Monday, March 25, 2013

Blindsided: The exoneration of Brian Banks

The news at CBS--or any other outlet--isn't supposed to be your personal PR machine. Bringing attention to the damaged lives that too many people have experienced because they were wrongly (rape victim misidentifies their attacker) or falsely (the accuser was never raped and are saying they were) accused is just as important as bringing attention to the damaged lives people experience because they've been sexually assaulted.

If rape is such a horrible crime that the innocent victim deserves anonymity because of the vile nature of the crime, so too does the person actually being accused of committing the crime. If the stigma attached to the crime is so overwhelming as to make the victim a pariah, how much worse is the stigma (and rightfully so) for the person responsible for the crime? Once the accusation is made the name of the accused is forever tied to the accusation, and for far too many people the accusation only is enough to confirm guilt. Even after the accused has been acquitted, the spectre of the accusation haunts them for the rest of their lives. The accused and the accuser should remain anonymous until a guilty verdict is handed down and appeals are exhausted.

It's better that ten guilty men walk free than it is for one innocent man to be sent to jail (or worse)--or so it is said about justice in the western world. Unfortunately there are too many who would lower the burden of proof and deny the accused their right to a fair trial where they must be found "not guilty" if their guilt cannot be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. The internet is chock full of stories about men like Brian Banks who have been exonerated at a later date either by a new examination of physical evidence or by their accuser recanting their story.

Ours is not a society that in any way condones rape, despite what those who coin terms like "rape culture" would have you believe. The backlash against the city of Steubenville and its local school football team over recent rape allegations there is evidence that the vast majority of people in this country were/are deeply concerned with the consequences for the victim and want alleged abusers handled quickly and as severely as possible.