Jane Haddam’s WordPress weblog

Supporting Rapists

with 14 comments

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.





Written by janeh

November 28th, 2014 at 11:51 am

Posted in Uncategorized

14 Responses to 'Supporting Rapists'

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  1. Jane, it is good to see you back. I agree completely, whatever happened to statute of limitations. My suggestion would be an amendment to the Constitution that no charges, criminal or civil, should be laid after 20 years.


    28 Nov 14 at 3:04 pm

  2. John–no charges have been filed and no charges could be filed at this date. All of this has happened to Cosby because of things being said in the media. Companies have dropped his endorsements and UMass Amherst has severed ties with Cosby on the basis of accusations made on TV and the Internet alone. Lawsuits have yet to be filed although I expect they will be. What I want is a Constitutional amendment that would forbid people from filing lawsuits on criminal matters and that would make a criminal acquittal determinative evidence in ant suit filed as a side issue. (Think OJ–if OJis acquitted of killing Nicole and Nicole’s parents sue on the grounds that OJ violated Nicole’s civil rights by killing her, the civil jury would be instructed that the acquittal disproves the contention that OJ killed her for purposes of the suit.


    28 Nov 14 at 4:11 pm

  3. The US is hardly alone. In Canada – leaving aside Jian Ghomeshi’s mess, which may get into a court of law where you actually have to have more than mere allegations – there are the the female NDP MP who claims that a Liberal MP had sex with her “without explicit consent” one evening after a party. She won’t go to the police, considers the House of Parliament rules inadequate to deal with her situation, and instead went privately to the Liberal party leader, who suspended the MP. Naturally, this didn’t remain as private as she apparently wished.



    I am totally baffled. It’s exactly the same thing as the Crosby business, on a smaller scale. Since when should an unsubstantiated and uninvestigated allegation by someone who remains staunchly anonymous cost someone his position? Trudeau, of course, is an ambitious man – and one I’ve not been very supportive of for some time, for various reasons. Perhaps he sees political benefit in this process. God knows.

    And Ghomeshi … words fail me. I think I’ll give up on following the news. I doubt if, at this point, anyone will ever know whether or not his sex life involved consensual relationships, but the titillating speculations and accusations are attracting lots of attention. In the old days, we’d say they sold papers, but hardly anyone buys newspapers any more.

    Black Friday has escaped from the US, although elsewhere it is (naturally) unattached from the US Thanksgiving. Something like 500 idiots apparently lined up at the local big box stores on a cold wet late November morning. Some of them had supposedly been there since midnight, which I find hard to believe.


    28 Nov 14 at 4:15 pm

  4. Had to Google for Ghomeshi. I don’t think that story has reached Australia. We Seem to be in an era of trial by media and people are ignoring “accusation is not proof of guilt.”


    28 Nov 14 at 7:07 pm

  5. I’m pleased to see Jane raising this subject. I thought that my later contributions to the previous thread had fallen into a black hole. (Speaking of black things. I wot not this Black Friday everyone is talking about. The only Black Friday I’m aware of is Friday 13th. Do tell.)

    It’s beginning to seem as if the only way we’ll fix the current problems will be to kill all the lawyers as Shakespeare wrote. It seems as if the law and the media have lost the last vestiges of professional ethics and that, as in so many of our schools, there are simply no people left with the requisite knowledge themselves to teach people entering the professions.

    While I absolutely agree with the thrust of Jane’s post, I was slightly bemused about her comment about due process leading to results we don’t like. The problem is that too many people irrationally believe that a decision that they don’t like is a wrong decision, or a bad decision, and that they therefore have an inalienable right to trash the place.

    It’s for that reason that I believed that Obama’s post-decision speech was an abomination. I’m glad to see that Marian Wilkinson agrees with me.


    28 Nov 14 at 10:13 pm

  6. Black Friday, for the overseas contingent, is the day after Thanksgiving, which always falls on the fourth Thursday in November.

    It went from being a day many people had off work (it being between the Thursday and the weekend), to a day when the retailers noticed that many of those unoccupied people took the opportunity to get a jump on their Christmas shopping, to a day when Christmas sales were offered in abundance, to a media- and merchant-fueled obscene fooforaw of practically mandatory consumerism, with accompanying battles over Barbie-dolls, squabbling in the aisles of Walmart, and near-riots over scarce items.

    In the last few years, the tradition of opening stores very early on Friday (and of crowds waiting with bated breath for doors to open and storm the battlements) went from 6am to 4am to midnight, and finally some retailers said Screw It and opened at various times on THURSDAY, requiring their staff to forego the very reason for the holiday, a gathering of family to celebrate their blessings, and the harvest.

    Some are not even pretending the holiday is significant any more. They’ve been running “Black Friday” sales all week, and didn’t bother to close for a single hour on Thursday. Many people in protest are refusing to shop at any merchant who doesn’t keep the holiday. Others are out there shopping for all they’re worth.

