Brute Reason

A collection of thoughts about psychology, social justice, and anything else I give a shit about.

Topics: feminism / psychology / lgbtq / sex / politics / abortion / health / mental illness / language / depression / sexism / sexual assault / fashion / racism / education / social justice

my actual writing, if you're curious

To be blunt: I think Woody Allen probably did it, though, of course, I could be wrong. But it’s okay if I’m wrong. For two reasons. First, because my opinion is not attached to a juridical apparatus—because I have not been empowered by jails and electric chairs and states of exception to destroy people’s lives—it isn’t necessary for me to err heavily on the side of “we need to be really fucking sure that the accused did it.” It’s a good thing, generally, that juries are empowered to say “We think the accused is probably guilty, but we’re not sure beyond a reasonable doubt, so we will not convict.” That bar is set high for a reason; if you’re going to lock a person in a cage for a long time, you need to be really sure. But we are also empowered to say the same thing. We are also empowered to say “We think Woody Allen probably molested a seven year old.” And because we are not in a court of law, we don’t even need to say the second part. The fact that we will not convict him doesn’t even need to be implied. He is not, after all, on trial.

The second reason it’s okay if I’m wrong is that I’m probably not wrong. It’s much more likely that I’m right. Because I am not on Woody Allen’s jury, I can be swayed by the fact that sexual violence is incredibly, horrifically common, much more common than it is for women to make up stories about sexual violence in pursuit of their own petty, vindictive need to destroy a great man’s reputation. We are in the midst of an ongoing, quiet epidemic of sexual violence, now as always. We are not in the midst of an epidemic of false rape charges, and that fact is important here. All things being equal, it’s more likely that the man who has spent a lifetime and a cinematic career walking the line of pedophilia (to put it mildly); all things being equal, the explanation that doesn’t require you to imagine a conspiracy of angry women telling lies for no reason is probably the right one. It’s a good thing that juries can’t think this way, that they can’t take account of Occam’s Razor, because—in theory—the juridical system needs to get it right every single time (or at least hold tenaciously to that ambition). But you and I can recognize the bigger picture, because we aren’t holding a person’s life in our hands. Especially in situations like this one, the overwhelmingly more likely thing is that he did it. The overwhelmingly less likely thing is that a pair of bitter females—driven by jealousy or by the sheer malignity of the gender—have been lying about him for decades.

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