The Psychology of Victim-Blaming

Oct 9, 2016

By Kayleigh Roberts

In August, the comedian and former Inside Amy Schumer writer Kurt Metzger reignited a national conversation about victim-blaming when he posted a series of rants on social media criticizing the ways women report being the victim of a crime and the effects of those reports on the accused. After the Upright Citizens Brigade theater in New York banned a performer in the wake of several women accusing him of sexual assault and abuse, Metzger took to Facebook.

“I know because women said it and that’s all I need! Never you mind who they are. They are women! ALL women are as reliable as my bible! A book that, much like a women, is incapable of lying!” Metzger wrote in a now-deleted Facebook post. He went on to seemingly criticize women for not going to the police, adding “If we ask them to even merely also post a vague account of what happened before asking us to believe that would like re-raping their rape!”

Metzger’s former boss and outspoken feminist Amy Schumer, was inevitably drawn into the storm of commentary and discussion that followed. Schumer publicly denounced Metzger’s comments, tweeting, “I am so saddened and disappointed in Kurt Metzger. He is my friend and a great writer and I couldn’t be more against his recent actions.”


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18 comments on “The Psychology of Victim-Blaming

  • But, but, but, Metzger clarified

    “None of my venom is for any victims of anything. I wouldn’t blame a victim for ANYTHING.

    So an article about victim blaming is choosing not to address the problem of mob justice seekers, Metzger’s point.

    These issues meet at some point but the polar positions taken don’t address the reasonable concerns of sensitivity to the victim and due process for the perp, both alleged. He sounds guilty to me, but what do I really now about this? Thats what we do, we judge from the hip.

    The solution is to find a better and more sensitive reporting process for the abused and some mediated intervention if there is reason to suspect an on-going (if still insufficiently evidenced for prosecution) risk. A file could be openned. Any others could be pointed at this open police file. Then a caution of some sort with restraining order/intruction for potential perpetrators, perhaps. Going social media with accusations should discount access to such process.

    Why can’t articles exist that try and fix things rather than attempt the moral high ground by pushing the other off?



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  • How about a pre-judicial rape reporting charity? With full legal oversight so it doesn’t become, in fact, prejudicial.

    It accumulates reports in a proper manner taking affidavits and such evidence as is available. It takes care not to damage any future legal case but can capture accounts formally and quickly whilst the victim decides whether to put things on a proper legal footing. It can become the discrete collector of accounts from other potential victims. It can offer legal advice and the likely outcomes of a mooted case. It may simply with agreement offer evidence in some-one elses case.

    Posssibly lots of legal probems about holding personal details… But mob justice is what the law was invented to replace. It is becoming an increasing scar on social media. Jon Ronson is particularly strong on this.

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0196HJ6OS/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1



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  • Hi Phil [#1&2],

    I’ll start by showing off my most enormously swelled head: Some of us spotted the Mob in ‘social’ media many years before Jon Ronson. In practical terms all I gain is much bigger headaches.

    Your responses to the Atlantic article, if I understood it, are a little off the mark. The article seems to me to cover research into social attitudes to victims of crime, and how our moral perspectives and the manner in which we receive reports (and the way in which those reports are presented – because that’s the other side of the same coin) alter our judgement of said victims.

    The sub-text of your response suggests that you think Metzger’s story is central to the article in the sense that the article is about the social stigma generated by crime. Rather, it seems to me to be a peripheral story designed to introduce the more arcane results of studies into the psychology of how we view the victims of crime.

    I could forgive you that, and would have remained silent, except for this:

    Posssibly lots of legal probems about holding personal details [using an extra-judicial and vigilante organization to hold swords of Damaclese over the heads of anyone accused of anything]

    Sorry Phil, but this rhetorical question fairly begs to be asked: What could possibly go wrong with that.

    Murphy’s Law means that anyone reported more than once – even if not a huge temptation for anyone in your proposed ‘charity’ – could easily find themselves in the public eye, as could anyone who made more than one report. Remind me why do we have police and courts?

    … mob justice is what the law was invented to replace

    Ah-ha!

    I appreciate that we live in an age when principles are luxuries and that, therefore, the idea of innocent until proven guilty is no longer defended in the media. But those of us who claim to be using critical thinking ought, surely, to be holding ourselves to a higher standard?

