I am satisfied by Neil deGrasse Tyson’s response


As you’ve probably heard, Neil deGrasse Tyson has been accused of, and is being investigated for, inappropriate behavior with women. Three women have made accusations of varying severity, which is starting to add up.

Tyson has made a response to the accusations. I think it’s a good one. It is the case that if you are a popular celebrity with many encounters with the public, you’ll slip up now and then and cross a boundary that someone finds inappropriate, and the question is whether you can recognize that, draw back, and apologize with some sympathy for your accuser. Tyson demonstrates that here.

I’m sure it’s even more difficult for an exuberant fellow like Tyson. I’m recalling one event where he and I met for the first time, and he rushed over and gave me a great big bear hug — more than that, we practically had a wrestling match then and there. He’s passionate and enthusiastic and unreserved with everyone, and looking back on it…what if I were more reluctant to accept physical contact? What if I’d been a woman? How would that encounter have been interpreted? I can see how his wholeheartedness is going to occasionally get him into trouble, but I don’t want a timid, reserved Neil deGrasse Tyson.

As for the three accounts: 1) the production assistant who resigned from her job over the excessive intimacy: he apologized profusely, and he did not touch her inappropriately, nor has she accused him of that. He says, “had I known she was uncomfortable, I would have apologized on the spot, ended the evening”, and they parted on good terms.

2) The woman whose tattoo he examined a bit too intensely:

I only just learned (nine years after) that she thought this behavior creepy. That was never my intent and I’m deeply sorry to have made her feel that way. Had I been told of her discomfort in the moment, I would have offered this same apology eagerly, and on the spot. In my mind’s eye, I’m a friendly and accessible guy, but going forward, I can surely be more sensitive to people’s personal space, even in the midst of my planetary enthusiasm.

Isn’t that what we want, that people learn from their mistakes?

3) The Ahmet Tchiya accusations of rape: Something always seemed off about that, and Tyson admits to a relationship in grad school.

I remember being intimate only a few times, all at her apartment, but the chemistry wasn’t there. So the relationship faded quickly. There was nothing otherwise odd or unusual about this friendship.

That seems reasonable. This, though, is a case where a fleeting intimacy turned weird over the years.

For me, what was most significant, was that in this new life, long after dropping out of astrophysics graduate school, she was posting videos of colored tuning forks endowed with vibrational therapeutic energy that she channels from the orbiting planets. As a scientist, I found this odd. Meanwhile, according to her blog posts, the drug and rape allegation comes from an assumption of what happened to her during a night that she cannot remember. It is as though a false memory had been implanted, which, because it never actually happened, had to be remembered as an evening she doesn’t remember. Nor does she remember waking up the next morning and going to the office. I kept a record of everything she posted, in case her stories morphed over time. So this is sad, which, for me, defies explanation.

This behavior is also not unusual or exceptional or unbelievable. Barring other evidence, we have to accept it.

I also appreciate his final sentiment.

That brings us back to the value of an independent investigation, which FOX/NatGeo (the networks on which Cosmos and StarTalk air) announced that they will conduct. I welcome this.

What? He’s not going to throw a tantrum and sue everyone in sight? How refreshing. It is also how an innocent man would respond to an accusation.

Unless the investigation uncovers something truly sordid, I’m satisfied that Tyson wants to make amends, and is simply a guy who is perhaps a bit more exuberant than most. I’d accept a hug from him anytime, although maybe he needs to learn to ask permission first.

OK, he definitely needs to learn to respect boundaries more.

Comments

  1. Matthew Herron says

    I’m deeply sorry to have made her feel that way.

    This is much better than the typical “I’m sorry she felt that way” or “I’m sorry she interpreted it that way.” He’s the actor, he fucked up, and he’s sorry for his own behavior. But…

    ..long after dropping out of astrophysics graduate school, she was posting videos of colored tuning forks endowed with vibrational therapeutic energy that she channels from the orbiting planets. As a scientist, I found this odd.

    How is this relevant? It sounds a lot like poisoning the well, making her out to be a weirdo so that we’re less inclined to believe what she says. With maybe a pinch of argument from authority thrown in at the end: I’m a scientist, so you should believe me over a vibrational energy wackaloon.

  2. rydan says

    I wouldn’t say he didn’t do anything wrong. The woman he invited to his home reminds me a lot of the elevatorgate incident we had nearly 10 years ago. And that guy definitely did something wrong. I just don’t think he’s done something career ending and this is forgivable (assuming the rape accusation is false of course).

