Cartoon: Why Didn’t She?


I couldn’t make these cartoons without people supporting my Patreon! A $1 pledge really matters.


Another cartoon inspired by the current, infuriating moment. Hundreds of hundreds of conservatives (mostly, but not entirely, white men) have been asking this question. Including the President of the United States, in (of course) a tweet.

And the constant denial can hurt. Emily Dreyfuss in Wired:

When I read Trump’s tweet this morning, first I stopped breathing. When the most powerful person in the land denies your lived experience, it feels like someone punching you in the diaphragm.

Thousands of victims of sexual assault – mostly, but not entirely, women – have taken to Twitter to respond to Trump, using the #whyIdidn’treport hashtag.

The failure of empathy inherit in the “why didn’t she report it?” question – asked by so many even today, while Christine Blasey Ford’s character and safety are under constant attack – is staggering. A better question is, given how some people are punished for reporting being raped, why do any victims report?

Almost two years ago, Rachel Sklar – addressing the question of why Donald Trump’s accusers stayed silent for years – wrote:

All of this reinforces the prevailing power structures of rape culture and patriarchy: Men are to be respected, believed and obeyed. Women mess with that at their peril. Not only are women expected to receive and submit, but they are expected to laugh off behavior that is otherwise invasive and threatening, to “not make a big deal” about it. But that just shows the normalization of violence against women…

Elizabeth King summed it up well:

Which is why “Why didn’t she report?” is a nonsense question. It doesn’t even need to be asked because 1) survivors are allowed to deal with a traumatic event however they want to — nobody is required to report, and 2) we all already know why; some simply choose either not to listen, or to not believe. It’s another way to blame victims, who deserve better than to rehash their trauma for the benefit of others’ understanding.

So, anyhow… about the art:

I’ve been working long days on this cartoon since… well, since an hour after I completed my previous cartoon.

The art here will remind some of you of the “Brave Truth-Teller” cartoon I did quite recently, which featured a similar bird’s-eye-view-with-tons-of-characters panel. And I probably wouldn’t have drawn this cartoon in this way, without having drawn that other cartoon fist. With Brave-Truth-Teller, I expanded my cartoonist’s toolbox a tiny bit, and now that I have that tool I can use it again.

I will admit, however, I didn’t expect to be reusing this particular tool so soon.

One last side note: As I was writing this, my housemate Matt walked by, looked over my shoulder, and said “I like the perspective you used to draw Kevin there.” And I looked again, and omg – the jerk at the bottom of the page does look a lot like my friend Kevin Moore.

(Kevin, dude – that wasn’t on purpose, honest. I didn’t even notice until Matt pointed it out. So this is Matt’s fault, maybe?)

Let me hasten to add that Kevin is incredibly nice and empathetic and would never say what the dude here who looks like him is saying. And also, Kevin’s a terrific cartoonist himself – he even has a patreon.


TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON

This cartoon has only one panel. The panel shows a crowd of people, looking down on them from above. A dark-haired woman in the middle of the crowd, wearing a red blouse and a blue skirt, looks frightened. Everyone else in the crowd is yelling at her, pointing at her, shaking fists at her, etc – it is not a friendly crowd.

A little removed from the mob, at the bottom of the cartoon, a blonde man wearing a blue turtleneck talks to a black-haired woman, raising his hands in a shrugging gesture.

MAN: If she was raped, why didn’t she say so sooner?

This entry posted in Cartooning & comics, Feminism, sexism, etc. Bookmark the permalink. 

44 Responses to Cartoon: Why Didn’t She?

  1. There’s also a #WhyDidntIReport hashtag, where this tweet has been at the top for a while:

    When I added my own tweet, I mistyped and it went to this second hashtag instead of the original one that Amp linked to. There’s a lot more to why I didn’t report back then, but this is the kernel of it.

    That we survivors need to keep explaining the phenomenon of delayed reporting–or of not reporting at all–is discouraging to say the least, especially given that so many reports turn out to be accurate and true. That, after so many instances of a perpetrator’s public denials turning out to be completely false, the general public doesn’t look at denials like Kavanaugh’s, or anyone’s in a similar situation, with at least as jaded an eye as it does delayed reporting makes me want to throw my hands up in disgust. This article, though, was a real bright spot:

    But there has been an upside to the Kavanaugh circus and Trump’s presidency. For one, it has galvanized women and the men who love us. For another, like so many rape survivors in this country living through this particular moment in history, having to relive our assaults daily—even hourly—with every new allegation of rape, I have been so brought to my knees by this latest allegation that I, too, was inspired to speak out.

    Directly. To my rapist.

    I wrote him a letter, 30 years after the night in question, reminding him of what he’d done and how hard it has been to overcome.

    And do you know what this man did, less than half an hour later? He called me on the phone and said, “Oh, Deb. Oh my god. I’m so sorry. I had no idea. I’m filled with shame.”

    We spoke for a long time, maybe 20 minutes. He had no recollection of raping me, just of the party where we’d met. He’d blacked out that night from excessive drinking and soon thereafter entered Alcoholics Anonymous. But that, he said, was no excuse. The fact that he’d done this to me and that I’d been living with the resulting trauma for 30 years was horrifying to him. He was so sorry, he said. He just kept repeating those words, “I’m so sorry,” over and over.

  2. 2
    nobody.really says:

    Important message, timely done, well presented, etc.

    Let’s talk logistics.

