The Conservative (Right Wing) Criteria Required Before Believing Sexual Abuse Victims, As Put Forward by Some Conservatives – A Critique By A Conservative
I was watching conservative news show “Tucker Carlson Tonight” on Fox cable news network on the evening of December 14, 2017, and I wanted to comment on the segment where Carlson interviewed Mark Steyn.
I usually agree with Carlson on many topics (I myself am a conservative), and I usually find Steyn quite amusing.
However, I’m not so sure I am on the same page as Carlson, Steyn, and a few other right wingers on the topic of sexual harassment allegations and how they should be treated or regarded.
On tonight’s edition of “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” Carlson let Steyn discuss the topic of sexual harassment in our culture.
Both gentlemen have expressed concern that women reporting sexual harassment has turned into some kind of “witch hunt” in which innocent men may be accused.
This has been a theme Carlson has brought up on previous episodes of his show (as it has been on right winger Laura Ingraham’s show as well – her show is on the same network as Carlson’s).
Carlson mentioned on at least two episodes in the past that he himself was falsely accused of sexual harassment on one job of his years ago.
In tonight’s commentary, Steyn mentioned how he thinks the Twitter “Me Too” sexual harassment awareness tag and attention to sexual harassment and sexual abuse allegations have gotten way out of proportion.
Steyn was arguing that initially, the outing of sexual harassers on a widescale level, beginning around October 2017 in light of the Harvey Weinstein story, was a legitimate, good development in culture, but he feels, it’s been watered down to now all it takes is a lone, anonymous accusation by a woman to ruin a man’s career.
Steyn also mentioned to Carlson that now he and other men may be afraid to work alone with women, a fear which I think is unfounded.
However, I don’t want to expend a lot of energy on that in this post, as it would involve criticizing the sexism inherent in the Billy Graham Rule (also known as the Mike Pence Rule). You can read another post on that issue here.
As an aside, I am unaware at this point of any man losing his career over a single, anonymous complaint, which is a concern that Steyn raised and Carlson has repeated on more than one of his shows – has there been one?
(I am asking because I sincerely have not heard of such a case since the Harvey Weinstein case broke.)
So far, I’ve only heard of networks and other employers firing, or possibly threatening to fire, or considering firing, men only after they have done numerous investigations, and/or these men are getting fired only after many women (five or more, in some cases) have stepped forward to accuse the same man of abuse or harassment.
Thus far, women are not running around in mobs with pitch forks and torches hanging or beating every man they see to death, nor do I expect them to start doing so, and therefore, I find this panic over a “what if men get falsely accused” scenario to be a little paranoid, or without much merit.
This hand-wringing over possible false accusations puts MEN at the center of something that is a WOMAN’S concern. We have men preying on women in workplaces, and it’s pretty rampant in our society. That is the heart of the matter, but some people want to pivot away from ‘women being victimized on jobs’ to pitying men.
I’ve yet to hear of a case where an employer instantly, on the spot, fires a man two seconds after an anonymous woman files a sexual harassment claim against him with a human resources department.
Every case I’ve heard so far involves the employer saying they did due diligence, they researched the woman’s complaint, found it to have merit, they spoke with the male employee, and then determined that the woman was being honest, so they fired the guy.
This guy was investigated at least twice:
In some instances, the accused men have admitted to being sexual harassers, predators, or, they water down their predatory behavior to only admit to being “sex addicts.” Regardless, in many of these cases (as with Matt Lauer, Kevin Spacey, Harvey Weinstein), they have publicly admitted to having sexually harassed co-workers and have apologized for it.
Putting all that aside.
THE CRITERIA SOME CONSERVATIVES ARE DEMANDING OR ASKING FOR
Steyn was using movie producer Harvey Weinstein as his opinion of what constitutes a credible accusation of sexual abuse and harassment:
Steyn specifically mentioned that Weinstein had accusations put forth by multiple women (not just one), that these women spanned several nations (not just the United States), that they cited dates, times, and details of the Weinstein attacks.
Here is my problem with Steyn’s view of this. He is essentially saying that one woman stepping forward is not good enough. This position puts victims in quite a bind.
Steyn apparently feels that the public (and/or the legal system?) can or should take steps to fire, punish, or hold a man accountable ONLY AFTER a series of assaults have taken place. Steyn did not say that, but it is the logical out-working of his view, as I understood it.
This is the very same sort of attitude as to why sexual predators such as Weinstein got away with raping and fondling women for as long as they have:
Because nobody will stop such a man after the first and only woman steps forward to say “this man raped me,” or, “this man groped me,” or, “this man threatened to fire me unless I had sex with him.”
In the case of television actor Bill Cosby, it took approximately 50 or more women going public over about a ten year span before Bill Cosby had to answer for what he did, and they were still not believed until a male stand- up comic mentioned it during a stand up act he performed (Hannibal Buress: The comic who kindled the Cosby firestorm).
Bill Cosby raped me. Why did it take 30 years for people to believe my story? by B. Bowman, Nov 2014
Nov 2014 by H Stevens
I reject that reflex [to want to defend the accused and assume the accusers are lying].
I resent the fact that rape, more than any other crime, compels people to defend the alleged perpetrator and disbelieve the victim.
False reports happen, to be sure.
But to the degree that we overlook overwhelming evidence to the contrary? Seventeen women? Who, as Sunday’s editorial points out, have almost nothing to gain from coming forward?
…Roger Canaff spent more than a decade prosecuting sexual abuse and child abuse cases as an assistant attorney general in New York. As a child, he was repeatedly raped by a trusted baby sitter. He told his story to Ream, including the decades he remained silent about the abuse.