    Peace.



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  • SoW

    Damn this is annoying. My very own caveats used against me rather than acknowledged, false claims on my behalf and the fncking moral condescension!

    The initial problem is to better manage the concerns of rape victims who do not have the immediate confidence to confront their rapists. The further problem is to discourage the need that they take their allegations public (this usually happens via friends and social media) but rather begin proper legal process of acknowledgement of their grievance that doesn’t immediately oblige them into needing to confront their rapist. This kind of soft front-ended process will not appeal to police forces, being, a cost burden as they see it, however well intentioned.

    Using a charity to fund lawyers to be this less victim pressuring front end was an attempt at an idea to overcome the above problem. I see it as riddled with problems but I wanted to show a more productive way of discussing the problems raised.

    Metzger wanted to make another point to the article and it was unfair to frame him as an example of victim blaming when he was pointing out another problem of stepping outside due process and that he entirely understands the perniciousness of victim blaming. The article I argued didn’t squarely address this but simply implied a pre-judgment in favour of the alleged rape victim over concerns of due process (a former call, as I indicated, that I myself would tend to make). On reflection pre-judging is not a fair call and I proposed some way of beginning a due process that could be helpful to the (we must now say) alleged victim and give her (sic) support, by means of which the risk of an uncontrolled public process may be minimised.

    So, how do you fix this problem, Stephen?

    PS.

    I think a lot of people noticed the pile-on pre-judgment and public bullying that the internet facilitated a decade and more ago, even on usenet groups. For Jon Ronson the threshold of getting people fired was a marker of great significance, not butt-hurt anylonger but life-hurt.



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  • Hi Phil [#4],

    Damn this is annoying

    I exist only to serve.

    The initial problem is to better manage the concerns of rape victims who do not have the immediate confidence to confront their rapists

    The actual confrontation is a police activity, followed by a court activity, no? (more on this in a moment).

    Okay, taking a step back, because I know at least one rape victim’s story in full (and probably more, but we don’t have time to get into details). I understand that rape victims – in common with other victims of violence – suffer extraordinary stress leading in many cases to mental illness. Direct association with the perpetrator(s) only piles on more pain and is, thus, to be avoided.

    The further problem is to discourage the [victim’s need to name and shame, which ‘social’ media encourages, thus potentially undermining a future court case], but rather begin proper legal process of acknowledgement of their grievance that doesn’t immediately oblige them … to confront their rapist

    I hope that my edited version does not alter your original meaning Phil? I found it necessary in order to make sense of it for myself.

    It is perfectly understandable that victims of any crime would wish to harm the reputation of the perpetrator. We seem hard-wired to understand each person’s position in society to have a large reputation element.

    It is my understanding that, at least in British courts, the victim may request to be shielded or that the court proceeds with the accused attending via video link? It is my further understanding that recent changes to rape law in most English-speaking countries accusers are not named unless their case collapses (and in all but a tiny number of cases media outlets have no interest or incentive to report). The opposite case for not naming the accused has less support, for reasons I fail to understand – particularly given the potential harm to their reputation.

    Bearing in mind that a legal system is, unavoidably, adversarial in criminal cases and bearing in mind that Blackstone’s formulation is the long-accepted measure by which we judge whether a legal system is an instrument of oppression or freedom and bearing in mind that Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat (the burden of proof is on the one who declares, not on one who denies) and bearing in mind our human right to freedom from injustice and bearing in mind our human rights to a fair tribunal and due process, and bearing in mind that this means the evidence must be tested

    The current legal set-up, as outlined above, seems a good compromise to me.

    This kind of soft front-ended process will not appeal to police forces, being, a cost burden as they see it, however well intentioned

    I must have missed something. The police in Britain use, as often as possible, trained rape-case officers and offer victim support – and referral to long-term support? Prosecutors are not pressurized into bringing the case too early to allow the victim time to gather their strength, where evidence is strong enough the perpetrator may be detained while awaiting trial. What is the problem we’re trying to solve here?

    Using a charity to fund lawyers to be this less victim pressuring front end was an attempt at an idea to overcome the above problem

    I can’t see a problem.

    I see it [?] as riddled with problems but I wanted to show a more productive way of discussing the problems raised

    “It” being … ?

