“It’s About Your Predatory Friends.”

“This is, I think, what we’re really talking about when we talk about bystander intervention. It’s not about protecting your friends from predatory strangers — which is often how these scenarios are framed. It’s about your predatory friends. What are you going to do about them?

There is, I think, a real fear people have about being wrong if and when they believe women. And so a reflexive tendency to doubt women when they come forward begins to look a lot like caution. But what it amounts to, and this is what Pallett and Bady both made clear, isn’t the presumption of innocence or a respect for due process, but a process through which we can ignore what’s in front of us to protect ourselves, to protect the ideas we have about our friends, the ideas we have about rape and the kinds of men who hurt women.”

From “Jian Ghomeshi is My Friend, and Jian Ghomeshi Beats Women” at Salon.

6 thoughts on ““It’s About Your Predatory Friends.”

  1. If our goal is to address effectively some of the large problems that affect women, then we can’t start with the aim of sorting out true and false accusations. That will be a task we often cannot complete.

    It seems to me right and illuminating to point out that if we do refuse to believe someone because she might be lying, then we are violating a presumption of innocence.

  2. That also goes for men, though. Not to believe a man who claims he’s innocent because he might be lying violates a presumption of innocence, too.

    But, we can’t believe both of them. (At least, I can’t.)

  3. There is also a relevant article at Slate that may be of interest to readers following this case:


    It highlights possible reasons why multiple victims of harassment might come forward at once, and draws attention to a pattern of behaviour exhibited by some of the men multiply accused (i.e. to protest that, since their behaviour is blameless and hence cannot justify or explain the multiple accusations, they must be the victims of elaborate conspiracies, co-ordinated attempts to “smear” them, a “lynch mob mentality”, and so on).

  4. not a dialetheist: Absolutely. The cases I’m most interested in are ones where one knows, or reasonably believes (i.e. doesn’t simply assume) that one’s friend has acted culpably. This could happen, for example if one finds the testimony of others (perhaps multiple others) more convincing than that of one’s friend, and/or has other relevant evidence that suggest one’s friend is not being truthful. In those circumstances, the question really is what to do about one’s predatory friend. One choice is to raise the bar for evidence needed to take any action extremely high, by noting that it is *possible* that the accusations are lies. I take it a key point here is that this choice is often the comfortable choice as it means there is no need to take action, even in cases where one does know or reasonably believe something is seriously wrong, but while comfortable it may not be morally right.

  5. Honourable Phryne;

    Oh, yes, I got that. I didn’t mean to be objecting at all. Sorry — in my effort to be terse I sacrificed clarity.

    I feel the problem keenly. Not all that long ago I had a similar problem. Well, “friend” is not the right word, but “person I would feel bad about accusing publicly.” I am pretty unhappy about it and in retrospect I do not believe I took the morally best course of action.

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