Saturday, May 25, 2013

I'll Get You Back for That!

What is the worst things you can do to retaliate against someone?

When I was a kid, it was telling our mother that my brother called someone a “son of a gun.” We were strictly forbidden the use of that term. (We would never have gone so far as to accuse each other of actual profanity, of using the Lord’s name inappropriately; that would have been beyond our ability to fathom.)

In early America, it was accusing someone of being a witch.

In Nazi Germany, it was accusing someone of hiding Jews—or of being one.

Each of those things, whether true or not, was almost certain to result in an extremely dangerous situation for the accused person.

Today, with society’s focus on our new bogeyman, a focus given credence by the plethora of laws and regulations and a registry, for crying out loud, for them and for no one else, there is no question that accusing someone of being a sex offender is the worst accusation that can be made.

And how easy it is to do. With the anonymity of the Internet, with the proliferation of information via social media, those chickens may never come home to roost on the false accuser.

And in a society where the lack of personal integrity, the inability to see beyond one’s own desires and concerns, and the total disregard for the plain, old-fashioned virtue of telling the truth are reaching critical mass, we can expect to see more of this deplorable trend.

Lovers scorned, girls trying to get out of a jam they have gotten themselves in, and angry spouses in divorce and custody-battle situations have used the technique for many years. A false accusation of rape or of inappropriate touching of the child being pulled in half has swayed many a situation and caused a decision to fall where it should not have fallen.

But this is a brave new world; why tell just a few people when, with a few clicks, everyone can know.

These headlines from a British source show the horrible extreme to which such a thing can go.
“Steven Rudderham: Dad falsely accused of being paedophile on Facebook found hanged. He was traumatized when his name, address and photograph were published online, with a message calling him a ‘dirty perv.’ ”

Apparently the person who concocted the false accusation took offense at something that Mr. Rudderham had written on a Facebook page.

The motivation behind the false accusations and slandering of Chad Lesko was much more direct. It was created by Lesko’s ex-girlfriend who was out for revenge. She posted on Facebook that he was a rapist and child molester wanted by the police. Before the truth came out, he had been slammed to the ground by officers in an arrest attempt.

Will the situation worsen before it begins to correct itself? Historically, yes, that is the pattern. Will it correct itself? Will society develop a collective sense of integrity and perspective and recognize that false accusations and mass vilification of citizens only detracts from the true and actual situations of wrong-doing, that every time a scared young woman says it was rape when it wasn’t, or an angry ex-wife makes a false accusation of child molestation, or someone fabricates a sexual charge out of spite or anger that it is an insult to the real victims of sexual violence?

The answer must be yes. Otherwise, we are doomed.

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