    What a challenge for a static image: To depict someone who is surrounded. How to show that a person is exposed with no place to hide from the crowd–when, if this were true, every angle would be obscured to the viewer by the crowd? A top-down view is a clever solution. But, to pull this off, you have to forsake using a word bubble in the top of the cartoon, because it would otherwise block the reader’s view of the crowd. So the text has to be really spare, put only where you want the reader’s gaze to finally arrest.

    And it works. As my eye pans down the image, it feels cinematographic, as if it were video. How cool.

    Stylistically, this cartoon seems akin to the Brave Truth-Teller (BTT) cartoon, with its’ top-down perspective. BTT was even fun because it invites us to poke fun at his (and, heck, everyone’s) self-aggrandizing imagination, but also because it exploits the surrealism of the imagination. In contrast, this cartoon is very seriously not fun. It’s successfully creepy. And all the more clever because it doesn’t resort to surrealism; it succeeds even within the constraints of a more-or-less realistic perspective.

    I can’t recall having seen this top-down perspective in political cartoons before (or in other cartoons, either, but I don’t read so many other cartoons, so I don’t have a huge repertoire to call on.)

    The shading also shows up nicely in the colored panel. How did you choose to light the cartoon such that the speaker’s face ends up in shade? I like to imagine that I can understand the strategic choices that go into a cartoon’s lay-out, but this one seems counter-intuitive.

    (When does anyone ever have a close, top-down perspective with slant lighting? It’s so rare that it’s evoking my 30-year-old memories of taking an early morning balloon ride with my girlfriend (now wife). Nice work.)

  3. 3
    Kate says:

    I think, maybe, Family Circus may have used a similar effect, but I have no idea how I’d even begin looking for it.

  4. 4
    RonF says:

    I thought Pres. Trump’s tweet on this was particularly tone-deaf and ignorant. There’s multiple reasons why a victim of sexual assault would not have reported it, especially at that time and at her age.

  5. 5
    Ben David says:

    For myself and many other conservatives, this is not about “believing women”.

    Why did Senator Feinstein sit on this information for months?

    Kavanaugh was subjected to a grilling – in public and in closed sessions – unparalleled by any other other confirmation hearing. Why was this not raised then?

    Is it possible to not be labeled a “hateful chauvinist” while still standing for due process, and pointing out rather obvious political motives – which are equally manipulative of the women involved?

    Does “not believing women” include balking at demands that the accused face an Orwellian “you go first” tribunal that turns normal due process on its head?

    Because for The Rest of Us that’s common-sense fairness and how we want our legal system to function – not “hateful chauvinism”.

    Casting this issue exclusively in terms of “believing women” is the stance conservatives like I expect from the hardcore Left – but it is a straw man of the Left’s own making.

  6. 6
    AJD says:

    If I remember correctly, Senator Feinstein did not reveal the information because she did not have Prof. Ford’s permission to do so.

    Judge Kavanaugh’s assault of Prof. Ford was not raised earlier in the hearing process because it was not publicly known, because Senator Feinstein did not have permission to reveal it.

    Due process is very important. This is why Judge Kavanaugh will not be punished by the legal system for his assault unless he stands trial for it and is convicted by a jury, or pleads guilty.

    I’m not sure what you mean by “manipulative of the women involved”.

    The way you want our legal system to function is… putting a probable sex offender in charge of it?

  7. 7
    Kate says:

    Kavanaugh was subjected to a grilling – in public and in closed sessions – unparalleled by any other other confirmation hearing.

    It is not unparalleled (Bork). Even the late accusation of sexual misconduct has a parallel, in the Clarence Thomas hearings. Kavanaugh is getting tough questioning because, like Bork he takes some extremist positions and like Thomas, there is a good chance that he has committed sexual improprieties. As a bonus, he has also demonstrably lied under oath to the Senate Judiciary Committee. He also has very questionable finances.

    Any complaints about the way this hearing was structured are complaints against the Republican majority. The Democrats wanted a proper FBI investigation, as was done for Clarence Thomas.

    But, do you know what is unparalleled – refusing to even give Merrick Garland a hearing. Conservatives have no right to complain about obstruction after that outright theft of a Supreme Court seat from Obama. Even so, if Trump had chosen a consensus nominee – a more conservative version of Garland, some Democrats would be supporting him. Heck, some Democrats supported Gorsuch.

  8. 8
    Gracchus says:

    “It is not unparalleled”

    It’s unparalleled if your political memory doesn’t go back beyond 2008. Which seems to be the case for most conservatives.

  9. 9
    Ampersand says:

    For myself and many other conservatives, this is not about “believing women”.

    Literally the first time the phrase “believing women” was used in this thread. So Ben David, I think maybe you’re responding to a general idea that’s out there, but not specifically to what the cartoon or the thread has said.

    Which is okay, just wanted to point that out.

    My take on “believing women” it that, it’s a slogan. The non-slogan idea, for me at least, is “take reports of sexual assault and harassment seriously, and realize that most are not fake.”

  10. 10
    Harlequin says:

    Kate Harding uses the phrase “trust but verify” for this (or, at least, a similar idea). Though I’m pretty sure that phrase has political valence I’m too young to really remember.

    And it’s weird to hear the hearing yesterday described as some great violation of due process for Kavanaugh when it was so favorable to him. The lack of any other witnesses, many of whom would likely have contradicted his flurry of unnecessary lies, was a major gift.

  11. 11
    J Squid says:

    “Trust but verify” was Reagan’s phrase when he was negotiating nukes with the USSR.

  12. 12
    Gracchus says:

    The problem with “trust, but verify” is that the stuff that rape victims find so traumatic about the court process – particularly, being cross-examined by defense lawyers – comes under the “verify” part.

