Trial by Twitter

Oh dear, this is so hard to reconcile.  For once, I agree with our Prime Minister, David Cameron.  I think that the naming and rumouring on social networks doesn’t help in the long run.  At one level, it could prejudice a trial, but on another, it risks the involvement of those who have no case to answer. I believe, despite the misgivings of our justice system in the prosecution of sexual predators, that the right way with any allegation of childhood sexual abuse is that it goes through the proper channels.  In our society, that’s the criminal justice system.  This is the only acceptable place to seek justice.   Anything else would be anarchy, vigilantism.  Although, and here’s the rub, I understand why someone would want to take the law into their own hands.  Understand, but not agree with.  Heaven knows that for Ian, in Hurt, it was his biggest struggle not to go and seek revenge for the violation of his girl.  I really understand him, and I really respect him for keeping his hatred and his fury in check.

David Aaronovitch wrote an amazing piece in yesterday’s Times, his struggle was evident, and I am sure that he would have been pilloried for it in some quarters.  He cautions against a modern Salem, where there is hysteria and witch hunting.  Echoes of what the PM said yesterday.  It was a challenging opinion to read, and I wasn’t sure what I felt at the end of it, given that I am all for giving a voice to the victims.  He wrote of the ‘unattractive but compelling truth’ that people lie; they exaggerate.  This is hard to swallow, but there is truth in this.  Incidentally, according to research (another blog), that’s not generally true of children reporting sexual abuse, but I digress.  Aaronovitch wrote, “So we must not dismiss allegations, but they can never be taken or repeated with anything other than the most tedious sobriety. And that, if you like, is a generic rule applying to all situations.”  In this I completely agree, let us try not to be hysterical, but act in accordance with the protocols of our Society.  This may not give answers as quickly as we’d like, but doing anything else is asking for a whole lot more trouble.

I hope that the criminal justice system, the police, up their game and are supportive, objective and are thorough.  I’d love that the courts were about seeking truth, and not about the game of the trial, but that may be asking the impossible.  What I want too is for victims to be heard and for perpetrators to be given proper punishment for their actions.  What I want most is that as a Society, we do more to protect our children, to say ‘enough’ to abuse, and End the Tears.

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