The #MeToo Dilemma

This is a hard post to write, because I want to be clear about what I am–and am not–saying.

When the #MeToo movement emerged, I applauded. Like most women, I’d encountered unwanted “approaches” from men ranging from boorish to significantly worse; like most of the women I know, I get livid when complaints about sexual assaults are dismissed with “well, what was she wearing?” or other responses blaming the victim or suggesting that the woman was somehow “asking for it.”

When #MeToo accountability began, I was saddened to learn about Bill Cosby, but the number of accusations made it plain that he wasn’t the person he portrayed on TV. And while it doesn’t speak well for my surrender to schadenfreude, I was actually thrilled with the verdict against Harvey Weinstein.

Holding predators–not their victims– responsible is long overdue.

But. (You knew there was a “but” coming…)

Taking women seriously is not the same thing as uncritically believing anything and everything any woman says. An accusation of impropriety or assault should be considered a  rebuttable presumption–true, until and unless there is probative evidence to the contrary.

In criminal law class in law school, we learn that rape is both the most under-reported and most over-reported crime. Under-reported because victims were reluctant to come forward for all of the reasons that have been highlighted by the #MeToo movement–over-reported because there were also unfair and untrue accusations leveled, sometimes intentionally, sometimes by emotionally unwell persons.

The biggest problem is determining the facts in these situations, because that they are inevitably “he said/she said.”

Lawyers who specialize in prosecuting sexual assault charges must evaluate whether evidence and testimony are consistent with the accuracy of an accusation. And that brings me to a comprehensive review of the complaint lodged against Joe Biden by Tara Reade, a former staffer, recently written by one such prosecutor. 

I really urge you to click through and read the entire column.

The alleged assault occurred in 1993. As the prosecutor notes, the 27-year delay itself is not reason to disbelieve her. But the story she tells has changed significantly since she first came forward.

As a lawyer and victims’ rights advocate, Reade was better equipped than most to appreciate that dramatic changes in sexual assault allegations severely undercut an accuser’s credibility — especially when the change is from an uncomfortable shoulder touch to vaginal penetration.

Reade said she complained at the time to Biden’s executive assistant, and to two top aides– all three adamantly deny that she ever approached them. (They didn’t simply have “no recollection.” They strongly refuted the claim). She also says she filed a written complaint with the Senate personnel office, but reporters could not find any record of such a complaint there, and when the Times asked her for a copy, she said she didn’t have it. Yet she had kept and provided a copy of her 1993 Senate employment records.

She has told wildly inconsistent stories about why she left Biden’s employ, and in the years following her stint on his staff, she has been highly complimentary of him. Evidently, it wasn’t until she had become a fervid Sanders supporter that the accusation of assault changed from “rubbed her shoulders” to digital penetration.

There’s much, much more detail in the linked article, and most of it suggests someone emotionally unstable rather than intentionally vindictive–but none of it enhances her credibility. Quite the contrary.

And as the writer notes, most men who assault women are serial abusers.

Last year, several women claimed that Biden made them uncomfortable with things like a shoulder touch or a hug… The Times and Post found no allegation of sexual assault against Biden except Reade’s.

It is possible that in his 77 years, Biden committed one sexual assault and it was against Reade. But in my experience, men who commit a sexual assault are accused more than once … like Donald Trump, who has had more than a dozen allegations of sexual assault leveled against him and who was recorded bragging about grabbing women’s genitalia.

I particularly agree with the final paragraph.

We can support the #MeToo movement and not support allegations of sexual assault that do not ring true. If these two positions cannot coexist, the movement is no more than a hit squad. That’s not how I see the #MeToo movement. It’s too important, for too many victims of sexual assault and their allies, to be no more than that.

Agreed.

The #MeToo movement was a major step forward for all women, especially but not exclusively those who have been victims of sexual assaults. If it is perceived as an indiscriminate anti-male crusade rather than a pro-justice remedial effort– if it is bullied into becoming a chorus that will automatically defend all accusations irrespective of their credibility– it will lose the hard-won and very important legitimacy that makes it effective.

