Sometimes, looking at things from a sideways angle is helpful...

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Innocent Until Proven Guilty?

This blog probably belongs over on my personal blog, but because it relates to happenings that have unfolded in the trans* community in the past twenty-four hours, so far as I can tell, I've chosen to post it here, rather than risk getting drawn into conversations that I don't want to, with people who know the individuals concerned.

The basic premise of 'innocent until proven guilty' is that by using it, people who cannot be found guilty of what they have been accused of, beyond a shadow of a doubt. Proof beyond a shadow of a doubt is difficult, and there is no doubt that a basic issue with the existence of judges and juries is that they represent the privileged majorities. I don't have an adequate replacement for it, but I don't believe in it - especially not when it as an ideal is prioritised above the experiences of individuals.

Edit: Someone corrected me, and it's "beyond reasonable doubt", rather than "beyond a shadow of a doubt". When I wrote this I was in a pretty angry and upset state, but that's no excuse for not fact-checking, and I'm very grateful to the person who corrected me on that.

Yesterday, I found out that someone from the trans* community who I massively look up to for his excellent activism, has in fact been accused of rape / sexual assault, by at least two different people. Two more accuse him of emotional abuse in relationships, as I understand it. They do not want police proceedings. That's their right. They want Ira to voluntarily withdraw from all shared spaces, and various other demands, which seem reasonable.

Ira has responded to the allegations with an odd mixture of denial and admitting it.

The response a lot of people have given to this situation is that he's innocent until proven guilty. But what proof would it take. Abuse within relationships is hard to prove.

At this point, with him admitting what he has, and the strength of the allegations, the only thing he can do, in my opinion, is to follow the demands in the open letter.

This is community justice, this is the accountability process, and it's painful, because we can't just brush it all into the aether of the court system, we have to take back our own, we have to acknowledge the rapists moving in our community.

And for me? Let's just say finding this sort of thing out, about your role model, hurts.

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