  13. 13
    Ben David says:

    Kate wrote:

    Any complaints about the way this hearing was structured are complaints against the Republican majority. The Democrats wanted a proper FBI investigation, as was done for Clarence Thomas.

    So you think that the Clarence Thomas confirmation was an exemplary case of Democrats upholding due process?

    And not an attempt to smear and disqualify a consertative justice after his appointment was already confirmed by Congress?

    The Dems sprung Anita Hill and her accusations *after* the regular confirmation hearings concluded for Thomas. That’s when Dems demanded an FBI investigation. Not as part of the regular process, but to derail it.

    Sound familiar?
    Most people who bring up Clarence Thomas in relation to Kavanaugh are referring to the sleazy way in which Dems tried to destroy a person’s reputation and spike the normal process when it wasn’t going their way politically.

    But you think that was just fine? The Dems were just calling for a “proper FBI investigation” as you call it.

    But Kavanaugh – like Thomas – already went through several criminal screenings during his career, and as part of the nomination process. The “proper investigation” was already done.

    And in Kavanaugh’s case, both the FBI and regular courts have indicated that these claims are too vague and too old for any “proper investigation” to be done.

  14. 14
    Charles says:

    Thomas was a serial sexual harasser and Kavanaugh is probably a serial sexual assailant, but for Ben David all that matters is that powerful right-wing men must be protected from inconvenience. When he says that “believing women” is not what this is about for him and people like him, I believe he means what he says. He doesn’t care about believing women and he doesn’t care if rapists and sexual harassers sit on the supreme court, as long as they hold his far right, woman-hating opinions.

    For Ben David, the true horror of this situation is that Kavanaugh’s appointment has been delayed by more than a week, not that we may be about to appoint a serial sexual assailant to the supreme court.

  15. 15
    Kate says:

    So you think that the Clarence Thomas confirmation was an exemplary case of Democrats upholding due process?

    Absolutely not. I never meant to imply that – only that it is better than the one being followed now. I think that the process in the Thomas hearings was very unfair…to Anita Hill. They blocked testimony of corroborating witnesses and were needlessly sneering, leering and crass in the way they questioned her. It was disgusting. In that respect (which I couldn’t have known at the time of my earlier post), this process was better. I found the questioning of Blasey Ford to be respectful. But, again, they are blocking the testimony of corroborating witnesses, including Mark Judge, who Ford claims was a witness to the act itself.

    And not an attempt to smear and disqualify a conservative justice after his appointment was already confirmed by Congress?

    First, get your facts straight. In both cases, their judiciary committee hearings were over, but they hadn’t been confirmed by the Senate yet.
    Second, it’s only a smear if you believe the women are lying. I find both Anita Hill and Christine Blasey Ford to be credible witnesses, making credible accusations. Not proof beyond a reasonable doubt, but worthy of further investigation. Kavanaugh on the other hand, lied repeatedly in his testimony.
    If Hill and Blasey Ford are telling the truth, I believe the behavior they describe SHOULD be disqualifying. Do you agree, or do you thing serial sexual harassers and gropers should be honored with seats on the Supreme Court? Remember, in the past prospective justices have been passed over for smoking pot in college and failing to pay social security taxes for their nanny.
    Third, only a very small number of Senators are undecided, and there are both Republicans and Democrats represented. The Republicans all really want to vote yes. They are stalling because because they are genuinely concerned about Kavanaugh’s fitness. There are also several Democrats (Manchin, Heitcamp, and Donnelley) who would love nothing better than to be able to vote yes for a conservative justice, as they did for Gorsuch. Again, in their cases, this is specifically about Kavanaugh’s fitness.

  16. 16
    Kate says:

    I think what bothers me most about this, is assertions that this, @44 in this thread:

    Somehow these principled reasons almost always align along party lines, which is peculiar if they were actually principled reasons that people arrive at without bias and without realpolitik.

    Most Senators chose their position on Kavanaugh for the same reason they did on Gorsuch. Republicans support and Democrats oppose his judicial philosophy, which among many other things, might overturn the finding of a right to privacy in Griswald vs. Connecticut, ultimately reversing opinons on, abortion, birth control, sodomy laws, and perhaps other things I’m not aware of.
    Most senators who are undecided disagree with their party’s overarching judicial philosophy, or at least its position on Roe vs. Wade. Republicans Collins and Merkowski support Roe vs. Wade and Democrats Manchin, Heitcamp and Donnelly do not.
    But, the Democrats had additional principled reasons, which the Republicans would certainly consider convincing if the political parties were reversed:
    his current view of executive power, which would likely place the president above the law
    his history of partisan bias, most recently displaced in his rant in Thursday’s hearing. Impartial judges are probably a fantasy at this point in time (although Merrick Garland was a genuine attempt on Obama’s part), but Kavanaugh’s naked partisanship would be a huge step in the wrong direction.
    Christine Blasey Ford’s credible accusation of sexual assault, particularly contrasted against Kavanaugh’s repeated, often transparent, lies under oath.
    These are the issuse which are nagging at Republicans like Flake and Corker. At first glance, it would appear that they should be concerns to more Republican senators. Moreover, political expediency would suggest cutting Kavanaugh loose and having Trump choose a less compromised nominee. Why aren’t they? There is plenty of time to push someone else through if this is just about judicial philosophy and overturning Roe vs. Wade.

  17. 17
    Harlequin says:

    It’s easier to do the right thing when it aligns with your partisan goals. So yes, Democrats are making a bigger deal about the accusations against Kavanaugh, because these accusations are a big deal, and it’s in the partisan interests of Democrats but not in the partisan interests of Republicans.

