Public Trials, Free Speech, and the Right to Name Your Rapist

A trial is a legal proceeding that judges a person’s guilt or innocence. A public accusation on Twitter isn’t a legal proceeding, it’s a public statement. Being that it’s not a legal statement, unless it’s illegal speech (libelous speech), the accusation can be ( ethically and legally) made. If it is illegal speech (libel is a civil, not criminal law), the accused does have legal recourse. But the burden of proof for a civil case is MUCH LOWER than a criminal case.

If it isn’t illegal speech, the victim has a right to publicly accuse their accuser.

As a bystander, I don’t have to have an opinion concerning the the validity of the claim to support it being made. I can also support the accused in following through on a libel claim.

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Recently I was involved in a discussion with Twitter user @schnookiekins concerning people who publicly name people they say raped them. He supports Michael Nugent’s statement that:

“allegations of rape should be reported to the police, not to bloggers.”

as if it’s an either/or situation. I don’t know of a requirement that compels victims of rape, by the state, to report their perpetrators to the police. Many people have written about why victims don’t report rape, so I’ll leave that there (*smirk* though I do wonder why men don’t report domestic violence? *smirk*).

Shookienis writes:

(The %2 @schnookiekins is speaking of is the 2% to 8% rate of rape claims being false claims)

This is a very well worn argument that I’ve used in the past myself. It’s something I uttered when Sophia Banks took to Twitter to accuse Laurelai Bailey of rape. At the time I thought it was wrong for someone to accuse another person online, but my thoughts have evolved.

In reality, there’s no such thing as a “trial in the media” or a “trial on Twitter”. That line of reasoning is wrapped up in a logical fallacy (Black/White fallacy).

A trial is a legal proceeding that judges a person’s guilt or innocence. A public accusation on Twitter isn’t a legal proceeding, it’s a public statement. Being that it’s not a legal statement (but can be used later in legal proceedings), unless it’s illegal speech (libelous speech), the accusation can be (both ethically and legally) made. If it is illegal speech (defamation cases are civil, not criminal law), the accused does have legal recourse. But the burden of proof for a civil case is MUCH LOWER than a criminal case.

If it isn’t illegal speech, the victim has a free speech right to publicly accuse their accuser in any public forum they which they deem appropriate.

As a bystander, I don’t have to have an opinion concerning the the validity of the claim to support it being made. I can also support the accused in following through on a libel claim.

Am I missing something?

Am I wrong here?

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