    Metzger wanted to make another point to the article and it was unfair to frame him as an example of victim blaming when he was pointing out another problem of stepping outside due process and that he entirely understands the perniciousness of victim blaming

    Fair enough.

    The article I argued didn’t squarely address this but simply implied a pre-judgment in favour of the alleged rape victim over concerns of due process (a former call, as I indicated, that I myself would tend to make)

    I begin to see light at the end of the tunnel.

    On reflection pre-judging is not a fair call and I proposed some way of beginning a due process that could be helpful to the (we must now say) alleged victim and give her (sic) support, by means of which the risk of an uncontrolled public process may be minimised

    Gotcha. Well, it seems to me that several things are missing:

    Little to no understanding of how courts work
    Little to no understanding (or caring) about the sociology and psychology of accusation and social standing
    the above suggests a loss of empathy, but I’m not clear on this point
    the anti that should be in the classification/title Social Media – to make most of us most of you more aware of what your actually doing (i.e. Anti-Social Media)
    Legal defences against false accusations (I’m reminded of the case, thrown out, against Craig Charles)
    Anonymity for all those involved in rape cases until the court decides – and punitive action against even alleged victims who post on anti-social media before the decision

    So, how do you fix this problem, Stephen?

    Addressing the above might help, and I present them more as talking points than cut-and-dried solutions. The real answer is that justice is not monotone. I have, myself, suffered PTSD-like symptoms as the result of mental stress which led to my attempting redress through a court of law. Unfortunately this also resulted in my not taking someone to court – I couldn’t handle the many months of going over and over and over the same ground. The day I gave up my case and settled out of court (an option not available to a victim of crime) I felt only release.

    Whatever I have learned from my own brushes with lawyers I do know this: Justice is rarely simple, is never easy, takes a long time for good reasons (and that’s bad) and is frequently frustrating. For justice to be done, even at the margin, the wronged must have strength, and then some.

    For Jon Ronson the threshold of getting people fired was a marker of great significance, not butt-hurt any longer but life-hurt

    Oh my head is easily swelled enough to see that coming with my first exposure to UseNet (in the ’80s if memory serves). As far as I can work out; since at least the Palaeolithic we have built social structures in which personal reputations are a key factor in determining social rank and social network links. Law Courts did not only arise from Courts to try criminal charges, Kings were just as likely to be asked to judge between rival civil interpretations of laws, events, evidence, attitudes and agreements.

    Naming and shaming is as old as the hills. It remains to be seen if anti-social media can take us all the way back to the Palaeolithic, but so far it’s on track to do so in about a tenth of the time it took us to get to the advanced civilization of 1990. This Site is the exception that proves the rule.

    Peace.



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  • While victim-blaming often brings to mind crimes like sexual assault and domestic violence, it occurs across the board, explains Barbara Gilin, a professor of social work at Widener University. Murders, burglaries, abductions—whatever the crime, many people tend to default to victim-blaming thoughts and behaviors as a defense mechanism in the face of bad news.

    The author (Kayleigh Roberts) distracts the reader from the unique controversies surrounding sex crimes especially sexual misdemeanors, and conflates them with generalized claims of victim blaming for all crimes. No reasonable person would blame a person for being murdered, mugged or burglarized because the acts are unambiguously criminal on objective grounds. Peripheral observations that the victim should have locked the house door or not walked down that dark alley are trivial and irrelevant in such open-and-shut cases. ( Clear cases of rape/sexual assault fall into this category).

    Metzger was protesting from the generic male point of view against the emerging popular hysteria that mandates “believe the victim = woman” in adversarial cases where a woman [the alleged victim] accuses a man [the alleged perpetrator] of committing a sexual offense against her -everything from rape to sexual harassment- and the man denies the charge and is therefore entitled to a fair trial outside social media.

    Roberts and the researchers she cites seem amazed that when they change textual descriptions of specific sex crimes, subjects’ sympathies shift measurably, by their interpretation, toward blaming the victim. What they may actually elicit is the effect of subliminal interpolations of extenuating circumstances into an emotionally loaded crime often channeled into an adversarial process – in its highest expression in courts of law.

