Friday, December 1, 2017

A somewhat premature requiem for "Innocent Until Proven Guilty" and the right to a fair trial


"It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer" -- William Blackstone in his seminal work, Commentaries on the Laws of England, published in the 1760s.


Alas, poor US Constitution. We knew you well. Well, some of us did.

In particular, this requiem is for the parts of the US Constitution that deal with the right to a fair trial. We once placed safeguards to protect the rights of the accused because we recognized our system of punishment destroyed human lives to the point we wanted a high degree of probability of the guilt of the condemned. Obviously, those days have long since passed. Today, innocent until proven guilty is little more than a myth. 

I had a recent conversation with my doctor during a routine check-up and the conversation progressed to what I spend my days doing. My response was that I advocate for the rights of those who served time to become productive members of society. he brought up Brock Turner, of all people, as an example of the system not being "tough on crime," to which I brought up the fact that for every case like his, there are thousands more where the person gets far more time. We didn't even discuss the registry, a punishment even worse than prison. Stories like Turner's make the jobs of the victim cult easier. 

I've heard an old mantra that the US Constitution began eroding the day it was committed to paper. Perhaps it is true to some extent, but it had also strengthened. Numerous groups fought in the past to become part of that wonderful concept of all persons being "equal." Blacks, LGBTQ+, women, the disabled, Native Americans, Hispanics, and Transgendered people have fought for that right, as many of us that are placed on the arbitrary government blacklist known as the "Sex Offender Registry." While those of us condemned to a life of shame and discrimination struggle to fight for the right for opportunities to become equal members of society, thousands more human lives potentially face life on the list.

Our movement tends not to focus much on the rights of the accused, and that is understandable given the fact we're all struggling just to find jobs and housing or trying not to get murdered by vigilantes who thinks every human on the registry molested a stadium full of toddlers. However, our fight for our lives began the day we were accused of a sex crime. 

As everyone likely knows by now, there are already limitations on the right to confront accusers thanks to Rape Shield Laws, a concept that largely began in the 1970s. Now, states across America are trying to pass "Marsy's Law," a "victim's bill of rights" to amend state Constitutions across America. This bill is very dangerous because Marsy's law includes a provision that allows accusers "to refuse an interview, deposition or other discovery request made by the accused or any person acting on behalf of the accused." The accuser under Marsy's law would not have to turn over potential evidence that could prove she was lying about the crime! 

Marsy's Law passed in Ohio by a margin of 82.5% to 17.5%, showing that people placed little value on the rights of the accused. Why would they, when our airwaves were flooded with commercials supporting Marsy's law, like THIS ONE:






Marsy's Law is a marvel of victim industrial engineering, funded by celebrity star power and one of the richest men in the world (Henry Nicholas). Marsy's law's key selling point, repeated in Marsy's Law ads, is ripped out of the victim industry playbook:

"Currently in the United States, the U.S. Constitution and every state constitution has enumerated rights for individuals accused of a crime and those convicted of a crime. Yet, the U.S. Constitution and 15 state constitutions do not extend enumerated rights to victims of crime. Marsy’s Law for All seeks to amend state constitutions that don’t offer protections to crime victims and, eventually, the U.S. Constitution to give victims of crime rights equal to those already afforded to the accused and convicted.

We can all agree that no rapist should have more rights than the victim. No murderer should be afforded more rights than the victim’s family. Marsy’s Law would ensure that victims have the same co-equal rights as the accused and convicted – nothing more, nothing less."

People bought it hook, line, and sinker. There weren't any ads warning people that Marsy's Law was designed to take away an important right to confront accusers. That provision is carefully worded and hidden deep within a ballot initiative that also included provisions like notifying crime victims of a convicted perpetrator's release or the right to restitution (something Ohio already had without needed to attach a name to a bill). 

Of course, that's official law, and we haven't even gotten to the "Court of Public Opinion" yet, where accusations pretty much equal guilt. I still remember the infamous Duke Lacrosse case and the infamous Wendy Murphy statement she made, stating, "I never, ever, met a false rape claim, by the way. My own statistics speak the truth." Once the accusations hit the airwaves, the presumption of guilt already permeates the conversation, driven mainly by feminists like Murphy. Feminists also use dubious stats to dismiss or minimize the notion that false allegations ruin lives by claiming only 2%-10% of rape allegations are false. (Using that mantra, then that means of the 861,837 registrants in the US, between 17,236 and 86,183 potentially innocent people are on the registry.) 

Now, as much as I've enjoyed seeing celebrities and politicians (both purveyors of Predator Panic) get a dose of their own medicine, it also illustrates this mantra in action. We've already condemned the accused without benefit of a trial. Surely having multiple allegations means that the accused is 100% guilty right? We've never been wrong on that before, right? (*cough*cough* Satanic Ritual Abuse *cough*cough*). It is amazing how we seamlessly transferred the same moral panic from roving bans of satan worshippers to "pedophile priests" or to Illuminati congressmen buying kids off a Pizza menu stored underground bunkers in DC. No matter how outlandish the story, we are taught the accused is to be believed until proven otherwise. 

This brings me back to the original premise of this article, the erosion of our rights. The current state of our system of justice has been influenced by the feminist media and by those with lots of money. The erosion of our rights comes packaged in the name of a person, much in the way a land was once conquered in the name of Jesus Christ. The religious imagery is relevant; after all, many victim's rights advocates look at their work as a Crusade, much like a tent revival preacher from the previous generation saw his work. But the Original Crusades were about conquering the Holy Land by the sword, not by preaching. The victim industry's crusade is no less of a bloody war. Human lives aren't destroyed in a movement but in a war. We're no longer allowed to doubt the intentions of these Victim Crusaders, mind you, that's pure blasphemy. And, much like the religious zealots of our day, victim advocates claim they are persecuted every time their stories are questioned or when one of their own are accused of lying.

Perhaps the Constitution isn't dead just yet, but rather on life support, but the victim advocates are seeking to pull the plug.

Marsy's Law is but the latest in a series of laws spanning a generation eroding the rights of the accused, nor will it likely be the last. Blackstone's formula no longer seems valid here is the "Land of the Free." We are becoming more willing to erode our Constitution. Many don't even know what they support (as in the case of Marsy's law supporters) because people are far too quick to believe an ad campaign featuring a celebrity like Kelsey Grammer. However, all hope is not lost and we are not doomed to accept this march towards a less balanced court system. At least Marsy's law was struck down in Montana courts. As advocates for the rights of former offenders, we have to take on these proposals -- and the cult of victimhood-- head on.


The right of the accused to a fair and impartial trial and the rights of the accused should never be compromised. Human lives are at stake here, and someday, that life at stake may be your own. 

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