    In general, the correct response to this tendency is to push your representatives to do the right thing all the time regardless of partisanship, not to push them to do the wrong thing all the time just because the other side did the wrong thing last time. There are exceptions (see: anything to do with Senate procedure and Mitch McConnell), but the only ones I can think of involve being reasonably sure that the other side is never going to do the right thing when it conflicts with their partisan interests. And there is no way you can say that about the Democrats here, either on the proactive side (Franken, Schneiderman, etc) or on the reactive side (Gorsuch).

  18. 18
    RonF says:

    AJD:

    If I remember correctly, Senator Feinstein did not reveal the information because she did not have Prof. Ford’s permission to do so.

    Both Sen. Feinstein and (IIRC) the Representative that Dr. Ford gave that document to knew damn well that there was no way in Washington D. C. Hell that the contents of a letter like that would remain undisclosed. If they had any integrity they would have told her that.

    Kate:

    But, do you know what is unparalleled – refusing to even give Merrick Garland a hearing.

    From Wikipedia

    Through August 2018, 125 nominations have been successful; there is also one nomination pending before the Senate. Of the 37 that were unsuccessful, 11 nominees were rejected in Senate roll-call votes, 11 were withdrawn by the president, and 15 lapsed at the end of a session of Congress.

    Bold print my emphasis. Some of those got a hearing but never got a floor vote, some never got a hearing.

    Republicans support and Democrats oppose his judicial philosophy, which among many other things, might overturn the finding of a right to privacy

    I’m all for the Federal government supporting a right to privacy. I suspect that adding a conservative Justice might see that extended to keeping my personal data private from the government itself (e.g., whether or not I own a firearm and if so, what kind), and from a company that wishes to buy or sell it.

    It was interesting to get the perspective of a woman that I know well who sat and watched all the testimony. She said that she cried listening to Dr. Ford and she cried listening to Judge Kavanaugh, out of empathy for both. She has a daughter. She also has a son. This process makes her fear more for her son. She thinks that in the current environment, a woman making an accusation against him could destroy him and he’d have no recourse, regardless of whether the accusation had any merit or not.

    My own judgement on this is based not on the sex or the race or the wealth or societial position of either of the people involved, but just what the content of the testimony was. On that basis I think that someone assaulted Ford, but there’s simply insufficient information to reasonably conclude that it was Kavanaugh. The passage of time and the effects of trauma leaves too much doubt in my mind at least as to the dependability of her memory. And there’s little evidence in the rest of his life history to indicate that he’s a sexual abuser.

  19. 19
    Erl says:

    Ron, thanks for sharing that point about the history of lapsed nominations. I went through that list. It looks like stalling or even abolishing seats was a reasonably common tactic in the early republic.

    However, the last Supreme Court justice to be denied a seat in this method was Andrew Johnson’s nomination of the lawyer who had defended him at his impeachment trial, which fact suggests a pretty robust breakdown of relations between the president and the senate. The four “lapsed” nominations since then were all carried through to subsequent sessions where they received a floor vote, except for Garland.

    So while it’s not strictly unprecedented, it does certainly represent a re-emergence of a mode of congressional hardball contrary to a hundred and fifty years of precedent.

  20. 20
    Celeste says:

    My reasoning is that Dr. Ford simply has no incentive to lie. Coming forward as she has has carried an enormous personal cost, and no benefit for her.

    Judge Kavanaugh, on the other hand has an enormous incentive to lie, and has lied to the Senate, under oath, multiple times on national television.

    So if it comes to credibility …

  21. 21
    Kate says:

    15 lapsed at the end of a session of Congress

    All that means is that a particular congress didn’t consider a nominee. All modern nominees who lapsed were subsequently confirmed by the next congress.

    John Marshall Harlan II lapsed in November 1954, but was subsequently confirmed the following March
    Pierce Bulter lapsed in November 1922, but was subsequently confirmed the following Decemeber.

    That takes us back to the 1800’s. I know there were some efforts to prevent Andrew Johnson from appointing justices when he was going through his impeachment trial…but that hardly constitutes a parallel to what happend with Garland.

  22. 22
    Kate says:

    I’m all for the Federal government supporting a right to privacy. I suspect that adding a conservative Justice might see that extended to keeping my personal data private from the government itself (e.g., whether or not I own a firearm and if so, what kind), and from a company that wishes to buy or sell it.

    I suppose you object to drivers licesnses and vehile registration as well?

  23. 23
    AJD says:

    Both Sen. Feinstein and (IIRC) the Representative that Dr. Ford gave that document to knew damn well that there was no way in Washington D. C. Hell that the contents of a letter like that would remain undisclosed. If they had any integrity they would have told her that.

    I have to admit I don’t understand what the point of this particular bit of goalpost-shifting is supposed to be.

  24. 24
    Kate says:

    Actually, we don’t know if the leak came from one of the congressional offices, or from one of the friends who Ford had confided in. The source of the leak has not been identified.

  25. 25
    Harlequin says:

    This process makes her fear more for her son. She thinks that in the current environment, a woman making an accusation against him could destroy him and he’d have no recourse, regardless of whether the accusation had any merit or not.

    As we have discussed here before, it is far more likely that her son will be abused himself than that he will be wrongfully accused. Believing people who report abuse (more than we do now) is far more likely to help him by giving him tools and support to process a possible assault than it is likely to hurt him by adding credibility to an accuser in the rare event of a wrongful accusation.

