Presumption of Guilt

Well, right now it seems like the flood gates may be open when it comes to famous sexual deviants and predators, and of course, it seems much of the reaction has been to use these revelations as fodder for political attacks.  I don’t want to feed that either way, but I do want to talk about something that does seem to be coming up which I think is important.

This weekend (it may have been earlier on both, but I heard about them this weekend) Louis C.K. and George Takei were both accused of different types of harassment or assault, and there has been some talk about the presumption of guilt.  I saw some posts talking about how Takei will be treated easier because he’s been an outspoken opponent of this behavior, and similar with Louis C.K.

Now, let’s get this out of the way, if Takei did what he’s accused of (assault that seems to be an attempted rape) then he’s a monster, and should be treated as such.  Louis on the other hand admitted to what he did.  Now, I tend to grant Takei more leniency than most of the accused right now, because he is outright denying it.  Now, that doesn’t mean that I think he definitely didn’t do it, but it is different than what others who are being accused are saying in their responses.

Let me give an example, Kevin Spacey, tried two separate tactics, he first said he didn’t remember that type of behavior, and second threw out the fact that he was gay as a distraction.  What Takei did was say “I did not do that.”  Did he do that? I don’t know, but he knows whether or not he did, as does Spacey, and he denied outright.  This has been an issue in many of these denials is people saying “I don’t remember,” and there are situations in which you may not remember, but clearly intentional sexual assault (in Spacey’s case laying on top of a minor on a bed) isn’t something you forget, unless of course you do those type of abhorrent things so often that you don’t remember that specific time.

So, until there is an abundance of accusations, or more evidence, I will give Takei the benefit of the doubt.  That doesn’t necessarily mean that I don’t believe him, just that I don’t think he deserves everyone’s immediate scorn.  I don’t however believe that disliking any of them violates the idea of “innocent until proven guilty” because I am not a court of law, so that doesn’t apply to me, until I am asked to serve on a jury.

The reason I bring up Louis C.K. at all, isn’t to make excuses, but more to comment on how bizarre his situation is.  I’m literally not aware of any celebrity/politician or anything admitting fault in something like this as directly as he does, and many have said “well, there was a story in the New York Times, and it seems pretty undeniable,” and to that I say, if there is anything that I’ve learned in my life about celebrity scandals, it is that everything is deniable.  We have a country where many people believe OJ didn’t do it, even after he tried to publish a book so blatant that it was originally a Chris Rock sketch.

I don’t think admission of guilt absolves him in any way of it, but it really is so strange to me that he did.  Perhaps it speaks to his lack of malice in his actions, and they were just selfish and not intentionally predatory, but still I’m so surprised.

Ultimately what I’m trying to say, is that across all of these accusations, one thing that I think can be as telling, or at least informs my own opinion as much as any other factor, is the response of the accused.  Even in non-celebrity cases I think this is true.  Whenever I’ve heard about a rape or other sexual crime case, in which the victim is purposely made to appear immoral, or any of the other rape defense plays that we’re all familiar with, it actually makes me presume the accused’s guilt more than just a regular, concrete denial.

Hemorrhaging the Moral High Ground

I have actively tried to keep this blog away from political posts for the last several months, but today I want to talk about something political.  Something that I think does need to be discussed.

While it is in the news everyday that there are major party problems on the right with Republicans, it seems to me the left is facing a similar (smaller-scale) crisis.  The problem that we’re facing is the what the party is in the eyes of everyday people supporting it, and those of power within it.  It’s two different perceptions that are causing a rift.

Milo Yiannopolous last week in an interview, talked about how Kevin Spacey’s “coming out” amidst allegations of being a sexual predator, and he said that Spacey used his homosexuality to become “untouchable” and part of a “victim class,” which liberals will not attack. I think Milo is right (I should note that I’m aware he’s made some really controversial statements in the past and carries with him a whole bunch of specific connotation, but still I think on this he’s right).  I don’t think that liberals seem to have fallen for the bait, but clearly that’s what Spacey was hoping to do.

Last month, when all of the Harvey Weinstein news was breaking, there were reports that Weinstein explained that he was going to use his money to go after the NRA, in a sort of ploy to not face the consequences with the liberals holding much of his ‘fate’ in their hands.  Again, fortunately, it seems as if they didn’t take his bait.

The fact liberals (I don’t want to say Democrats as that’s a party and more of an identity and not necessarily in line with what these people might consider themselves) aren’t taking the bait, is a good sign.  Unfortunately, it’s clear that there is some reason why they feel there is a possibility of these tactics working, and if it weren’t for a preponderance of claims, I’m not sure their diversions would not have worked.  People have continued to work with Roman Polanski despite being a convicted rapist, and Woody Allen despite allegations that don’t seem unfounded, so I think there is some reason to think “hey if I say this buzzword/phrase this will blow over.”

After those two incidents, comes the Donna Brazile story, about how the Hilary Clinton campaign overstepped what she considers the ethical bounds when it comes to the DNC, and how they were basically allowed to take over the party early in exchange for financial solvency.  I think some of Brazile’s story seems logical and honest, although I am suspicious of her own complacency at the time, and whether or not coming out with this now is a way of distancing herself.

So the DNC didn’t operate as they were supposed to based on their own guidelines and rules (technically if they so chose they could have changed the rules to nominate anyone they wanted, but in doing so risk alienating the base).  The DNC went along in order to ensure financial stability, and many of the American people went along because they wanted to defeat “the boogie man.”  Hilary, and the party thought they knew what was best for us, and decided that she was the anointed one sent down from on high to defeat Donald Trump, and well, we know how that ended.

The problem was, they assumed they’d know how we thought, and even worse, they tried to make us think that way when many of us told them we didn’t.  The Democratic party in many ways this past election cycle neglected democracy, and unfortunately lost itself in the process.

You may think that this is justified that “well Trump is the boogie man,” but perhaps you should consider that when thinking about people who didn’t Trump but voted to keep Clinton out of office.  This was a tale of two “boogie people” and while each side thinks the other is obviously worse, we need to stop judging each other on these ideas, and start realizing that ultimately we’re the ones who suffer.

I know that to some extent, Spacey and Weinstein seem far removed from Clinton and the DNC, but the cause is the same.  These people did what they wanted, gave some feeble attempt at manipulating us into accepting those actions, and ended up losing what they saw as preordained.  Will this slap in the face teach anyone in power any real lesson so they become better?  I’m personally not sure it will.