  3. lotharloo says

    It was a better response compared to the usual ones but still the second incident with Watson seems off. I am sure he would not have gone for that intimate handshake if she were a man. I think it exemplifies typical attitude from well-known and privileged men who assume any feeling they have towards a younger woman must be reciprocal.

  4. says

    Except…he would. I’m a man, and he was pretty boisterous and close-up with me. A handshake is not that intimate, or businesspeople have been up to something sneaky for a century or two.

  5. lotharloo says

    But “feelings each other’s pulse and staring in the eyes” handshake? I’m skeptical. That’s very different from “bear hugs” which actually are “manly” with no sexual connotation in that context.

  6. says

    @rydan #3: I don’t think the comparison is fair. IIRC that started with a room invite from a complete stranger, this case involved two persons with an established relationship.

  7. says

    I wouldn’t say he did nothing wrong, either; after all, he apologized. And yes, the investigation should continue. He seems confident that he will be exonerated, but if he isn’t, it’ll be because evidence is found.

  8. angela78 says

    I wouldn’t say he did nothing wrong, either; after all, he apologized
    I would say he did nothing worth this public flaying: after hall he already had apologized to the woman -and no apology could excuse a predatory behavious, which what I think we must fight and that does not appear here.
    Given what I have read insofar, I would have no fear at all working with such a person or going out for a nice evening togheter just him and me (although not both of them, but this applies to anyone for me).
    This is the difference between a civilized, decent human being and an egocentric uncaring asshole.

  9. says

    It seems to me like there’s a cultural need to develop an understanding that two narratives can both be true at the same time. There are a lot of comments under his post suggesting that his behaviour was harmless and he did nothing wrong. That’s exactly the kind of sentiment that leads to others getting away with much worse.

    It’s perfectly possible for a story about innocently searching for the last planet in a tattoo can also be a story about the bearer of said tattoo being uncomfortable about being examined in places she intended to be covered by her clothes. It seems like Tyson understands that, which is to his credit when so many people seem oblivious.

  10. says

    For Amet, I would hypothesize sleep paralysis rather than a false memory. She remembers blacking out and then waking up naked with NdGT on top of her, and then blacking out again. Sleep paralysis is often accompanied by hallucinations of something pinning you down. I hope investigation can clear this up by asking her about details before and after, and consulting a toxicologist to see if it’s consistent with drugging. And I hope that Amet finds closure.

  11. says

    I’m of the opinion that at least two of the accusations are credible, and I’m not willing at this point to say that NdGT did nothing wrong.

    I’m glad that NdGT seems to think he did do things at least a little bit wrong. If I had an ongoing business relationship of some kind, I’d feel the need to get more information. As of right now, I’d welcome hearing more from the women who have accused him of inappropriate behavior, but I am heartened by the fact that he’s claiming that he needs to learn something from at least 2 of these situations and is going to make an effort to do things differently in the future.

    What I know right now, though, doesn’t put me in a position of wanting to call for his job or anything like that. I sure as hell hope that there aren’t similar complaints of behaviors in 2019 or later, though. A nice statement with no change in behavior sure as heck can be a reason to fire someone. Even low level stuff can cause high-consequence problems if it persists over time. In the meantime, it sounds like an investigation is happening, he’s cooperating, and I don’t know of any claims that a fix is in on the investigation or anything, so this seems like it’s in the right place for allegations other than rape.

    The rape allegation is problematic. But I don’t know what to do about that one except further the investigation, and they’re doing that. So… on that one I guess we just have to wait a bit. In the meantime, I hope he continues to do good science education and that he, as I hope for all of us, continues to become a better and better person over time.

  12. screechymonkey says

    I agree that, for the most part, the tone of this response is commendable. (I don’t care for some of the first paragraph, where he plays footsie with the anti-metoo crowd by nodding to some of their tropes about emotions bypassing “due process,” presumption of guilt, etc.)

    I, too, always had misgivings about the Tchiya allegations. And the “Pluto” incident seems like a plausible incident of mild boundary-crossing where asking him to learn and do better is about all that seems necessary to me.

    But I’m a little troubled by the discussion of the production assistant. Tyson makes it sound like an innocent little bit of after-work socializing, but it doesn’t quite hang together for me.

