Beliefnet
Everyday Ethics

I was reading a CNN article about the 4 young men falsely accused of rape at Hofstra University; unsurprisingly, they described the experience as ‘traumatic’. Well, yes, to say the least!

Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not speaking out against rape victims who speak up — all too often, their voices are heard with disbelief and scorn. I merely want to make a comment on the whole concept of “innocent until proven guilty” in America.

As the lines of communication become more and more ubiquitous, it seems that this long-held credo of the American justice system has been thrown out the window. To even be linked to a crime, especially such horrendous crimes as rape and murder, is traumatizing (a weak word, in my opinion). Unfortunately, it’s made all the worse by the media and the public who listens, with ears cocked for the salacious details and their mouths ready to condemn.

Take for example the sad story of Annie Le. Almost as soon as Raymond Clark was arrested and charged with Le’s murder, news stories were popping up all over the internet and television with headlines plastering his mugshot and blathering on about how he was always ‘quiet’ and ‘loved his dog’.

I was, however, pleasantly surprised to see that Yale University President Richard Levin was quoted as saying, “we must resist the temptation to rush to judgment.” Thank you, sir!

Again, I’m not speaking out against the victims of these atrocities — merely asking for a bit of restraint before we sharpen our pitchforks.

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