Language, Crime and Trial by Headline

Imagine if you are the subject of a rape allegation and you, your family and friends and the broader community see the frontpage headline in the Weekend Australian: “Adviser Raped Second Woman.” True, the headline was preceded by a smaller-print caveat that it is an allegation and, I understand, other editions put the word ‘raped’ in inverted commas. Nevertheless, the bold headline takes the eye. I mention this to illustrate that the way language is wielded matters; particularly when it comes to crime and allegations of crime.

I know nothing of the truth or falsity of the accusations of rape. I wasn’t there and I don’t have any video tape. But, so far as the reporting goes, it seems that both women had been drinking. As an aside, I wonder, in all this talk about culture as it applies to young women, whether the real culprit around Parliament House is a drinking culture.

I know about a drinking culture. I worked for a bank in the 1980s. Wiped myself out too many times to care to count; made the one to two rebuffed inept advances. Maybe saved from getting into more problematic situations by my lack of suavity and such.  Thank you, God.

My own personal experience though was that women didn’t participate in excessive drinking. Of course, my experience only goes so far and I wouldn’t doubt that the odd inebriated woman might have been found within the halls of banking’s social circles. Still, it is not wise for women in social-cum-work gatherings to drink to excess. Most women know that, as they should and should have been so warned by their parents. The world brings risks for young women which are different from those it brings young men, however much feminists might want to wish differences away.

Back to the allegations of rape and to language. Allegations must be tested. Many allegations are shown to be false. Throughout, until a guilty verdict by a court, an accused is entitled to the presumption of innocence and due process.

At this stage, the two women (now three, I understand) are complainants; they may be victims but being accorded that description is not yet appropriate. Sometimes the fact of a crime is evident; often times the fact of a crime having been committed is not nearly clear cut. In the case in view, did rapes take place or did they not? First a crime has to be established and only after that can someone be accused of perpetrating the crime and only after being convicted described as the perpetrator or culprit.

There is a world of difference between a complainant and a victim. Yet when crimes of a sexual nature are being alleged the term victim is often thrown about. Implicitly this suggests that a crime has indeed been committed and someone, often known, is the culprit.

Similarly, there is a difference between proof and evidence. From the OED, for the edification of journalists and others. Proof: evidence establishing the fact or the truth of a statement. Evidence: information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid.

I read many accounts of President Trump claiming “without proof” that the US election was stolen. It’s hard to know what to do with reporting like this. Assuming that the reporters are morons is one answer. Assuming that they are hacks tendentiously pushing a line is another. A bit of both is probably nearer the mark. We know that they are not objective and intelligent. Mind you, when it comes to Trump, objectivity and intelligence jump out the window.

There is plenty of evidence of electoral malfeasance in the last US election. Evidence! Whether this amounts to proof of the election being stolen on, say, the balance of probabilities or beyond reasonable doubt, is another (much more complicated) matter. Only courts can determine that. The Supreme Court was given the best opportunity to test the evidence and squirmed out of hearing the case. So, we don’t know.

We do know that Trump had evidence for his claim. And to say he didn’t have proof is rather like saying my black eye is not proof that I was punched in the face.  But it is evidence, numbskulls. And if you examine my neighbour’s damaged right hand, I think you will find that I will be able to prove my case beyond reasonable doubt in a court. Anyway, enough of that fictitious account of my altercation with a neighbour. But, by the way, he says I hit him first and his action was in self-defence.

There you go: evidence and proof; complainant and victim. How confusing it all is for today’s muddled minds. Imagine the struggle of tomorrow’s minds born of gestational and non-birthing parents.

15 thoughts on “Language, Crime and Trial by Headline

  • Doubting Thomas says:

    It’s hard to know precisely when “reporters” became journalists, or when “journalism” supposedly became a profession. But the latter proposition is, at the very least, a glaring oxymoron while the journalists’ union (masquerading, as it does, as a professional association) fails to strictly police and enforce its much ballyhooed code of ethics.

    The presence of a relatively small corps of honourable and ethical journalists, who are relentlessly harassed by the scurrilous majority of their craft, merely serves to emphasise how far that majority have sunk in the filth of teir own creation.

  • padmmdpat says:

    Wasn’t there a notorious police media event when the police officer referred to a complainant in the Pell investigation – pre-trial – as ‘the victim’? And I recall reading of a lawyer talking about juries when, as the charges are read out – and not (yet) proven – members of the jury are audibly gasping and oohing and aahing. Presumption of innocence?

  • call it out says:

    All these utterly drunk women wondering why they find themselves in difficult situations. It is there to be seen every Sat night in our nightclub areas. And apparently in Canberra as well.
    I think I’d advise my daughter that she needs to watch out for herself. She cannot expect a world of goodness without some evil as well. She cannot rely on after the event proceedings to fully rectify the wrongs..it’s too late. But of course she should report any crimes immediately to the police, to protect other women at the least.
    Is this victim blaming or just common sense?

  • Ian MacKenzie says:

    And we’re up to four now, according to the ABC. Can another award be far away for Pell and now Morrison fanatic Louise Milligan?
    Thank goodness the Victorian legal system has no jurisdiction in this case. At least that means there is some chance of a fair trial.

  • J Vernau says:

    I know something of drinking culture too, also from the 1980s, and the worst I saw was in Canberra.
    Imagine a situation where a group of work colleagues are drinking. After some hours and a great many drinks, only two are left standing—for convenience, let’s say a man and a woman. They manage to proceed to some private location and sex ensues. The next day, they regain consciousness and have some kind of hazy memory of the prior proceedings. This was a common enough occurrence in that dreariest of capital cities, and often prompted regret in the participants and hilarity in their work-mates.
    “Fast forward”, as they say, to today and there is a complicating issue; that of consent. Was it given? Implied? Not not-given? Perhaps all licensed premises in Canberra should be issued with pads of blank consent contracts, including schedules and a locality list.

