any claims about under-reporting of rapes.

        I’m not interested in insults or name-calling. Constructive dialogue is achieved through intelligent, fact-based discussion, not off-the-cuff insults. You can call me every name in the book, but I won’t stoop to that level. Nothing gets accomplished that way. I’d be glad to partake in a friendly discussion, regardless of whether we agree. If not, I’ll spend time reading other blogs with others commenters who are more respectful.

        I do not respond to ad hominems or arguments from probability.

          • ohioatheist says

            Well, now I’m gone. It’s clear that you are not interested in an intelligent discussion, and only wish to preach to the choir. I will not stoop to your level. You, sir, are one of the reasons why FTB has such a bad rap in the atheist community these days. You’re not interested in discussion; you’re interested in agreement, and insulting those who disagree. In that, I do not partake. Have a good day.

          • Luna_the_cat says

            ohioatheist, if you were actually interested in the argument, then you would have concentrated on the logic and content of the argument, not spent the bulk of your time complaining about use of the word “fuck.” That’s the way it works.

            The content of the argument is that the “what about the innocent accused” exists in the context of a worldwide culture which values the innocence of the accused far more than it is willing to extend credibility to the accuser, and statements about “emotionality” are -very- commonly used to raise doubts about credibility. And, the “absolute statement” that you object to was explained very well by Pteryxx and M Groesbeck; I note that you didn’t make any real response to that, and further note with interest that you found the one single statement in the blog post to quibble with and ignored the rest of the post and its observations, so far as I can tell.

            This is part of why what you did looks like derailing.

    • M Groesbeck says

      Let’s look for a moment at what you and williambrown have said. I hope that there’s a gap between intent and text, and that we might sort this out by addressing a need for more careful writing.

      Zinnia has objected not to people taking, as an initial response, a stance of uncertainty while awaiting the facts, but siding with the accused. There’s a difference between “this person has been accused, and we need to see whether these accusations are well-grounded” and “this person has been accused, but until I have absolute proof I’ll insist that this person must be innocent.” The latter case was what was addressed in the article and in the responses that you seem (from my perspective) to be objecting to.

      Personally, while I may be acceptably certain that I’m not a potential rapist or child molester, it sometimes creeps me the fuck out when people who don’t have the same access to my inner thoughts are too willing to assume the same. As I worked as a private tutor for most of the last 10 years, this has actually come up quite often: sometimes I, not the parents, have been the one to insist that I work with students in a space visible to the parents/guardians and while at least one responsible parent/guardian was in the home. In addition to the getting-the-job-done factor (keeping a student’s parents involved in the academic work helps keep the student on track) and the coverage factor (there is the possibility, exceedingly remote as it may be, of false accusations), I hoped to model appropriate suspicion for my students’ parents. Parents and other concerned parties shouldn’t implicitly trust any other potential abuser/rapist.

      If there had been an accusation of wrongdoing, I can only hope that any involved parents/guardians/teachers (in case of a minor) and/or friends/acquaintances/etc. (in the general case) would not presume me innocent based on a lack of evidence but would take the accusations seriously. Yeah, it would have sucked to be in my position (though that could be remedied to an extent if I, y’know, behaved like a thinking and ethical adult who made sure that I didn’t have to be trusted), but I’d rather go through that than have to worry about whether the next person that somebody trusted turned out to be a rapist.

      So, yeah. It would disgust me to see people immediately siding with the person accused of rape. Even if I were that person. Even knowing that the accusation was unfounded — because I’d rather have to spend a bit of effort demonstrating my innocence than contribute to a culture of victim-blaming and predator-enabling.

      • ohioatheist says

        I’m leaving now, due to the hostility, but I would like to say “thank you” for a well-constructed argument, and not stooping to petty insults in getting your point across. I wish more comments were like yours.

        • M, Supreme Anarch of the Queer Illuminati says

          The only difference is that I felt the urge to give an excerpt from Don’t Be a Rapist-Protecting Asshole 101; this blog generally assumes that you’ve at least passed that course.

