We Must Protect The Innocent
When I started drafting this article, I planned to write something about how the vegan movement won’t have its own “Weinstein moment”.
Sadly so many things that have happened in past few weeks, that the original draft was no longer relevant.
Before you continue reading, I ask to have an open mind, and put any bias, prejudice or misandrous views aside.
If you don’t, it is almost guaranteed that you will get annoyed by what follows.
Behaviour Is Unacceptable
It goes without saying that the behaviour that is being talked about is unacceptable.
And it baffles me that there are those who are defending it.
Come on people. In what world is it acceptable to send unsolicited images of your genitals to someone else?
To those of you who say it is or even defending it, how would you feel if you were on the receiving end of it?
Or, what if it was your son or daughter?
Everyone MUST Be Believed
It has been said and shared on social media is that we need to believe the allegations made by females.
I totally agree that we should.
I also agree that those who do make a complaint should be supported and not asked to ‘prove’ things.
By the same token, we should also believe the male when they say that they are innocent, or didn’t do whatever it is.
None of us are qualified to pass any judgment of guilt on anyone for something that someone says they have done.
Nor should we be demanding proof from either party that what happened, did or didn’t take place.
Most Western justice systems are based on the belief that a person is innocent until proven guilty.
There is only one place where a person’s guilt or innocence should be tried and judged. And can tell you that Facebook isn’t that place.
Many of us are familiar with the saying by Lord Acton, Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Though how many of us have considered that things are the way that they are because of the ‘power’ imbalance?
People act in a predatory way because of the power, actual or perceived, that they have over their victims.
The ‘power” isn’t only physical strength.
It could be that they are the organiser of events, and the victim wants to be part of a particular social group.
They have a larger/more active social media following, and have the power to gather a bigger ‘posse” if things go ‘public’.
They believe they are more ‘popular’ than their intended/actual victim, and more likely to be believed.
Once a power imbalance occurs, the ‘weaker’ group/individual will eventually be exploited by the ‘powerful’.
If veganism truly is a ‘social justice’ movement, a power imbalance is something that should never be allowed to happen.
What will this movement become, if one group of people are automatically condemned?
Especially if that group is one that you are actually trying to attract INTO the ‘movement’?
Collateral Damage Is NOT Acceptable
No movement that claims to be about justice for all should ever accept the condemnation of an innocent person as ‘collateral damage’.
Dismissing concerns about false reporting does just that.
While false allegations are rare, in the ‘corporate world’ they can impact whole families, due to the loss of a job. Putting strain on families and individuals through loss of income and identity.
What impact will ostracising someone from a social group/peers have on a person?
Would you be willing to have your partner, son or brother to automatically be considered guilty simply because they are male?
Equally concerning is that by jumping on a social media bandwagon to condemn someone could result in a defamation suit.
Your First Obligation
There is no other obligation that should come above the obligation to yourself to stay safe.
This means, not putting yourself in harm’s way.
If you have concerns about how another person is behaving or has acted, report it.
If the ‘action’ continues, leave the event.
Most organisations and events have a ‘responsible person(s)’. This is who concerns about your safety should be reported to. Not an admin of a facebook group.
Should the ‘responsible person(s)’ ignore the complaint/concern raised with them, they may be in breach of Health and Safety legislation if something happens.
Time To Step Up
If you are the ‘responsible person’ of an organisation or group, now is the time to step up to the plate.
Make it clear that complaints will be taken seriously, and remain confidential.
Make it clear that as the ‘responsible person’ of the organisation/event that you take the safety of your volunteers and visitors seriously.
Have a publicly available reporting process for those who do want to make a complaint.
To those who are attending an event or volunteering, if the organisation hasn’t done, or doesn’t do the above, don’t go.
Pedestals Are Shaky
Social media has become a fertile ground for some to promote themselves as champions of a particular cause.
And others are starting to sing that tune.
Before you join that chorus, be wary of those who are put on a pedestal as being a ‘decent’ or ‘brave’ person.
Promoting these people could be insulting to the victims whose pleas they ignored in the past.
For example the victims of ‘dead boy’ or ‘Mr Mensa’ would be insulted that a certain person is now on a pedestal. (Complaints about their actions were dismissed with ‘that’s just who they are’, or ‘they are harmless’, ‘X isn’t like that’).
Would a ‘champion’ of this cause demand a ‘heart to heart’ hug of those they have just met?
Would they talk about masturbation in a livestream?
Would they position themselves as a “leader” in an attempt to gain attention from those of the opposite sex?
Of course they wouldn’t, because they would know that those behaviours are what others are complaining about.
It Is OUR Movement
If there is a movement, it belongs to ALL of us, and not those who think of themselves as ‘leaders’.
“We” are the ones who have made it, and “we” are the ones who set the standard of it.
No behaviour that intimidates or threatens another should be accepted or tolerated within it. Regardless of who the initiator or recipient is.
If you see of someone being harassed or bullied on social media, stand up and make it clear that behaviour is unacceptable.
If you know of someone who has harassed or assaulted another person, tell them that behaviour is unacceptable.
If they have broken the law, encourage the victim to report it to the police.
If you are receiving harassing or threatening behaviour from someone in your local community, I urge you to seek legal advice on what options are available to you.