    Inevitably, the subject of male sexual transgressions in a multitude of forms against women has provoked a new obsession with men and women taking partisan sides in inflammatory cases. Metzger understandably takes the point of view of a man who, accused by a woman, is presumed to be guilty until proven innocent. Leigh Roberts and the female social scientists she cites understandably gravitate to cases where the woman accuser is either “not believed’ or blamed for participating in her own violation by defensive acts of omission.

    The article written from the justified perspective of women, cites the case of the Stanford rapist who virtually walked from legal justice after committing a heinous crime. A story written from the justified perspective of male counterparts might cite the case of the fabricated “Jackie rape” at the University of
    Virginia printed as fact in the pages of Rolling Stone.



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  • Stephen,

    I greatly appreciate your expertise in these matters. I don’t know how parallel US and UK treatments of rape cases are.

    I must have missed something.

    Yep.

    The concern is, how can you begin a process that may lead to a prosecution without putting any pressure on the victim to commit to carrying through the process. Police resources are stretched and would like to demonstrate a good return for the taxpayers’ dollar. No matter how well meaning and well trained the police are, there will come a point where coercion to complete will manifest itself, or be suspected and most certainly be anticipated. A charity to fund this process without the pressure may actually encourage far more women to come forward and thereby, grow into a feeling of being able to carry through to court, especially if told the accumulated case is strong.

    Other points but this will do for now.

    Stephen, I greatly appreciate your legal prowess, but I’m not convinced we can’t find a more encouraging process still to get victims to take that first step and in a timely fashion. Knowing the process is funded by well wishers might make all the difference. It could be the first charity in a first world state I approve of, ealing with welfare.

    The issue with facebook and twitter is wholly new, though the urges are antique. For me, the speed, the global reach leave usenet and over the fence gossip orders of magnitude behind. The wholly new levels of hyper pro social behaviours amongst over protected young unable to wrangle their own feelings add newly visceral ill-considered judgments as the topping cherry to twitter storms. (The reports back from my kids are chilling.)



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  • Stephen of Wimbledon #5
    Oct 11, 2016 at 1:45 pm

    (i.e. Anti-Social Media)

    The sensationalist anti-social media love victim blaming and “black and white reporting”!

    I am reminded of an incident where I was personally involved many years ago.

    This story was written by a local cub reporter and featured on National TV news and in the national daily newspapers.

    The story is summarised as follows:

    << A bunch of amateur clowns who had just arrived from Ilford, went on to Tryfan – the rockiest mountain in Wales, where one of them fell off injuring his back, his head, and his hand.

    This bunch of clowns was then rescued by a heroic mountain rescue team who were risking their lives to rescue these unprepared people – with imposing commentators questioning and seriously debating if such people should have been on such a mountain, and requiring rescuing in the first place. >>

    The actual story is somewhat different!

    As the rescued mountaineer was taken to the ambulance, the cub reporter from the local paper, asked two brothers in the group where they were from, when they had arrived in Wales, and which mountains they had been on.

    The two brothers who had just joined the “A team” at the mountaineering centre the night before, told him.

    The “A team” had indeed been on Tryfan (and six other mountains that day), but the accident actually happened when the mountaineer slipped on some wet grass and I watched him somersault into a boulder which was sticking out of the turf.

    Some members of the team (including me) then dumped their heavy gear and ran to the mountain rescue centre in the valley about two miles away, while others stayed and administered first aid.

    On arrival at the rescue post the team members were given the good-news and the bad-news.

    The bad news was that the mountain rescue team was 15 miles away busy with another rescue. The good news was: “Here’s a stretcher – get on and organise your own rescue!”

    So after a day on the mountains we picked up the stretcher, climbed back up the mountain, put our injured member on it, and brought it back down to the road, where the reporter and a crowd of onlookers were gathered around the ambulance we had called! (Some of these onlookers came to “help us” carry the stretcher – at least for the last 200 yards!)

    Nevertheless, a team of skilled heroes and a team of incompetent muppets on the rockiest mountain, makes a good media story, – even if the reporter had failed to notice that they were all the same people!

    Oh! – and as well as the wrong accident location, and the wrong number of teams, they also got the name of the injured mountaineer wrong!



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  • I can’t see a lot of daylight between the goals both Phil and Steven are promoting. Steven addresses the methodology for successfully prosecuting rape cases more realistically.

