Has ‘Me-Too’ Become the Latest Witch Hunt?
Back in the days when newsgroup readers were part of every email client, I subscribed, read, and posted to a group called “Witch Hunt.” My wife’s adopted brother was falsely accused by his stepfather of sexually abusing his half-brother and half-sister. His mother mistakenly thought that spousal privilege meant she could not legally contradict her husband by telling the police or court that her husband was lying. The half-sister refused to testify, but he was convicted by the half-brother, who later apologized when he was old enough to be independent of his father.
He was tried in absentia and without counsel. His lawyer was allowed to quit a week before the trial and my in-laws were less than savvy, so the public defender only became involved at sentencing, not that it would have made much difference. The public defender had that position because nobody would hire him in private practice. That is how I became involved but is really not pertinent to the main points.
I learned much I did not know in this newsgroup. There were many attorneys, but most didn’t have the time or means to do pro-bono work. It is important to point out that these were the days divorced spouses would gain vengeance by accusing ex-spouses of molesting their own children and charlatans practiced the discredited ‘art’ of extracting repressed memories. People, especially men, were afraid to even talk to a child other than their own. Since children are easily manipulated by those in charge of their well-being, they made great witnesses regardless of the veracity or duplicity of the allegation. They were treated with compassion and seldom doubted. How does a defense lawyer cross-examine a small child? Employees of child-care centers were falsely imprisoned. The mere accusation of improper behavior toward a child was enough to destroy someone. Even if the defendant was not convicted, the legal fees would likely bankrupt him.
We are seeing much of the same with ‘Me-too.’ The accusation is enough. I am not defending the actions of men toward women in the past or today. I am merely stating my observation that it has gone too far. Women are as capable of lying for nefarious reasons as men. Witness the actions of Tara Reade. In her quest for, what I believe, was her 15 minutes and a nice cash bonus, she repeatedly made comments the made one doubt her credibility. She made tweets of the ‘wait for it’ or ‘the big day is coming’ which could indicate that she was timing her allegations for when she could do the most damage and get the most press. She repeatedly changed her accounts of the alleged incident. This is the rare case where the accusation did not have the intended outcome.
I also believe Al Franken was railroaded. He wasn’t even given the chance to defend himself from accusations that appeared dubious to an unbiased mind. To this day, I imagine Kirsten Gillibrand’s knee actually jerking every time a man is accused of inappropriate behavior and she is not alone. It seems many have a knee-jerk reaction to accusations of the ‘man behaving badly’ ilk.
Eventually, the child molesting witch hunt appeared to taper off and I can only hope the ‘Me-too’ witch hunt does the same. Just like during the ‘child molesting craze’ the principle of a fair hearing seems to have been tossed out the window. As for the general public, the presumption of innocence has never been truly embraced. We like to see people, especially the wealthy or those in positions of power, fall from grace. It explains the success of otherwise useless television shows like TMZ.
Before you accuse me of being a raving misogynist, I would like to point out a few issues. I am not stating every woman who makes a sexual harassment is lying. Far from it, I believe the majority are telling the truth in difficult circumstances and should be applauded for coming forward. I deem it unconscionable to treat women in the workplace with anything less than the respect and I have never used my position to intimidate or harass a woman in a subordinate position or attempted to undermine a woman in a predominant position.
All I am asking for is a forsaking of trial by public opinion. Make sure your judgements are based on the evidence, not your emotions or opinions. Let’s not make the accusation the factor that destroys an individual before the facts are in.