    First, I think it’s pretty dubious for Tyson to be inviting a younger female subordinate to your home for drinks at 10:30 p.m. According to Tyson’s own version, other members of the production team were “gathering elsewhere” that evening, so if he just wanted to socialize innocently with her, he could have offered to go there. Tyson’s defense sort of glosses over the conversation, claiming that it was typical of their discussions, but he doesn’t comment on the specific allegations that he was discussing his need for “release” after being away from his wife, his joke about the knife, or putting on romantic music and replaying certain parts. There also seems to be a discrepancy over her employment status: Tyson’s account seems to imply that filming had ended and so was her role as his assistant, but her text message to Tchiya says that she had to quit her job. That one seems like an easily checkable fact.

    I should add that, even if the allegations regarding the production assistant are true, it would still fall on the milder end of the spectrum, and wouldn’t in my opinion require cancelling his shows or some other major sanction. But that would require that he not compound the problem by misleading the public. I can understand that, for the sake of his marriage, Tyson might be loathe to confess to attempting to seduce a P.A., but if that’s what happened, he needs to come clean about that.

  13. zetopan says

    “How is this relevant? It sounds a lot like poisoning the well, making her out to be a weirdo so that we’re less inclined to believe what she says.”

    She is clearly fantasy prone (she also endorses astrology). Feel free to list all of the astrophysicists who endorse astrology and colored tuning fork tuned to planets nonsense. Since the latter beliefs are exactly counter factual relative to astrophysics, it is actually well beyond odd and into bizarre.

    Imagine a chemist claiming that atoms don’t exist, a mathematician who insists that all math must be done so that the answers agree with numerology, or a physicist insisting that special and general relativity theories are totally fake and do not represent anything in our universe which is totally Newtonian.

    Of course you can find such people in creationists circles but they are always making counterfactual claims and carry zero (or less) weight in the actual scientific community. How could one be trained in a scientific discipline and yet spout the exact opposite with zero supporting evidence other than by being terminally irrational?

  14. Matthew Herron says

    zetopan I hear you, and I find her beliefs (as Tyson reports them) as bizarre and anti-science as you do. I just don’t think her beliefs have anything at all to do with the credibility of her allegations. She has some weird beliefs about the way the universe works, but I have no doubt that people with weird beliefs about the way the universe works sometimes get raped.

  15. snuffcurry says

    Very disappointing to hear that a bog-standard She is Crazy, Just Look at Her Crystal rates ‘satisfactory’ here. These are non-sequiturs. Women who engage in woo can be raped. Women who have mental illnesses or disorders can be assaulted. It’s poisoning the well to immediately jump to ‘false memories’ and these dogwhistles intended to act as signals to other skeptics that here is a person who lacks credibility because she believes in the supernatural.

    I’m not surprised NdGT went there, since he’s famously bad at handling criticism or pushback in a neutral, non-emotive way and resorts to Vulcanning, logical fallacy, and point-scoring pedantry when feeling threatened. That’s a habit many of us have, but yielding to it when responding to the worst and most violent of a series of accusations smacks of very bad faith, indeed, a gambit that has always worked to protect men from the consequences of their actions because it casts the accused as rational and the accuser as irrational. The logic there, such as it exists, draws upon the center-reactionary notion that abuse is not common and banal and does not occur on a spectrum but is so aberrant and rare that only the worst of us can commit it, QED he couldn’t have because he’s cuddly and has been on the television and she is a hostile nobody who likes silly things and speaking her truth is a direct attack on him rather than an expression of pain at having experienced something frightening and terrible. We’re supposed to care about his marriage in this scenario. That’s a classic distraction.

    As noted, Tchiya’s accusation has been around for a while,* and his apologists have attacked her on two fronts: (a) quibbling without any evidence at a timeline (in the vein of “who is to say they substantively interacted with each other at all?” or “she sounds like a scorned groupie” or trying to disprove they could have even met) and (b) implying that her medical history, mental state, and spiritual beliefs render anything she says dubious and fanciful. By staying silent for this long, NdGT has benefited from people assuming (a) to be true, which is important because sexual abuse more often occurs among people with close acquaintance, including co-workers, fellow students, former and current lovers, and family members. Now forced to grapple with accusations from women with more clout–they are white professionals with completed degrees–he has to admit he and Tchiya dated and had sex. (B) is all he can fall back on.

    If everything she says is a fantasy, it’s still a shame, but not a coincidence, that she is silenced and dismissed precisely the way the most marginalized women in this culture–women of color, women who’ve dropped out of school, women who may have or had mental problems–always are, particularly when they have bad things to say about famous, feted men. Any way you cut it, this is not something we should celebrate or elevate as satisfactory if we care about how sexual assault occurs in the real world and why there is little recourse for victims who are never perfect although their victimizers are always allowed to be because they are complete humans we must be willing to believe have good motives and good intent always otherwise we’re irrational.

