It is to be greatly lamented that there is such a disparity between the suffering that results from the trauma of rape and the difficulty one has in survivors of such a crime getting justice. One of the more unpleasant sorts of subjects that I have read about and researched over the past few years is the question of power rape, which involves the question of what sort of consent is actually available when there is a wide disparity of power between two people. One of the chief attractions of power, at least in my own study and observation, is the way that gaining power induces other people to give one deference that one would not ordinarily give to someone. To claim that this particular deference is itself unjust is to attempt to remove one of the chief attractions of power to people who might otherwise seek different things. This is, of course, apart from any sort of problem that people who have power have at accepting the rejections that they are given.
As difficult as it has often been to prove rape beyond a reasonable doubt–in contrast to other violent crimes–there are good reasons why the protections of the presumption of innocence are still worthwhile even when (especially when) we have such a horror of a crime. It has proven to be all too easy for people to make baseless accusations against decent men and then rely upon the tendency of some people, whose judgment is often weak to begin with, to believe the accuser even when the charge has been made solely for political effect. An accusation is, mercifully, not the same thing as a conviction, and it should merely be the first step in an investigation, which may very well determine (as it often does) that the story is not quite what first meets the eye. There is a lot in this world that looks very bad that does not end up being nearly as bad as it looks when one investigates it further.
It is remarkably hard to prove innocence. If we allow people to poison the well by mere unsubstantiated accusation, it is hard for anyone to escape damaging losses to one’s well-being, one’s reputation, one’s family life, and so on, simply because someone has the motivation to say something bad about them. And as someone who lived on this earth a few decades, I can say with a high degree of confidence that it does not require much for people to have the motivation to say bad things about others, to selectively report on something, to give unfriendly interpretations to things that can be understood differently, to read things with a consistently evil and wicked light. It is not coincidental that Satan is known consistently as the accuser of the brethren, and that the matter of false witnesses is such an important aspect in questions of biblical law and in our own justice system. To the extent that we believe in a just God, we demand less perfection from flawed early regimes and institutions that we know to be imperfect because they are staffed by imperfect people, frequently with immensely idiotic worldviews and low moral character.
What often remains to be done is for us to comfort those who suffer, knowing that not all of those who inflict torment on others do so with any kind of evil intentions and frequently do so without knowledge as to the harm that they cause in seeking the gratification of their own desires. As we live in a world where the gratification of desires is viewed to be of such supreme importance in life, it is little wonder that there are a lot of casualties of the fulfillment of those longings and desires. Unless we are going to counteract the spirit of the age in enshrining one’s personal desire as one’s chief authority in life and the source of all necessary motivations in one’s behavior, then we are going to need to do a much better job at comforting and encouraging those who are hurt by the heedless and thoughtless pursuit of desire that other people have. To the extent that we know how the lack of restraint in one’s conduct can harm others, we can therefore seek to restrain ourselves from harming others as much as possible. We do this not to virtue signal or to get a pat on the back from others, or to prevent lynch mobs of internet peasants with torches and pitchforks, but because we believe that it is right to do that which we ought to do, and that we will be judged by a just God whose justice, however slow it sometimes is, does not sleep forever.