    • says

      Sorry, bub. You are expected to be enough of an adult to sort content from tone. Your distaste for the word fuck or whatever magically naughty words you deem shocking is the reason I’m using the word fuck and whatever other words will raise your heartbeat a little bit.

      I really want the dude who wrote that to seriously consider what his purpose was in writing his bit. Why did he feel compelled to write it? What is his concern? That men who are accused of rape are occasionally innocent of the charge. Like people here don’t know that. Like we haven’t had the “yes, it’s true, prison rape is a horrible violation of human rights, and yes it’s possible for women to rape men, there there, nobody has forgotten men exist just because we weren’t talking about you for a minute,” conversation a hundred times in what feels like the past four weeks.

      There is so much material out there, including FreeThoughtBlogs, about derailing and why it’s bad, why the conviction rate for rape is really low, why it’s not a good idea to bring up concerns about falsely accused abusers when the topic is what the experience of the abuse is like and how you deal with it as a victim or potential victim. I mean, that’s just basic common sense. But somehow common sense gets thrown out the window when it comes to sexual abuse, rape, and harassment.

      Cry me a fucking river if f-bombs bother you. I get the impression that some dudes are made really uncomfortable about the FACT that if you hear about a rapist, odds are that overwhelming that it’s a man. Yes, men get raped, but their rapists are mostly men, just as those who rape women are overwhelmingly men as well. Combine that with the fact that well over 90% of rapists never get convicted, due to hyperskepticism like yours as well as underreporting, which is due to the abnormal amount of stress a person reporting a rape or sexual assault is put under for reporting, as compared to other crimes.

      There is an existing situation in our country and indeed in most countries of the world (possibly all but since we’re being so very rigorously “skeptical” here I’ll hold back from the universal statements) where sexual abusers and rapists escape punishment for their crimes far more often than other types of criminals. I view rape as a hate crime committed against women, non-gender conforming men, and children, with the goal of terrorizing everyone, men and women alike, into compliance with rigid patriarchal gender roles.

      That’s the background of williamburns’ comment.

      Now you tell me. What do you think his purpose in making that comment was.

    • says

      Remember, it’s “accused,” not “convicted.”

      Yes, because a lack of conviction is any indicator of innocence when talking about rape ans sexual assault.
      Because that’s what we know from all the avaible data.
      This is one of those wonderful examples of “Let me find a pretty bizarre scenario that bears about no resemblance to reality in order to defend a very common horror.”
      It’s exactly like all those people who need to conjure up a scenario in which they think it’s justified to deny a woman an abortion while not coming out directly as a forced birther.
      Let’s just reinforce the pattern that we need to treat rape accusations with extreeeeeem skepticism, because the harm done to probably 2% of accused rapists* by siding with the victims and treating them with compassion is faaaaaaar bigger than the harm done to 98% of rape victims who report their rapes and who are treated as liars, which is obviously OK, because the assumption of innocence is not for them.

      No, you folks aren’t arguing in good faith, because you fucking well know that usually the word “always” allows for some very rare exceptions. Nobody would argue with Zinnia if she said “I always have a cup of coffee in the morning”. Nobody would need to point out that there are probably 7-8 days a year when she doesn’t. But when it’s about rapists, then we need to be extra careful not to hurt their important rapist fee-fees.

      *Remember, that number is not the actual number of rapists. Experts think that 90% of rape goes unreported and yes, the hyperskepticism against the claims of victims, the siding with the accused are reasons that keep the numbers low.

  6. scenario says

    As the title says Rapist don’t look like rapists. Our law says that juries have to be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt. Many rapist are good at setting up situations where reasonable doubt exist. That’s one of the reasons that the conviction rate is so low. I always lean toward believing the victim but I don’t believe in punishing the accused until he has a fair trial.

    He said, she said cases without any physical evidence are hard to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. Especially with a savvy criminal who creates the situation for his benefit. Situations where several children who are otherwise unconnected with each other make essentially the same accusation with similar details and people refuse to believe them are really sad. Several different unconnected witnesses is pretty good corroboration. (Best friends backing each other up can be problematic for the prosecution. A lot of juries will think, of course your best friend will back up what you say.)

