Moments of Permanence - Thoughts on this WisCon Thing part one: the failure of mindset on the topic of innocence

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Previous Entry Thoughts on this WisCon Thing part one: the failure of mindset on the topic of innocence Jul. 1st, 2014 @ 10:56 am Next Entry

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From:[personal profile] elspethdixon
Date: July 2nd, 2014 06:19 pm (UTC)
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Innocent until proven guilty is supposed to be a legal principle, not a social one. The burden of proof required by the American legal system (example used because that's the one I know about) is and should be very high because criminal convictions are extremely serious - people's lives can quite literally be at stake.

Banning someone from attending a privately-run sci-fi con or excluding someone from your social circle is not at all the same caliber of seriousness, and people running a con have to balance overall con-goer safety + the potential liability concerns if they received a report of sexual harassment or assault and didn't act on it and then the harasser assaulted someone else against the possibility of offending or mistakenly punishing individual con-goers. I'd refund the male con attendee's ticket price and tell him that we were very sorry, but there had been complaints made against him and that as a matter of policy were going to therefore have to ask him to leave. I would probably include the "liability concerns plus a general commitment to the safety of all attendees mean that we have a zero tolerance policy regarding all complaints of harassment, sexual or otherwise" in the literature about the con and boot out people who got into shouting&shoving matches in the registration line or fist-fights in the hotel lobby in the exact same way - maybe treating sexual violence in exactly the same way as any other form of violence would help discourage it and make people take it more seriously. People don't say things like "it's so unfair that Dragon*con banned Joe permanently after he punched that guy on the hotel security staff in the face," after all.
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From:[personal profile] sami
Date: July 3rd, 2014 10:07 am (UTC)
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Indeed. I bring up the innocence until proven guilty thing because I think it's a concept that's also, now, culturally embedded. People shy away from holding others accountable for actions that can't be definitively proven against them sometimes.

The trouble with equating it with violence is that it can be non-violent. Perhaps, for geeks, it would be helpful to equate it with bullying...
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