Monday, April 03, 2006

Duke Rape Case, Regarding “Innocent Until Proven Guilty”

Alas, a blog makes some great points about the flaws in the argument that we shouldn't make any negative assertions about what happened in this case because accused rapists are "innocent until proven guilty."

The biggest flaw I see in applying “innocent until proven guilty” outside of the criminal justice system is that actual innocence or guilt isn’t dependent on a jury verdict.

Rapists become rapists when they rape not when they are convicted of rape. A not-guilty verdict doesn't magically erase what really happened.

Since I live far from the alleged rapists in this case, convictions in this case have no immediate impact on my safety. However, the larger opinion about what is and isn’t rape and what it takes to prove rape do impact my safety.

When there is physical evidence, most rapists depend on conning the public in general, and the jury in specific, that consent might have been given or implied or that the victim is an unreliable witness. They want it to be reduced to he said, she said, which by its very nature implies the presence of reasonable doubt.

If I’m raped in the future (been there, done that, have the emotional scars to show for it) I have to worry that I will be held responsible for my own rape if I do anything that looks remotely cooperative. Like walking back into what could turn out to be the scene of a crime. I have to worry that something as innocent as a smile will be used as evidence of consent.

So those who say people like me should shut up about this case are ignoring the fact that I have a real stake in how cases like this are handled and spoken about.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 3:16 PM   0 comments links to this post


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