 

41 thoughts on “The #MeToo Dilemma

  1. I am a huge supporter of the Me Too movement but I don’t support liars and cheats. She has accused her father, her ex husband, her therapist etc, etc.

    I don’t believe her. Period.

    I will vote for the Dem candidate but I have to admit, I hope it’s not Biden. Whoever is chosen, I will vote for them. That mass murderer IQ45 is going to prison, I hope.

  2. I have been arguing since the Al Franken incident, that applying guilt to anyone who is accused of sexual assault causes great harm to anyone that has actually been a victim of sexual assault. While the accusers should be taken seriously, if there is inconsistent, inaccurate, or very little evidence to support the claim, then it probably isn’t true. Law enforcement, psychologists, social workers and doctors will confirm that those that commit sexual assault will repeat the offense many times before they are caught mostly because they “get away with it.” So Mr. Biden, being in the pubic eye as a Senator and the VP would most certainly would have had this accusation or any others aired by the alleged victims before now, and most certainly brought up by the Obama haters that proved they had no problem with supporting false accusations.

    Women and men are sexually assaulted often, and many don’t talk about it mostly because of the trauma, but also because they feel they won’t be taken seriously or believed. For me, I can see way too many inconsistencies, a too little evidence to believe this woman’s story, and because of this flimsy accusation, many victims that have suffered real sexual assault won’t be taken seriously.

  3. Yes to all of this. Thanks to the absolute tone deafness of Democrats on this issue, we are doing the Trump couldn’t do with Ukraine–effectively smear Biden. This is ‘pizzagate’ and the Hillary email scandal all over again–the media fueling a non-story in the interest of being ‘fair and balanced.’ And, the lack of analytical thinking on the part of some of my fellow Democrats is sad and scary.

  4. I agree with every point you have made, but I’d like to add another. As times have changed, so have the relationships of men and women in the workplace. Many older men don’t realize that (Chris Matthews and Joe Biden). “Handsy Uncle Joe” has always been what he is, a touchy-feely kind of guy, an anachronism, but not a sexual predator. That said, are we doing the right thing by applying today’s standards to actions in the past? If we continue to apply modern standards to the actions of historical figures we will be bereft of heroes. Frankly, I find that sad.

    I’d also like to ask a question. If “boys will be boys,” what will men be?

  5. No, the Democrats aren’t tone deaf. The DNC is led by a disorganized political hack. Yes, the conflicting evidence is probably going to make this a non-issue.

    Then, there are the cases against Donald Trump… No contradicting testimony or records. All the victims are credible. Trump’s recordings and commentary in plain sight (See the Republican candidate debates of 2016), thus giving plenty of credibility to those cases. WHY aren’t they on the front page? WHY aren’t those cases going to trial? Is that gutter scum Nazi William Barr perverting the justice system quietly from the inside….again?

    We all knew the Republican shit-slinging machine was coming out of hiding. This is just the beginning. Thing is, as they always do, the Republican lie/propaganda efforts will overreach, and since everyone is staying home and watching the lies get validated with the truth, they will fail. I hope.

  6. When I saw the topic of this post, the linked article is the exact one I wanted to share. Once again, great minds think alike. This entire affair is sad for so many reasons, not least of all, unfounded accusations bring down good people and also make it that much more difficult for people to believe true accusations.

  7. A country of 330 million people and our two political parties provide us with Joe Biden and Donald Trump for the most influential leadership position in the country controlling the most powerful military on the planet.

    We’ll get to hear both sides now claim who is the most horrible candidate for president on our 24/7 cable news networks.

    Meanwhile, those morally choosing ‘none of the above’ are castigated by party members for casting a vote for the opposition. Talk about herd mentality.

    Oh well, the beat goes on.

