Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Hear no evil

I kind of wish I wasn't writing a blog right now. I think if I wasn't writing a blog I'd pay less attention to the news media, and I probably would have taken an "I can't cope with knowing this" position on the Louise Nicholas case. As it is I've been reading the papers, and listening to morning report and checkpoint on-line (talking of which, Radio New Zealand's headline for the story is: "Alleged rape victim Louise Nicholas breaks down in court" - fuck off radio New Zealand).

I feel almost invasive writing about it, at this point. They cleared the court while she gave evidence today, but the newspapers are reporting her testimony as if they're enjoying the salacious side of it.

What I'm scared of is the cross-examination. There are three defendants, and each of their lawyers will be able to try and rip her apart, one after another, with 20 people from the media, and the men who raped her watching. I'm sure I'll write more about this in the next few days.

I just wish I could offer some form of support to Louise Nicholas. By giving testimony, even though she's going to be treated like shit, then she may be able to show that even the powerful are not immune.

Also posted on Alas

9 comments:

  1. Anonymous10:04 pm

    "alleged" because it has not yet been proven perhaps?

    Innocent before proven guilty? as a feminist blog I would have thought that that principle would have been treasured. Are you wanting a male Salem witch trial or the kind of trials gays get in Iran or accused terrorists in the US?

    There are very strict rules now regarding x examination, but she has got this far and is probably far more capable of dealing with it than you fear. Whatever, the accused have the right to question the evidence. Her status as an alleged victim does not mean she can go unchallenged.

    Like it or not it is not unheard of for women to claim rape where there was none - in fact there was one that went to trial last year in Chch as well as a couple of false allegations in Wellington from memory.

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  2. They don't say 'alleged burgulary victim' or 'alleged assault victim'. It pisses me off that rape is the only crime where they don't just use 'allegedly' to describe the guilt of the parties involved, but also the status of the victim.

    The rate of falsely reported rapes is roughly the same as other crims (about 2%). My personal philosophy is that if any complainant can get through the police and get charges pressed, the guy is probably guilty, because the police are often right assholes about rape (the exception would be if the woman held considerably more power than the man, if she was white and he was black and they lived in the American south, for example).

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  3. Graham Watson10:24 pm

    She is a courageous woman for coming forward, more courageous than the anonymous commenter above who won't sign their name.

    Anon does have good points however about innocent until proven guilty, the need to avoid witch hunts, and the minority of cases where false allegations are made.

    I have a personal view on this case but would not share it, as I prefer the determination to be made by a court and jury, who will get more facts and insight than the rest of us. I am certain that if they are guilty they will be found so.

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  4. I would like to follow your links or otherwise check newspaper reporting but I am not courageous enough. Why is she facing three alleged rapists? About time NZ looked at evidence giving. NSW had to face this when some particularly horrible rapists (eventually they were found guilty) decided to defend themselves and looked set to do their own cross-examination of their victims. Their behaviour and attitudes in court were despicable. Laws had to be changed - because trials had to be aborted and a whole lot of other stuff. But in the end the victims, who were amazingly strong, were able not to give evidence at yet one more trial. I should add that ethnicity and/or culture was an issue in relation to the rapists. That's enough. Remembering it makes my flesh crawl. I should say that my daughter has a view that sexual matters like rape and pedophilia do not belong in our adversarial legal system. That there ought to be a special jurisdiction established in which the matters could be handled differently. Provides food for thought, methinks.

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  5. Anonymous11:10 pm

    Maia

    It's not quite that bad, murder is an example - people who have died in suspicious but unclear circumstances can be allegedly murdered. It is often just a journalistic convention to provide them with wiggle room, I would say in cases where there may not be direct evidence (like a broken window at a burglary) or one person's word against another. Was Mark Blumsky an alleged victim?

    I wouldn't like you on my jury if I were falsely accused, given your views.


    Graham

    While Maia is listed as her name I note that she too is effectively anonymous and you have a relatively common name and so some form of anonymity. I never questioned her courage - in fact I said she was liekly tougher than we think. Play the ball not the man.

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  6. Graham Watson11:25 pm

    I did not know whether you were a man or woman anonymous. This is certainly not ad hominem, but my view of the relative courage levels of Louise Nicholas and those who are unable to stand behind and own their statements.

    I have deep disdain for those who are not prepared to stand by their comments with their real name. In my view this shows a lack of courage of conviction. I assume Maia is her real name, and would be disappointed if this was not the case.

    I will never resort to commenting anoymously, and remain known as a real person who will own my statements to many who blog, as common as my name may be.

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  7. Anonymous11:54 pm

    Graham

    I assure you I am real. You can call me Sue if that helps

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  8. miss eagle she doesn't have to face them in the sense of them cross-examining them. But because there are three defendants there are three sets of lawyers, so she gets cross-examined three times. I also believe (but I could be wrong) that they're in the room while all she gives evidence

    There was a similar case to the one you mentioned in New Zealand, they're looking at changing the laws.

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  9. Maia, you're a courageous person, and yes, blogging seems to be the only way the message gets out.

    A word of advice, the police will now have you and your associates under surveillance-phone,email,and physical surveillance- sometimes it will be obvious with the specific intention of intimidation.

    Your best defences are to be in the presence of your associates who can act as 'witnesses' and to consider carrying (a) a dictaphone, (b) a video camera in the event these clowns push the envelope!

    Good luck
    Simian
    http://threesimians.blogspot.com/

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