  7. says

    Guess what? When people defend an accused rapist, you know how hey usually do it? By attacking the alleged victim, dredging up their past and sexual history, calling them hysterical and delusional or outright lying con artists, by destroying the character of the alleged victim in order to defend a person who is MOST LIKELY GUILTY!

    So yeah, it is fucking disgusting. And so is anyone who comes within striking distance of it in the name of some idiotic form of “skepticism” which seems to exclusively target victims.

  8. scenario says

    I find it weird how people who as far as I can tell are on the same side of an issue can argue so viciously. I think everyone here believes that victims are way too easily doubted in our society.(Judging solely by the comments listed above.) Way too many people automatically side with the accused without even bothering to look at the facts.

    On the other hand, I don’t like the words always or never without any qualifiers when it comes to someones guilt or innocence. If an individual always sides with the accused and doubts the victims, that is wrong. But it is not wrong to doubt the accused in every single case. My nickname is scenario. I can think of a million reasons why you could legitimately doubt the accused or victim on a case by case basis. In general,unless I have a good solid reason to think otherwise, I’m going to believe the victim and doubt the accused but I won’t make my final opinion until I can see the evidence. But if I had good solid evidence to doubt the victim, I don’t see why it would be wrong to do so. If you always have to believe the victim under all circumstances, why have a trial?

    This is in no way defending the behavior discussed in the post. When the first child makes an accusation, I can see saying I want to wait before passing judgement. When a second and third child make the same accusation, the case is much stronger, How anyone could just automatically side with the accused in this is beyond my understanding. I’d still want to wait for the trial before I’d make my final judgement but I’d be leaning heavily on the side of the victim in my personal opinion in a case like this.

    • says

      When the first child makes an accusation, I can see saying I want to wait before passing judgement. When a second and third child make the same accusation, the case is much stronger, How anyone could just automatically side with the accused in this is beyond my understanding.

      Because that’s the exact thing you’re doing when you allow for a second and third child to be abused before you’re willing to do anything. Because that’s exactly what you’re doing when you most likely pass judgement of “innocence” when no second child comes forth. Nevermind that the second child most likely knows about the first child, has seen that the only person to get hurt by saying something is the child and will therefore stfu.

      • scenario says

        Because that’s the exact thing you’re doing when you allow for a second and third child to be abused before you’re willing to do anything. Because that’s exactly what you’re doing when you most likely pass judgement of “innocence” when no second child comes forth.

        Of course you should investigate the abuse. You should also prosecute if the investigation shows that that the accused is probably guilty and let a jury decide. As an outsider, I wouldn’t have access to the level of details necessary to make an informed decision so while my opinion would lean heavily towards the victim, I don’t believe in convicting the accused in my mind before the trial. When the other children also accuse the accused, it should give more weight to the accusations not less.

        One of the reasons for so few convictions is that people must be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Many cases have no physical evidence. It becomes the word of one person against another person. Predators are good at setting up situations designed to create reasonable doubt. That is one of the reasons that the conviction rate is so low.

        I talked about the second and third child because it was a case where it wasn’t just one persons word against another, and people still were on the accused side. The crime is already difficult to prove in too many cases because predators are good at setting up the situation to their benefit. Why do people still automatically believe and defend the accused when the evidence is much stronger?

  9. didgen says

    @ohioathiest
    Your examples would not be situations of doubt, if you were with that person then you have absolute proof that the person could not have been involved would you not? I think perhaps you need to work out a more believeable set of circumstances as your reasons to extend doubt as to innocence.

    • ohioatheist says

      I respectfully disagree. To reiterate, Zinnia said, “While it’s always disgusting to see people side with accused rapists and doubt their victims, it shouldn’t be surprising.” In the context of my statement, having personal knowledge of one’s innocence is grounds for siding with an accused rapist or doubting the victim. Granted, it does go beyond doubt, but it is still doubt.