    When Gwyneth Paltrow came out and accused sexual abuse against Harvey Weinstein, I wrote an article about her delay in coming forward and dozens of photos with Gwyneth and Harvey hugging and drinking together in public. I got slammed by the #MeToo movement leaders and the local men-haters club even though I pointed out that Gwyneth’s cowardice/silence led to many other women getting abused by Harvey. I said she is no hero to the movement — quite the contrary.

    Their point was the abuse should be believed no matter what, and you shouldn’t judge the abused for not coming forward when it happened. Period.

    That was several years ago when the #MeToo movement was an infant. Apparently, it has matured somewhat because now we are allowed to judge the abused and determine their story as not believable. I guess they’ve implemented some wiggle room. 😉

  8. I just watched the “Morning Joe” interview with Joe Biden; the lead-off by Mika appeared to be a full scale attack with her repeating questions and Joe repeating answers she refused to accept. She repeatedly asked why he had given permission for public records and Senate records to be made public but not his “personal papers” in the University of Delaware. The “personal papers” at UD consist of 1,800 boxes of his speeches, meeting, official actions regarding his many years in political life, there would be no record of personal interaction or a complaint filed by Ms. Reade or anyone else in those records. Any complaint filed against him would be in the public records and Senate records for anyone to research; and no record of a sexual complaint has been found. Her stories have changed and grown into a criminal sexual assault only recently. His former staff members and elected officials in his years of political service have been questioned with no one knowing of Ms. Reade’s reportedly filed complaint. She has copies of her entire employment history in government but mysteriously does NOT have a copy of the sexual abuse complaint she claims to have filed years ago. Mika repeatedly asked why Joe’s former public speeches supported Dr. Ford’s complaints against Brett Kavannaugh were valid and were to be heard and investigated but not Ms. Reade’s. Joe again repeatedly stated that Ms. Reade’s complaint should of course be heard and be investigated but so far there has been no record to be found.

    The original “shoulder rubbing” and the earlier complaints of “unwanted touching” and “invading their personal space” against Joe Biden were addressed when he announced his bid for the presidency. No valid abuses were found and Joe Biden apologized for any of his actions which were meant as friendly, affectionate gestures. Apparently, Ms. Reade’s memories of “shoulder rubbing” began to grow to digital penetration against a Senate hall wall after Bernie Sanders removed himself from the campaign; she was a Bernie supporter. I sincerely hope Ms. Reade is not attacked and have her entire life and her family’s lives and physical safety become what Dr. Ford continues to deal with after the Brett Kavannaugh “hearing” fiasco. But these attacks against Joe Biden need to end.

    I have twice been a victim of actual sexual attacks; I have also been the target for many years of insulting propositions and sexual comments, as a teen and my 20 years working for the City of Indianapolis. Too many women do not know the difference between an actual “sexual attack” and “sexual insults” resulting in too many men being unfairly accused. “crying wolf” gets women attention and detracts from genuine sexual abuses at all levels.

    “The #MeToo movement was a major step forward for all women, especially but not exclusively those who have been victims of sexual assaults. If it is perceived as an indiscriminate anti-male crusade rather than a pro-justice remedial effort– if it is bullied into becoming a chorus that will automatically defend all accusations irrespective of their credibility– it will lose the hard-won and very important legitimacy that makes it effective.”

  9. I worked in bars and restaurants over a long time in my working career. I reacted immediately when a man spoke or touched inappropriately with a verbal put down of my own, or a physical slap in the face or a punch or knee elsewhere. I cannot fathom waiting decades to react to something inappropriate and of sexual intent. No job is worth degradation, no employer is worth my dedication, if they would not protect me or support me in such a situation. The Bill Cosby’s, Harvey Weinstein’s, Jeffery Epstein’s, Matt Lauer’s, et al, are guilty of terrible behavior, but if the women spoke up immediately, these men would have been stopped long before they accumulated the numbers of women claiming sexual abuse. So the haters can hate on me all they want, but as a woman, I have seen and know how women think and act. Celebrity and power is intoxicating to many women, all in a quest to further their own lot in life. Truth is spoken here; look at Melania Trump and ask yourself why a beauty such as her, would “fall in love” and marry a despicable man such as “the Donald”?

