Saturday, December 13, 2014

You Can't Refuse To Bring A Criminal Complaint And Then Demand That People Believe Your Accusation

The discussion of the ongoing series of media-based, as opposed to court room based, indictments against Bill Cosby is useless for discovering if he is guilty of rape or even sexual assault, it lacks the material to make even good investigative reporting and, lacking even that looser standard of proof, it doesn't provide us with the ability to determine his guilt.  That is obvious in this piece of opining (as opposed to reporting) in The Guardian and reposted elsewhere in venues of alleged journalism, in which Sara Benincasa, after paragraph after paragraph of accusing people who won't just go along with the media reports of calling all of the women making the accusations liars or of refusing to give up their childhood make believe of Cosby's various roles ends by saying:

I cannot say that Bill Cosby is guilty, because I do not know if he is guilty. And I cannot say that he committed any crime, because I do not know if he committed any crime. But I can say to Beverly Johnson, as I have said to my friends who’ve told me of their rapes, “I believe you.” 

So can you.

Well, yeah, you can do that.  What good is it to anyone?  But you can, instead concentrate on the far more important actions of crimes being determined, prosecutions being brought and the guilty being convicted and punished instead of the personal gratification of hatin' on people in the media and on comment threads.

Clearly our media isn't about the first as even such formerly serious organs of information as The Guardian have joined such others as Alternet (where I saw it was copied) and go for supplying their readers and commentators with two minutes after two minutes of hate.

If, as Benincasa says, even after all of her attention paid to these accusations and her writing about it, "I cannot say that Bill Cosby is guilty, because I do not know if he is guilty," then her advocacy of his guilt is based on something other than knowledge of tested evidence and accounts.

And, because it is a point constantly being lost in this discussion,  I have to point out, even if those friends of hers were absolutely telling her the truth and they were right and criminal convictions in valid trials had proven that other men had raped them, she still wouldn't know if Bill Cosby is guilty of another one, not to mention scores of other sexual assaults or rapes.  Guilt can't be transferred from one person to another based on gender or any other trait or from one incident to another.  That can only be done through a trial in which evidence is presented and challenged to test that evidence for its validity and how it can be legitimately interpreted.  And each case has to stand or fall on its own, one case of rape or even all cases of rape, proven, even by the best of trials, doesn't stand as evidence against another person made in another case. Every case is its own case.

What is being demanded here is that  due to the difficulties of women*  making an accusation of rape,  the rules for determining guilt must be altered and the presumption of innocence suspended.   That when it is a question of rape, that it be handled under entirely different rules from all other crimes.  Which will not wash and it will not benefit women who can be falsely accused of crimes as easily as men can be, perhaps more so, just look at the women who were convicted of ritual child abuse during the hysteria of the 80s and 90s in some of the worst trials in our modern history, motivated by the "new journalism" such as that of Geraldo Rivera and some of the most irresponsibly dodgy claims of psych-soc industry professionals which were allowed by irresponsible judges to override both physical possibility and a complete lack of credible evidence.   I can't and won't get past the horror of the railroading of the Amirault family and other people in the dozens of other cases that constituted that shameful episode of media hysteria, prosecutorial criminality and judicial irresponsibility**.   And, remember, in that case, at least there were trials in which the accused could challenge what was brought up against them, even as judges up through and including on state supreme courts acted as shamefully as the prosecutors and psych professionals. And I do accuse the Middlesex District Attorney in Massachusetts,  Martha Coakley, as well as the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts and several sitting governors of that.   They were shameless in their professional mutual support in the face of the outrageously made case based on clearly unbelievable "evidence" and the swaying of jurors through emotion and the ambient media environment.

That none of these women who are accusing Cosby seems to have brought their accusations to the police at the time of the alleged incidents was their choice.  In the end, any successful prosecution hinged on that choice.   And in this accusation, it is a choice that was made in every case I'm aware of.  I have mentioned before that I do find it incredible that, with the number of incidents and women put before the public, not a single one of them did that. But that isn't an accusation that they are all lying, it's an observation that their choices made a criminal prosecution impossible.

What it is demanded we do is believe untested accusations, even such obviously problematic accusations as the one I wrote about a while back, in which the "victim", after being drugged and assaulted in Reno, chose to put herself in the same position on another occasion in New York City, and then in Atlantic City.   And it's being demanded that we all believe she wasn't a willing participant in what she, herself describes in such a self-impeaching scenario and that her accusation stand as evidence supporting the other accusations being made.