    Fortunately over the last 50 years, new generations of women (and men) have renounced the shame and stigma that society traditionally impugned to rape victims. An emerging counter-consensus, emphatically affirmed especially by millennials, confers the highest praise and support for women who have been victimized by this heinous crime. Victims who step forward and confront their attackers are lionized (not always by name) as heroes in mainstream and social media. Stephen is right that rape accusations can be handled today with both professional investigation and sensitive protections for accusers and accused alike.

    Sympathy surrounding concerns for the victim, must not allow law enforcement, the courts or the public to forget that rape is a crime that must be proven in a court of law by compelling evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. Whatever reluctance a woman feels about reporting the crime to the police, she must understand that failure to do so as immediately as possible will probably reduce the chances of conviction to the vanishing point. Sympathizers, notably garrulous feminists, who insist on the credibility of accusations brought belatedly to the attention of law enforcement on “sensitivity” or traumatic grounds are doing their violated sisters a disservice. Women who talk to a friend, a counselor, the dean of a college several days after the alleged violation and expect to be “believed” by prosecutors and courts are taking a usually fatal risk that their alleged attacker will ever be brought to justice.



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  • As of 2010 in the USA only and estimate 16% to 35% of sexual assaults get reported to the police. 9% of rapists get prosecuted, 3% get to spend more than a day in jail.

    http://www.umd.edu/ocrsm/files/Why-Is-Sexual-Assault-Under-Reported.pdf

    Things are undoubtedly improving. But the unique psychology of the situation (including victim shaming) makes it difficult and I maintain the poor rate of return in bringing prosecutions disfavours the most compassionate treatments for women.

    Rape involved coercion and a loss of control. Beginning a proper legal process that leaves the woman in full control with no prospect of coercion might lift those reporting rates at least.

    The reasons for late reporting are fully understood by rape case workers. The problem as we see is that the general public who constitute the jury (both inside the court and in the twittersphere) mostly do not. Timely reporting but a deferred prosecution may be more tolerated.



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  • Things are undoubtedly improving. But the unique psychology of the situation (including victim shaming) makes it difficult and I maintain the poor rate of return in bringing prosecutions disfavours the most compassionate treatments for women.
    Rape involved coercion and a loss of control. Beginning a proper legal process that leaves the woman in full control with no prospect of coercion might lift those reporting rates at least.
    The reasons for late reporting are fully understood by rape case workers.

    In my view, the daunting challenges to proving that a crime occurred constitute the bulk of cases where charges are dismissed or defendants are found “not guilty.” Stranger rape cases involving desolated “public” settings or forced entry into private spaces , usually provide the exception. The vast majority of cases, however, involve an accuser who knows her alleged attacker. Depending on circumstances rape is still difficult to prove when the alleged crime took place behind closed doors where both parties have willing gone to a private space -“his or her room” as we normally put it. (Some cases are clear-cut where compelling testimony is presented that the rape took place during a violent conflict or struggle, the victim was beaten up or threatened, etc.) The main reason appeals to common sense observations. Couples, even “dating” couples have [lawful] sexual intercourse all the time. This observation favors the accused denying the charge who also marshals other factors worthy of consideration. Doubts that the alleged victim is retaliating against the man she alleges raped her for monetary, personal or psychological motives when the sex was arguably consensual are easy for defense counsel to plant in the minds of jurors. (For the record, I believe that rape allegations fabricated for alterior motives are more common than we care to believe.) The police, the prosecutor, the judge and jury are ultimately confronted with a dillema: sexual intercourse or sexual activity occurred. She says it was coerced and not consensual. He says it was consensual. Where is the evidence that proves the distinction?

    I believe that raising conviction rates for proven rape require immediate reporting by the victim. Immediately obtained forensic evidence and testimony are preserved. Modern police investigation and empathetic counseling methods services in no way obligate the alleged victim to confront her alleged attacker. The longer a woman delays going to the police after the attack the more likely the chances that “reasonable doubts” will arise in the minds of anyone dealing with her case.



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  • Hi Phil [#7],

    I greatly appreciate your expertise in these matters

    Careful Phil, flattery is liable to make you a friend for life.