  10. i was raised by my grandfolks,they were warm,casual,easy going. when family would visit,hugs, kisses,warmth..today,its metoo. o.k. this has made hugs and warmth a keep away fixture,arms lenth if anything. many people who are in a casual setting,may greet someone with a shoulder rub,if,they know each other,or has done so in the past(did they do this before?). a smile,and a hug,no issue between girls. but if someone outside the circle witness this between two opposites sexes,now some questions,motive etc. we have become greatly numb to comfort. though i will side with legit issues,we may have again,given the web the right to decide.
    we lost some of our compassion,and occasionally dont recognize that need anymore. in family, cool its recognizeable, but many are trapped and need a hug,and its getting to a point we question the act,over the need.. i accept the legit issue of unwanted touching..i just remember theres many,who still need a hug..
    best wishes,washdapaws.

  11. I suppose it was necessary to bring Bernie Sanders into the story. I guess there was some purpose for this.

    The Reactionary Right Wing are posting pictures on Facebook of Biden being Mister “Handy” some appear obviously photo-shopped. They also ask why the CNN and MSDNC are ignoring the “story”. Somehow all of the accusations against The Trumpet are false. The grab them by the “p” tape is dismissed as fake or “boys will be boys” locker room talk.

    We now know, with all the investigations done into athletics, Hollywood and religious institutions that sexual assault has been rampant. The sexual assaults were not only ignored there were cover-ups by the hierarchies.

  12. These woman has no credibility, the alleged event is 27 years old, she didn’t accuse him when he ran for VP…in the meantime she accused her father, her therapist, etc, etc.
    Trump was accused by endless women with real credibility. She another nut in the fruit basket.

  13. debate: trump sideswipes joe with inappropriate touching..
    joe: well then you made a life at it, tell us more don? were getting this outta the way for november,whoever sees the play here,sees ad revenue at its best, why couldnt we have a journalist with some integrity question the issues,and have joe answer the questions grandstanding now is a joke.(like trumps briefs) if this is of a questionanable nature,then react in november, im sure trumpers wont stand for it,or the religious right,or anyone who sees we need the status quo. if a man gives his life to working for the nation and keeping it safe,then i will vote for joe,because the option is, what we have right now, a pandemic of cheap news..

  14. Robbie,
    my wife is a truckstop waitress,one line shutdowns with a smile, if they take it too far, management throws em out. nothing better than a waitress on spot and never misses a order..best wishes.

  15. “Innocent till proven guilty” is the underlying assertion of the court systems.

    I recall that at some point, authorities decided that children victimized by sexual assault and/or molestation should be allowed to testify without the perpetrator present so that the children would not be intimidated.

    When women go to trial they have to face the perpetrator which can be very intimidating especially when the male perpetrator has a position of power or is popular with the public i.e. Bill Cosby. Perpetrators often have a charming facade. And, in some of those cases, the women victims were previously assaulted/molested by someone in their family.

    As a mental health therapist, I can tell you that those traumatized by sexual assault/exploitation may not act in ways that one would expect. Not every woman has the ego strength that some have to confront unwanted sexual attention. I wish every woman had the ego strength that Robbie has had and that I have. When a married doctor asked me to go out with him, I responded with “Aren’t you married?” He said “yes”. And then I said “NO!!!” He had no power over the security of my job.

    Some women in the military have been assaulted by their commanding officers. The military has failed for decades to bring justice to the victims.

    Some women are assaulted by their mentors, teachers, ministers, boyfriends, family members which makes it incredibly difficult for the victim because it’s someone she knows , someone who claims to love her. They often manipulate the victim with credible threats. One friend in college told me that her father threatened to kill her mother if she did not submit. She was a child. She had to act like everything was fine to survive.

    And yes, there are cases where women make false accusations but those are few and far between.