    (I’m not calling her fear, as an emotion, into question: fear is not rational. Just pointing out that, to the extent that you want this to be an argument against the current swing of #MeToo, it is incorrect.)

  26. 26
    desipis says:

    My reasoning is that Dr. Ford simply has no incentive to lie.

    Influencing who gets appointed to the supreme court is one hell of an incentive.

    How much does everyone here trust the people who got Trump elected to not manufacture false allegations of sexual misconduct against the supreme court nominations during the next Democrat presidency?

  27. 27
    Kate says:

    Influencing who gets appointed to the supreme court is one hell of an incentive.

    Which is why she reported it to her therapist and husband in 2012? And why she called to Washington Post tip line when she saw that he was on the short list? Heck, at that point she could easily have been a Republican who wanted to prevent this PR disaster.

    How much does everyone here trust the people who got Trump elected to not manufacture false allegations of sexual misconduct against the supreme court nominations during the next Democrat presidency?

    I think people vastly over estimate how easy it is to manufacture false accusations.

  28. 28
    Michael says:

    And here comes Senator Grassley to show us why women don’t come forward:
    https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/julie-swetnick-kavanaugh-avanetti_us_5bb3d849e4b0876eda9936f4
    An open “she’s a slut” defense in this day and age would be unbelievable if it wasn’t for everything the Republicans had done before this.

  29. 29
    RonF says:

    Kate, I don’t object to registering vehicles and drivers’ licenses. You have no Constitutionally-guaranteed right to own a car and operate it on the public roads. And even in those cases I strenuously object to the State making that information available to other parts of the government for purposes not directly related to law enforcement or even corporations for commercial exploitation.

    AJD, I have heard/seen numerous people state that Sen. Feinstein held onto Dr. Ford’s letter because she wished to preserve her anonymity. But once she gave that letter to anyone, there was no way it was going to remain anonymous. As Dr. Franklin told us, “Three can keep a secret – if two are dead.” It was simply not going to happen.

    Kate: Which is why I really don’t care about the actual source of the leak. As soon as Sen. Feinstein saw that letter she knew it was going to come out at some point whether or not it was from her. And BTW, why should I credit her assertion that it didn’t come from her staff? I don’t have to think she’s lying to think that (as far as her staff is concerned) she’s wrong. My present opinion of Sen. Feinstein is that she is either mendacious or a fool.

    Harlequin:

    Just pointing out that, to the extent that you want this to be an argument against the current swing of #MeToo, it is incorrect.

    That’s … interesting. Does this mean that you hold that the current swing of #MeToo is that a woman who makes claims of decades-old incidents of abuse against a man with no evidence and who names witnesses who do not corroborate her account are nevertheless to be believed? And that said claims should result in the accused man losing employment and social status? That was not my impression. Because up to this point it has been my observation that #MeToo has involved women whose accusations have been corroborated, generally by other women who have experienced abuse from the same man or by people who were aware of the acts. If the “swing” of #MeToo is towards the kind of thing that was attempted against now-Justice Kavanaugh, I am against it.

  30. 30
    AJD says:

    Kate, I don’t object to registering vehicles and drivers’ licenses. You have no Constitutionally-guaranteed right to own a car and operate it on the public roads.

    Do you object to voter registration?

    AJD, I have heard/seen numerous people state that Sen. Feinstein held onto Dr. Ford’s letter because she wished to preserve her anonymity. But once she gave that letter to anyone, there was no way it was going to remain anonymous. As Dr. Franklin told us, “Three can keep a secret – if two are dead.” It was simply not going to happen.

    …And? I still don’t see the purpose of this bit of goalpost shifting. Ben David asked, “Why did Senator Feinstein sit on this information for months?” The answer—because she did not have permission to reveal it. And your response is… she should have revealed it anyway, because someone was going to so it might as well have been her? One shouldn’t keep secrets when one thinks it’s likely that someone else will reveal them? This seems to be an attempt to trap Feinstein in a catch-22: If she reveals the accusation, she’s breaking someone’s confidence; if she conceals it, she’s playing political games with the nomination.

    As you are aware, Ford’s claim of abuse by Kavanaugh was, as you put it, “corroborated, generally by other women who have experienced abuse from the same man”.

  31. 31
    Harlequin says:

    Does this mean that you hold that the current swing of #MeToo is that a woman who makes claims of decades-old incidents of abuse against a man with no evidence and who names witnesses who do not corroborate her account are nevertheless to be believed? And that said claims should result in the accused man losing employment and social status?

    What I said was that an woman’s fear of an unusual event was not an argument against a whole movement. I don’t know if that’s what you intended by bringing up the anecdote. I do know that “but what about falsely accused men” is often used to argue against people who are asking for marginally less awful treatment of those who allege sexual harassment and assault, and I was responding in that light. If you didn’t mean that, well, now you know that this happens a lot; and if you didn’t mean that, I wonder why you brought it up. In no way did I say anything (in the comment you are replying to) about whether Blasey Ford was telling the truth or not, because it’s immaterial to my point that false accusations are rare and actual abuse of boys is (very unfortunately) more common.

