Tawana Brawley. Crystal Mangum. Emma “Mattress Girl” Sulkowicz at Columbia University. “Jackie” from UVA.
All these women achieved a measure of notoriety due to the fact that people believed the victim, and they felt safe enough to bring allegations of sexual assault against men who turned out to be innocent. The accused were exonerated but not until after their reputations, livelihoods and finances were destroyed or irreparably damaged.
The high-profile campaign to “always believe the victim,” while laudatory on its face, has many implicit and hidden dangers. It ignores the bedrock principle of innocent until proven guilty that underpins U.S. law and places the onus of proving innocence on the accused, who then is in the unenviable position of being guilty until proven innocent.
True victims of assault, sexual or otherwise, should always feel free, indeed compelled, to come forth and give police the details, as embarrassing as they may be, in order for the system to determine culpability and if charges should be brought and to take dangerous predators off the street.
Who would not sign a pledge promising to believe the victim? Anyone who didn’t could be viewed as approving of sexual assault.
The statistic of one in five women reporting being the victim of assault appears to be a result of amplifying the definition of assault to include inappropriate comments or ex-post-facto reporting of a consensual encounter that one of the parties later regretted. The number should be taken in with a grain of salt and contextualized.
Let the people behind this drive begin to focus on what has unleashed the cultural milieu of sexual promiscuity and the loss of chastity and suppression of sexual desire and try to eliminate the tragic consequences. Epidemic levels of STDs. Broken families and marriages. Loss of innocence for ever younger children due to exposure to immorality and normalization of previously unaccepted behaviors.
The lack of constraint on the part of both sexes has contributed to the deluge of immorality. Only by restoring prudent and old-fashioned biblical mores can we roll back this cultural decline.