Much of the discussion about child abuse in this
post is bothersome.
posted by MisantropicPainforest to Etiquette/Policy at 12:43 PM (121 comments total)
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There were some thing said in the discussion about Jesse Friedman, the convicted child molester, that I do not think would stand on MetaFilter if a similar thing was said about someone who was guilty of sexually assaulting adults. I do not want to adjudicate that case here, but I do want to talk about the way we talk about childhood sexual abuse on Metafilter.
Background: Friedman plead guilty to sexually abusing over a dozen children, served 13 years in prison, and has since been released. The DA in New York recently reviewed the case, and in their opinion, 'confirmed' his guilt.
Here is some comments from that thread that I think are problematic:
"So, the DA has issued a report saying "We got it right!" and that's case closed? Like hell. The charges were always ridiculous (one molestation, sure. Two, sure. Five, sure. Eighty? With Arnold Friedman allegedly walking through the classroom waving his wang? Bullshit), and the fact that the Nassau DA, a notoriously prosecution-friendly office, has released their own report just makes me more suspicious."
"Wow, really? This apparently comprehensive review could only confirm the testimony of three out of the original thirteen alleged victims?...What's more disturbing is the fact that even one, let alone two, victim/s has recanted. That suggest that police elicited false testimony."
"What I can't quite square is the testimony of children like those you've quoted above who claim broad and extreme sexual acts on groups of children with two things: 1) a lack of any type of photographic evidence (did the Friedmans have a dark room and develop their own photographs?) and 2) the testimony of other children in the same classroom who said that they witnessed no abuse whatsoever. If the claims were less . . . spectacular, I don't think I'd find myself reacting to them with such suspicion."
"That said "80 kids" sounds absurd, but if you're talking about every single kid that he touched inappropriately even once it might not be impossible."
"You do know that you can make yourself believe things that never happened, right? There are studies that had researchers take photos of peoples childhoods, and photoshop some into things that didn't happen (one i remember is a balloon ride with someone famous). All the people in the study then told them stories about when this happened, and they didn't believe it didn't happen. If you do this in your life, for 20 years or more, especially if you have others telling you it's true, then no amount of fact will let you believe it's false. This is why in cases that can ruin lives, there needs to be more than memories to go by, and if 80 victims is true, that should be mind boggling easy to get."
My issue with these is they echo common patterns of speech found adult rape apologia and rape culture, which is shunned on MetaFilter. They don't' speak to the facts or details of the case at hand, but promote generalizations as to how victims of childhood sexual abuse are 'supposed' to act. Victims are often very reluctant to come forward, very reluctant to speak to police, and often withdrawal their testimony or refuse to participate in an investigation because it opens up old wound and causes them to relive the trauma.
My point is that misremembering details and not coming forward is perfectly consistent with how victims behave. I believe that MeFi would not stand for arguments in threads about a confessed and convicted sexual assaulter of adults to claim that 1) the absence of photographic evidence is indicative of the assaulter's innocence 2) that it is absurd to suggest that an assaulter assaulted over 80 victims 3) that recantation by some of the assaulter's victims suggest that the assaulter is innocent of the charges by those that did not recant 4) and that it is within the realm of possibility that the victims are misremembering their abuse because research shows that it is possible for children to misremember trivial events.