    That you would comment about this now–after it is abundantly clear that the only consequence Kavanaugh has suffered was an embarrassing hearing, and a delay in his confirmation by less than two weeks–is especially annoying to me, though. If Blasey Ford was lying, then the system worked: Kavanaugh didn’t suffer any real consequences! He now has one of the most prestigious jobs in the world. The mark of a functioning system that assigns consequences for bad behavior is not that no false allegations are never made: humans are, well, human, and some will behave badly, or misremember, or whatever. The mark of a functioning system is that the rate of false reports is low, and that the system handles them correctly when they appear. I would say this was a malfunctioning system because I think there was more evidence on Blasey Ford’s side and Congress, the White House, and the FBI didn’t go after it, so that there was a miscarriage of justice that did not see Blasey Ford get a fair hearing. But if you believe that she was lying or misremembering, then this is the way you would want things to work: because the stakes were high, the matter was (to some level) investigated, and upon a finding of no grounds for the accusation, Kavanaugh was confirmed. So this shows, even more than my point, that your friend’s fears are unfounded: if this was a false accusation, well, Blasey Ford wasn’t believed by anyone with the power to impose consequences. (Again: that doesn’t mean your friend isn’t afraid. Just that, again, her fear isn’t an argument on its own.)

  32. 32
    Harlequin says:

    I’m going to slightly walk back my comment above: there are things about this process (grandstanding questioners on both sides, how public it was, etc) that are obviously or at least arguably bad, so this wasn’t exactly as we would want things to work. But the general idea–that Blasey Ford’s claims were treated seriously, even though the final judgment was in favor of Kavanaugh–is a result that you should sometimes expect if we are to treat accusations as seriously as we should. A world with no false accusations would be better, but since we cannot live in that world, one where accusations are fairly judged and the accused is found innocent if appropriate is the best we can do, and the mere presence of allegations that are found to be false is not an indictment of the system.

  33. 33
    Erin says:

    Harlequin sez:

    “… after it is abundantly clear that the only consequence Kavanaugh has suffered was an embarrassing hearing, and a delay in his confirmation by less than two weeks …”

    ______________________________________

    Harlequin, that’s a bit like saying that arguments against gambling are unfair and stupid because Jim bet $1000 on red and doubled his money, so what were the negative consequences of gambling to him?

    Or – if you want to get sciency about it (isn’t that what you work in?) – radioactivity doesn’t exist because a particular atom that we are focusing on didn’t decay.

    False accusations have definitely had some pretty scary consequences. A woman named Cathleen Webb – back when DNA evidence wasn’t a thing – told police someone raped her (it turned out she had consensual sex with a guy she wasn’t supposed to be having sex with, and thought – in those pre-DNA days – that she was pregnant). She gave some details of how the rapey creep looked, shaggy hair and all. That happened to perfectly match a random guy named Gary Dotsun.

    She said, with no corroboration at all, just her word, that he had raped her. He served 10 years in prison before she got a conscience, and still no one believed her recantation until the new – at that time – science of DNA showed that Gary Dotsun had not been the perpetrator at all.

    A woman basically pointed her finger for stupid reasons, and a man’s life was wrecked. Gary Dotsun kind of went down in a spiral in life after he was released from prison.

    Even the Duke lacrosse players had nasty consequences from the false accusation. One had lined up a job on Wall Street, and they rescinded the job offer. The argument from some lefties is that “who cares, he’s just a privileged white boy anyway”.

    Many people don’t have any empathy for other with regard to a certain issue until it happens to them. That’s not a cool way to be.

  34. 34
    Ampersand says:

    False accusations have definitely had some pretty scary consequences.

    Kate was talking about Ford’s accusation, not false accusations.

    I agree with you that false accusations are terrible, but I don’t think you can reasonably treat Ford’s accusation as an example of a false accusation. We might have opinions (mine is that she was telling the truth), but we simply don’t know for sure if it was false or not.

  35. 35
    Harlequin says:

    In fairness, Amp, I was speaking of how we should treat this even if it was a false allegation (though I don’t think it is).

    Erin:

    Harlequin, that’s a bit like saying that arguments against gambling are unfair and stupid because Jim bet $1000 on red and doubled his money, so what were the negative consequences of gambling to him?

    It is not like saying that in any way whatsoever, because (granting for the purposes of argument that this was a false allegation, though I don’t think it was) my point was that it was not chance that Kavanaugh did not suffer (non-reputational) consequences. It was the result of an investigation–one tilted heavily in his favor, but an investigation nonetheless.

    As I said in my follow-on comment above, there are many things about that process that should have been done differently. But Blasey Ford’s allegations, to begin with, were at least plausible: she did know him and his friends during that time of his life; he did drink a lot when he was younger. How much less should she have been believed before any investigation was done?

    One innocent person suffering because of a false allegation is more than I would like to see. But I’m also aware of how we would have to treat victims if we wanted to make “zero innocent people investigated” our standard, and it involves not believing anyone ever. So, my point was that if we are to ever see justice for people who have suffered harassment and assault, then there are going to be some (much smaller) number of innocent people who end up in the crosshairs of an investigation, and so what we want is a system that fails gracefully: that figures out this is an innocent person, and exonerates them (as happened here), with the least possible amount of disruption to their life (which is where the Kavanaugh process failed miserably, imo). We have no problem accepting this tradeoff in the justice system, where some fraction of the people who are tried on various crimes are found innocent. (Where that system fails, as in the case you mention, Erin, then that tells us about things we need to fix; and if there are many such cases, then we need a different solution.) The consequences of false allegations are randomly distributed, it’s true, and that’s a moral/ethical problem–but you don’t get away from that by believing fewer victims, since the crimes were randomly distributed to the victims, too, and so are the consequences to them when they do not receive justice.