    He’s passionate and enthusiastic and unreserved with everyone, and looking back on it…what if I were more reluctant to accept physical contact? What if I’d been a woman? How would that encounter have been interpreted?

    Honestly, this is ridiculous and you’d say so without reservation if somebody else wrote it about somebody else. You don’t have to be a woman to “interpret” the crossing of physical boundaries as unwanted and inappropriate. It’s totally okay to think that, independent of any accusations of abuse or harassment, being physical and ‘unreserved’ with people is inadvisable and self-centered. We are all adults here. We have all met people who don’t countenance physical touch with colleagues and near-strangers. It’s very easy to ask first, read signs, and react appropriately. Again we encounter the spectre of the Cuddly Man with a Heart of Gold Who is Just Too Vivacious to Control Himself, but he Means Well.

    And this “as a scientist” bit? Good lord. It’s like the past fortnight didn’t even happen.

    *NdGT tries to insinuate it has changed over time by suggesting he suspected it would, which in itself is yet another fallacy: victims have to have perfect memory. Where have we heard that recently?

  16. Hj Hornbeck says

    Nah, I gotta disagree with you PZ. Tyson just admitted to having poor respect for people’s boundaries, and his account of the 1980’s incident is a lot like a lot of the deflection I’ve seen from people who would never dare rape someone but would be open to forcing someone to have sex with them against their will. He also twice tries to poison the well, by going after the credibility of the accuser…

    For me, what was most significant, was that in this new life, long after dropping out of astrophysics graduate school, she was posting videos of colored tuning forks endowed with vibrational therapeutic energy that she channels from the orbiting planets. As a scientist, I found this odd.

    … implies it was a false memory, when we know traumatic memories don’t work that way, and tries to shoot the messenger:

    I note that this allegation was used as a kind of solicitation-bait by at least one journalist to bring out of the woodwork anybody who had any encounter with me that left them uncomfortable.

    I considered him more likely than not to have sexually assaulted the first victim, back when I knew only of her; between the other women coming forward and his own statement, he’s made it more plausible still.

  17. bigwhale says

    You say he must change, but still use words like innocent. Some doublethink going on PZ. I remember how long you defensed Dawkins, too. And I understand it is often impossible to see clearly when you know someone personally. And you belive a corporate investigation is the answer?

    I dont really think Tyson is a “bad guy” either, but that is the wrong way to frame this. We need to be better. I’m not satisfied by any of this. I want new rules or procedures put in place so women know they can come forward, or something like that. No single apology is good enough because we know this goes way beyond one individual. This is a systemic problem. Sure mistakes happen, but we have no reason to think the same mistakes won’t continue to happen. Tyson is a smart, thoughtful guy who caused hurt. Being a smart, thoughtful guy cannot be the solution because this is proof that it is not enough.

    Also, even if Tyson lost his current job, he would still have a better career than the countless women who leave jobs and careers because of mistakes by smart, thoughtful men. So this post centering on how this affects Tyson, seems gross. Even people who do much worse things are fine. Weinstein and Louie CK are going to be just fine. So I can’t spare concern for Tyson.

    It is so tiring that I can’t even express a big Yuck with all of this, the specifics and the wider culture without having someone pop up to tell me not to be so harsh. That the real story is about the person that we all agree should have done better. I don’t know exactly what you should have written, but if this is all you have, you could have said nothing. Don’t worry, every comment section on the entire internet is explaining how Tyson’s apology is sufficient. (and finding a way to attack Gillibrand while they are at it)

  18. says

    Yeah, I don’t really like how NdGT brought up Amet’s new age beliefs, because it feels like an attack on her character and it’s not really relevant. But I guess I can’t complain too hard about that aspect of NdGT’s statement, when numerous commenters on Pharyngula, as well as PZ himself, have repeatedly highlighted the same facts about Amet.

    I speculated upthread that Amet’s experience came from sleep paralysis (and to be clear I don’t have the expertise to judge this), and well, sleep paralysis is a fairly common experience shared by skeptics and new agey people alike. And people with new age beliefs are not less deserving of compassion. So let’s stop pretending that Amet’s spiritual beliefs are relevant.