      I just think Zinnia made a poor word choice, that’s all.

  10. Brownian says

    I know what he said and what he meant. I’m taking about the context surrounding these discussions and why conversations happen this way.

    You can read my explanation and understand the larger context of what happened, or you can double down and continue to be baffled as to why your literalist interpretation fails to explain what’s going on.

    • says

      ‘Either terrorism allegations are false 0% of the time, or they are false 100% of the time. We’re at war! Pick a side!’

      If you saw such a comment, would you think: ‘What a wise and witty fellow! He raises a vital point.’

      Clue: I didn’t think that.

    • says

      Please tell me you just forgot your </sarcasm> tags.

      If that isn’t sarcasm… I can’t even deal with it, and will leave the dismemberment/evisceration of the comment to others who are more eloquent than I. Suffice to say, in this case, I disagree with and dislike the comment.

  11. says

    There’s a convicted pedophile living in the street I grew up. Well respected member of the city council, very eager charity activist, especially in all things concerning children.
    Guess what, he’s still a very respected member of the community, still honorary president of the charity.
    And as time goes by people are again doubting that this nice man could have done bad things. He was always so kind to people, especially children, think about all the great things he’s done, the time he spent at the children’s hospital!
    If he says so much as “hello” to mine I’ll be tempted to knock his teeth in. But I’m sure there’s some people here who’ll tell me that this is sooooo unfair.

    • says

      Oh, forgot something:
      Some people knew at least partly before the trial.
      Some people wondered why this man’s daughters never came to visit.
      But when his direct neighbour shouted over the garden fence that should he ever get near his daughter he’ll kill him, guess who was considered rude and horrible.

  12. says

    Just imagine if Bob Smith stole your car, and you called the cops and told them that Bob Smith stole your car and parked it in his garage, and their response was “Look, it must have been a misunderstanding because Bob is a cool guy!” and then instead of arresting him they tell you that you probably parked it there and forgot it, they refuse to look at the damage he did in breaking into it and starting it without a key because “maybe that was already there, and maybe you did it by accident?” At the end, they tell you to stop being so emotional, and maybe if Bob steals three or four more cars they’ll come back and collect some evidence.

    Some folks act like we want to convict rapists without a trial or even an investigation, but what we’re pointing out is that in too many cases people are dismissing the accusations without even doing an investigation. “Innocent until proven guilty” is for judges and juries. Police investigators are supposed to collect evidence ruthlessly, not base their level of professional conduct on how nice the accused person seems to them. “Well, we WERE going to ask some tough questions and dust for prints, but then the suspect brought us milk and cookies and asked how our mothers were doing, so we wrapped up our investigation early and went home. Damn those cookies were good!”

  13. says

    I have one final statement, and I am going. This is entirely counterproductive…

    First, I agree every single word of Zinnia’s article except for her absolute statement in the last paragraph. I do believe that rape is abhorrent. I do believe it is underreported. I do believe that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover (which is the bottom line of the article). I do believe that victim-blaming is commonplace, and generally wrong. I do believe that women are usually the victim of this. I do believe that there are unscrupulous attorneys who will destroy womens’ reputations to get guilty clients free, and it is abhorrent. I have seen this firsthand. About 12 years ago, an ex-girlfriend that I dated for years was violently raped and murdered by a college buddy, her body dragged down the street naked and put in her car, to be found by passersby in the morning. I wept at her funeral, and walked the streets for hours trying to understand why someone would do this to her. At the trial, the defense attorneys tried to smear her sexual history (they interviewed me as well, but I didn’t testify) and make it seem like she was “asking for it” and her death was accidental asphyxiation. (He was convicted and sentenced to life without parole) The whole thing was a nigthmare, and I sat next to her mother in the courtroom during sentencing, her hand in mine. So I’ve seen what can happen to an innocent woman. So if you think that I am somehow in the dark about what goes on, or I am somehow emotionless about this issue, you are DEAD WRONG. And if you don’t believe me, I’ll send a link to a story in the college paper, if its still online.

