- Scotland will enter the world of free nations on 18th of September with a blank sheet. The thousand flowers blooming will become a beautiful garden of five million. We will unleash the creativity of children of all ages. We will think outside the box. And we won’t reject ideas just because they are proposed by people with no track record, older people whose initiative and self confidence had been crushed out of them at school and by elitists and disciplinarians working within a narrow Union Jack straight-jacket. Everyone can have a good idea. I think I might even have two of them!
- One of the ideas I would like to propose to the Scottish people, and also to those further afield, relates to how civilized societies can deal with sexual harassment and other forms of sexual violence.
- There are two sets of opposed rights that all democrats need to cherish, values that seem to conflict when it comes to allegations of rape and sexual harassment. We are faced with a problem that seems to divide progressives into two warring factions, ferrets in a sack who refuse to even listen to each other. Civilized people need to accept that each of these groups champions one key element of the solution. Nevertheless, both of them generally insist on removing one pillar to an all-rounded solution. On the contrary, they all too often wield it as a weapons, swinging it wildly to knock down the other side’s house of cards. I think I can see a way out of this disaster for progressives. I may be wrong, and am okay with others telling me I’m talking nonsense. Anyway, here is my idea…
Cyber-mace as mobile phone app
- Society will never solve the problem posed by rape and sexual harassment until we identify the problems with the two main approaches to these scars. There are two injustices that have to be dealt with simultaneously. The ‘debate’ on this question has become so polarized that it resembles a long drawn-out version of Scot Night’s notorious Johann Lamont-Nicola Sturgeon scream-fest. No one is prepared to stop talking, to so much as take time out to breath and listen to what the other is saying. This is depressing beyond measure.
- The two injustices that all democrats have to prioritize are, on the one hand, securing justice for all those who have suffered any form of sexual abuse (regardless of their age, gender or sexual orientation), but also, simultaneously, securing this without opting for a ‘collective punishment’ that is indifferent to targeting innocent men. No serious democrat can object to this proposal. However, no one seems to have any idea how to do both of these things simultaneously. Well, I am arrogant enough to suggest that maybe I do see a way out of this dilemma.
- A section of society insists that all the accused are by definition guilty. They insist that the courts should exist simply to rubber stamp the accused going to jail, inevitably to be gang raped by gangsters, including fascists they may have dedicated themselves to putting in jail over a number of years, if not decades. Sorry, comrades, but there is nothing in the least bit democratic in such an approach. Watch Twelve Angry Men or The Crucible if that is how your mind works.
- Anyone who is content with collective punishment of all men has taken leave of their senses. I do not say that as a man, but as a human being, someone who shares the same values as every opponent of sexual harassment.
- Collective punishment of innocent men for the crimes of other men happens to be an attack on mothers of sons, sisters of brothers, loving wives of loving husbands, loving daughters of loving fathers. Even if we are not men, not heterosexual, even if we have no living male relative who could be in danger of being subject to summary justice without a fair trial, that is besides the point. We all have workmates, and neighbours. We are all human beings. We are humane. We are civilized. We do not tolerate the Nazi concept of ‘collective punishment’, whether it is of men, Jews, Muslims or anyone else.
- Believing someone who says they’ve been raped is essential to get justice. That is a fact. However, when it comes to the trail, the accused needs to have the evidence scrutinized with the greatest of care, if they deny the charge. The accuser has to be subject to fair cross examination, just in case there has not been a crime. Only a jury can settle the guilt or otherwise of the accused. And trial by media or any vigilante group helps no one secure justice.
Corroboration in the real world
- What about corroboration? This is what I want to discuss. When it comes to rape, the jury will be faced with the problem of who do you believe. Was the sex consensual or not? No one seems to have a solution to this. But I think I might. What I propose is not necessarily a solution to every act of sexual violence or sexual harassment. But it might address many of these these crimes, might force the guilty to plead guilty more or less immediately. Even more important, it just might lead to offenders realizing they are not going to get away with it, so they may as well not consider becoming a barbarian in the first place. What I propose may help almost all men grow up, in the process protecting most women from the threat of any form of sexual abuse, including sexual harassment in the form of offensive ‘jokes’, or so-called flirts that many men are encouraged (by Rupert Murdoch’s tabloid garbage, The SUN) to think is ‘just a bit of fun’.
- What I propose is that woman are universally granted the right to use an app on their mobile phone at the very first sign of any threat of sexual abuse, including harassment, verbally, groping or whatever. The phone could record the voices of both parties, uploaded to a server that is secure and encrypted. A recording that would be available to a jury in the event of this going to court. Men would soon learn when any flirtation is unwanted, that they have been told is unwelcome, constitutes a crime. Unless they cut it out they’ll find themselves in court, possibly in jail, and most certainly sacked. And managers and employers won’t be immune to this neither. Every man would be treated equally.
- While a mobile phone app would only record voice, is it not possible that the harassment may take a more physical form, and that this may not be detectable by sound recording alone? Yes. That’s perfectly possible. To deal with this, maybe there could by an app that can send a signal to a nearby CCTV camera, alerting it to focus on the woman with the phone.
- This may not work on every single occasion. But it may create an environment where workplace sexual harassment becomes a thing of the past. What I am proposing is certainly a set of restrictions on my liberty that I would happily surrender to ensure that sexual violence is minimized if not eliminated. Men realize they won’t get away with it, so they may as well not even think about it. And it will make it virtually impossible for innocent men to be falsely accused. Everyone’s a winner, right?
That is an extract from an even longer blog post that can be found here: https://derekthomas2010.wordpress.com/2014/03/03/cyber-mace-solves-sexual-harrasment-in-scotland/