AJC News, an Atlanta, Georgia news site, reports on a kerfuffle that occurred when Emily Lindin, an author and columnist for Teen Vogue, emitted a series of tweets this week asserting that she couldn’t be bothered about men damaged by false accusations about sexual harassment and assault since the benefit of making allegations public clearly overrides any damage from false allegations.
First, false allegations VERY rarely happen, so even bringing it up borders on a derailment tactic. It's a microscopic risk in comparison to the issue at hand (worldwide, systemic oppression of half the population).
— Emily Lindin (@EmilyLindin) November 21, 2017
Sorry. If some innocent men's reputations have to take a hit in the process of undoing the patriarchy, that is a price I am absolutely willing to pay.
— Emily Lindin (@EmilyLindin) November 21, 2017
Of course there’s a benefit to making these allegations public, as it’s a good way to end sexual predation on women and, in the present situation, has prompted a lot of women to come forth saying they were damaged by men who practiced sexual harassment or assault. In the case of Harvey Weinstein, for example, I have little doubt that he’s guilty of gross sexual misconduct and perhaps rape (I don’t want to say he’s definitely guilty of a crime as that’s for the courts to determine). The issue is whether all allegations are to be believed, that those accused are certainly guilty, and if some innocent men are collateral damage, well, the ends justify the means.
This is in opposition to the generally approved view that it’s better to let several guilty people walk free than convict someone who’s innocent. (That’s one reason why the presumption in court is innocence.)
Now this situation isn’t quite the same as that, for many men accused of sexual misconduct aren’t “walking free” since their reputations are ruined, they’ve been fired, will be apostates forever, and their legal guilt will be determined by the courts. What Lindin is talking about isn’t really legal guilt, but guilt in the court of public opinion. And even here, I maintain, one has to have sufficient evidence beyond mere allegations before agitating to get someone fired or declaring that they’re guilty. (Multiple coincident accusations, as in the case of Weinstein, are of course a form of evidence.)
Jake Tapper, chief Washington correspondent for CNN, responded with an apposite tweet mentioning a fictional tale we know well, about a man falsely accused of rape (in that case, of course, it was a legal issue and the man was convicted in court):
I wish you would have set a better example of how to have a conversation on Twitter. Instead you piled on with a deliberate misreading.
— Emily Lindin (@EmilyLindin) November 22, 2017
Tapper responded again, saying Lindin’s tweet was “immoral”. A woman named Emma Erbach then accused Jake of not standing up for women:
Jake…this would ring a lot less hollow if you had spent the past 20 years standing up for the women who's reputations were unfairly ruined by the patriarchy and harrassment… you are in the media. Where were your articles? Where was your outrage for them?
— Antifa Meangirl (@solidarityemma) November 22, 2017
. . . and Tapper argues for his credibility:
You mean, like a long form article standing up for the character of @MonicaLewinsky when the Clinton WH was smearing her and the media was attacking her like locusts? Like that kind of story defending women?
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) November 22, 2017
I’m not sure which article Tapper’s referring to, but it may be this one from the Washington City Paper in which he says he went out on a date with Lewinsky, things didn’t work out, but then he stands up for her as a victim of the media, Clinton, and public opinion. You may argue that the fact that he dated Lewinsky may detract from his objectivity, but then again their short relationship never went anywhere.
Overall, I tend to take Tapper’s side on the morality issue. Nobody should defend the real sexual predators and harassers, but we need to remember that we need evidence, that an accusation is not tantamount to a conviction, and that we have to be careful about throwing out such accusations. I tend to believe nearly all the women who have made these accusations, but again, sometimes the evidence is thin, as in the case of Neil deGrasse Tyson (yes, he too was accused of rape). And there are well known accusations of rape that nearly everyone believed, like those against the Duke Lacrosse team and the fraternity at the University of Virginia—cases that fell apart under inspection.
The lesson is that whatever our ideological leanings, we shouldn’t participate in ruining the lives of others unless and until we have credible evidence. Tapper is bucking a Left-wing trend, and I have to admire him for that.
(Note: AJC.com reports that Lindin locked down her Twitter account, but it looks open to me now, and she may have reinstated it. The tweets above are taken directly from her site.)