Belfast verdict causes outrage.

I’ve said it many times before, and I’m going to say it again. We live in a world that has gone completely insane. I honestly don’t know how much more of this insanity I can take. It feels like everyday, something happens that makes me lose even more faith in humanity.

Today there was a verdict given in a rather high profile court case in Belfast, regarding an alleged rape. A young woman claimed to have been raped by two men at a party, with another two men acting as accessories to the crime. The accused men claimed that the sexual encounters were consensual. Today a jury of eight men and three women, after hearing the evidence presented for the past 41 days, declared all four men “not guilty” of all crimes, and they’re free to go. But of course in a world of social media, the story doesn’t end here. This verdict has generated absolute outrage.

A politician publicly speaking out against due process? Sounds like slander to me. No wonder he deleted this tweet soon after.

Now I’m going to be quite honest. I haven’t followed the trial, so I cant really give any comment on the evidence that was presented. But that’s not the point of this post. I didn’t make this post to give my own thoughts on whether the men are  actually guilty or not because I honestly don’t know. What I wanted to discuss is the reaction on social media, and the implications for those involved in the trial.

Because of the very public nature of the trial, and the fact that all four men have had their names and faces plastered all over the media, we now have one of two possible situations. We either have a group of innocent men, who have had their reputations destroyed by a false accusation and the ensuing trial by social media that followed. Regardless of being acquitted of the crime, these men will always be thought off as “rapists who got off” by a large contingent of the public.

Or alternatively, we have a high profile situation were the justice system failed to convict guilty men, and a victimised woman has had the added trauma of having her character dragged through the mud as a “liar” and a “slut”, in addition to the trauma of her experience. This will also have the added effect of discouraging future victims from coming forward. Why would you come forward when you see that your own character is going to be assassinated, and there’s a chance that you won’t get a conviction anyway?

Whether it’s a case of innocent men being falsely accused, or a genuine victim being slandered as a liar and a slut, an innocent party has just had their reputation destroyed. I put the blame on the media circus surrounding the trial and the hysterical mobs that inhabit social media. And believe me, the mob is very hysterical today. In this country at least, I don’t think I’ve ever seen such anger and division over a criminal verdict. And of course, it’s all emotional rather than logical. Vicious arguments between friends, who have a different interpretation of who was telling the truth and who wasn’t. “Feelings” being presented as “facts”. Talks of massive public marches in opposition to the verdict. Demands that the judge overturn the jury’s decision, etc. It’s all completely nuts.

How do they know there are this many unreported rapists out there, if they’re not being reported? What is the actual evidence for these figures? Is there actual evidence at all, or is just more hysteria? Why can’t we have civil discussions anymore?

I really think we need to reassess how the media deals with cases like this. I think that because we (supposedly) operate under a system of “innocent until proven guilty” that the accused should have the right to anonymity during their trial, and this anonymity should be maintained if they’re acquitted. Now if they’re found guilty then absolutely, put their names and faces in every newspaper and every social media feed, and reveal to the world what despicable scum they are. But only if and when they’re found guilty. I also think that there should be less high profile reporting on these cases themselves while they are happening. It just creates a partisan situation, were people will take one side over the other from the beginning, and will only accept a verdict if it goes their way. With less high profile reporting on these cases, there’s less of a chance of people becoming so emotionally invested, and becoming so… well… emotionally unhinged to be quite honest.

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