Shared publicly  - 
 
So Herman Cain looks like he's out of the race because of all these relationship and abuse allegations. And that really bothers me. I'm no fan of Cain, but this media storm is a fine example of what I really hate with the way scandals are treated these days. Probably unpopular opinion ahead.

What bothers me about all this is that it shows me how easily an entire campaign can get derailed and a person's integrity called into question because a few people came forward claiming abuse or a relationship. Herman Cain, doing pretty well in the polls, is forced to reconsider his entire effort because a few women come forward and said, 'Oh, he abused me,' or 'I was in a relationship with him for a while.' There's no proof that I could see to any of this, but it was enough to get everyone talking about how horrible a person Cain is.

And no, phone and text records aren't really proof unless you can see what was said in them. There's this girl he apparently gave money to over a few years and spoke on the phone with and texted. He explained himself by saying something to the effect that he talks to a lot of people, so the fact that he was on the phone with someone or texted them doesn't automatically make him guilty. But I saw it all over the media, even from some progressive sources. People were saying, 'Ha, look at this guy! Can you believe him? Look at him claiming that he talks to his friends on the phone. What a laugh!' I mean, yeah, who does that, right? What simple-minded people among us actually talk to people on the phone? Yep, he's guilty all right.

Maybe I'm missing something definitely concrete. But for now, all I see is a guy overwhelmed by accusations that have been taken as truth regardless of what evidence there is. It seems like some people want to see Cain fail so badly that they'll say, 'Oh look, some random person we've never heard of said he did something bad. Guess we'd better run with it.' This is what Fox News does. We ridicule them, then do the same thing they do. If you want Cain to fail for something, go after him for something substantive. God knows there's enough material there.
4
Peter C. Equality Frank's profile photoKay Solo's profile photoZabrina Way's profile photoAnne Teensma's profile photo
9 comments
 
Normally, I am all for supporting victims of abuse crimes. If Cain is actually an abuser, molester, whathaveyou, then fine go for it. And before anyone gets riled up, Daniel's not saying that you have to doubt the victim, nor is he perpetuating rape culture.

The problem is that Cain has been condemned by the Court of Public Opinion. Allegations do not constitute fact , and correlation is not causation. "Supporting victims" does not mean "condemn all alleged perpetrators instantly." It means work with the victims to bring their accusations light, and justice, but not at the sake of facts.

I don't like Cain, either. I am bothered by his politics, his Islamophobia, and generally how he carries himself as a whole. But he's still a person, and no one deserves to be condemned before solid proof is in hand.

It does more harm to actual survivors of abuse to just believe any story and condemn any alleged criminal at the drop of a hat - it inserts doubt into the necessity of proceedings and will wind up hurting the very victims we seek to support.
 
I guess it would be redundant to mention three double standard (eg fine for clinton/dems, major scandal for gopers)
 
What really annoys me is that he seemed to be fine while there were accusations of nonconsensual sexual activity with women other than his wife, and the moment a consensual activity accusation came up, the media dropped everything and proclaimed him evil. >.>
 
Also, the implication that the allegations are false until proven true bothers me. I agree that he isn't guilty until proven innocent, but neither are the victims liars until proven trustworthy. That kind of attitude is why the rape reporting statistic is so low. That doubt is already so widespread that I see this more as a symptom of a society where it's more convenient to blame the victim and excuse the abuser.
 
And more thinky-thoughts, but I just woke up and my brain isn't working. D:
 
Not that I disagree, but my point is that 'oh he talked on the phone' shouldn't be enough to derail an entire campaign and call a guy a liar. Mostly I'm bothered that it only took a number of accusations with no basis whatsoever to ruin something like that. I even think he's kind of a jerk for the way he handled it, but I still saw pretty much nothing in terms of actual evidence to support any of their claims, but the media ran with it anyway.

Also, the victims aren't necessary liars, but innocent until proven guilty means they have to prove it. It's not saying that they're just making stuff up and should be ashamed of themselves, it's that they need to back up what they're saying, especially if it's something serious like that. I don't know the side of society that goes after supposed victims for being liars, but I don't like the side that says they get a free pass; it's like there's this idea that rape is so traumatic that no one dares call any accusations into question lest they seem like people who are saying victims are liars.
 
It isn't just that. It's the five separate women with similar allegations. The documented proof of the allegation in the '90s, for instance -- what more proof can you ask for than that? It's not like it will all be on convenient videotapes. How exactly do you propose they should back their claims up?

If you're not familiar with victim-blaming, Google it and you'll see what I mean soon enough. It's victim-blaming that leads to this (http://new.vawnet.org/Assoc_Files_VAWnet/RapeShield.pdf). I wish you were right about people not calling accusations into question. Sadly, in the real world, it's far more likely that a victim/survivor is met with secondary trauma as soon as he or she comes out to the rest of society about it due to the pervasive victim blaming present in North America.
 
rewriting because derp.

I don't think Arty is saying (and neither am I) that you should doubt the victims. It's a sticky topic, and it's a minefield to try and word because reserving judgement implies doubt in the victim. Even the process of referring to a victim in untried (as in, no litigation) cases refers to the victim(s) as "alleged", which again has an implication of doubt.

It's really hard to refer to any sort of situation of abuse, especially sexually motivated forms of, because while we want to be neutral so as to avoid a shitstorm, we also have to be careful not to alienate or mistrust the victim or anyone else who comes forward. The words we use in an attempt to remain neutral, unfortunately, still imply disbelief -- "alleged", "claim", "supposed", etc. Even the way trials are set up, the defendant is innocent until proven guilty, and it's up to the prosecution to meet the burden of proof beyond a shadow of a doubt. Usually an excellent practice, but really frustrating and terrifying in cases of sexual misconduct because our society is so steeped in rape culture and victim blaming.

I think, though, that the point that's trying to be made is that the Court of Public Opinion is often times an unfair and damning thing because after any sort of report of abuse or misconduct comes out (especially sexual) anything the accused person does is called into question and is used as "proof" against that person. A phone call between that person and the person who came forward? He's obviously guilty. He spent time at a female-oriented store? Obviously guilty. He sneezed? Guilty, who sneezes anymore?

It's really tough to try and remain objective in these cases because objectivity often leads - by the very nature of these crimes - to feelings of shame and guilt and doubt put on the person or people coming forward. However, it's equally unfair to automatically assume that every action done by someone who has been accused of a crime is automatic proof of their guilt.

I don't think it's perpetuating rape culture or victim blaming to keep that in mind, though it's very hard to articulate such (for reasons prior stated) without coming across like a rape culture arsehole.
Add a comment...