    For decades women who have risen up the corporate ladder have been accused of gaining their promotions by using their seductive powers to gain access to those executive positions. It may be that in some of those situations, the women felt they had to submit to unwanted attention to gain power for themselves. They then remained silent because they felt they had no power and/or evidence to prove their case.

    In cases of sexual assault there are usually no witnesses and little to no evidence. So, of course, it is important that when more than one woman has been assaulted by a single man the plaintiff’s case is made more credible. It is crucial in those cases that those women stand together. When prosecutors grill the plaintiff with challenging questions, she/he might feel re-victimized and actually be traumatized again.

    For decades society has blamed the victim because she was out late a night, drunk, had seductive clothes on etc etc etc. Women have been manipulated by our society to blame themselves for their assault(s).

    I am of the opinion based on the evidence presented that Joe Biden did not assault his aide. I actually am not angry at the woman who has accused him. Instead, I am wondering if she was horribly traumatized as a child. While that does not excuse any false accusations she has made, it does shed light on them.

    It’s a new age. As we enter this “Me Too” age, we will have to carefully weigh the evidence in each case to ensure that men who are falsely accused are not victimized and that women who have been victimized are treated with respect and given the support, dare I say, the justice that they should have.

    And in the meantime as I write this someone is being raped, some poor girl is being castrated, some poor girl has become a child bride, some poor boy is being molested. I so wish we lived in a world where no one is victimized like this.

  16. Every individual in America’s silly society should wear a convention-style badge that identifies them as a touch or a no-touch person.

    No, that isn’t clear enough for a f**ked up silly society.

    We need small red and green stickers that we stick on our heads, foreheads, cheeks, lips, shoulders, breasts, butts, thighs, and genitalia.

    Green would mean ITS OKAY TO TOUCH ME HERE and red would mean DON’T TOUCH ME HERE.

    We could be arrested for indecent exposure when we fail to wear our stickers.

    And stickers should hold legal bearing under at least illegal conversion laws. Touching a NO TOUCH area of a person is an illegal conversion violation.

    Insurance companies would sell liability bonds and calculate premiums according to what stickers an individual wears. A whole new industry would evolve. New legal specialties. New lawyer billboards. And new billionaires, too.

    As people adapt to these new rules, the stickers could go virtual. In your cellphone, you would program a photo of yourself with the appropriate stickers. My cellphone would pickup on that and notify me that it’s okay to touch your forehead, or warn me that a dangerous hugger is approaching.

    Likewise, we should wear curb guards, like we used to have on automobiles, to clearly inform others of our personal space. I wear one. It protrudes from the middle of my chest out to a distance of 29 inches.

    The personal space curb guard would be internationally recognized in the same way and with the same jealous fervor as nations recognize National Waters as opposed to International Waters.

    World Wars could be started over violations of personal space. Minor infractions could be resolved with tariff spats.

    Then there would be the electronic sound guard. It automatically sinks or bombs any music player that exceeds certain decibel levels within XX number of feet. For convenience, the detector could be built into your cellphone.

    My personal favorite is the stink guard. It works like the sound guard, except it detects certain perfumes and musks and tobacco stinks that an individual might be sensitive to. Any such stink within 30 feet gets an automatic spray-shower of disinfectant.

    The crown jewel of my company’s social inventions is the Inconsistency Detector Necklace. Republicans wear the IDN around their neck. It listens for inconsistent declarations. When the necklace detects an inconsistency, it explodes and cleanly, humanely separates the head from the body.

  17. I don’t think our voters find this behavior to be a disqualifier whether it is believed or not. This story has strong legs because it is an election year, and we need a distraction from the virus. I will not be going down that rabbit hole of bashing either this woman, Tara Reade, or Mika for asking Joe tough questions. It is because I don’t care who is lying here, I am voting for Joe Biden. Further, we will never know who is lying here, so any speculation is a waste of my time. I believed at least some of the accusations against Bill Clinton, and voted for him twice. This is a calculation we have been required to make before. It will get louder and louder, but my eyes are firmly on the prize. Fire Donald Trump.