  19. Holms says

    I don’t even know why the Pluto incident was included in the first place; that one seemed to be scraping out the barrel to find something – anything – with which to smear him. I’m reminded of the James Gunn fiasco, which turned out to be instigated by far right arseholes in order to tarnish the reputation of someone further left than them.

  20. speed0spank says

    James Gunn apologized for his disgusting jokes long before they were used to get him fired, so there is no real reason to pretend it was nothing. He certainly didn’t think it was okay. The problem wasn’t taking issue with the things he said, it was Disney pretending they weren’t well aware of them when they hired him.

    Just because something wouldn’t bother you doesn’t mean that it’s appropriate.

  21. wzrd1 says

    I’ve known plenty of bear hug greeting people, male and female over the years. Plenty of touchy-feely types, who incessantly pat you on the back, grasp your shoulder and overall, annoy me because I really am not into close personal contact with people, other than my wife.
    So, for the first apologies, yeah, I can rent that pending the outcome of the investigation. I’ve even admired the artwork of some tattoos in my time, until I recognized where the tattoo likely ended and I stopped looking, lest my gaze be misinterpreted.

    But, he went from reasonable and apologetic to discrediting phenomenally quickly in one instance. That is entirely out of character of someone attempting to apologize and indeed, suggests something is amiss in one way or another.
    For the shift in behavior is jarring and entirely inconsistent with everything preceding it.

    For me, what was most significant, was that in this new life, long after dropping out of astrophysics graduate school, she was posting videos of colored tuning forks endowed with vibrational therapeutic energy that she channels from the orbiting planets. As a scientist, I found this odd. Meanwhile, according to her blog posts, the drug and rape allegation comes from an assumption of what happened to her during a night that she cannot remember. It is as though a false memory had been implanted, which, because it never actually happened, had to be remembered as an evening she doesn’t remember. Nor does she remember waking up the next morning and going to the office. I kept a record of everything she posted, in case her stories morphed over time. So this is sad, which, for me, defies explanation.

    Mention of dropping out of graduate school, mention of a business that’s strange for someone coming from that specific environment. Capitalizing upon mistrust of “recovered memories”, which are not being claimed (I remember the entire recovered memory debacle and moral panic quite well).
    Whyinhell would he be keeping a record of everything she posted? I haven’t done so with any of my ex-girlfriends.
    Sorry, that one has a major stink factor, a very major one, as he’s been tracking her blog activities since suggests something concerns him. It may be something innocuous, such as a consensual sexual matter that would be scandalous were it to get out now that he’s a public figure, it may be that he is entirely in the wrong. The only thing I get a feel of, something happened and he’s hiding it. If I were investigating him, that would be where I put a laser focus on and start tunneling in.
    Thankfully, this isn’t security clearance land, as an indication of a lie by omission is as bad as a lie of commission. Both, once the lie is established to be a mistruth, it’s nearly certain to end with a deleterious adjudication. For, it shows that the person can be pressured to lie under oath, with criminal penalties for lying, implying the individual can be blackmailed easily.

    I was investigated recently for a lapse in security. The cause was basically unfamiliarity with local procedure that was massively different from several other locations where similar secure document processing is engaged in that I had worked in for decades.
    I didn’t attempt to undermine the young lady’s credibility, I reported what happened, the SOP in facilities I had worked at in the past, the fact that we nearly collided in the hallway approaching the door to the facility. That I had piggybacked her entry into the facility (I didn’t card in in my rush to ensure that she was authorized), but observed that she successfully logged into a restricted terminal and egressed.
    Then, I checked in on her, all entries and exits were logged.
    Being up front and honest saved my security clearance and access to that facility.
    The individual who reported the foul up and I interact on a somewhat regular basis and I even sought her assistance in a technical matter, which is outside of my sphere of duties, but was required to resolve a problem.
    Two errors in a row that day, piggybacking a card in and the initial lapse. Argh!

    The behavior change is… Jarring and suspicious. It’s an inconsistency that investigators are trained to seek out and dig deeper.

  22. rcs619 says

    The most concerning of the allegations was definitely the one woman claiming she was drugged, and woke up in the middle of him sexually assaulting her. Investigate the shit out of that one because if it’s true, that’s got to be an instant blacklist. It’s also kind of the outlier, compared to the other complaints too. Most of the other ones you probably could chalk up to Tyson being an awkward nerd with a less than perfect grasp of tact, or personal space. Like, do I believe an astrophysicist could innocently start going on about people needing releases, or showing off a really awkward “native american handshake” they learned about? Absolutely. Those interactions could also be more nefarious than that as well, so once again, investigate the shit out of it.