He didn’t tell his parents until 2012, years after becoming a prosecutor — a job he saw not as a way to avenge his attacker, but as a path to the truth.
“My own experience as a victim showed me, at a very early age, that sometimes the bad stuff — the stuff people want to look away from — is the true stuff,” he told Ream. “And it is inarguable that I gravitate to truth.”
But that is not our reflex.
“People have an almost primal need to distance themselves from horror,” he said. “You see that as a prosecutor. Hell, it’s why a jury will acquit in a rape case that unnerves them — they convince themselves that if what this victim says occurred is bad enough, it must not have happened.”
I asked Ream, who survived a brutal rape and kidnapping at age 25, if Canaff’s words rang true to her.
“(Rape accusations) challenge our beliefs about the world and the people we can trust and our own safety and security,” she told me. “It’s much easier to believe you’re dealing with a confused or unstable or money-motivated person. That’s a lot easier to embrace than believing someone we otherwise know and trust can be a sexual predator.”
Can you imagine if this sort of stringent criteria, the sort that I suppose Tucker Carlson and Mark Steyn and other “I worry about false allegations” types, were applied to other crimes or sins, such as theft, or sexual assault of children?
If you knew a child, and that child told you that her neighbor, Mr. Smith, was fondling her, would you believe her, or not?
What if she is telling the truth, but you do or say nothing, because you have this pious, pearl-clutching, ‘Innocent Until Proven Guilty,’ ‘Hold The Moral High Ground’ attitude, where you’re too afraid to falsely accuse someone of sexual abuse, so you do nothing?
Your fear of false allegations would be putting that child (and more) at additional risk. In the time you sit about waffling about ruining Mr. Smith’s reputation or not, he’s fondling your neighbor, and other kids, again and again.
How many kids would it take for you to believe the first one was telling the truth?
How many victims does Mr. Smith get to exploit before you start to believe and intervene?
Would it take two kids? Fifteen? Thirty Eight? How many child victims get sacrificed on your altar of False Accusation Worry, and you won’t do anything until the police press charges and Mr. Smith gets a trial date?
(Would you trust former football player O. J. Simpson around your wife or kids? Simpson was found not-guilty in the murder of his wife Nicole and her friend. That doesn’t mean he did not do it.)
If you own a store, and one employee said to you, “Mr. Jones, Sally the sales clerk, who works on your store’s cash register, has been over-charging your customers for your products and pocketing the difference,”
Just ignore that information and do nothing?
Would you “let it slide,” because it’s a single allegation, and you sure don’t want to hurt Sally’s reputation or hurt Sally’s feelings by verifying the information by investigating it, talking to Sally, and…
Maybe, regardless if you decide to speak to Sally about the allegation or not, at least temporarily assign Sally to another station in your store that doesn’t involve her handling money, or having access to customer or store funds?
Would you want to wait ten years later after 30 more complaints by 30 other co-workers of Sally’s before you started to believe that maybe Sally really was ripping off you and your customers?
No? Then why in the holy hell would you want to apply this standard in cases where employees tell you that some co-worker or other boss is sexually harassing them?
As far as “due process” and so on are concerned:
Public Opinion and a Court of Law are two different things, so I’ve never fully understood why the “False Allegation Pearl Clutchers” want to apply legal standards to personal opinion on these matters.
For more on that issue, please see this editorial at The Atlantic:
The court of public opinion isn’t the same as a real courtroom, nor should it be, when it comes to examining sexual misconduct by public figures.
It really should not take 50 plus women over three decades, from three different nations, all coming forward to have someone take a lone, first woman victim seriously when she steps forward to say, “Harvey Weinstein,” (or Bill Cosby, or Matt Lauer, or John Doe), “sexually harassed me.”
If you are wanting or demanding each pervert to have 20, 50, some odd women to all allege that ‘John Doe’ has been harassing them for DECADES, you’re part of the problem.
You’re part of the very reason why so many victims don’t want to step forward in the first place, because they know they will be doubted.
They also know that the benefit of the doubt will go to the accused, all because you sit there and think, “What if it were me??? What if some woman accuses ME of rape or groping?,” or, you may think, “But I’ve met John Doe, and he was always so nice to me, I simply cannot ever imagine Joe raping or groping a woman!”
Recall I am concerned here with Public Opinion, not how attorneys and judges would handle a legal case before them.
The criteria of being only willing to accept 50+ women with a history of accusations going back 30 or 40 years before you will grant them a hearing or consider they are telling the truth is ridiculous and unfair to sexual harassment victims.
I hate to pull the “mom” or “sister” card here (see this post), but some men only understand this point if I frame it in this way:
If your sister or mom or granny or auntie was raped or groped at their job, would your reaction be,
“Oh dear me, I cannot accept what my mother is saying here. I have to believe in due process and assume the man she says groped her must be innocent!
“I cannot handle it if my Mom is falsely accusing her boss, and his reputation gets ruined and his career ruined too! I will have to wait another 30 years with other women accusing him of the same thing before I can believe dear old mom.
“In the meantime, I guess Mom will just have to go back to work while this boss keeps on sexually harassing her, if he is doing so.”
You probably wouldn’t take that approach if it was your mom, granny, or sister who was alleging sexual harassment, yet you want to take this approach with all women you read about in the news or see on the TV news. And it’s this attitude that makes it so easy for sexual predators to get away with their abuse for decades and to prey on many women.
I do enjoy the Tucker Carlson show and normally agree with him and Mark Steyn on many a topic, but I’m afraid on this sexual harassment issue, they, like many other “I’m so concerned about false allegations, won’t someone think about the poor accused!” advocates are a little off.