In an era when government takes too much
away from us already, why the bloody hell
should it be allowed to steal more?
by J. Neil Schulman
Special to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise
Back in the late 50’s / early 60’s, when I was a kid, one of my favorite TV shows was Sea Hunt, starring Lloyd Bridges (long before he picked the wrong day to stop sniffing glue) as ex-Navy and now free-lance frogman Mike Nelson.
Now suppose that in every episode Mike Nelson, instead of SCUBA diving to retrieve lost bicycles or sunken nuclear missiles, had been hunting for sea witches: mermaids and other supernatural beings who by controlling waves and weather could capsize boats and murder sailors.
We only need to go back as far as 1692 in the Massachusetts Bay Colony town of Salem — only eight decades before delegates from Massachusetts signed the Declaration of Independence — to find the executions of women accused of using sexual wiles on innocent men, killing cattle and crops, and otherwise practicing evil sorcery.
Oh, but the idea of sea witch hunts as a TV premise in the 1960’s would have been more ridiculous than Gilligan’s Island, right?
The mentality that practices witch hunts is still with us today. Every day. On TV shows labeled as news and comedy, on the front page of the remaining daily newspapers, on the most advanced of communication media: the Internet.
It used to be that at least in Western post-Enlightenment cultures Radical Christian theocrats were the driving force behind witch hunts. Today the hunters — while as hostile to human sexuality as radical Islamic theocrats — represent themselves as secular modern protectors of women and children.
It would be easy for me to widen this article into writing about misguided hunts for all sorts of evildoers and evil-doing.
Yes, the Soviet Union embedded spies in Western governments and trade unions (including in Hollywood) but nonetheless non-Soviet-agent screen actors and screenwriters, some Communist fellow travelers, others just ordinary Hollywood liberals, were swept up onto hysteria-driven black lists.
As a libertarian I’ve been blacklisted from the other end of the political spectrum; my sympathies are never with those putting people on no-hire lists regardless of personal beliefs.
I could take us back to the 1980’s McMartin Pre-school trial, where accusations of day-care workers sodomizing pre-school children were brought to trial by the Los Angeles district attorney with testimony from toddlers also testifying about elephants being paraded across their romper room.
It would be easy for me to turn this article into accusations and counter-accusations about the political dirty-tricks used in the 2016 presidential election.
But if I’m going to take a blast from the past the most relevant is the 2006 Duke lacrosse case, a completely trumped-up multiple-rape prosecution based on a lying accuser, a case so egregious in its malicious prosecution the district attorney was disbarred.
Rape, like murder and robbery, is a ubiquitous crime. My second novel, The Rainbow Cadenza, published in 1983 a few years before liberal-feminist Margaret Atwood’s ballyhoo ’d paranoid anti-Christian / anti-male screed The Handmaid ’s Tale — is a projection of a future rape culture, with all the implications explored.
Human beings can, and often do, lie, for all sorts of reasons. Revenge. Money. Fame.
Women are human beings, thus subject to the same motivations to lie as are men.
While some men are physically stronger than some women, many men are fat, deconditioned, and weakened by age. I know all about that: I’m a 64-year-old deconditioned male.
When in the late 1990’s I conducted an independent journalistic investigation of the Brown-Goldman murders that O.J. Simpson had been criminally tried and acquitted for — later resulting in my 1999 book The Frame of the Century? — the Los Angeles Times‘s editors informed me they could not join in my investigation of an alternate suspect because unless the police were investigating my suspect for a crime a newspaper could not do their own investigation.
Yet today Woody Allen accuser Mia Farrow’s son — Ronan Farrow — having joined in his mother’s never-tried accusations against Allen — is published in The New Yorker now having moved on to making criminal accusations against Harvey Weinstein, as of now not brought before a grand jury or brought to trial.
Weinstein’s accuser now being listened to by New York City police and prosecutors made no criminal complaint against Weinstein at the alleged time of the rape. There was no session with the NYPD’s Special Victims Unit. There was no forensic rape kit done to support the accusation. There is now only a years-belated accusation when it is popular in the media to hang the witch.
Harvey Weinstein has lost his much-honored production company over these media-carried but as yet uncharged accusations, published without proof in major media
Now Kevin Spacey has lost his Netflix series House of Cards and future Netflix production relationship because of decades-old gossip that he made homosexual advances toward a biologically post-pubescent man. Fourteen isn’t a man? Tell that to Blaize Teague, a 14-year-old being tried as an adult for murder in Oklahoma.
I am a political enemy of Harvey Weinstein, who supports nullifying the right to keep and bear arms. Nonetheless accusation by major media prior to trial is the method of witch hunters and blacklisters.
I have never worked with, met, or ever been in communication with Harvey Weinstein, Woody Allen, Kevin Spacey, or people who might have put my work in front of their eyes.
Libertarians have argued that reputation is an idea that exists only as an idea in people’s heads, and is therefore not subject to action to prevent eople from writing or talking about it.
But this is the same intellectual bullshit that is used against a novel, song, or movie once it no longer is confined to someone’s brain as an ineffable idea but exists as an observable and quantifiable artifact in the common world.
Once the accusation against someone exists in the real world it has real-world effects, and should be subject to the same limits as any other assault and battery. You’re free to swing your arm only until it hits someone else.
You’re free to spread accusations only insofar as you can prove them true, otherwise if it’s costing your victim her or his ability to work you’ve become the criminal.
Woody Allen, Harvey Weinstein, and Kevin Spacey are victims of criminal libel until that moment that a jury finds them guilty of criminal conduct.
Anything less than that standard is granting to accusers the right to be believed without the proof a civilized Enlightened society demands.
Reprinted from J. Neil Schulman at Agorist.com
© 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 The J. Neil Schulman Living Trust. All rights reserved. Web and email links with attribution permitted and encouraged. Other reprints permitted only with prior permission of the author.
J. Neil Schulman is a novelist, screenwriter, journalist, radio
personality, filmmaker, composer, and actor. His dozen books include
the novels Alongside Night and The Rainbow Cadenza,
both of which won the Libertarian Futurist Society’s Prometheus
Award for best libertarian novel, and the anthology Nasty, Brutish,
And Short Stories.
Read more about him.
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