  • Stephen Due says:

    The ABC says a fourth complainant has come forward in what it describes as “Currently Australia’s biggest political scandal”. Obviously what the ABC regards as a “scandal”, and what others regard as one, are not necessarily on a par*. But the ABC thinks the fourth complainant – who says the alleged offender “stroked her thigh” – is the big deal for the nation. I dare say we (men, at least) have all done a bit of thigh stroking in our time, and more often than not it has been very well received. Occasionally it might not have been so welcome, but on the whole there was a lot to be said for it. The courts are going to be awfully busy if all the offended females come forward. But a lot of them, I suspect, are blissfully unaware of their status as victims. No doubt the ABC is working to change that, too.
    *My vote for the biggest political scandal in Australia currently goes to the fact that Daniel Andrews – whose incompetent government has been responsible for hundreds of Covid deaths, not to mention the total economic destruction of Victoria – is still in office.

  • Harry Lee says:

    Too few people comprehend that we are involved in several actual wars.
    There’s the very successful extreme-marxist/anti-Westernist Leftist invasion of all our institutions -with only a few ill-equipped and badly led rear-guard actions still in progress.
    There’s the sex war, with few females and fewer males knowing the stakes involved.
    There’s the anti-White war, now fought by most types of non-Whites -and few Whites comprehend that this war is in progress, nor that the various non-White forces are winning.
    There’s the Anti-Competence War, being successfully executed by Persons-of-Incompetence (aka Persons-of-Identity) as aided by tax-payer funded “human rights/no responsibilities” lawyers, judges and magistrates
    Then there’s the war involving alcohol and other recreational drugs.
    This is very tough war, and while its consequences can be very public, the main action is private -internal to each alcohol/drug-user. And the causes of this internal private war are not adequately diagnosed, or acknowledged, or dealt with by the various agencies funded by nett tax-payers and various private charities.
    When problems/idiocies that cause Wars are too hard to deal with, most people, starting with politicians, but true for people in all walks and stations of life, pretend no War is in sight.

  • Brian Boru says:

    I was told and I believe that it is a good policy that you shouldn’t get your honey where you get your money.

  • Stephen Due says:

    The ABC has now has its Prosecutor-in-Chief, the permanently morally-outraged Louise Milligan, on the job, whipping up outrage and multiplying victims at a faster rate than SARS-CoV2. What is really going on? It seems that “staffers” (formerly secretaries or clerks?) are predominantly young white females whose main priority in the workplace is to promote and control their personal relationships. I imagine their may be howls of outrage in some quarters at this statement. However as someone who labored for many years with a workforce of 20-something females, my experience suggests that sexual purity is not on the agenda of many, and not a few engage in what can only be described as sexually predatory behaviour everywhere they go, including the workplace, albeit with a beguiling and much-practised expression of perfect innocence. What comes to the surface when things go wrong is often more an expression of the sexual politics – the power play of the particular situation – than of any consistent morality on the part of the offended person.
    We are often told that the “young woman” – you are invited to picture to yourself someone of the utmost personal purity and most perfectly virginal demeanor – was uncharacteristically drunk at the time and was taken advantage of by a man in a superior position – please imagine a callous, sleazy, slimy, ugly male, repulsive to all women. Believe that if you will. Young women are often perfectly happy, nevertheless, to engage in workplace ‘romances’. Young men – especially those inexperienced in such matters – should avoid them at any price. Do not be seduced. You will find out very quickly that you are actually dealing with somebody who is much more sophisticated than you are. By letting her tempt you into ‘inappropriate behavior’ you will be giving her a loaded gun that she can at any time use against you. Nothing in the female-dominated workplace is secret – except perhaps from you. If you do become emotionally involved, you will not be the one in control, even if you think you are.

  • Stephen Due says:

    Sorry – their=there

  • Alice Thermopolis says:

    Whatever happened to the Sisterhood on the nights in question? There’s been a gender war going on for years, if not decades, at least since the demise of raunchy feminism. They should have been there protecting them from any “sleazy” male or lout on a night out.
    As for the vexed issue of consent in the heat of the moment, surely an enterprising soul could develop a Consent Ap of some kind?
    Solutions for this vexed social-intercourse problem include: (i) mandatory chemical castration of the male; (ii) mandatory wearing of the burka by the female, with a choice of colours other than black; and (iii) resuscitating the ancient art of chaperoning to encourage young women to behave in an “appropriate” way, whatever that is today..
    Take your pick.

  • DG says:

    “group of work colleagues” I love it. A colleague is someone one works with. So what is a ‘work colleague’. A bit like a bovine cow, I suppose.

  • Phillip says:

    “the struggle of tomorrow’s minds born of gestational and non-birthing parents” is one challenge.
    Another concern is the extent of cheating the team USA Tennis, is proposing for the next Olympics.
    With the support of ding dong Biden executive orders to say males can compete as females, the US Mixed Doubles team may have more balls on their side of the court to play with.
    A foul extreme by Double Fault
    Is this Game? For each players Set is a Match !

  • Harry Lee says:

    Trial by headline?
    I have concluded, from vast experience, that nothing presented in the ABC and SBS, and in 90% of the commercial media, can be relied upon. Much of what is presented in the media is distorted leftward if not fully false. Then there’s all the very significant material that the media does not report, indeed ensures its burial.

  • John C Carrick says:

    Good one Phillip. A winner down the line. The balls are in your court.

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