    So don’t dare villify me because I disagree with ONE word in a article. And don’t villify me for suggesting that a calmer approach is necessary in productive dialogue. I don’t respond to personal attacks, foul language, and straw men. And if you think you can cause real change in this world communicating like that, you are sorely mistaken. Most people will not take you seriously.

    I’m out.

      • says

        You can call me whatever you want, chief. Tone troll, flouncer, whatever. It makes no difference. I don’t need to hide behind my computer, attacking complete strangers with infantile, worthless garbage, as a defense mechanism to cover up my own hyper-sensitivity and insecurities. You think your actions make you a bad ass, but truly you are pathetic and weak, and it’s truly sad. Maturity and decorum are not your strong suit. I’d work on that.

        I’m out…(flounce)

    • says

      I do dare vilify you because you pounced on Zinnia’s use of “always” to derail a conversation about rape in a manner that perfectly mirrors the way misogynists and rape apologists have derailed thousands of conversations about rape already: by deflecting attention from the experience to the victim to the tiny percentage of outliers who really are innocent, because the person accusing them of rape is lying. I do find the reflex to doubt the victim to be disgusting in all cases. You aren’t talking about what she was talking about, but you refuse to recognize that and you’re in denial about the fact that you’re acting exactly the way a rapist would like you to act and helping maintain the culture that lets rapists get away with their crimes.

      And I find your use of your personal acquaintance with a woman who was raped and murdered as an excuse to get away with this derailment to be rather disgusting.

  14. says

    Back to Zinnia’s post. I have known a few people who I later discovered were rapists or abusers in some form or other. Some of them were known in the community as skeezy alcoholics whom no one would ever trust. Others were recognized in their community as people who supported charities and were politically active. At least was involved in Boys and Girls clubs and Boy Scouts. In the later case, he became involved with a vulnerable woman and abused several of her children. Some in the community were slow to believe the worst of this man, although they didn’t actively support him. Once a few more details came out, he was dropped very quickly. He went to jail for a while and i have no idea where he is now.

    I am also aware of a couple of local instances where the victim recanted after originally claiming rape. In one case, she cried wolf to appease her father who caught them in flagrante delicto. She later married the young man. In the other instance, I have no idea whether the woman recanted because she originally lied or because she couldn’t face the victim blaming, which really flew around at that time, since the incident happened after a party.

    Rapists and abusers are a complicated group of people and fit in very different places in society. Certainly, their status relative to their victims’ is a major factor in how they are seen in the community.

  15. says

    In the few cases of false rape accusations I’ve become aware of, I’ve noticed a common thread: women lying in order to excape slut-shaming. One was a white women who didn’t want it known she willingly slept with a black man. One was a woman who didn’t want it known she willingly participated in a gang bang. And one was a girl with a strictly religious father who didn’t want it known she was having sex at all.

    I reckon men who are up in arms about false rape accusations could help their cause a lot by fighting against slut-shaming.

  16. revjimbob says

    I read an account a few years back of a parents’ meeting about a local priest who had been convicted on a charge of sexual abuse of a child. They ended the meeting by deciding to name a new Gym or somesuch after the fucking priest!

  17. carolw says

    This post makes me nauseated. I had a biology teacher in hi school who was a big old perv, always looking down girls’ shirts and rubbing our backs. He always volunteered to “chaperone” on band and choir trips and brought his damn camera along. He did “bed checks” and would try to take photos of the girls in their pajamas or in towels if they’d just showered. But he was “just flirting,” and “when he started teaching, the girls loved the attention.” These excuses from my own mother (also a teacher at the same school). None of us dared be alone in a classroom with him because he’d try to grab you and kiss you. But everyone loved him because he organized the Homecoming parade, and was super-involved with the school, even dressing as the mascot one football season.
    Fast forward about 20 years, and he finally leched on the wrong girl, and was asked to resign. I was so happy to hear that news. So how can you blame a bunch of 14, 15, and 16 year old girls for an old man creeping on them?
    Oh, and Ohioatheist? fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck.

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