    The concern is, how can you begin a process that may lead to a prosecution without putting any pressure on the victim to commit to carrying through the process

    I have never lost sight of that argument – and also that anti-social media offers an easy-seeming, Mob Rule, ‘option’.

    Police resources are stretched …

    Police resources are always stretched – resources are always limited. This is a red herring.

    [Police] would like to demonstrate a good return for the taxpayers’ dollar. No matter how well meaning and well trained the police are, there will come a point where coercion [of the victim] to complete [take a case to trial] will manifest itself, or be suspected and most certainly … anticipated

    Agreed. I apologize for not being clear in my post #5. Justice is hard to come by, and is often a messy compromise. That includes ‘solutions’ sought through Mob Rule / Anti-Social Media, of course.

    A charity to fund this process without the pressure [experienced by the Police] may actually encourage far more women to come forward and thereby, grow into a feeling of being able to carry through to court, especially if told the accumulated case is strong

    I repeat: I am unconvinced that an extra-judicial, vigilante, organisation (whatever you call it, and however its finances are organised) is a solution of any kind. What can go wrong with that institution – assuming it were implemented – will go wrong, and that’s a very serious matter of unintended consequences. As much as I can empathize with the victims of crime and as much as I can call upon my own experiences and those of victims that I’ve met, I cannot see how such an institution would be more positive than negative with regards to universal human freedoms, human rights and court systems that have evolved over centuries to protect us all including our highly undervalued social reputations.

    It seems to me, Phil, that your position boils down to: Police and victim support (particularly mental health support) are not given enough priority and therefore suffer from poor resource outlay? I have no dog in this fight, I don’t know enough.

    We have to confront an uncomfortable truth – one which, as I outlined in my comment #5, I have had to face myself – every victim must find the strength to conclude a legal case if they value justice and crime prevention. In my case I have the excuse that it was a civil affair (prevention of future incidents was extremely unlikely) – but at least I’m being honest: I know just how much strength is required, and I didn’t have it.

    Yet, despite all that, we also have to recognise that coercion is a tool in the police tool box – and your suggested institution will not do away with that tool.

    The bottom line is: Support will always come at a price and victims will always be pressed. To imagine otherwise is only possible in a World with unlimited resources: Unlimited time, unlimited money, unlimited people, unlimited space, unlimited patience … such a World simply does not exist.

    I am forced to conclude: Victims cannot be the central focus of policy decisions on every aspect of bringing cases to court in the same way that they are at the centre of their own, individual, cases.

    Also, at some point, victims have to either do the deed or move on. I chose the latter. And here is another hard fact of life: Prolonging a case is prolonging the agony. Rape holds the additional burden of allowing the rapist to go on and commit another crime – to ruin who knows how many other lives. Nevertheless, the victim also has to consider their own life, their own health. There are, generally speaking, no statutes of limitation on rape in most countries (the recent efforts of the Catholic Church notwithstanding). I can definitely support that.

    I said this in #5, but it bears repeating: Justice is often a compromise.

    Stephen, I greatly appreciate your legal prowess …

    Seriously; I’m no more a legal expert than Donald Trump.

    I’m not convinced we can’t find a more encouraging process still to get victims to take that first step and in a timely fashion

    I applaud your efforts, and you have my support in that search. I remain skeptical without a lot more detail on the institution you propose. On its face it’s a bad idea – but if I was presented with more of an idea of how the human rights of those involved would be protected, how the proliferation of institutions is actually helpful – how recovery rates and conviction rates would be improved, for example – then my skepticism would be addressed.

    Knowing the process is funded by well wishers might make all the difference

    Tricky word: “might”.

    The issue with facebook and twitter is wholly new ..

    I beg to differ. To paraphrase the character Alfred Pennyworth, from the movie Dark Knight:

    Alfred: Some victims aren’t looking for anything logical, like justice. They can’t be persuaded … they just want to watch the world burn

    Phil: … though the urges are antique …

    Trying to have it both ways Phil?

    For me, the speed, the global reach leave usenet and over the fence gossip orders of magnitude behind

    When people’s whole world was their village do you really think it took that long? My Father lives in a village – he says news there travels at speeds that call Einstein’s c into question.

