Kudos and Caution, Solving One Problem, Creating Another
The First Lady of New Jersey made a startling revelation over the weekend at the Women's March in Morristown. Tammy Murphy revealed that she was a victim of a violent assault where the assailant tried to rape her. It takes a lot of courage for someone to get up to a microphone and discuss personal issues. Must have been especially difficult to speak of such a horrible event that happened at a time and place where there's an expectation of safety. She also deserves credit for her courage. A statement about being a victim of a violent crime is startling regardless of the venue, but considering the event and the source, Mrs. Murphy's actions will certainly have an impact. The question is what impact? So many women have come forward to open up about past experiences which range from being made to feel uncomfortable to being a victim of a violent crime. On the subject of violent crime, the statistics over the past two decades show a precipitous drop in rape along with other violent crimes.
Tammy Murphy is a victim. Her courage to tell a tale that might help other victims come forward should be lauded. At least according to her, there was some justice as the perpetrator ended up convicted for another crime. Any woman who was coerced into sexual acts in order to save her job is a victim. The current cultural swing in favor of the #MeToo movement has produced results. Certainly having open and honest discussions about protecting women from predators whether it's a violent crime or the unacceptable behavior among people in charge, forcing sex through manipulation and job security threats. The challenge and the caution stem from the generally accepted principle of the movement that a public statement from a victim is all the evidence you need to vilify and punish the accused. There used to be a saying generally accepted in America that it was better to let one hundred guilty men go free rather than condemn one innocent. Today, the conversation is reversed and in the pursuit of social justice and there seems to be no regard or even concern about the innocent.
There are a couple takeaways from the downward trend in violent crime and from the rising #MeToo movement as a whole. It's critical to understand that America is safer today than we have ever been. It's critical to be careful to not put every accusation in the same category. Surely an inappropriate text is not the same as what happened to the Governor's wife. For many years, there has been a movement to paint a picture about the dangers women face on college campuses. Many of the campus hysteria was fueled by the statistic often quoted about one in five women being sexually assaulted on campus. The study itself was very limited and has been misused painting a false image of the relative safety on campus. If the stat were reflective of actual behavior on campus that would make college campuses more violent than prisons when it comes to being a victim of sexual assault where the number is less than one in twenty.
As the celebration continues for the courage of victims to stand up and speak out, it is critical to also exercise some caution moving forward when handling accusations. Clearly not every accusation is true and not every story of an uncomfortable situation at work is illegal. There is now a growing trend in the country to immediately terminate and presume guilt the minute an accusation is made. Character and evidence seems to have no bearing on a decision to terminate and vilify the accused. Companies and schools seem prone to side with the alleged victim and administrators and human resource directors have become judge and jury. What of due process? What of innocent until proved guilty? The current rush to judgement is leaving many innocent people destroyed with very little hope of rehabilitating their careers and reputation. On Monday's show, I was joined by attorney Andrew Miltenberg who represents some of the men trying to rebuild their lives after false accusations decimated their careers and reputations.
Violence against women is unacceptable. It's also a crime that should and will be vigorously prosecuted. Workplace harassment is unacceptable and illegal. As bad as some of the victim stories are and as frequent as we hear about them, we can't lose sight that evidence matters. The very foundation of our system is that people are innocent until they are proved to be guilty. Women should come forward, tell your stories. Encourage others to speak up immediately. But let's be wary of solving one problem by creating an entirely new problem.
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