    The unfortunate part is that we’re unlikely to get a truly definite answer either way, and everyone involved will have to carry this around for the rest of their lives. Tyson will always have this hanging over his head, and the women will keep getting death-threats from assholes with nothing better to do. It just goes to show that if you’re ever the victim of sexual assault, you have to go to the authorities immediately. I can’t imagine how hard that would be, but it has to happen. Otherwise, you either regret it for the rest of your life, or you come out later and it becomes a he-said-she-said mess that no one really can really win, because any evidence is too far in the past to be useful.

    Here’s hoping we get a definite conclusion though, one way or the other, as unlikely as that is.

  23. snuffcurry says

    Tyson will always have this hanging over his head

    With zero consequences, so: not a particularly compelling concern. You know the rhetorical question about finding a woman who’s wholly benefited–socially, financially, et al–from disclosing publicly that she’s been raped while naming the rapist(s)? Find me a famous man who hasn’t attempted and even achieved, to some degree, rehabilitation after being outed as a sexual predator. Of course, there have been a few, but the idea that we need to spend a lot of time on this is pretty risible, given how this has already played out in the press (the accusations themselves were less reported on than his twitter statement, so historical revisionism is now happening in real time where the first place most people heard about this comes from his own selective spin).

    It just goes to show that if you’re ever the victim of sexual assault, you have to go to the authorities immediately. I can’t imagine how hard that would be, but it has to happen.

    Nope and, I cannot stress this enough, fucking nope.

    I recently had cause to read this again. Remains compelling as ever, largely because while it directly addresses how women learn to navigate the pitfalls of enduring, fleeing, and then perhaps recovering from abuse, it also teases out the full implications of a rape culture that uses the justice system–“dude process” as it has recently been labeled–as a cudgel against victims (ditto, a white supremacist culture using it to intimidate people of color and immigrants try to avail themselves of their civil rights and of equal protection by/from law enforcement).

  24. snuffcurry says

    Here’s hoping we get a definite conclusion though

    Also, “we” as bystanders are not owed some kind of reckoning, judgment, or closure. Personally, I hope justice is done for the people involved–even if that ends up meaning nothing more than that they got to say what happened to them out loud, got to unapologetically acknowledge it–which is a different thing altogether.

  25. pensnest says

    What I find very strange about Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s FB post is that at no point does he state “I did not rape that woman”. I mean, why on earth doesn’t he say that? He goes straight from (paraphrased, obviously) I read an accusation of me drugging and raping someone to that woman is weird, and I would have thought a more obvious response to the accusation would be “I am absolutely certain the accusation is false, because I have never drugged and raped anybody”.

  26. rcs619 says

    @25
    I wasn’t talking about him being able to rehabilitate his career if he was definitively outed as a sexual predator. That is its own problem in society that needs to be addressed, and here’s hoping that the increase in public attention on it does eventually help.

    I was talking about both him and the women having to go on with unresolved sexual assault claims hanging over them. If you can’t prove something, then it remains unresolved, forever lingering and making everyone’s life worse. If he did it, great he has maybe a little less credibility and a little more trouble finding speaking gigs, but if he didn’t then neither of those are fair (or right). The women, also don’t deserve lingering scorn for reporting something that was true, or undeserved sympathy for reporting something that turned out to be false. The point is that unless you can actually figure out what happened, then it’s just a mess that’s bad for everyone involved whether they’re guilty or not.

    If you don’t report something until 20+ years after it happened, then most likely it never does get resolved and we get this kind of situation that isn’t fair or just to anyone. It’s a he-said-she-said mess of a thing, where a lack of hard evidence and the passage of time makes any satisfying conclusion almost impossible. Absolutely go to the police after an assault happens, while the evidence and the memory of it is still fresh. It’s still possible that the assaulter gets off under the current system, and that’s a goddamned miscarriage of justice, but at least you’ll have an official police report on file.

    If you don’t report a crime, there’s zero chance of justice though, and you only empower the criminals to keep doing it. At that point, you either have to keep quiet and regret it the rest of your life, or come out decades later and be strung up in the court of public opinion with very little to defend yourself with except your word.

  27. snuffcurry says

    If you can’t prove something, then it remains unresolved, forever lingering and making everyone’s life worse.

    You clearly have less than even a passing familiarity with this entire subject, starting with the concept of what constitutes legal and lay “proof,” both. You have no idea why victims behave the way they do and how their choices are constrained or what it’s like to navigate the justice system as a victim of sexual violence.

