2. Innocent Until…

Innocent Until Proven Guilty is not a constitutional right, first off, so stop spouting it everywhere like it is. This pertains to, and only to, a criminal case in a court of law. This does not pertain to social structures, peer regulation, or cultural consequences, which is the ONLY thing we’re talking about on this site.

This is not a court of law. This is the internet. This is society. This is culture…

This is what the 5th Amendment says: “No person shall be…deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”

The accused is not being put to death. They’re not being incarcerated. They’re not having their house taken by the government. Due process of law includes a trial. And if they goes to trial, they will be “Innocent until proven guilty,” a very cliched way of saying presumption of innocence in a criminal trial. In a court of law.

So, the presumption of innocence is written into US criminal law, and it comes into play only in the case of an arrest and a criminal trial.

So please stop spouting this cliche. It’s not relevant outside of court of law. This is culture.

People do things, and it is the community’s responsibility to hold members accountable for their actions and to protect themselves and their members from harm and to support those in need. That’s what a community is for.

There are consequences to actions. Everyone must face consequences to their actions, good or bad. Right or wrong. There are consequences, except when a community protects a rapist because it’s so immersed in rape culture it can’t even see straight. So afraid of “drama” that they shun and shame victims.

Let’s turn this around. Enough spouting cliches and platitudes. Hold rapists accountable. Make them respond to accusations instead of making the victims hide in shame.

Read more about this derailing nonsense in this excellent article on outing one’s rapist from The Guardian. “The ethics of outing your rapist.”

Other women have named their rapists on Facebook, on Twitter, on Tumblr and on other sites. Every time, concern springs up: isn’t this vigilante justice? Aren’t accused criminals innocent until proven guilty?

In a US court of law, yes – but while we live under the rule of law, we don’t live in a court. Outside of the courtroom, people are entitled to their own narratives about their own lives. Concerns about the burden of proof and vigilantism are sometimes legitimate, but those same concerns don’t seem to arise when someone says, “my super broke into my apartment and stole my stereo” or “my grandmother’s caretaker has been pilfering money from her purse.” There’s no admonishment to withhold personal judgment or not take action; there’s no suggestion that the accuser is probably lying or that she should keep her mouth shut until a jury of her peers finds the alleged criminal guilty…

…the truth of a rape accusation hinged not on the woman’s own testimony, but on how “good” a woman a jury believed her to be. The general requirement for a witness to the assault was similarly abolished barely a generation ago. Until very recently, the issue of consent wasn’t relevant in rape cases; bigger questions were how virtuous the victim was and how strongly she resisted the attack. In other words, when it comes to rape, women have historically been told that our own truths aren’t true and their own experiences have to be validated by a legal system built and run by men

…Rape remains woefully under-reported and shamefully stigmatised. Narrating our own histories without anyone else’s approval or endorsement is what initially brought sexual assault out of the shadows. Continuing to speak the truth is what keeps the light on.

(Emphasis mine.)