On rape accusations

Making the rounds of tech news buzz is a story about a certain figure publicly being accused of rape and/or sexual abuse. I hope it doesn't escalate and saturate the weekend feeds, it was happily flagged off the HN front page moments ago. Anyway, the way I see it, this is just another case of a phenomenon that's happened many times over the past few years, and I'm sick of watching it unfold yet again, so that's what I'm going to comment on rather than the case in particular.

I only have one response to such public accusations. I think it's a moderate response that should probably be adopted by others, because I don't see a saner way to approach such news. My response is: shut up or show your solid evidence.

Rape is a serious matter. It's a bad thing, it should be punished. Physical assault as well. Here's the catch: if you, the so-called victim, spend more than a second wondering "was that really rape/abuse?" then no, it wasn't, and you've lost any right to claim so in the future. Especially if you wait days, weeks, or months before mentioning it. If you have just been raped or abused, call the fucking cops. This goes for male-victim-rape or male-victim-abuse too, by the way. If this somehow isn't already ingrained into the public consciousness, it needs to become so pronto.

If you didn't call the cops at the earliest moment you were free to do so, I can only think of two things that must have happened: 1) you were traumatized and couldn't react with any action for some period of time; 2) nothing serious happened. Case 2 is a lot more likely than case 1, but furthermore, within case 1 is another set of options. What's your first reaction after coming out of the traumatized state? Is it: a) call the cops; b) publicly accuse your attacker? If it's b), you've got some serious issues and it's troubling what happened to you, but you're such a rare case and just for your sake we can't set a sexist precedent of mere accusation completely destroying (or threatening to destroy) someone's reputation.

Defamation laws exist and I suspect the accused might try to take advantage of them, if this incident escalates. Personally, I think we shouldn't have to have defamation laws--I think such serious accusations (whether true or false) coming with no backing evidence should be treated with disgust and ignored. If there is evidence, then it's not defamation. (Though some laws or lawyers might disagree on that bit.) If I'm ever falsely accused, I will not use defamation laws to try and get back at the accuser--but I'll certainly be tempted to.

Posted on 2013-04-05 by Jach

Tags: philosophy, rant

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