    The wholly new levels of hyper-pro-social behaviours amongst over protected young unable to wrangle their own feelings add newly visceral ill-considered judgements as the topping cherry to twitter storms. (The reports back from my kids are chilling.)

    Some disclosure: I said that I foresaw the negative social impact that network technologies were likely to have in the ’80s. At that time (and also in the ’90s and ’00s when I moved to specialising in the Net) I was working on the fast-moving telecommunications industry with an emphasis on data networks. I must confess to being, for the most part, swept along by the ICT industries’ positive spin on the many benefits that adoption of a single open set of protocols would be likely to offer. After Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented Web technologies, Marc Andreessen added Mosaic and commercial connections to the existing IP backbone (NSFNet) infrastructure – all in ’89 to ’93 frame – the game certainly changed and it would be silly to pretend that anyone predicted all that followed. Because no-one knew what was about to happen in detail. But we did know enough to get lots of people to invest a lot of money … and I mean a lot.

    I may not know much about law, but when it comes to the Net I’m on home turf.

    I can remember distinctly, as a Consultant, meeting a political party representative c.2002 – with me in full Futurologist mode – trying to explain how much of a game changer the Net really was (and still is). I definitely used some of that time to explore the potential down sides. I did the same with a former World Bank man c.2003 and with numerous commercial clients in between.

    Of course you’ve never heard of me and that means I failed to predict Web 2 – otherwise I would be called Sergey Brin, or Marc Zuckerberg. Shock news: I’m not perfect and predicting the future is an art, not a science.

    Having said all that: It really isn’t a big deal. Marrying negative human instincts to a free soap box is an obvious sum, with a tragic and obvious answer. When we add global self-publication from your bedroom we have a witch’s brew. When we add the anger of the victim of violence to the Net we get a world that is all dry tinder and sparks and it can only end badly.

    I hope your successful in encouraging more victims to press charges Phil, because Mob Rule is a gathering cloud and victim shaming, of course, throws fuel on the fire of victims’ anger – the core of their mental agony.

    We have started to wander a long way past the original post, perhaps we should park this conversation now?

    Peace.



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  • I would amend the above, with the speculation that “victim blaming” is often exacerbated by long delays between the alleged violation and its reporting usually confined to social [and mainstream] media. The case where a woman comes forward to accuse a man- often a public figure- of “raping me a year ago when I was virtually comatose in a drunken state” often summons the yelping dog packs on both sides of the issue to the raw meat market of internet opinion. (There are obvious exceptions like Bill Cosby accused independently by multiple women over a period of almost five decades establishing a credible prolonged pattern of criminal conduct.)

    By the way, I believe the topic article is a thinly disguised advocacy piece encouraging credulity on behalf of the public for women who engage in the trial-by-media reporting tactics described above. Claims about blaming victims in general for all crimes settled in court actions against perpetrators subsequently convicted and imprisoned on evidence that meets the standard of ‘beyond a reasonable doubt” -is diversionary claptrap.



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  • SoW

    It seems to me, Phil, that your position boils down to: Police and victim support (particularly mental health support) are not given enough priority and therefore suffer from poor resource outlay?

    Er, no.

    Whilst there is a little progress here, I’m sorry, I’m going to have to take another swing at this. …which I’ll have to do later. In the meantime

    Why vigilante?



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  • Hi Phil [#14],

    No worries, v. busy myself at the mo. Will keep a watching brief.

    Why vigilante?

    Vigilante Organization: a self-appointed group of citizens who undertake law enforcement in their community, typically because the legal agencies are thought to be inadequate

    Perhaps you would prefer:

    Private Eye: a freelance detective who carries out covert investigations on behalf of private clients

    … or perhaps:

    Criminal Intelligence Agency: an organization responsible for the collection, analysis, and exploitation of information and intelligence in support of law enforcement

    I’m not necessarily against the idea of a private eye / agency being constituted as a charity (an organization set up to provide help and raise money for those in need) with the aim of assisting rape victims – I just don’t see how such an organization can be set up to resist leaking like rusty bucket, how its status would not set it up to become a focus for vigilante activism (despite best intentions) and why an additional organization would not waste valuable and finite resources.