    If you don’t report a crime, there’s zero chance of justice though, and you only empower the criminals to keep doing it.

    Your definition of the kind of justice victims have access to and mine differ dramatically.

    No, victims are not enabling or empowering predators. Cops already fill that void, and for decent wages. Going to the police and making an “official report” doesn’t put a magic cloaking spell over the accused such that he can no longer abuse anyone nor does it constitute medicine that cures someone of their trauma. It’s often re-traumatizing in itself.

    You have no business telling anyone how to act or waggling your finger at them when they thwart your clichéd, pig-ignorant suggestions.

    undeserved sympathy for reporting something that turned out to be false

    This is what Both Sides hath wrought. The idea that somebody might be the recipient of “undeserved sympathy.” The horror, the horror. It’s always the same calculus: a man’s career and future versus a woman’s life and safety. There’s a sound in the wind that whispers sagely, “wait, maybe she just wants attention!” Because such a spotlight is so comforting, so lucrative.

    The point is that unless you can actually figure out what happened, then it’s just a mess that’s bad for everyone involved whether they’re guilty or not.

    It was always “a mess” for these women, from the moment the thing happened. Risking the consequences of speaking up takes an enormous effort, and it rarely produces the tidy, cleanly little closure and comfort you’re describing.

    And who is this “you” that needs to figure anything out? This is the trouble with rape culture: it only becomes a problem in need of a solution if the victim speaks up and inconveniences someone of importance. Otherwise, we’re content to be blind to other people’s agony. Observers have for years ignored what Tchiya was saying, mocked and derided her, and now you’re in a blind rush to Get. This. Sorted. Pronto. This is not about you and about you feeling uncomfortable not having answers. Slow your roll and get in line. These women owe you less than nothing and have had to choke on the uncertainty you find so galling for eons.

  28. blondeintokyo says

    I am bothered by how he began his statement. He seemed to be implying that the #metoo movement is unfair in some way, and that believing women, is, as he put it, “presumption of guilt”, and that is a bad thing.

    But we should believe accusations when the accusations are reasonable. And you know what? They usually are.

    It is not a matter of “innocent until proven guilty” or “due process” as a lot of people have been complaining, because this is not a court of law and forming an opinion in such situations as this doesn’t mandate 100% irrefutable proof or surety of guilt. Let me put it this way: if your trusted neighbor told you that your new neighbor was a pedophile, but you couldn’t find his name in any database, would you still let your little daughter anywhere near him? If that scenario is too far-fetched for you, then how about this: what if one of the women in your office told you that a new male co-worker had said some creepy things to her or touched her in a creepy way? Would you be automatically be wary around him or try to avoid him, or would you wait for evidence before deciding he was someone to be careful of?

    The answer to that is partly dependent on your personal experiences as well as your personal tolerance for ambiguity and risk. I would not let my daughter anywhere near someone who had been accused of pedophilia, and I don’t need any evidence in order to make that decision. It is a risk I am not willing to take. As for the co-worker, I would automatically be very wary and would only relax if I had several encounters with him that were non-creepy – in other words, he would have to prove to me that he was a good guy. However, if I had already had several encounters with him, which went fine, I would be puzzled, but believing. I would take a “wait and see” approach.

    This is because I have had so many such encounters with creepy men, and know it is not at all an uncommon thing to happen. As a result, I have extremely low tolerance for any kind of creepy behavior, even when it is borderline. For example, if a guy I had just met had tried to pull up the sleeve of my dress to look at my tattoo, the way deGrasse Tyson did to the second woman, I’d be pissed off and would slap his hand away.

    On the other hand, I’m sure other women would have different takes on these scenarios. Some women would not worry about the possibly-creepy co-worker and some women might not mind if a guy pulled up their sleeve to look at their tattoo. I don’t think they would be wrong, either. The point being, I don’t think it’s right to judge other people’s feelings or reactions as wrong. Our feelings are our feelings. They are personal and subjective, due to differing life experience, personality, and so on.

    You may want to protest this as being unfair to the accused – but I would disagree. I believe that in order to protect myself, I have the right to be wary, cautious, guarded, and take no chances – even if it seems unfair.

    Of course, if I were on a jury and the standard of guilt were much higher, obviously I would want 100% clear evidence of guilt. But when it comes to protecting myself or someone else from being abused? I have zero obligation to be “fair.” And I am not going to argue that point – it is sacrosanct.

