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Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Justice, Justice, Shall You Pursue

There seems to be a spate of scandal in the press right now, both Jewish and not. Financial improprieties, sexual indescretions, abuse, you name it. Have we really come to such a bad place that there are so many more bad things done by those around us than there were in the past? I don't believe so. Moral lapses in humans, both Orthodox and not, are as old as the hills. What has changed, in my opinion, is the tendency for both the general public and the press to elect themselves judge, jury and executioner.

Whatever happened to the Jewish tenet of "judging each man favorably"? Whatever happened to that good old adage of the American legal system, "innocent until proven guilty"? I am aware that most of these people are probably guilty as charged, and that in most cases, "where there's smoke there's fire" and all that. But what about those wrongly accused?

I remember a case a few years ago of a high school teacher publicly accused by a female student of improper behavior. This man was supended from his post and became a social pariah. He maintained his innocence. Ex post facto, the girl recanted and was found to be not credible by a mental health professional. Even her parents conceded that the story was untrue and apologized to the teacher. Well. Too little too late, guys. Although he was reinstated at his former teaching job, the man was never fully able to resume his life there, and picked up and moved with his family to a different community.

And what about Tawana Brawley? Did the fact that her story was fabricated get anywhere near as much press and attention as the original, horrific, allegations? Did Steven Pagones, the man who was wrongly accused of her rape, get his life back? According to all accounts, no.

Is that OK? Is that just a price we have to pay for increased vigilance? Or have we created a situation where the whistleblower is rewarded to the extent that the veracity of what he is alleging is not even relevant? Let me be clear, I am well aware that are cases of abuse and fraud in every community, and that it does us no good to put our collective head in the sand. I am also aware that our community has a bad habit of sweeping scandal under the carpet, and that tendency has not served us or any victims well, especially in cases of abuse. But is there a happy medium, whereby every allegation gets properly investigated without trial in the court of public opinion? Have we entered an age of justice where the one with the best public relations wins? Does our justice system come to verdicts through public polling?

My question remains, what of those who are truly innocent, as small a percentage as that may be? Are they just collateral damage? I find that hard to stomach. Does anyone else?

7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I totally agree. I don't personally think that a certain Rabbi that is in the news right now is innocent, but why are we ruining his life by publicizing this story instead of getting him help?

10:00 AM  
Blogger orthomom said...

If you think we totally agree, then unfortunately, I believe you might have missed my point.

10:03 AM  
Blogger AMSHINOVER said...

The reason the mesaches horias exists is because of the realization that even our courts can be mistaken.

11:10 AM  
Blogger orthomom said...

So Amshi, let me get this straight. You disagree with what I said? How is that possible?

12:55 PM  
Blogger AMSHINOVER said...

READ WHAT I WROTE and you'll see i was qualifying your remarks,jeez you really are a orthodox chick

12:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

jeez you really are a orthodox chick

it is so hard to read intonation here, but what on earth was that supposed to mean?

No one deserves to have their name driven through the mud. Even when found guilty. On the day of judgement we will all be judged. Who says one person's sins are worse or better than anothers?

(Yes there are exceptions - Hitler etc)

ok trying to post but blogger is being weird, sorry if multiple posts

11:35 PM  
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2:43 AM  

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