Friday, July 01, 2011

great news for rapists!

as long as you choose a victim who has lied in the past, you can sexually assault her all you want!

this highlights a problem with how the court system deals with credibility issues. there's an assumption that people fall into one of two categories: liars and truth-tellers. everything a liar says is suspect. if you want to cast doubt on someone's credibility, all you have to do is show that that person lied before. then she's a liar rather than a truth-teller, which means that everything else that person says is automatically suspect.

i hear that reasoning all the time whenever i do a hearing in a he-said/she-said kind of case. on the surface it has an almost common sense appeal to it. but only on the surface. real common sense should tell us that the theory is utter bullshit. everyone who can speak has lied. we all know that. everyone has lied at some point in the past and will almost certainly tell a lie at some point in the future. but that doesn't mean that no one ever tells the truth because everyone is a liar. a lie in one instance does not predict whether another statement is true or false. the fact that someone lies on a job application or when seeking political asylum doesn't mean that that person would lie when reporting a crime.

in a rational world each statement would be judged on its own merits. but that's harder to do. so the legal system falls back on an assumption that has little basis in reality. and so a guy who i think is a rapist is probably going to get away with it.