For those of you (about half, looking at the stats) outside of Australia, a quick catch up on the background of this story:
It has been alleged a senior Federal Minister raped a girl in 1988. The woman committed suicide last year. The police have investigated the rape allegation and have found no evidence compelling enough to recommend prosecution.
Whatever the truth is, the situation is tragic. Tragic because a person was so disturbed they felt their only option was to end their life, and tragic because a man has a cloud of suspicion hanging over him but he and we have no way of seeking closure, either via a conviction of a crime or full exoneration.
Such is the imperfect world of criminal justice, unfortunately. That it happens all the time doesn’t make it any more tolerable, but there’s not a huge list of credible alternate systems with which we could replace the current version.
Many column inches have been partisanally hacked out on the subject, with the predictable red team/blue team split determining whether one is suddenly in favour of creating a shadow justice system or a moralistic championing of “the rule of law”. We could take these opinions seriously if they were in the context of a back catalogue of previously applying the same standard to their own side.
Very few, if any, are.
One such example is the TV appearance on ABC’s QandA of MP Anne Aly. She interrupted an opponent’s defence of the legal system with the words, “What about justice for the victim?“, scoring a solid 9/10 as a soundbite on the ABC’s show, which, as anyone who can tolerate watching it knows, is a show designed purely for soundbites rather than epistemology.
However, as a statement likely to take the sum total of human knowledge forward, it scores minus 1 million out of ten.
It’s a perfect example of the loaded question fallacy. The question assumes a crime has been committed and the victim is the female. Neither of which has been actually proven.
We expect our politicians, almost all of whom have no real world experience, to be partisan hacks. Their incentives are set to deliver such outcomes, so it’s unsurprising when we receive such mendacity.
What remains of journalism is delivering similar one-eyed tosh, too. Here’s one at the Grauniad which conflates three totally separate issues and ties them up with an obvious and predictable bow of duh patriarchy.
Humour me for moment as I lay out Katherine Murphy’s three unrelated topics:
1. Julia Gillard’s “misogyny speech” – more on this below.
2. A current ongoing rape investigation – let’s hope due process is followed.
3. An allegation from 1988 – the weak argument leaning on Le Coefficient de Gillard.
The Gillard speech is this particular type of journalist’s emergency grab bag whenever there’s a weak argument requiring support.
What they choose not to realise is the world divides into two groups;
1. People who think Gillard’s speech was analogous to MLK’s “I have a dream”, and
2. Those who saw it as a desperate ad hominem attack to divert from the awkward fact she was a dead duck PM relying on a highly compromised MP to cling to power.
Nobody in the history of the world has ever been convinced of an argument by being directed to Le Coefficient de Gillard.
Whilst legally obliged to vote in Australia, I choose to spoil my vote with increasingly realistic depictions of genitalia.
The reason for my conscientious objector status to casting a vote is because I am holding out for a voting option of a candidate who is willing to explain a standard and show they are prepared to hold their own side to it.
When they arrive on the ballot paper, I’ll vote for them.
In the meantime, if your view is, for this exceptional case of an allegation from the year before Taylor Swift and the entire cast of Hogwarts were born, we should suspend our justice system and do something else, perhaps you want to look around at your closest male friends and family and ask yourself, is this the future standard you want them to be held to?
Just expanding on this, do you want your father, brother or husband to be expected to resign from their job because of an unproven allegation from 32 years ago?
Alternatively, perhaps let’s accept the imperfect current system of criminal justice as the best we’ve found to date. If you have an alternative, you are more than welcome to describe it and start a movement to persuade us. Please keep Chesterton’s Fence front of mind if you do, though.