Made to Prevent Hysteria
I read Benjamin Joffe-Walts letter, printed in the Feb. 8
edition of The Oberlin Review, I was very troubled. I am a freshman
and I lack Joffe-Walts four years of experience with the college
administration, so I have nothing comparable to the specific cases
and personal experience he cites. However, some of Joffe-Walts
ideas strike me as dangerous and ultimately undefendable.
In the third paragraph of his letter, Joffe-Walt criticizes President
Nancy Dyes statement that a student is assumed innocent until
proven guilty by a preponderance of evidence. He writes that,
this leaves the burden of proof on the survivor/accuser.
In the United States of America, the burden of proof is always on
the accuser. This rule was enacted to prevent the innocent from
being punished. The philosophy behind the American legal system
is that it is better that many guilty criminals go free than few
innocent individuals are punished. Flawed as our legal system may
be, I believe that this philosophy is sound. It protects the accused
from the hysteria engendered by as heinous a crime as rape and ensures
that their trials will be as fair as possible. Rape is a serious
crime, but that does not mean that it should be treated in a different
way than any other crime.
Joffe-Walt also claims that I have enjoyed sexist privilege
that includes rape. Personally, I urge anyone male or female
that agrees, that they have a considerable capacity
for violence, sexual assault, and rape to seek psychological
help, because they need it. I am a man, and I am not a potential
rapist. The mere thought of myself doing something sexual to another
human being without their consent makes me sick. The thought of
someone violating someone I care about in that way enrages me.
In conclusion, I feel that Joffe-Walts letter is a part of
the hysteria that Americas legal philosophy is intended to
protect against. I am happy I live in a country and on a
campus where no matter the severity of the crime, the accused
are entitled to the right to a fair trial. Joffe-Walt says reality
does indeed need changing, but painting all men as potential rapists
and forcing those accused of rape to prove their innocence
is not the way to do it.