    I’m not sure what the attraction is. Unlike Jane, I have never once tried the crowds on Black Friday. I tend to shop locally or buy art for my loved ones, or make my own gifts. Heaving throngs give me the willies. For others, the temptation of $100 off a TV is just too much.

    I do understand the motivation of the retailers, of course. For some, Black Friday and the shopping season leading up to Xmas can bring in as much as 80% of their yearly sales. Thus the name, it’s the Friday that puts them in the black.

    But for most of the participants, they should be ashamed of themselves. BTW, I’m not kidding about the physical confrontations over scarce items. People have been shot or beaten to death over dolls or games, others have been trampled in the rush for opening doors.


    28 Nov 14 at 11:42 pm

  7. Thanks, Lymaree. We have that sort of nonsense in the big department stores down here on Boxing Day.


    29 Nov 14 at 12:30 am

  8. Stop Press! They just showed scenes from the Black Friday thing on the evening news. Guys being tasered, and who knows what else. I had no idea that things could be worse than our own bestiality, but it was orders of magnitude worse if what they showed on TV was typical.

    It’s impossible to shame people these days.


    29 Nov 14 at 3:28 am

  9. Jane might have mentioned some of the “pedophile priests” as well. Buried among the legitimate cases were good and decent men whose accusers were shake-down artists, political/religious fanatics and people in the last stages of AIDS-induced dementia. Even when the accusations were shown to be impossible or retracted, the targets were “accused molesters” right down to their obituaries.

    As for our shopping riots, it’s beyond shameful, and emptying out music and liquor stores as protest at “injustice” is beyond that. But I would like to point out something in defense of the United States and the modern West.

    These are not bread riots. There are places handing out food and medical treatment for free, and they’re quiet and orderly. My workplace, my church and my hobby are EACH collecting to ensure every child has gloves, hat, coat, school supplies and even toys given them for free. (No corporate logos on the backpacks, if you please, and only new toys still in the wrapper. You wouldn’t want our poor to suffer the humiliation of used toys.)

    These are people punching and gouging each other to pay for a larger flat screen TV and video games less than a year old. You can’t give away CRT TVs: people pay so little for them the charities have stopped accepting them–not worth carrying to the car. And last year’s video games are in discount bins for effectively nothing. Games which only require cleverness–Chess, say–and are outside of copyright, are for the “dollar stores.”

    If there is a path to a morally better humanity, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t lead through more or cheaper stuff: we’re just fighting over things of less use to us.

    Now, if someone will just explain to me the vast hordes of shoppers who show up frantic on the 23rd of December as though someone had just told them when Christmas fell this year?


    29 Nov 14 at 10:00 am

  10. Heh. My son was almost entirely clothed in garage-sale duds during his childhood, and a significant proportion of the toys I purchased for him came from the same place. Didn’t do him any harm. In fact, he loved the soft washed fabrics far more than any scratchy new stuff.

    I just learned that the retailers now special-order “Black Friday” goods, electronics & clothing, at reduced rates, that are shoddier and less feature-rich than other models by the same manufacturers. Figures. That TV you got a great deal on isn’t even worth the reduced price you pay for it, and it makes a greater margin of profit for the retailer. :/ There are fewer and fewer things I really want, except time with my loved ones, in beautiful places like Mendocino.


    29 Nov 14 at 3:11 pm

  11. I picked up a couple small Christmas gifts downtown today – no Black Friday madness there!

    I’ve never been too proud to use secondhand things, although someone once asked, apparently a bit shocked, if weren’t the things I got somewhere or other, well, used??? I figure if they’re washed, they’re fine. I’ve also encountered people who only like giving things away if they will go to a good home, and I don’t mean dogs or cats, but objects or clothing. Even money – my late brother, who was disabled, was given money a couple of times by strangers, one of whom stated that he wanted to give to someone who obviously needed it – but there were many, many people, disabled or not, who needed it more than he did.

    When I give something away, I give it to an organization or, sometimes, and individual, no strings attached and no worries. I don’t care if my old coat goes to someone who doesn’t appreciate it as much as I did.

    I do sometimes remind myself that because I might use something doesn’t mean that the recipient will have any use for it. Old technology, like the old TVs, often fall under this category.


    29 Nov 14 at 6:10 pm

  12. I just brought a new dishwasher. The plumbers who disconnected the old one took it outside and left it on the front lawn. I came out one morning and it was gone. I’m going to try leaving some of my unneeded stuff out and see if it will disappear!


    29 Nov 14 at 6:45 pm

  13. jd, around here that’s called “freecycling” and people will actually post major items on Craigslist or a specific freecycling bulletin board online so people can find things more easily.


    29 Nov 14 at 9:45 pm

  14. On electronics–especially computers and related–check with Goodwill. They have some sort of deal with one of the computer firms to make use of components and properly dispose of the remains. It makes sense. One obsolete computer is a nuisance. Ten thousand are a resource.

    Otherwise, the deal in my home neighborhood is that stuff goes to the curb a day ahead of the trash pickup. Here, serviceable items are placed beside and not in the dumpster. I have been on both sides of both systems.


    30 Nov 14 at 11:45 am

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