  18. Larry – you clearly have a creative imagination. Love to see your practical, implementable, acceptable to the general public ideas for the first 100 days of the Biden administration.

  19. I’m voting for Joe Biden. This is not the first time we have been required to make this political calculation. I believed at least some of Bill Clinton’s accusation, and voted for him twice. I don’t believe voters find this to be a disqualifier for elected office.

  20. I was shouted down by my friends as they signaled their holy virtue with their condemnations. I had been a neanderthal; I had said Kirsten Gillibrand would have zero chance of being president after firmly sliding that me-too blade into Al Franken’s back.

    As it turns out, among Democrats the ideologues are loud but the reasonable are many.

  21. “An accusation of impropriety or assault should be considered a rebuttable presumption–true, until and unless there is probative evidence to the contrary.”

    While I am in general agreement with the thrust of your piece today, I could not disagree more with quoted line. The notion that a person accused of a sexual assault is assumed to be guilty and must prove himself or herself not guilty decades after such an event supposedly happened flies in the face of fundamental fairness. I know it’s not a criminal case which requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt, but the principles embodied in those criminal court protections are based on fundamental fairness. You are asking someone to prove something didn’t happen.

    You are saying a man accused of doing something two and a half decades ago needs to come forward with “probative evidence” to prove himself innocent. In other words, he needs to be able to prove a negative. I can’t remember where I was at this time last week, and you expect people to be able to document where they were and what they were doing 27 years ago? In Biden’s case, as with Kavanaugh, we’re faced with sketchy details from the accuser about something that supposedly happened nearly three decades earlier..

    The fact that decades old allegations can’t be corroborated doesn’t mean the allegation is not taken “seriously.” It means the allegation can’t be proven. And when something can’t be proven in this country, we do not assume the person accused is guilty. We assume they are not guilty. That is fundamental fairness.

  22. #metoo like all movements corrected some serious cultural problems but, not surprisingly, created some too. Movements generally are shotgun surgery.

    When you really think (comes with age) of the complex roles of sex in most lives it’s no wonder that it’s impossible for many to get it with no dysfunction in their lives.

    I’m afraid that between #metoo and the pandemic much will be lost culturally as well as gained when recovery begins.

  23. Vernon,
    I will pay my employees whatever they want, just as I did when my painting factory employed 34 artists. I enticed them to make the first negotiable move: they told me how much money they wanted to make, and then I told them what they would have to do to make that much money. Worked like a charm.

    Which reminds me of incentives:
    I gave a dollar bill to every employee who arrived on time in the mornings and gave them another dollar when they put in a full 8 hours. I gave them a bonus of $20 every time they gave me a full 40-hour week. I paid piecework and constantly trained my apprentices the skills needed to do more pieces. I provided breakfast, lunch and drinks every day. I arranged insurance for them all at a cost of only an extra 25 cents per hour. When they were ready to launch their own careers, I introduced them to art agents and helped them develop a style of their own.

    They worked as if possessed. We turned out 1000 original hand-painted paintings a week. One company in Chicago bought 70% of those paintings. Seven other companies in Indiana, Michigan, Texas, Florida, New York, Israel, and Kuala Lumpur bought the rest.

    Item of interest: Gary Varvel, the editorial cartoonist of the Indianapolis Star, applied to work for me but did not have the ability and did not get the job. He did, however, get the job at the Star, which had been promised to me. He made up for a shortage of ability with an excess of enthusiasm for trickle-down economics and inconsistency.

  24. As a person who does not believe in coincidences, I find it very telling that Ms. Reade decided to change her story and go public with an allegation of actual sexual assault against Biden at just the exact moment Trump was sinking in the polls due to his, and his Administration’s, total bungling, inept, corrupt, and cruel mishandling of a pandemic resulting in many more lives being lost than might have otherwise been the case. Although I’ve not read or seen anything so far that would indicate that Trump or his cohorts have had anything to do with Ms. Reade making these allegations at this exact moment in time, once again the conversation has been successfully diverted away from Trump’s and his Administration’s ineptitude and corruptness in handling the Covid-19 pandemic.

