Path to disaster: The Salem #MeToo trials

I heard Ms. Winfrey's comments at the Golden Globes earlier this week.  I certainly appreciate the problems of sexual harassment and Oprah's efforts to rid the workplace of this problem.  Certainly, this needs to be corrected, and men, or women, who take advantage of their power to force people into sexual situations need to be punished.  At the same time, I'm still a little uncomfortable with the movement for two reasons.

If I was accused of some impropriety by a girl when I was growing up, the attitude of the adult population was automatically biased in favor of the girl.  Because I was a boy, I was automatically guilty of whatever I was accused of and punished accordingly.  I didn't have any power, and I still don't. 

Listening to Ms. Winfrey, as well as other women commenting on this movement, I always feel that their wrath is directed at all men.  Regardless of what's been said, or how I interpret what women say, the reality is that the problem is men in positions of power.  This is how these men have been able to get away with molesting and raping women for all these years, and society, including women, turned a blind eye to it.  In Hollywood, this type of assault, in the form of the casting couch, has been around a long time. 

Years ago, longer than I can remember, I read an article about Marilyn Monroe and her interactions with Hollywood studio heads.  Inevitably, after meeting with these men, she would feel so dirty that she would stand in a hot shower for 30, maybe 45 minutes, just to feel clean again.  The article never specified that she was forced to engage in sex, yet what else could explain her need to shower afterward just to get clean? 

So here's my first problem.  I can't help but feel that this movement views all men as a problem, while in reality, we're dealing with an extremely small percentage of the male population – specifically, unscrupulous men in power. 

My second problem is more of a jurisprudence issue.  I don't work in the justice system in any manner.  I'm a working engineer.  But I enjoy history.  Once, I read about this particular town that was devastated with accusations, by both children and sub-adults – all female, accusing adults of persecuting them.  People were tried and killed based on these accusations.  From a jurisprudence point of view, an interesting observation was made by Increase Mather.  His comment eventually made it into common law and was adopted by William Blackstone (though he did alter the wording).  Blackstone's version was "It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer."

This is my concern as this movement tries to bring to justice decades of sexual assault.  In the movement's zeal to punish the guilty, what will its adherents do to defend the falsely accused?  What will they do to those who make false accusations?  Certainly, the guilty need to be punished.  But false accusations will be made.  Will the movement punish those who lie about sexual assault and stand up for those falsely accused?  Is it better that ten persons guilty of sexual assault escape than that one innocent suffer?  Only time will tell.

I heard Ms. Winfrey's comments at the Golden Globes earlier this week.  I certainly appreciate the problems of sexual harassment and Oprah's efforts to rid the workplace of this problem.  Certainly, this needs to be corrected, and men, or women, who take advantage of their power to force people into sexual situations need to be punished.  At the same time, I'm still a little uncomfortable with the movement for two reasons.

If I was accused of some impropriety by a girl when I was growing up, the attitude of the adult population was automatically biased in favor of the girl.  Because I was a boy, I was automatically guilty of whatever I was accused of and punished accordingly.  I didn't have any power, and I still don't. 

Listening to Ms. Winfrey, as well as other women commenting on this movement, I always feel that their wrath is directed at all men.  Regardless of what's been said, or how I interpret what women say, the reality is that the problem is men in positions of power.  This is how these men have been able to get away with molesting and raping women for all these years, and society, including women, turned a blind eye to it.  In Hollywood, this type of assault, in the form of the casting couch, has been around a long time. 

Years ago, longer than I can remember, I read an article about Marilyn Monroe and her interactions with Hollywood studio heads.  Inevitably, after meeting with these men, she would feel so dirty that she would stand in a hot shower for 30, maybe 45 minutes, just to feel clean again.  The article never specified that she was forced to engage in sex, yet what else could explain her need to shower afterward just to get clean? 

So here's my first problem.  I can't help but feel that this movement views all men as a problem, while in reality, we're dealing with an extremely small percentage of the male population – specifically, unscrupulous men in power. 

My second problem is more of a jurisprudence issue.  I don't work in the justice system in any manner.  I'm a working engineer.  But I enjoy history.  Once, I read about this particular town that was devastated with accusations, by both children and sub-adults – all female, accusing adults of persecuting them.  People were tried and killed based on these accusations.  From a jurisprudence point of view, an interesting observation was made by Increase Mather.  His comment eventually made it into common law and was adopted by William Blackstone (though he did alter the wording).  Blackstone's version was "It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer."

This is my concern as this movement tries to bring to justice decades of sexual assault.  In the movement's zeal to punish the guilty, what will its adherents do to defend the falsely accused?  What will they do to those who make false accusations?  Certainly, the guilty need to be punished.  But false accusations will be made.  Will the movement punish those who lie about sexual assault and stand up for those falsely accused?  Is it better that ten persons guilty of sexual assault escape than that one innocent suffer?  Only time will tell.