#MeToo Means the End of the Presumption of Innocence

Rogel Alpher
Rogel Alpher
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Protesters gather at the Grand Park in Los Angeles for a Women's March against sexual violence and the policies of the Trump administration in 2018
Rogel Alpher
Rogel Alpher

The #MeToo revolution is turning the world into a place that is far safer from sexual assaults and harassment. That’s a good thing. It is also destroying the foundations of the concept of justice. And in so doing is creating a genuine dilemma.

The presumption of innocence is meant to be universal and fundamental, accepted without question in international law. In the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights – which enshrines the rights and freedoms of everyone everywhere, and was adopted in 1948 in Paris – it was determined that the presumption of innocence is one of the international human rights.

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But those accused by #MeToo are not presumed innocent. Thanks to #MeToo, many sexual predators have been exposed and publicly condemned, with a stop put to their criminal behavior. The cost is the presumption of innocence – denying it is a new basic principle, a necessary precondition for the success of #MeToo as a revolutionary ideological movement, which is changing social norms.

According to #MeToo, it is no longer correct to assume that a person is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The new norm is that a person is guilty when he is accused. This norm changes the principles of law and justice as well as those of investigative journalism.

According to the old principles of justice, prior to #MeToo, when someone publicly accused another person of committing a criminal act against him, he first had to present evidence, to prove that he was speaking the truth. Now there is no longer any need for that. His word is enough. The principles of #MeToo require the person hearing the accusation to believe the accuser unhesitatingly and to declare his total confidence in the accuser’s words.

In addition, the new #MeToo norms determine that the cover of anonymity is crucial for accusers, and a necessary condition for revealing that a crime was committed. And here a few more anachronistic principles of justice are being tossed into the trash can of history, such as a person’s right to confront those testifying against him, or the statute of limitations.

In 1760 English jurist William Blackstone coined the formative statement: “It is better that 10 guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer.” That is a founding principle of modern law. And it has also been overturned in the context of #MeToo. This is the amended rule: It is better for 10 innocent people to undergo a public lynching than for a single guilty person to escape.

Another new rule is the a priori assumption that those who claim to be victims of sexual crime are not lying. There is no need for proof. The accuser-victim is immediately believed. His righteousness is axiomatic, and he is exempt from having to prove that he is telling the truth.

According to the new justice of #MeToo, a police investigation is also superfluous. And there is no need for a trial before a judge or jury. Shaming on social media has replaced everything – the police investigation, the filing of an indictment and the trial. Doing justice is no longer a process. It is done on the spot, immediately, in a drumhead court-martial.

The new legal mechanism is entrenching itself by enforcing strong punitive steps against heresy. The stoning of the heretics is short, violent, intensive, disproportionate, vulgar and lethal. Nor should we ignore an important fact: If trials were once conducted inside the courtroom, #MeToo trials have become an entertainment-media spectacle. People’s lives are destroyed in the blink of an eye. What we have here is a primitive, chaotic legal system, which has yet to be codified.

Along with #MeToo’s positive contribution, its negative influence should at least be considered: It is changing not only our attitude towards sex crimes, but also our thinking about the most essential foundations of justice and human rights, especially when it comes to incidents that took place in private.

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