So, it’s Black Friday, so named in honor of the mood you’ll be in if you try to go out and shop today.
I did it once years ago, by accident, and it’s beyond my comprehension why anybody would want to do that, ever.
A bargain good enough to get me out into that mess again would have to be on the last few doses of a miracle cancer drug.
And I won’t bother to go into the stuff about people trampling each other nearly to death in order to be the first ones at the Barbie doll display.
And yes, of course, there are people who need to save money if they are to have any Christmas presents at all, but–sheesh.
So let’s just say I’m not going out anywhere today, and instead I’ve got Anonymous 4 in the background, because I’m reading Thomas Aquinas.
The book I’m reading is a translation of Thomas’s commentary on Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics, and all I can say is that I wish I’d had it back in college when I had to read the Ethics for a course.
And yes, I know, I read very strange books sometimes.
But I really enjoy creating a world for myself that doesn’t actually exist but that I used to think must exist–welcome to my childhood–and that I still think should exist.
My need for an imaginary world waxes and wanes, but these days it’s been mostly waxing.
And as to the reason for that, you only need two words: Bill Cosby.
I’ve been following the Cosby thing for several days now, and I’m starting to wonder if I’m the only one who find the whole thing eerily familiar.
In fact, I find it familiar on two counts: the Duke Lacrosse case, and that mess with Paula Deen.
The correlation with the Duke Lacrosse case may seem easier to find, at least on the surface.
That, also, was an accusation of rape, and those accusations also lead to a cascade of consequences for the accused before any actual evidence had ever been established about anything.
In other words, it was completely unnecessary for the charges to be proved true for punishment to be meted out.
The accusation was enough–in fact, even ACTUALLY proving the charges false (as in the case of Duke Lacrosse) didn’t solve much of anything, since a lot of people handing out the punishments (including the Duke faculty) insisted that those punishments were just EVEN IF the charges were untrue.
In the end, though, I think the Paula Deen cases has more parallels, because in the Paula Deen case, there was no involvement of law enforcement whatsoever, and therefore no venue in which the accused could defend him/her self.
But let’s look at this for a minute.
The present frenzy over Bill Cosby started a few weeks ago when a woman who had accused him of rape decades ago came forward to accuse him again.
Her accusations were investigated when she first made them and determined to be lacking in enough basic evidence to bring charges, which is the best the accused can do in cases like this.
The woman then faded into the background for many years, until she surfaced recently to make the accusations again.
And now, of course, no investigation can be profitably undertaken–witnesses, physical evidence, anything that MIGHT be there (although it looks like it wasn’t) would be gone or corrupted.
But it’s a different time, and a different place, and it’s no longer necessary for the accuser to prove anything to get her what she wants.
In fact, these days, it can get her more than she ever dreamed possible when she first made the accusation–not only can she be sure that Cosby is punished (evidence or not), but she can turn herself into a media heroine, interviewed on cables news and invited to give speeches to women’s groups.
Once she started on the media round, though, she got company–I think we’re up to fifteen other women making similar claims.
In the media narrative as it now exists, the emergence of these other accusations is supposed to make it more likely that the original charges against Cosby are true.
For me, the emergence of these other charges make it LESS likely that the original charges are true.
Maybe it’s the suspiciousness of the mystery writer in me, but I can’t help thinking that we’re about to see a slew of lawsuits, making it possible for these women to charge Cosby with rape under a much lower standard of proof (“preponderance of evidence” rather than “beyond a reasonable doubt”).
Such cases are much easier to win than criminal cases.
And that’s why they exist–before the 1960s, criminal charges and civil charges were more strictly defined, so that it was most often the case that you could not bring a lawsuit against somebody for what would normally be a criminal charge.
We changed that because, during the civil rights movement, all white Southern juries were refusing to convict white guys who killed or otherwise harmed civil rights activists. See Cheney, et al.
The results of this innovation have been almost completely negative. In many cases, the process of trying criminal complaints as torts has led to the complete collapse of the protection against double jeopardy.
And that’s just for starters. The far worse thing is the fact it gives the patina of due process to what is actually a form of mob rule.
So I think there are going to be lawsuits, and Cosby is going to be out a lot more money than he is even now.
And I think that this is, in fact, what this is about.
But even if you believe Cosby’s accusers, you shouldn’t like what’s happening here.
Because what’s going on here really IS mob rule–pure and simple.
Bill Cosby has been accused of some heinous things. But those things have NOT been proved, and they have NOT been supported by ANY material evidence.
And yet, he has lost his endorsements, had his work jerked out from under him, had his alma mater repudiate him–he could not have been more severely punished if he’d been captured on video murdering a baby.
And there is, at this moment, no way for him to fight back.
And every single male in the public eye who is perceived to have enough money to loot–or even not in the public eye, even every small town big fish–is in danger of being in the same position, anytime, anywhere, if somebody decides she wants to go for him.
For ANY reason.
All you need is to wait enough time so that your accusations cannot be definitively proved to be untrue.
And, after all, the US government itself says that we should skirt the protections of criminal trials in cases of “sexual assault.”
Colleges and universities who want to receive any money at all from the Department of Education–including money from Pell Grants, and guaranteed student loans–are require to try sexual assault allegation on campus and to stick to a preponderance of the evidence standard.
In fact, the DOE positively advises AGAINST turning sexual assault allegations over to the police.
And it’s not hard to see why. The police and the courts will provide the accusaed with due process protections. They will not prosecute nonsense. And you always run the danger of finding that the charges CAN be proved to be untrue.
See the Duke Lacrosse case, where the alleged victim identified as one of her rapists a kid who actually appeared on timed surveillance video at a bank ATM several miles away at the time the rape was supposed to have occurred.
And the Duke faculty, of course, refused to retract its denunciation of the kid, because–well, because all men are rapists. Or something.
Observing due process in criminal accusations sometimes gets us results we don’t like–Darren Wilson, Casey Anthony, George Zimmerman.
They do, however, limit the occurence of something much worse than a (possibly) guilty person going free–an innocent person being condemned.
Cosby has been afforded no such protections. His life has been destroyed because of accusations alone. And I’m willing to bet you anything that if he actually manages to refute any of these allegations, the response of the media and academic will be: well, maybe, but we still excoriate him.
I hate to use the phrase, because too many people get too damned self righteous when they do (although on other subjects):
But this is not my America.
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