That it is a hard thing to do for a woman (or man) to make an accusation of being raped, with all of the shame and doubt which will often be attached to that, is undoubtedly true.  And that will almost always be the case when it is a question of rape, which is defined by adult consent, given or not in private, without witnesses. But the fact is that unless they are willing to make that accusation in a way that can bring a successful prosecution, we are stuck in the same limbo that even Sara Benincasa admits to in her post, we can't know if they are guilty.  It's unreasonable to put the burden of believing unproven accusations on those who are left in that position by those choices.

* Men who are raped count as little to nothing in this discussion, even as we are learning that more men are raped than we may have believed.

**  In my opinion, far worse than the red-scare and black listing of the late 40-60s which is paid far more attention because its victims were generally of higher standing and more well known to the class of people who run the media and don't have much use for the class most of the victims of the ritual sex abuse hysteria belonged to.  If any of the media figures who fomented that hysteria ever suffered even professional inconvenience from it, I'd like to know who they were.

Update:  Adults Need To Take This Issue Out Of  12-year-olds Hands

This issue is entirely out of hand.  I'd never heard of Susan Patton,  a rapist apologist and utter barm pot on the make, before this morning.   She one side of a coin in this fight in which everything exonerates men who rape even as her flip side holds that everything convicts men as rapists.   Having been very critical of that side recently, she and the cabloid media that has apparently made her into a minor star on the right-wing crackpot circuit are as bad if not worse. Neither side will do a thing to lessen the incidence of rape or make the punishment of the guilty and the exoneration of the innocent more likely.

The issue of rape has to be taken out of the hands of crackpots, perpetual adolescents, their cabloid and on-line enablers and users and put into adult hands. Just one of the many issues.   CNN joins FOX in showing that electonic media regulation is both necessary and desirable, they've dragged everything down and democracy cannot survive the metastasized disease they've brought us.


  1. If Bill Cosby is guilty of rape, he should be punished. Sadly, the time for that is long gone.

    Now he's guilty because so many women keep coming forward with "the same story." Except, of course, they don't; the stories vary widely, from unwanted touching to having drinks with Cosby which may or may not have been drugged, to waking up in rumpled clothing and then going back to see Cosby again and again.

    And even the fact the stories have any similarity is less proof of their veracity than it calls them into question. So many similar details either indicates a pattern of behavior, or it indicates the fact these women have been following this story very closely, and they want to sound credible, too.

    And how do you determine which is which?

    There are now two civil suits against Cosby, one by a woman who Cosby alleges tried to extort money from him by threatening a suit (Cosby has countersued); the other by a disbarred lawyer who claims Cosby's denial of her story has defamed her character.

    You can't make this stuff up.

    Maybe Cosby deserves all this; maybe not. I've quit paying attention to it, because you simply can't know. The UVA "rape" case is similar. There are so many problems with the "victim's" story one can see why she never wanted to go to the police. Does that mean every rape story is equally false? Of course not.

    But our public discourse can only be either/or; we can't take each case individually. We can't accept that rape is a problem, but at the same time every man is not a rapist waiting to happen, and every encounter between the sexes is not an assault or an affront to humanity.

    But that's pretty much what it's turning into, at least in the public discourse. No one individual, except a few unfortunates, actually finds themselves in this situation, so it is easier to say the problem is with college students, or frat boys, or some other group to which you do not belong. Because we can believe "they" are bad, even though such nightmarish behavior never occurs to everyone, or even anyone, we personally know.

    It's a weird sort of dichotomy we choose to live in.....

    1. I wrote a piece about the responsibility of victims of crime, when it was possible, especially when they knew the identity of the criminal, to try to stop them by reporting them.

      I may post it yet. I'd hoped I was done with this topic, then I read that piece in which the author both admits she doesn't know that he's guilty of rape but also insists that everyone assume he's guilty of rape because she knows some rape victims whose accounts she believes.

      Than I read that piece about the rapist apologist on CNN and I just couldn't stand it anymore. I may put that as an update or a separate piece. I just wish the adults would step in and shut down the kiddies, though I'm afraid that went out the window with Reagan's dumping of network standards. Since the internet started up it's gone from horrible to worse than horrible.