J’accuse…!

The prevalence and curse of sexual abuse within society is a well-established fact. The drive of sexuality with all its iterations; procreation, pleasure, dominance, and power, is an element of human behavior held in check by morality, rationality, and societal norms.

Throughout history, rape has been a most potent weapon of terror. There can be no compromise on the insidious nature of such barbaric actions. Evolution and sexual dimorphism placed the overwhelming burden of the victim on the female, although rape occurs across the sexual spectrum. Regardless the victim, our goal as a civilized race should be to eradicate such barbarism.

Today, we face a similar, more insidious challenge. What was once an openly ignored element of the interaction between a person in a position of power and a person dependent on that power, the abuse of position through the use of sexual advances, is rightfully being exposed.

However, there is a risk here. It is also human nature to see evil in the actions of those with whom we disagree and seek explanations or mitigation of similar actions by those with whom we agree.

The danger is complex.

We accept an accusation as a fact, or we ignore such allegations as it fits our view. This phenomenon is readily evident in the reaction to the latest series of complaints.

I dare say there are things I’ve done in the past that would not bear me proud.  I would hold we all have similar moments in our history. If our behavior changed, it demonstrates the maturing process. If the practice continued, there would be more than just J’accuse.

This is not to excuse such behavior. Our goal should be to make it easier to report such actions when they happen and to address such behavior at the onset. Education from the earliest age is key. These accusations serve a great purpose, raise awareness of the problem. It’s what we do with these accusations alone that concerns me.

Actions have consequences, but they should also have a shelf-life. Even in criminal acts, there is a statute of limitations designed to ensure a fair trial. Memories are volatile and unreliable.

Before we impose sanctions as a society on an individual there must be something more than an accusation.

witchAs a matter of conscience, one can decide if an accusation is enough to change your opinion, your view of an individual, or your vote.  But as a matter of practice, society imposing its will on someone based solely on accusations risks reawakening the practice of burning witches.

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