The Truth About False Accusations
Let’s say you want to help create a world where people who make false accusations are demonized. A world where people have to think hard about the merits of a claim of victimization before they step forward. A world where claims are vigorously pulled apart and scrutinized. But haven’t we already achieved all of that?
If you think that we live in a world where one can lightly bring forth an accusation, then you haven’t been paying attention. Legitimate survivors of atrocious behaviors routinely report their fears of reprisal and scrutiny as keeping them from reporting. We’ve created a dynamic where only those with the strongest courage and convictions dare speak up. And, judging by incidence reports, we have a long way to go before those who might engage in non-consensual sexual activities have a similar healthy fear to make them think twice about acting inappropriately.
As an African-American male raised in a country where not so long ago a mere accusation of rape led to lynching, I know that the fear of false accusations comes from a very natural place. I know that false accusations are real and that they have power. It’s just that our intense fear of them has turned many of us away from challenging violence that also deserves our resistance.
There are few human institutions, if any, that people cannot abuse for personal gain. That’s just the way it is and the way it’s always been. But we cannot allow the very real potential for abuse to prevent us from taking a stand against very real violence that affects hundreds of thousands of Americans. Conventional wisdom says that we have to choose between challenging violence or false accusations. But this choice is as false as the accusations so many people rail against. We are perfectly capable of standing against injustice in all of its forms.