Op/Ed By Michael Vaughn –
There is a scripture in the bible that states, “He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone.”
In this passage of scripture, Jesus was not condoning the sin which the person had committed, but rather showing that the only One there who could legitimately cast a stone decided He would forgive.
Everyone else knew there were skeletons in their closets, but, ultimately, their consciences would not allow them to throw stones because they knew they were not perfect.
I am bringing this story up because of all the revelations that have been coming out relative to sexual harassment, recently.
However, my purpose is not to condone what people have done for years, but to object to what has become our collective response to it.
What has begun to materialize, and to become a part of our standard response to these accusations is to decide people are guilty of that which they have been accused, until they have been proven innocent.
This, in my opinion, is wrong.
A mere accusation should not be enough to cause someone to lose their job, reputation, livelihood, etc.
In our country, one is supposed to be “innocent until proven guilty.”
There is an old saying that says there are three sides to every story: the story of the person making the accusation; the story of the person that is being accused; and the truth.
We run the risk of irrevocably damaging someone’s reputation if we decide we are only going to believe one side of the story.
We need to give folks the benefit of the doubt.
And, I absolutely believe this when the story that is being told has been initiated by the news media.
The news media is biased, and their motives are centered around what they want to accomplish, which, unfortunately, is not always to get or to give the truth.
This is where the title of this article comes in, and what we should know to be the “golden rule,” which is: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
If we would all be completely honest with ourselves, we would realize that we would first want folks to give us the benefit of the doubt if similar accusations had been levied against us which were false.
We would want people to hear our side of the story, and then to be objective enough to judge us based on the facts, not their opinions or prejudices, etc.
And, if we would want this for ourselves, why would we not give that same grace to other people?
One thing is for sure, whether someone is a Democrat or a Republican, a Conservative or a Liberal, people are also human beings.
As a result, we should at least be willing to put ourselves in their shoes.
Each case should be judged by its own merits.
And, in the broad context of sexual harassment, the punishments should not be equal.
There are some cases in which folks should be prosecuted, because what they have done has risen to the level of criminal activity, but there are also other cases in which the perpetrators should simply be suspended, or ones in which warnings should be given.
We start moving down a very slippery slope when we just mete out punishment based solely on accusations.
Yet, I do believe that sexual harassment is a big probelm in this country, and that people have gotten away with it for a number of years.
As a result, I am glad that these revelations have surfaced, so that there will be a general understanding that sexual harassment will not be tolerated in our society.
However, as a society, we also still need to protect the rights of the accused, until they are proven to be guilty.
And, when someone is found to be guilty, they should have the punishment levied against them that fits the crime.
But, if they are innocent, we should proclaim their innocence with the same vigor with which the accusation was announced in the first place.
If we minimize the innocence of the accused, the perception that they are guilty may still remain in the minds of those individuals who are biased against them.
And, if we would adhere to the simple philosophy of Jesus Christ, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” we would be able to protect both the accused and the accuser, while still ensuring that the deplorable behavior is eradicated.
If you would like to contact me, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.