For fuck sake guys, can’t we keep our shit together for more than a week at a time?
Every time it seems like one shitstorm has passed, be it #Oscarssowhite or #Britssowhite or #Teethsowhite or #Cocainesowhite or whatever the hell it is now, another one just comes along right behind it to make sure everyone is in a permanent state of outrage at something or other.
The major story this week is about Ke$ha (or Kedollarha), and her current legal disputes with her record label, Sony, and her producer, some bloke called Dr.Luke who I have genuinely never heard of.
Ke$ha claims that Dr.Luke sexually assaulted her on numerous occasions, and as a result caused her severe mental anguish that lead to eating disorders as well as other issues. So she brought a claim against Sony to release her from her contract so she could get away from him. Seems simple, seems like you can’t really disagree with Ke$ha, and it would at first glance.
Sadly, however, the vast majority of people on Facebook and twitter and tumblr don’t tend to read too much into things, and blahblahblah I’m getting a bit tired of repeating this shit. There are questions that need to be answered, why is Ke$ha having to raise criminal charges to settle a civil dispute, or why her and her mother testified under oath a few years ago that nothing untoward had ever happened between her and her producer. There are arguments to be made for the nature of psychological abusers, and whether Sony should have done more to protect her, there is much we don’t yet know, but I’m not here to pass judgment on a case that is still very much unfinished.
What I am here to pass judgment on is the legions of dumb ass like and share sheeple motherfudgers who need to get a grip, get their asses off the internet, and learn how the law works.
Law, be it in the UK, or in the USA, or literally anywhere, works on a pretty simple assumption. You are innocent until you are proven guilty. That is that. You want to prove someone guilty? You find the evidence. You want to prove your innocence? Get some goddamn evidence. Criminal charges, generally, must be proven beyond reasonable doubt, in order to ensure that innocent people aren’t sent to prison on false charges.
This is not a claim that Ke$ha is lying, as some have said, or that justice has failed her, this is a statement of a pretty fundamental cornerstone of any democratic and open judiciary.
Here’s the rub people, just because you think somebody is guilty, doesn’t mean they are. Did you read last week’s post? The one where I said nobody has to give a fuck about your opinions? That goes doubly so when it comes to a legal issue. Unless you are the judge in charge, which I’m presuming none of you are (correct me if I’m wrong), all you can do is shut the fuck up and wait and hear what they have to say.
The law does not care about your hashtags, the law does not care about your think pieces, your pseudo-intellectual blog posts (lol jk irony), your petitioning and your boycotts of Sony. Oh yeah, boycotting Sony? Really? What is that meant to achieve? Sony have a business agreement with Ke$ha, not a personal one. If she alleges assault against her producer, it’s not their responsibility to say “Okay you can go, forget the money that we’ve invested into you and your career.” They’re running a business, in fact Sony’s record arm is only part of a pretty huge conglomerate, so here’s what boycotting them is going to achieve – absolutely diddly fucking squat. Perhaps a manager should have sacked Dr.Luke as soon as the claims were first made, but that call wasn’t made, and now Sony will have to deal with the consequences whatever they may be. But those consequences aren’t for twitter to decide, if Sony breached an obligation then they will face justice in a court of law.
The point is this, the law will decide this case based upon the merits of the arguments on both sides and the evidence presented to them. That is that. If it ever got to the stage where judges started paying attention to social media campaigns, then justice would truly be broken.
It would be the start of a pretty long slope to some kind of reality justice show, “Hashtag innocent to let him go, hashtag guilty to send him down for 10 years, the choice is in your hands folks!” It’s like some kind of horrible Hunger Games/Judge Judy mashup, and it seems to be what some people genuinely want. There was an article on the Guardian (on which my comments were deleted several times for questioning the author, that’s how bullshitty her argument was) which essentially said that the idea of innocent until proven guilty shouldn’t apply to rape cases.
Could you imagine that? Nobody is saying that allegations shouldn’t be taken seriously, but allegations must be proven, to start assuming guilt and then trying to find innocence is like taking a shit in the woods and digging the ditch afterwards.
I’m watching Up while I write this, great film.
This morning another allegation of sexual assault emerged, from even longer ago than the Ke$ha case. The singer Larkin Grimm has alleged that Michael Gira, frontman of Swans (an incredible band for anyone who has never heard of them) raped her in 2008, while they were recording an album together and shortly before she was dropped from his record label. It would be easy to construct a narrative here, that Gira dropped her to keep her quiet, but that’s exactly what should not be done.
Gira has vehemently denied the accusations (see here: Pitchfork), with his wife writing a message of support for him as well as saying she has proof that Larkin is lying. It’s a mess, a dirty one, allegations of rape are never to be taken lightly. But at the same time it seems likely to inspire the same kind of statements as Ke$ha has, statements that seem to think all ideas of due process should be set aside just because some teen tweeters aren’t happy. It’s good that allegations of assault are being taken seriously and pursued by the relevant authorities, though one would hope they do the same when the perpetrators or victims aren’t as well known, but we mustn’t go too far in the other direction either.
As I’ve said many times before, social media has the power to do some truly great things, but it also has the power to be an incredibly shitty quagmire or misinformation and half formed opinions. Thus far in 2016 it’s pretty much all been the latter, it’s been people assuming that they are qualified to comment on something simply because they read an article that rubbed them up the wrong way. I say article, more often than not it’s just clickbait, really, painfully obvious clickbait.
I know this is a sensitive topic, I appreciate that. Rape and sexual assault are incredibly serious offences, they should not be taken lightly. Women should not be accused of lying or making up stories, especially in the current climate we live in. I’m not a fan of the term rape culture, but it would be naive to claim that there isn’t a stigma around victims of assault speaking up, or a certain level of protection afforded to famous or wealthy perpetrators of assault like Jimmy Saville or Bill Cosby. But at the same time the guilt of the perpetrator should not be assumed, everything requires evidence, proof, substantiation, whatever you want to call it. To start judging people on a whim, based off an opinion, is simply not the way justice works.
Way back in the 90s there was the case of OJ Simpson, can you imagine what that would have been like if social media had existed then? We look back on it now as the case that gripped America, that the news had on a loop, that made superstars out of its lawyers and their offspring, it was arguably just a precursor to the type of attention that Ke$ha’s case is receiving today. The difference now is that other peoples’ opinions are much easier to come by, much easier to share, and it’s much easier for people to get themselves all whipped up into a frenzy by sharing thoughts with people who think the exact same thing.
So please, before you share that Complex article, before you share some meme or Lizzy the Lezzy post, think. Think about why the law does what it does, why the judge decided what they decided, think about why you’re accepting an argument. If your reason is because “Oh I read it somewhere” or “Oh, my friend shared this post,” then get the fuck out. Because that kind of mindless follower bullshit is precisely what a world with ISIS, Donald Trump and One Direction needs a hell of a lot less of.
xoxo, Judge “I am the Laaaaaaaaaw” Dredd.