Making Fair Judgement

There is a purge of sorts going on now in our country. There are people who have been named publicly as using their power or authority to abuse others. If those named as abusers are proven to be such-I hope they are punished. I hate it when someone uses their power to bully or abuse another.

There is a difference between an allegation and the truth. Allegations are easy to make-finding the truth sometimes takes some effort. In our culture, the tipping point to making an allegation appear as truth in the media seems to be how many people you can bully into agreeing with you.

There is no greater tool to bully the masses than the media. The established media is wildly biased and the media of the internet can be described best as bi-polar and amplified. Neither consistently uses their power to find the truth-nor do they crave the truth. They both crave readers, listeners and worshipers.

Fairness is hard to define. As far back as the Magna Carta and as recently as 5th and 14th Amendments to the Constitution, we have seen Due Process as a path to fairness; a fair way for government to treat the citizens who pay for its’ existence. This fairness does extend to civil proceedings which have a standard for decisions that is lower than in criminal proceedings. If this is such a good standard for fairness then why is this not used in the court of public opinion?

Here is the problem when “whisper networks” replace due process. You can make allegations that a person has abused you or used their authority to abuse you. If you prove these allegations with documentation or witness testimony then that person can be found guilty in a court of law-this is due process. In the court of public opinion you do not have to prove anything. All you have to do is yell louder than the person you have accused. If your words are amplified by a sympathetic media then your allegations are deemed as proven. If you do not enjoy the amplification provided by a biased media, then defense of your character is much more difficult. In the court of public opinion, the quality of testimony does not matter, only the quantity matters.

The most flagrant lack of due process of which I can think was the Salem Witch Hunt. In this time, women were put to death because only one side of an argument was heard and there was no expectation of due process. Innocents died as a result of this lack of fairness. I don’t know if the people named in the media as abusers are guilty or not. If there is no due process for them, how do we know? Do we just stand the person up on a stage and use an applause meter to decide if they are guilty or not? Is this how you want to be judged? What if next time your are accused by someone who sells newspapers or television advertising?

Those who make one-sided, unfair decisions without hearing both sides of the argument typically believe that their actions will disappear from memory with the passage of time. Those who killed the innocent and listened to only one side of the argument during the Salem Witch Hunt are available through a simple web search. There is no getting away from false allegations or decisions based on who shouted loudest. We as a society-somewhere down deep- know that we should be careful in how we judge others, lest we be judged.