Women already have a very good way to protect one another without trampling on the rights of the accused. It’s called, “the criminal justice system”.
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You’ve neither met me nor heard of me before, but I’ve read your articles on Slate for a number of years, now. Not terribly closely, as I find you to be of the “castratress” school of feminist thought; but you still temper it with a degree of humanity and sympathy for things such as “the rights of the accused” to make your work significantly more worthwhile than, say, your fellow Slate alumnus Amanda Marcotte.
I write not as an insult – though I have no intention to sugarcoat my appallance towards beliefs of yours which legitimately discuss me, no matter how many times I get called a “mansplainer” for whatever reason. I write because you seem to be having a crisis of conscience on the apparent incompatibility between criminal justice reform and the ability of sexual-assault victims to find justice against their assailants. You feel that these two positions are apparently incompatible; and the actions of the compilees to the “SHITTY MEDIA MEN” Google-spreadsheet, whilst both immediately regrettable and potentially devastating to every legitimate claim of abuse that gets paired together with something anyone on earth could make up for any reason real or imagined, is but a Machiavellian means of putting a permanent end to the horrors of sexual abuse by women at the hands of powerful men.
This disturbs me for a number of reasons: not only have you refrained from considering the possibility that such a list’s compilation could just as easily actively damage the cases of who-know-how many real aggrieved whilst simultaneously ruining innocent lives and doing nothing to catch a single real predator, even in the universe where it wasn’t pulled immediately upon publication of the recent Buzzfeed story on its existence; you’ve completely avoided looking into the reasons why criminal justice systems were created in the first place, and the terrible consequences to their abandonment.
It is true – both now, and today – that many women (and men, as those whom followed the Michael Jackson story can attest) refused to report their rapes and assaults to police out of shame. However, the far-less-rosy component to this story which most every modern anti-rape activist neglects to mention is that these women’s silence on the matter to the courts were not joined with silence to their friends and family. Women raped in the Older Centuries wanted their assailants brought down just as badly as women from modern times, and one common action for them to take was to call men they trusted to extra-judicially execute their rapist before word could spread of the defilement of their honor.
No tears need be shed for an executed rapist, by vigilante nor the state. Rapists commit terrible crimes, and the World is better off with them dead. The problem with death by vigilante is that vigilantes are, by their very nature, incapable of objectivity and accountability. Another of your fellow Slatesmen, Jamelle Bouie, detailed exactly this in his post-Dylan-Roof piece on the longtime American practice of lynchmen executing black men caught engaging, alleged to be engaging, speculated to be engaging, or even speculated to be interested, in flagrante delicto with white women. Such cases were far too sensitive to the populi for such a thing as courts: men of all degrees of honor were treated exactly the same as men of all degrees of criminality when the noose came coming to their doors, and we in modern times will never come close to even guessing how many innocents joined the guilty to their graves.
About now, you might be tempted to say “such a thing could never happen, as long as these extreme measures are used only as a means of taking down the privileged”. Such a thought has tempted all frustrated in the face of a seemingly-insurmountably powerful upper-class, and will continue to remain a temptation as long as there is power; but these emergency measures are, without exception, least likely to be used against any upper-class aside from one which has already been supplanted and replaced by a new group with even less interest in the standards they force onto others applying to themselves. The rate at which the recent extreme measures of Obama’s “Dear Colleague” solution to campus rape wasted no time in disproportionately going after interracial cases, and this is in what should supposedly be a left-wing refuge. No activist should think any other emergency measure will have lower rates of abuse.
The only legal system any society has discovered worth anything at all is the one where the highest possible transparency of the courtroom is coupled with the straight-forwardest means of allowing the accused to make the case for their innocence. Rule of Law’s very purpose is to make emergency measures of any sort obsolete. Not to mention, the end result of these normal measures leads to the truly guilty being removed from society, either temporarily or permanently. A Google-doc with no barrier or qualification to contribution puts no one behind bars, nor six feet of dirt. Even a doc filled nine-tenths with guilty men merely tars ninety percent of possible court cases against the listed whilst unjustly killing the reputations of the one in ten.
That doesn’t even get into the fact that the widely-varying behavior described pairs offenses deserving of jail time with the likes of “flirting” and “groping”. This is nearly as disrespectful as comparing war rationing in 1940s Warsaw with 1940s Chicago: Harvey “Noted-Male-Feminist” Weinstein couldn’t pay the New York Post enough money to come up with a better story to tarnish his complainants than exactly the sort of practice you – and a depressingly large number of others – dismiss as “possibly problematic, but what else are we supposed to do?” at worst. The fact that the creators could think such an exclusively damaging creation to be a good idea should be greeted only with distress, assuming this whole “SHITTY WHITE MEN” doc wasn’t an act of provocation meant for nothing but sabotage against women accusing big-and-small-screen bigshots of sex-crimes. (a.n., keep an eye out for Jennette McCurdy’s social-media activity.)
No victims of any crime of any sort will ever have an easy time going to court. No one wants to admit they were taken advantage of, and those quickest to do such are often just as repulsive and criminal as the people decent societies look to lock up in the first place. It is, and always will be, normal to feel shame to fall prey to the predatory: but we, as a society, gave up the comforts of vigilantism’s privacy and secrecy for the sake of exactly the transparency thousands of American gravestones never received.
And while I’m occupying you’re time, there’s something else on sex-crimes that greatly bothers me which noöne else seems to talk about:
The infantalization of women “being brave” in their silence to their assault is exactly the sort of poison that could undo this hard-fought victory for the rights of the accused, and transparent-justice upon the guilty. Real bravery is Ambra Battaliana in a sting operation, trying to prevent others from meeting her own fate, and succeeding. Cy Vance, the cocksucker prosecutor, killing her case via well-timed donation is exactly the kind of problem public shaming is actually useful at solving; and, thanks to the good work of Ambra and the New York Police Department, we now have irrefutable proof of this particular act of mob retaliation being entirely justified for the public to carry out. Should this happen again – say, when Ariana Grande wears a wire to entrap Dan Schneider, and a well-timed donation to an Orlando D.A., or Rick Scott, or whatever other subhumans work in Floridian public-service, kills the effort – exactly the same response’ll be justified anew.
Who knows. After enough persistence, we might one day live in a country where D.A.s don’t generally deserve to be ground into powder and sold as pet food. With enough Ambra Battalinas, we’ll get their in This Century.
You’re right to feel conflicted, but you will be in the wrong as long as you consider those men’s occluded coffins to be an acceptable price for your squeamishness.
– O.R. Welles
P.S., this would’ve been posted a day earlier if it weren’t for #WomenBoycottTwitter. I also would not have been nearly so nice had I read some of the truly heinous things you tweeted on the 12th.
Quite frankly, what you wrote was evil. I won’t ask for an apology: I believe those should be voluntary only, but I have no intention on ever being generous to your positions again so long as you continue to support such despicable practices as good for society.
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O.R Welles is a writer coming off another failed publicity stunt. To be fair, his publicity stunts are always done for things he genuinely believes in, and he has no intention on ever doing otherwise for as long as he shall write.