    I’m also in total agreement with Paul K. Ogden’s statements. As a former criminal defense attorney, I know that it is virtually impossible to definitively prove that something didn’t happen when there is no corroborating evidence. In particular, Ms. Reade’s allegations, so far — although she has continued to embellish them, are so lacking in particulars as to the time and place that she now claims this assault allegedly happened that it would be impossible for anyone to definitively “prove” they didn’t occur even without the nearly three decade time lapse.

    I have been a supporter of women — spent most of my professional career working for two extraordinary women, and also of the “#MeToo” movement. I do understand why, as others have mentioned, many women might not have contemporaneously come forth with allegations of sexual assault or rape (although Ms. Reade now claims she did so, even though there are no records to corroborate her claim). It is totally dismaying to me that it has come down to this, assuming Biden is the nominee. As others have stated, I voted for Clinton and I will vote for Biden.

  25. Larry,

    What a story. Piece work with your incentives had to be successful.

    BTW, do you know any literary agents that would read a manuscript before saying no?

  26. For those interested in “coincidences”…the last verse of Phil Ochs’ “Talking Vietnam” – ’70’s rapping:

    Well, now old Diem is gone and dead
    All the new leaders are anti-Red
    Yes, they’re pro-American, freedom sensations
    Against Red China, the United Nations
    Now all the news commentators and the CIA
    Are saying, “Thank God for coincidence.”

    And have you read the recent reactions to the Biden “controversy” by multiple officials/ex-officials of the Sanders campaign calling for Biden to drop out? I am NOT a conspiracy guy, but there is this annoying “coincidence”…

  27. The main article, as well as the responses, provide very important — and most welcome — illumination of this opinion-tornado-generating topic. Once again, a match-to-high-octane-fuel phenomenon is taking place : the whatever-begets-attention reflex in the general US media environment/culture again demonstrates no “natural-immunity” (and/or impulse-control) when a vector of Sensationalism is introduced. And the “wind-gusts” of presidential politics threaten to turn this one-time-only (!!!) alleged misconduct into a national “fire-storm” —- even as immense and DEMONSTRABLE threats are menacing our society , economy and the very lives of our neighbors every minute of every hour of every day.
    Two thoughts to share: #1. However terrible the offense charged, we must never succumb to the subtle tendency of accepting “Guilt By Accusation”.
    #2. At the risk of becoming too clinical/neuroscientific, it should be firmly noted that MEMORY IS NOT INFALLIBLE. Almost everyone is likely to know the experience of having recollections (even DISTINCT ones) of events that were then “corrected” by other persons who were witnesses to and/or participants in those same events. Applying this fact of memory-plasticity to the example at-hand: It is entirely possible that Ms. Reade is convinced that she is relating an episode that actually happened to her ….. and yet the episode — told differently to different persons over the span of many years — is not historically factual.

  28. Thank you, Todd Smekens! And Jack Smith, thank you also and please give my best to your lovely wife! Some of us gals were raised by good men who taught us to be proud of ourselves and of our accomplishments. Those Fathers treated our Mothers as queens and their daughters as princesses, without pressure to achieve at all costs. No does mean no, and all women need to believe that.

    I find Ms Reade’s accusations hard to believe and just truly wonder if, upon investigation, could you follow the money trail and it would lead right back to dirty politics to undermine Joe Biden…..after all, if Ms. Reade’s accusation would possibly be true, Joe is guilty one time decades ago and that other fellow has MANY accusations in his past, some during his campaign a mere 4 years ago…….

  29. Vernon,
    “…do you know any literary agents that would read a manuscript before saying no?”

    I’ve heard of it. Some also say yes without reading the manuscript…if you’re important enough.

    But I’m more apt to read your question as literary itself: if manuscript equals woman, what does yes or no mean?