    That is why I do not like deGrasse Tyson’s apology. It feels self-serving, defensive, and insincere to me. Obviously I cannot judge 100% if it is or isn’t, but I will remain skeptical of him and feel quite disappointed that he had to start his otherwise good apology with slagging off #metoo in the way that he did.

    I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.

  29. rcs619 says

    @29:

    No, victims are not enabling or empowering predators. Cops already fill that void, and for decent wages. Going to the police and making an “official report” doesn’t put a magic cloaking spell over the accused such that he can no longer abuse anyone nor does it constitute medicine that cures someone of their trauma. It’s often re-traumatizing in itself.

    But if you don’t report it literally nothing happens to the predator, and the victim is still victimized. Possibly repeatedly, depending on the relationship. When a crime happens, you report it. It isn’t magic, but it does bring in the police, and opens up new ways to respond to it like restraining orders The legal process sucks, it doesn’t always work as intended and it isn’t always fair, but it’s something. It’s better than just keeping quiet and stewing on a traumatic event for decades at a time while the person responsible gets off less than scot free, without even an allegation.

    I’m not discounting the trauma here, or how hard going through the legal process is for a victim, but the alternative is worse. How is not doing a damned thing in any way a better option? We have a legal system for a reason.

    You have no business telling anyone how to act or waggling your finger at them when they thwart your clichéd, pig-ignorant suggestions

    What waggling? I get why most of these crimes don’t go reported. It’s a horrible, life-shattering event, and there is so much trauma and shame tied up in it. Not to mention victim-shaming, accusations of sluttiness and so on. I don’t blame anyone at all for thinking that just, trying to get past it in silence is the better option. That’s human. They’re still crimes though, and they still need to be reported and ideally prosecuted if true. Doing nothing is always worse than not trying.

    This is what Both Sides hath wrought. The idea that somebody might be the recipient of “undeserved sympathy.” The horror, the horror. It’s always the same calculus: a man’s career and future versus a woman’s life and safety. There’s a sound in the wind that whispers sagely, “wait, maybe she just wants attention!” Because such a spotlight is so comforting, so lucrative.

    I tend to side with the victim on these things, and I believe that the vast, vast majority of these sexual assault accusations are genuine. Let’s not misunderstand things there. My point was that unless it’s investigated then you don’t know for sure though, and statistically there will be some that aren’t true, even if they are few and far between . No one deserves to be a victim, but no one deserves to be falsely accused either. That’s why you investigate this stuff. Ideally as soon as possible after the incident.

    There are scummy, predatory people out there among all genders, even if they are a tiny minority. Give everyone the benefit of the doubt, but never just take them at their base word. Investigate it. Find out the truth, or the closest you can get to it.

    This is the trouble with rape culture: it only becomes a problem in need of a solution if the victim speaks up and inconveniences someone of importance.

    Well, no. Sexual assault is a problem in need of a solution no matter who it happens to. Unfortunately, we live in a society where no one cares about anyone unless they’re someone of importance. So cases like this, and the occasional ones that happen to go viral, are the only ones that get any meaningful coverage.

    Observers have for years ignored what Tchiya was saying, mocked and derided her, and now you’re in a blind rush to Get. This. Sorted. Pronto.

    I mean, we live in a society with the attention-span of a mayfly. The accusations actually got mainstream attention this time, so you need to strike while the iron is hot. Delaying only favors the predator. It gives them more time to get their story straight, and potentially get rid of any evidence that might still be hanging around. Or maybe public attention fades, people stop caring, and it just kind of gets swept aside when no one is looking.

  30. says

    @31:

    I think the point was that making the accusation and involving the authorities often, perhaps usually, does in fact actively make things worse. The victim still has to deal with the trauma, amplified by interrogations, while also being victimised by the justice system.

    Look at the Kavanaugh hearing. Before Christine Blasey Ford made her accusation, her life was significantly better than it was after, and even now she still suffers the consequences of ineffectively attempting to prevent a rapist being placed on the Supreme Court. It’s perfectly reasonable to applaud her courage, but suggesting that in any practical sense it was the ‘better’ option for her personal situation seems unsupportable.

  31. snuffcurry says

    rcs619:

    Again, you have lots of opinions without having done the slightest bit of due diligence in researching what you’re recommending. Your suggestions are harmful and retrograde. Again, this is men speaking out of an almost fathomless pit of ignorance, assured that the solutions are easy and easy to come by, and informed by a culture whose priorities are protecting the status quo rather than preventing abuse.

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