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Member since: Tue Nov 16, 2004, 03:14 PM
Number of posts: 7,215

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Could I say this about "He said, she said"?

That is the phrase that we used to use to imply that it was impossible to know who was telling the truth when He Said one thing and She Said the opposite. The phrase was thought to be perfectly sufficient to explain the impossibility of getting to a truth that would stand up in a court of law.

In the old days the phrase was used to explain why a woman's accusation of rape would not be prosecuted, because there had been no witnesses. And to this day we keep asking for a higher degree of certitude than one man's or one woman's unsupported statement. Since the MeToo movement took off, we have accepted that the phrase by itself is insufficient to determine whether a predator can and should be prosecuted. Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein have been. We have accepted that there may be circumstantial evidence that could usefully be introduced to give credence to the accuser, and we have seen convictions and jail sentences.

But I want to point out that both male and female predators are usually not so stupid as to commit rape in front of witnesses. In many many cases, it will be impossible to produce a witness because there wasn't one. We will have to do justice, or just make up our minds, without the relative security of a conviction in a court of law. This is not the standard of proof that I would like to have before I make up my mind about an accusation against anyone, especially a prominent figure running for office, like Joe Biden. But I will not get that certitude, because there were, as usual, no witnesses.

What the MeToo movement says is that women can be believed, and should be treated as though they are telling the truth by prosecutors. But we cannot manufacture a witness if none exists. We have to accept the lack of witnesses, and get on with the job of making the best judgment we can. Many of us were deeply suspicious about Al Franken's accusers, and I am suspicious of Joe Biden's accuser. The existence of MeToo does not automatically guarantee that every victim will tell the truth all the time. MeToo was used against Franken, and is now being used against Biden, to the extent we feel we should automatically believe the accuser. In a court of law, we would be instructed NOT to automatically believe anyone, but to weigh all the evidence and arrive at the best judgment we can. Perfect certitude is impossible, but we have to keep our wits about us. We have to accept the fact that in many cases, one person is lying, and while the other is not. Life is messy, and politics recently has been messier. Let us continue to wade on through the mess with prudence, and caution, and care for the truth, even if we can't wrap it up in a tidy package handed to us by a jury foreman.
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