Sunday, September 09, 2007

The Danger Of Relying On What Is Obvious

After posting on recent hyperbole I received several comments from men telling me that the results of the case were instantly obvious. What these men don't understand is that their falling back on what is obvious tells me that they have a high tolerance for injustice.

Obvious means first impressions which are based on people's bigotry. Sometimes what is obvious is true and meaningful, sometimes what is obvious is true and meaningless, and sometimes what is obvious is false. This means that what is obvious really tells us absolutely nothing about a given criminal case.

The reason those who focus their concern only for men accused of rape buy into this way of thinking is simple.

When what is obvious is applied to reports of rape, it favors rapists and those who proclaim that half of all rape reports are false. It stops many investigations before they've begun. Stamp many rape reports "unfounded" and call them case closed. Justice served -- or so it seems from the perspective of these people.

If this obvious standard ever turns against favored men accused of rape, we hear howls of protest. How dare people pre-judge defendants! While restating their own rush to judgment, they will protest rushing to judgment.

Don't we know that pre-judgment is to be used against alleged rape victims only?

Unlike the numerous victims of rape who are turned away from the criminal justice system from a faulty rush to judgment, the men, both innocent and guilty, who don't have reports against them blocked at the initial report still have many legal protections.

Yet many of the defenders of the obvious pretend this simply isn't true.

In a recent case where a Minneapolis College of Art and Design grad student was murdered, it was obvious that the murdered woman's husband was out of town when she was found stabbed about 15 times and suffered from blunt force trauma. He had taken a flight to New York early in the day and her body was found late that day. The obvious conclusion would be that he had an airtight alibi. But the police did not rely on what was obvious and her husband was investigated and has now been charged with her murder.

Rather than relying on what is obvious, we need to rely on investigations and our system of checks and balances. This system of checks and balances is what was at work when Nifong was disbarred and found in criminal contempt.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:40 AM   2 comments links to this post


At September 09, 2007 1:32 PM, Anonymous Kali said...

If only they used the same zeal with which they went after Nifong to go after defense lawyers in rape cases who accidently, purposely leak the victim's name and sexual history, harrass rape victims in interrogation rooms without victim advocates or lawyers present, or use other intimidation tactics against rape victims.

Where is the outrage over that? Why are these defense tactics ruled acceptable and why is nothing done about that? Because they are used against women, and who cares about women?

At September 10, 2007 12:08 PM, Blogger Patricia Singleton said...

Someone saying that 50% of all rape case alligations are false just blows my mind. It makes me angry. First of all, why would any woman put herself into the public eye for such a case if the rape didn't happen. Have you taken the time to notice how women in rape cases are treated. I would go the other direction and say that 50% of all rape cases aren't reported for just that reason. (I don't know what the incidence of unreported rape cases is. I used 50% to make my point.) Why would any woman willingly put herself through the public embarrassment of a trial if her statements were false. Being in the public eye and verbally attacked by the attorneys, the press and others just isn't worth it to most women that I know.


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