#MeToo Cases Can't Be Tried Via Social Media



#METOO CASES CANNOT BE TRIED VIA SOCIAL MEDIA. The discussion of sexual harassment and abuse, especially in the workplace, is long overdue.

There are, however, some important questions arising from it. One such question is this: Are we happy to have alleged harassers tried by social media? Is a body of online opinion equal to a body of evidence submitted in a court of law? 
 
We may feel that by talking about alleged cases of harassment or abuse in social media, we are adding our voice in some general way to the condemnation of bad practices. More often, however, these "general" discussions become personalised very quickly. 
 
Sadly, once we personalise the discussion of harassment, referring in social media to specific alleged abusers, we often do little more than engage in herding behaviour, we join a mob. 
 
The fear of being the subject of viral social media campaigns leads to knee-jerk pseudo-apologies. An accused party (most often a man) might say: “I don’t remember the incident, but I’m sorry if my behaviour caused any offence.” 
 
This is not a real apology. It is too conditional and too vague. It is more often an attempt to dampen down the passion of the baying lynch party, whose fingers are poised to punch out vitriolic responses on social media. 
 
Accusations must be made through proper channels. They must then be investigated and adjudged through the legal system, not via Facebook or Twitter.

That is the only way in which justice can be served, with at least some form of closure and perhaps restitution for victims and, for the perpetrator, some form of potential treatment delivered.


For the longer essay, click here. For Mal Fletcher's BBC interview clip on this, click here.

 

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