Innocence

Standard

There is nothing I can say about Jian Gomeshi that will shed any light or create any darkness beyond the patterns of light and dark that others who are closer to the scene or more directly involved have already created. I am nothing but an observer here, a witness to a growing stain of ugly truth or innuendo or allegation or fabrication. I’m not making judgements one way or another — though already some people reading this will think I am.

These days — not to pass judgement, not to presume guilt, not to side with the accused or the accuser is itself an act of judgement.

It’s not as if I don’t have opinions. I have plenty of opinions. About all sorts of things, about all sorts of people. My opinions do not constitute facts. We should keep that in mind when we want to make final decisions about anyone’s behavior. Opinions are not facts. We know that when we listen to Fox News but sometimes we forget it when we listen to ourselves.

This was brought home yesterday when I heard Dean Del Maestro refer to his innocence with respect to the allegations against him. Dean — you were convicted, they are no longer allegations. Except of course he can appeal and drag the whole thing. After all, it was the opinion of the judge that he was a liar. An opinion backed up by facts but you see where it is going. As long as we can’t tell the difference — as Dean clearly can’t — between facts and opinions or opinions about facts, we are all in a bit of a morass.

But back to Jian. Do I think he committed non-consensual assault against some of his accusers? Likely but who cares what I think? That’s why we have the cumbersome, often painful, process of law — to move us, hopefully, from an accusation to some semblance of the truth.

Of course, it is true that, in cases of sexual assault, the courts seem biased, through their process of demanding that the accuser face the accused , granting the presumption of innocence when, as is often the case , the proof of guilt is difficult or painful to make. The sense of victimization is repeated or enhanced through a process that is supposed to relieve it.

But what is the alternative? Innocent until proven guilty for some crimes but not for others? That is an ugly road to travel — one, by the way, which our government is trying to take us down with respect to crimes like ‘supporting terrorism.’ They want to reverse the presumption of innocence and put the burden on the accused, have already created reverse onus for some crimes.

Not the same? Maybe. No doubt we need to find better ways to deal with accusations of a dire nature — like rape or treason — to ensure accusations can be made without penalty to the accuser while still preserving our fundamental freedoms.

I wish I could say more but I’m still feeling for a way forward and besides,

That’s ten minutes.

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