Presumption of innocence: “Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat.” (the burden of proof is on the one who declares, not on one who denies).
Criminal conviction by public opinion, usually through the media, and more recently through social media, is one of the most dangerous aspects of 21st century society. It feeds into a network of rage and powerlessness that makes people into a bloodthirsty mob.
Why? Because “police say XXX abused over 70 children.” Did you know (and I am guessing you did but don’t care) that no one is guilty of anything because “police said so.” It takes more than that, because police are fallible and can make mistakes, can be too eager to believe what they want to hear, and are as easily corrupted as any other human beings. Most importably, it is because the Constitution, the foundational document of our nation, says so.
Periodically, society goes through strange, self-induced, self-sustaining, and ultimately self-destructive waves of bullying disguised as justice. If you don’t believe and behave in favor of their conclusions, you are the enemy, and advocate the target of their outrage by proxy. It’s not enough to be silent. If you don’t condemn their enemies to hell, you, too, are the devil. Trends like #ICantBreathe, #blacklivesmatter, and in the last few weeks, #metoo invite you to comply or be cast out.
Deference to Authority in it’s Purest Form: A Facebook thread on the ironically-named “Friendly Atheist” page recently called me as “asshole” for suggesting that everyone, including an accused child molester, is entitled to due process. Their argument was that, “He’s charged with 160 counts, and that’s good enough for me. He’s guilty as far as I’m concerned.” Dangerous. Dangerous.
I don’t participate in any of these recent social media/social justice trends for several reasons…
- I don’t let popularity or peer pressure make any decisions for me, good or bad.
- I don’t let the internet or the people around me label me as anything, since they don’t know me. It’s one of the stupidest games groupthink can invent: “Hey, that’s guy’s not wearing a Holocaust ribbon. He must hate Jews!”
- I have first-hand experience with a trend I was bullied into accepting, satanic cultism, that turned out to be demonstrably false and debunked. At the time, though, I felt a lot of pressure to accept it and the thousands of claims by women who said they’d been molested and raped in satanic rituals. In the end, that whole scene was an example of mass delusion and mass hysteria, and many lives were ruined by it (see link for an example), for absolutely no reason at all.
So I don’t wear Colin Kapernick shirts, I don’t use #ItWasMe, and I have no intention of apologizing for being myself, even if I made mistakes. Honestly, a bloodthirsty social justice cadré hates me for my race and gender, and already blame me for all that is wrong in the world.
Also, free speech: Aside from being guaranteed by the law of the land, it is actually fairly difficult to exercise free speech. If you say the wrong thing at the wrong time to the wrong people, even jokingly, even speculatively, you could face complete ruin. On the other hand, if you say things that are universally insensitive and yet are in certain situations with certain people, even genuinely terrible things, you can still prosper.
Think I’m wrong? Read the entire real, verified President Trump (ouch, that hurt to type) “Grab ’em by the pussy… You can do anything…” quote here (link). Yet somehow, a major fraction of the people in our nation don’t react to those comments as they, at least I think, should.
At this point, we are going through another period of mass hysteria, certainly about child molestation and sexual harassment, but also with the inclination to believe one thing with one ear and despise it with the other, not really knowing anything about any of it.