    I want to go back to RonF’s comment that I was responding to for a moment:

    She thinks that in the current environment, a woman making an accusation against him could destroy him and he’d have no recourse, regardless of whether the accusation had any merit or not

    I wanted to make one other point about the “whether the accusation had any merit” part. Kavanaugh has had 5 accusers: Blasey Ford; Deborah Ramirez; Julie Swetnick; an anonymous person who alleges an assault outside a bar; and a man whose name I don’t remember who alleged witnessing an assault on a boat in Rhode Island, and has now retracted that allegation. I listed those by the amount I’ve heard about them, which is roughly, also, by the amount their accounts are plausible on first hearing. If the standard was really “whether the accusation had any merit or not,” I would have heard about all five of those people equally. So that is also, obviously, not the case.

  36. 36
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Harlequin,

    From my perspective a trial by media has too many disadvantages. It raises the stakes immensely, by putting one of the most important things that people have, their reputation, on the line. This makes it much harder to admit to errors, wrongdoing, etc, both on the part of the accuser and the accused. Instead, it makes people dig in.

    Because people tend to judge partly or fully by their biases, rather than the actual facts, any public accusation will generally result in both the accuser and the accused gaining supporters and detractors, regardless of the facts of the case. Furthermore, due to the halo effect, this change in status will presumably be much larger than would be reasonable, given the actual facts/conduct. It seems really unhealthy to me for the specific individual to be classified as a hero by some and a villain by others, while the reality is something in between. One can perhaps call it a sort of unintentional gaslighting, where the individual is treated as a stereotype, rather than the person he or she is.

    Furthermore, both the accuser and the accused generally have to give up a lot of privacy to back up their claims/defense, which in itself causes harm (like context collapse).

    Finally, a trial by media is inherently biased towards the smart, pretty, well-spoken, conformist, etc.

    For errors by doctors, it seems that it is usually best for both patients/family and doctors if the dispute is handled by mediation, rather than in an adversarial manner. Most patients/family seems to care far less about retribution than having the doctor learn from the mistake, so others don’t get hurt in the same way.

    It also seems to me that this is the main motivation behind many accusers of (sexual) misbehavior and one of the reasons why you have groups of accusers coming forward at the same time (because many people are willing to come forward once they come to believe that the person they see as the perpetrator may do so more often, rather than just once).

    I would argue that there is a large grey area between obviously good behavior and obviously bad behavior, as well as a large grey area between accusations that are provably false and provably true. In that grey area, an amicable approach may be better, where both people try to figure out together and with the help of a mediator (or such) what may have happened, how certain behavior was perceived by both people and find an acceptable resolution (like recognition of what is acceptable behavior, an apology, therapy, volunteering with a organisation for victims, etc).

    I think that such a system fails more gracefully, for both the accused and the accuser. If the behavior was legal, but (very) unpleasant to the accuser, the accuser currently is left wholly unsatisfied. If the accusation cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt or other legal standard, the accuser currently is left wholly unsatisfied. However, with mediation the accused can do things voluntarily, without risking huge harm/punishment.

    IMO this approach is much more likely to help than many of the other approaches I see, like trial by media, weakening/eliminating due process, forgoing objective standards, etc.

  37. 37
    RonF says:

    AJD:

    The answer—because she did not have permission to reveal it. And your response is… she should have revealed it anyway, because someone was going to so it might as well have been her?

    No, my response is that she should have told Dr. Ford “I’m not taking this under that condition. The fact that you’ve already given this to someone means that it’s going to get out, and I’m not going to be responsible for it. If you want to come forward now, fine – I’ll give this to the FBI now, without public notice, and let them deal with it. But I’m not going to keep it and sit on it. That would be irresponsible and dishonest on my part and frankly both foolish and naive on your part. You had best be prepared for your name to become public because it’s going to happen.”

  38. 38
    RonF says:

    Harlequin:

    What I said was that an woman’s fear of an unusual event was not an argument against a whole movement. I don’t know if that’s what you intended by bringing up the anecdote.

    Hell, no! I’m a fan of #MeToo. What I have seen so far is that a great many people who have coupled power with horrible attitudes towards the opposite sex have been exposed. They have lost their power, they have lost their cultural influence and are being punished for their actions in and out of court. I think it’s great and look with hope to see more of it. Normally I don’t use what seems to me to be an overused word, but it has truly empowered people to come forward about how they have been abused and to name and see justice against the people who have committed it.

    But in all these cases what we have seen are either accusations by multiple people against a given perpetrator, or accusations backed up with evidence, or both. If #MeToo becomes a movement that demands we “Believe All Women” absent those characteristics, is one that cannot be applied by men against women who may have abused them and threatens to become a political tool then I will no longer support it.

    And I must say that I don’t see the sense in claims that the confirmation of Justice Kavanaugh means that “women are not listened to” and other such comments. For about the last year numerous very powerful men have met justice. To hold that none of that matters because one man’s career and status was not destroyed because one woman’s uncorroborated testimony was not held sufficient to do so seems more hyperbole to advance a political agenda than actual fact to me. It threatens to discredit the #MeToo movement, which I assure you I do not want to see.

  39. 39
    J. Squid says:

    … one woman’s uncorroborated testimony was not held sufficient to do so …

    Well, there were two other women whose testimony was ignored, as well as several corroborating witnesses, so that’s really not what happened in this case. But you knew that.

  40. 40
    RonF says:

    Harlequin:

    But the general idea–that Blasey Ford’s claims were treated seriously, even though the final judgment was in favor of Kavanaugh–is a result that you should sometimes expect if we are to treat accusations as seriously as we should.