    In the case of innocent until proven guilty, even setting up a coterie, an inner circle – a society of secrets – goes against the grain. Secrecy breeds secrecy, as we observe with another ‘society of secrets’. They don’t have to create initiation rites involving blindfolds, or funny handshakes, in order to make things worse. People do bad things, very often, with good intentions. Will such a society be able to resist drawing up lists of friends, and formulating a ‘coded language’. I present this as a rhetorical question – such is my confidence in the outcome. There are good reasons why we say “the accused”, why courts are open to the public and the media and why court cases test the evidence brought before them.

    If government money were spent through such an organization it would be to create an arm of government to spend resources that could go to the police, social services and health services and it would be difficult to make a financial case that didn’t result in double-spending in many instances – while some of the resources would, inevitably, be wasted on the duplication of organization administration and management.

    If private money is raised, then who supervises and how? If private, is the temptation to leaks and vigilantism increased? It seems to me the answer is yes, and whether it becomes so strong that it undermines human rights is difficult. Would such an organization actually attract enough private money? Would such an organization attract specialist staff that will weaken the offerings of other institutions? Will creating a separate institution increase other costs – certainly, as the idea stands (i.e. as little more than a headline), it would appear to create an institution that duplicates much of the work of the Police and the Prosecution Service.

    I appreciate that some of this is a slippery slope argument. No I don’t like them, generally speaking, either.

    Also, some of this is administrative detail that, maybe, we need to simply work out.

    I just remain to be convinced.

    Peace.



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  • PHIL RIMMER – Melvin to PHIL RIMMER. This is off topic and by way of reference to “our” conversation about the relationship between overpopulation and climate change. You “must” (I usually hate people who do this) click on POINT OF INQUIRY (blue rectangle background) in the current “News” section (previous page) and listen to a 36 minute interview with Barry Vann, a geographer-human ecologist, about his book Forces of Nature: Our Quest to Conquer the Planet. Vann unearths (pun intended) many disturbing consequences about overpopulation and geography. Not infallible but enlightening from a scientific discipline we’ve yet to consider in its many facets and implications.



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  • Melvin, I clicked on it straight away.

    I agreed with Vann particularly on Banglagdesh (and Pakistan). This is such a time bomb. Even more so than sub-Saharan Africa with twice the birthrate. I was underwhelmed by the quality of his knowledge and understanding. It was notable that Zepps had the answer to the problem that Vann didn’t- the education and empowerment of women. Certainly this absence is the biggest poison of religion and why I contribute to Malala Yousafzai (despite her religion!) He is a geographer not a demographer so we cannot be overly judgmental.

    Lifting people out of poverty is the other big trick to getting folks out of having too many kids. More importantly it is the rate of change of poverty and its associate feelgood that seems to correlate most securely with the rate of decline in birth rate. China has seen a prodigious rate of increase in individual wealth and its birthrate is below that of the USA (using 2012 figures, 1.66 plays 1.88). Bangladesh is 2.21 and Pakistan 3.21 (The poorest countries with the least improvement like Somalia hit 6+)

    Lifting people out of poverty will of itself hugely reduce the migratory tendency, by creating political stability, encouraging inward investment, and further job prospects.

    Sustainability is the key and the lifting of the Pacific rim by modernising out of poverty and inventing a sustainable set of technologies to avoid the wasteful American lifestyle will be a double whammy of improvement. If you recall the UK did more per person than any subsequent to pollute the planet when starting the industrial revolution. The tail enders will have the least effect per person.

    The China accounts of appalling smog and air pollution are spot on. They might almost have been as bad as London pea-soupers.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Smog.

    December 1952 and 12,000 dead.

    The USA had equivalent events (like Donora) around the same time.

    This has clearly become one of several catalysts for change, maybe the one that gets folk sufficiently panicked to accept disruptive change.

    Sadly none of the discussion talked about the rates of change feasible with population size. So no real insight into mechanisms for change and no insight into timescales. There are indeed demographic time bombs, waiting to explode. Myself I want to win through to sustainability and wealth improvements for the poorest as the cheapest, fastest and most tractable population ameliorations I can conceive of.

    Vann’s comments on 2060 natural disasters related to living where we shouldn’t were spot on



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  • Hi, Phil and thanks. I left a response comment at the appropriate [Barry Vann interview] Point of Inquiry
    site in order to remove any further disruptive discussion from this thread as a courtesy to commenters.



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