  30. What those female senators did to Al Franken,looked like a pile up on questionable evidence. Posing in a comedic situation, long before being a Senator doesn’t constitute rape. I think they took all that out of context, made him their scapegoat, and set themselves up to be “holier than thou”. Now political will try to do a”Franken” on Biden, and further split the party.

  31. Okay, Mark me down as a touchy-feely person! And, most of the women in my family are exactly the same! I love everyone unless I hate you!

  32. Sheila – AMEN. Not all men are predators and not all women are credible. That said, each charge must be taken seriously and investigated.

    I’ve read two extensive reports from journalists who spent considerable time investigating the charges against Biden. One reporter had been a sexual abuse victim herself and was pre-disposed to take such accusations seriously, but she concluded this accuser was not credible for the reasons you’ve stated and more besides.

    That said, no report read thus far has stated the obvious. I worked in the U.S. Senate in the 60s, and even then, U.S. Senate office building hallways where the abuse was supposed to have happened, are VERY public, well traveled thoroughfares. They have become ever more public over the years. Numerous Senate offices open onto those hallways which are traveled by Capitol Hill police, Senators and staffers, the media, lobbyists, tourists and tour groups, constituents, mail carriers, vendor deliveries, custodians, facilities maintenance personnel, and more. Any Senator wanting to sexually assault someone would do so in their own office (and lock the doors), or a vacant committee room, a storage closet, or a hideaway office to do the deed. The last place they’d pick would be a Senate hallway. This accusation does not have the ring of truth.

  33. Thank you for the blog and the reference to the article, Sheila.

    I will start by apologizing. I was informed about 51 years ago that being a man, I was not allowed opinions on issues involving women. In this way, I was and still am politically incorrect.

    I am happy for the #MeToo movement, but only to an extent. I, too, am happy that a creep like Weinstein was taken down, and am sad to learn that Cosby has been a creep as well.

    Given that, I tend to agree with the gist of the article. In the bad old days women were not believed, but children were. I remember the McMartin Preschool case with allegations of child molestation, Satanism, and secret tunnels. I was in California at the time and remember a co-worker commenting “where there is smoke, there is fire”. Unbelievable.

    I also remember with great pride that one of the first things my brother did when he was a clerk for a Justice on the Michigan Supreme Court. He got them to take the appeal from a man in jail for raping his daughter. Of course, social workers, psychologists, and teachers testified that the girl was a chronic liar – and there was no physical evidence of abuse – oh, and this allegation came up in the middle of a very messy divorce. The appeal was granted and the man ended up being released.

    As many have pointed out, always believing the accuser can be as bad as always dismissing them. Determining the truth is very difficult, especially, if you are a retired neuroscientist who understands how malleable human memory can be. However, we should keep an open mind, not dismissing, or demeaning, the accuser, nor assuming that the accused is guilty.

    Another problem I have found with this movement is the binary category that has been created. Weinstein rapes, Trump grabs genitals, Franklin grabs a breast? All are equal in the eyes of #MeToo. I may not be an attorney, but I am pretty certain that the law recognizes different degrees of a crime with different punishments attached.

    Peggy brings up another point about changing standards (temporal and national). My “heyday” was in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s when everybody hugged everybody. It felt more natural to me. At the national level, think of the difference between the Japanese (a friend was told not to even shake the hand of her new in-laws) and the Italians (hugs all around). My friend Dr. Kumakura spent many years in Italy before coming to the US where I met him and then returning to Japan. Three years after his return to Japan, he came to a conference here and, with his students in tow, greeted me with a big bear hug. I always wondered what his students thought.

    On the subject of hugs, I lover your idea, Larry, but a form of that has been put into practice already, and for many decades. I belong to an international organization that has gatherings around the country and around the world. Hugging strangers upon meeting them, or even just walking up to people for a hug is the norm. However, they always ask first. At one such gathering, they handed out “no hugs” pins to identify those who preferred to avoid such things.
    I still like your idea, Larry.

    Robbie – I’ll add a brava as well.

  34. She must be a trumper. I don’t believe her. She is just now coming out!!! Really. Liar

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