    I had and have no problem with Dr. Ford’s allegation being treated seriously. It was a serious allegation and it deserved serious consideration. I was all in favor of additional investigation by the FBI, and I was in favor of hearing her testimony in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. What I have a problem with is what I perceive as a position being taken by many that because Dr. Ford’s allegation was not accepted as the truth it means that she was not taken seriously and that women are not being heard.

    A world with no false accusations would be better, but since we cannot live in that world, one where accusations are fairly judged and the accused is found innocent if appropriate is the best we can do, and the mere presence of allegations that are found to be false is not an indictment of the system.

    Nor do I hold that the presence of allegations found to be false is an indictment of the system. What we have here is a case of an allegation that is unproven and that cannot be proved – a classic “he said, she said” situation, played out with high drama on a worldwide stage. There is no way at the end of any process that either of them can be proved to be either lying or telling the truth. My position is that in such a case the existence of the allegation, no matter how empathetic the person alleging it, cannot be treated as just cause for imposing the consequences that would obtain if it were true.

  41. 41
    Mandolin says:

    I find the popular discussion of false allegations frustrating.

    False allegations can be part of an abusive behavior pattern. If people can use something to abuse other people, then some portion of them —men and women— will do so. Because some portion of humans are basically predatorial.

    *This is important.* But we cant have a fucking mature conversation about what to do in the rare instances of this because we’re too busy using them as an excuse to dodge talking about and acknowledging actual rape.

    It’s like male circumcision. Male circumcision is not okay. But if it’s only, or majorly, being used as a stalking horse to avoid talking about FGS, then that makes a mature conversation anout solving the problem so much stupidly harder.

  42. 42
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Mandolin,

    One reason why the discussion is immature is because many people act like they believe in infallible memory, leading them to conclude that if one person says that A happened and another argues that B happened:
    – either A or B has to be true, rather than C;
    – both people know exactly what happened,
    – so a different account means that one of the people is intentionally lying

    I very often see people argue merely with arguments like:
    – ‘this person has no reason to lie’
    – ‘this person said something that is (or seems) provably false, so that means that they intentionally lied about it and that they lied about everything else’
    – ‘the testimony seems (dis)honest’
    – ‘the person passed a lie detector test’

    The entire realm of questions about the fallibility of memory and the way that people filter information is often ignored.

    But we cant have a fucking mature conversation about what to do in the rare instances of this because we’re too busy using them as an excuse to dodge talking about and acknowledging actual rape.

    The evidence very strongly suggests that the fallibility of memory is huge and that people interpret their senses very selectively and in a biased way, so that partially incorrect allegations (and alibis) are common.

    Exactly how common it is for the key parts of allegations (who did it, whether the alleged criminal part of the allegation actually happened that way, etc) to be wrong is an open question and almost impossible to know.

    Any claim that it is very rare or very common seems scientifically indefensible to me and thus probably more based on bias than truth.

  43. 43
    lurker23 says:

    Mandolin says:
    October 9, 2018 at 6:49 pm
    I find the popular discussion of false allegations frustrating.

    we cant have a fucking mature conversation about what to do in the rare instances of this because we’re too busy using them as an excuse to dodge talking about and acknowledging actual rape.

    Those are basic good-faith tests.

    if you are going to talk to someone you might want to know if they agree that there is rape which is true but which cannot be proven, or which is never reported at all. obviously that exists, happens alot, so if they do not agree they are not in good faith.

    they might want to know if you agree that false or wrong or mistaking accusations happen:

    If people can use something to abuse other people, then some portion of them —men and women— will do so. Because some portion of humans are basically predatorial.

    and then they can know you are in good faith, if you agree.

    but the real problem comes when people want to be

    talking about and acknowledging actual rape

    because most of the time this is where things go bad and good faith is not enough!!

    most of the time it seems like a lot of rapes will be in the place where they are not proven false or proven true, right? if you think reasonable doubt on both sides is 90% sure, then you would only have 10% on each side which were proven true/false, and 80% would be unproven.

    if you choose something in that 80% and if you are “talking about and acknowledging actual rape” then people will need to know WHY you are saying that is “actual rape” and not false/wrong/mistaken accusation.

    or perhaps they might disagree to start the conversation at all if you are trying to make them agree that false/wrong/mistaken accusation are “rare” instead of “unknown and possibly not very rare at all.”

  44. 44
    lurker23 says:

    i think i was not clear. mandolin i can understand your frustration and i will be specific about what works for me.

    for me when i talk to people what works is to try to talk about things in a general way. so i am able to get people to agree that rape should be punished because i am talking about it generally. a general conversation is a good way for them to see i am in good faith and for me to see if they are in good faith, too

    and then once they agree on things which are general i move on to talking about things which are very obvious. but to keep good faith i still am willing to agree that there are a lot of things which are not obvious, of course, because that is true.

    and then i can try to work to see where we agree something that is not so obvious is rape and to try to move them in my directions. and even if they think something is “not rape” and I think that same thing is “actually rape” then i think i am succeeding if i can move them CLOSER to my line even if they do not agree with me in the end?

    but i do not think it works so well to move them to my side if i start out making them jump too far at first. like if we are talking about rape being very bad and should be punished very much, i do not also try to talk about 1 in 5 people in college because most people will not agree that 1 in 5 people are very bad and should be punished very much.

    or if i have someone who thinks that all people are innocent unless they are in jail then i think it is good if i can even make them agree that some rapists do not go to jail, because they move towards my line.

    that may not be what you want to try to do and if not i can see that would be very frustrating, it is always frustrating if you feel like you know what a problem is and other people do not? but sometimes they feel frustrated too, and you can convince them if you are careful.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *