Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Dueling Convictions, Right or Rights

Zoodle Side Salad, a cold side dish that makes a great addition to any lunch, dinner, picnic, cookout, or pot luck. | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #vegetables

 This post has been exceedingly difficult to write. For someone like me who can make any short story long, that's saying a lot. There's so much emotion involved in examining our personal convictions, how committed we are to them. But I'm concerned that in my attempt to adequately express my conflicting beliefs, I risk sounding insensitive. 
Although the issue I'm struggling with has been in the spotlight for years, and come to the forefront as a full-fledged #MeToo movement this past year, our personal round of familial discussions was precipitated by a conversation I had with College Boy last month. Since then, I've attempted to explore my feelings and write this post, without success.
I've been trying to balance what seems to be opposing thoughts, articulate what feels to me like diametrically opposed beliefs and, as a result, come to terms with how inadequate being conflicted on this particular issue has made me feel.
One strategy I frequently use to work things through is to just sit down and write out my feelings, even in disjointed thoughts and partial sentences. As the words flow, I start to see how to put them together in a cohesive manner. Not this time. 
I've also tried thinking about it not only as a whole but in pieces, then deliberately giving it a rest, not actively thinking about it at all. Often if I go to the kitchen and focus my mind on a task, the issue works itself out in the background, my thoughts solidify. Not this time.
Zoodle Side Salad, a cold side dish that makes a great addition to any lunch, dinner, picnic, cookout, or pot luck. | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #vegetables

Zoodle Side Salad
Let me start with the back story:

A little over a month ago, someone sent College Boy a link. It was to a news story about one of the owners of a business College Boy had worked for last year. I need to mention here that although this man's position in the business is well known in the community and among employees, and he was actively involved in the day to day running of the company in all of the ways an owner would be, the business is now not only claiming he was not an owner, but had a lawyer send my son a letter threatening to sue him if he continues to talk on social media, as others are, about this man's position in the company. 
Anyway, back to the link. It was to a news story about this man's arrest. He had been accused of child sexual assault. The incident was reported by the child's mother who was informed of the situation when her children returned from spending a few days with friends.
Not much (any) thought needs to go into how you feel about something like that. We were heartbroken for the child and her family, furious about the despicable mom shaming comments we saw on many social media links to the article, and sickened by the situation as a whole. 
For us, it didn't take the #MeToo movement to solidify our support for anyone who reports a sexual assault. It didn't take Donald Trump, Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, Jeffrey Epstein, Warren Jeffs, Larry Nassar . . . to exemplify how emotionally wrenching it is for victims to step into the unforgiving limelight. Nor did it take Anita Hill or Christine Blasey Ford for us to know the brutality inflicted on those victims who come forward.  

So then why the conflict?

Out of curiosity, not realizing where it would lead, I asked my son what he would have done if he'd still been working for this company. "Would you stay?" I asked him, "Or would you leave?"

"I think I'd most likely leave," he answered. 
"So then what about innocent until proven guilty?" I then asked. "Where does that factor in? Or does it?"

Dueling Convictions, Right or Rights | graphic designed by and property of www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

Because I watch a lot of true crime shows, I know there are not just predators, but there are also unscrupulous people who have used allegations of sexual assault in child custody negotiations, assault and murder defenses, for all kinds of nefarious manipulative reasons.
It's difficult, when someone's been arrested for a heinous crime, to give them the benefit of the doubt. The accusation is out there, along with an assumption that there wouldn't have been an arrest without enough evidence to satisfy the warrant process. But there are those instances in which it just isn't true.

I would never, ever, under any circumstance, do anything other than support someone coming forward with an accusation of sexual abuse, assault, or rape. There's no question that accusers should be afforded their voice, as well as having emotional, physical, and legal services available to them. I believe we need to not only acknowledge those who have suffered, but pave the way for them to feel safe confronting their abuse. 

And I know that the only way we'll get there is by believing all of the accusers. I don't pretend to have all the information, but those who come forward publicly, how can you not have a visceral response to their anguish? It's all consuming. Their palpable pain is right there in front of you. And it's why I'm having a hard time reconciling that support, with a basic tenet of our legal system, the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

Why do I feel like a traitor when I say that?

Maybe because I see the statute of limitations as being a critical issue, a road block in both healing and resolution. What if it's run out? What then? When rights usurp right? No resolution for anyone, either party, and the possibility that our system enables sexual predators to continue victimizing. 
There should be no statute of limitation for any sexual crimes. Period.
But this doesn't even scratch the surface of the interlocking issues involved. Like what about Ghislaine Maxwell? Can I possibly not think she's guilty? What about the inequities in our legal system based on financial status, race, sex, even politics? Can I possibly not question the system when a Maria Farmer initially went to the FBI to report her rape by Epstein and Maxwell back in 1996 and nothing happened? In fact, I have a hard time not thinking that the FBI, by not pursing a case back then, isn't actually complicit in all that Epstein and Maxwell were free to continue doing from that time forward. And when they finally acted, what about Epstein's absurd plea deal back in 2008? What is fair about 13 months with work release?

I don't know. Any of it. All of it. I just don't know.
For my son, in this specific situation, the answer to stay or go wasn't a battle. He says that he would leave because he got to know this man, and was able to form his own opinion as to the guy's character. He told me that he'd leave because, despite the presumption of innocent until proven guilty, the alleged behavior is not inconsistent with what College Boy knows of him.

And me? I know that for many this is a black and white issue, and I get that. I so want to be part of the solution, but I'm still struggling with carving out a little circle of grey.
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Zoodle Side Salad        


Printable Recipe

1 1/2 cups fresh zucchini spirals or a 10 oz frozen package
1/2 cup pignolis
1 medium carrot
3/4 cup mini herb marinate mozzarella cheese balls
3/4 cup grape tomatoes
1/3 cup olive oil
2 TBSP red wine vinegar
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
*Cook the zoodles until just barely soft. For fresh spirals, it will take about 1 1/2 minutes in the microwave. For frozen zoodles it will take about 3 1/2 minutes in the microwave. Once cooked, drain on a paper towel and immediately refrigerate in a bowl.
*Spread the pignolis onto a small baking tray (toaster oven size), and place in the oven. Mix after about 2 minutes, check after 2 more minutes, once they just barely start to brown, they're done. Remove from the tray and set aside to cool.
*Shred the carrot (I just use a potato peeler), cut the cheese balls and the grape tomatoes in half.
*Once the zoodles are cool, add the carrot, cheese, and tomatoes to the bowl.
*Whisk together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic powder, onion powder, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Add to the bowl with the zoodles and gently mix together. Cover and refrigerate at least an hour, gently mixing now and then.
*To serve, sprinkle with the toasted pignoli nuts.


  1. You put into words what so many of us struggle with. It's true that conviction in the court of public opinion today is instant and harsh, and we do not know the facts. The facts do not come out until trial and even then, maybe they don't really come out. Child sexual abuse is heinous. Rush to judgment is not helpful. I have no answers, but I really had to give this post some thought this morning. / Carol Cassara aka Julie

    1. Although neither of us has answers, I think that acknowledging that we are grappling with these issues is at least a first step.

  2. The court of public opinion, I wonder how much of this goes to the court of your peers. With the the media feeding frenzy of today, I wonder how anyone really gets a fair trial. I too would stand with someone who is brave enough to stand in that bright light and point a finger. But in some cases, I have to wonder if that finger is tainted. It is not for me to judge, but trust. Your son has some wisdom there, knowledge is power.

  3. I'm with you in the struggle, Karen. I want to believe in the system, but stay true to my commitment to support the abused rather than the abuser.
    When you get that little patch of grey mapped out, make sure it's big enough for the both of us.

  4. So much to unwrap here. Yes, innocent until proven guilty, but that is so much easier said than done. Many people's lives have been ruined by a false accusation that was later proven false, but the person was never able to live it down.

    We know someone ourselves who lost all custody and visitation with his daughter because his ex accused him. (He was never arrested, tried, or convicted.) He later compared notes with her second and third husbands, and she'd threatened them when she divorced them that "if you don't cooperate, I'll accuse you, too, and they'll believe me like they did with her dad." The child has grown up believing the lie her mom told her that her dad molested her, and she won't have anything to do with him.

    You want to believe and support the person doing the accusing, yes, and yet every time someone lies about it, it makes the situation that much harder for everyone.

    1. What a devastating, heartbreaking, life changing story. This is a perfect example of why I'm so conflicted.

  5. I need to dwell on this at another time where I have more brain bandwidth available. As for now, there was a wonderful Italian restaurant where my mother in law once lived. The food was so good, and we went there a couple of times for Mother's Day, but then the owner faced a similar charge. This was before MeToo, but, as I recall, the restaurant ended up closing. The marriage (the wife, a wonderful woman, used to serve her personally and was so kind to my elderly mother in law) may have ended, too. I didn't know the whole story but I now think back, what if this had been a local business person? Too many lives have been ruined by false accusations, but there is a strong "on the other hand, what if the charges were false?" Alana ramblinwitham.blogspot.com

    1. It's such an emotionally charged subject, and the stakes are high, one party or the other has had their life significantly impacted.

  6. Replies
    1. Yes, when it comes to mud, people have very long memories, that's one piece of the issue.

  7. Sadly, there have been so many stories about the system not working the way it's supposed to it's easy to get cynical about the whole thing.

    1. It's also a terrifying part of where we're going as a country. We've lost faith in the political system, lost faith in the judicial system . . .


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