Jens 'n' Frens
Idle thoughts of a relatively libertarian Republican in Cambridge, MA, and whomever he invites. Mostly political.

"A strong conviction that something must be done is the parent of many bad measures."
  -- Daniel Webster

Wednesday, July 07, 2010 :::

Instapundit links to a piece based on the following assertion:
Here are four prominent men who have been accused of sexual assault: former vice president Al Gore, filmmaker Roman Polanski, and football players Ben Roethlisberger and Lawrence Taylor. The accusations against each of them are so very different. But they share one commonality: each has received the benefit of the doubt - in some cases, a lot of doubt - that their accuser is a liar.
But the author doesn't seem to back that up.

To be sure, it's unclear exactly what she means when she says they have received the benefit of the doubt. Her evidence in favor of it consists of a handful of quotes. If all she means is that some crank somewhere believes each of the four, I'm sure she's right. If she means none of the four is currently in prison, again, she's right.

But I seem to remember seeing a poll on Polanski last year finding the vast majority of the public considers him guilty (as does the State of California). I haven't been paying terribly close attention, but I believe Taylor is still under investigation and, if I recall correctly, the prosecutor in the Roethlisberger case said there wasn't enough evidence to prosecute but said he at least behaved inappropriately. The NFL certainly hasn't treated him as having been set up by a lying gold-digger. I haven't seen anything assessing public opinion on either of them, but I figured most people assumed they were both guilty. The Gore case is quite new and people's initial judgments are likely to be colored by their politics, but, again, I haven't seen a rush to dismiss.

As I've noted before, the legal system has an obligation to reserve judgment until the facts are in and to give the accused the benefit of the doubt, and while the public has no such obligation, the public does have a moral obligation not to endow any early judgment with too much finality. Rich and famous men do have an easier time getting women they don't know into bed voluntarily; they are more likely to expect strange women to sleep with them; but they are also more likely to be targeted by women who are inclined to lie about being assaulted. If you don't know the specifics of the case, you are free to speculate, but you shouldn't forget that you are only speculating.

::: posted by Steven at 11:28 AM

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Idle thoughts of a relatively libertarian Republican in Cambridge, MA, and whomever he invites. Mostly political.

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