The story in BBC News, Ruby Franke: ‘8 Passengers’ parenting mum arrested on child abuse suspicion, written by Madeline Halpert is a story for our times. A YouTube vlogger on parenting advice with 2 million followers has been charged with horrendous child abuse. It was easy for the millions to believe the vlog creator was a good mother because viewers did not see the malnourished, laceration-laden child tied up with duct tape that escaped to the neighbor.
Too many Americans believe that the popularity of a person, a product, or a viewpoint about a fact constitutes proof of the correctness of the popular view.
We make purchasing decisions based on reviews. We listen to people who share our views about political, scientific, and other facts.
But we all learned as a child that just because people say something is true does not make it true. We have all had the experience of people believing something not true about us or someone we love.
Somehow in the culture of social media, we have forgotten this basic truth.
Millions of Russians believed Stalin’s statements to be true. Millions of Germans believed Hitler’s statements to be true. Millions of Americans used to believe that slavery was good and women should not vote.
The fact that a view is popular or widely shared among your friends does not make the view correct or the underlying facts true.
The essence of due process is to give the accused the right to be confronted with allegations and to face and question their accusers. And to have the decision made by an independent person. The judge and the jury should not be the same person as the police officer or prosecutor.
In too many universities and workplaces, loud voices create perceptions about the accused. Accused executives, physicians, professors, workers, and students are being forced out of jobs and careers without due process.
When we remove due process protections, people always say it is for a good reason. But in the end, no one remains safe from false or mistaken accusations when we make it too easy to find someone guilty.
History teaches us this: the Salem Witch trials in late 17th century Massachusetts; the show trials of alleged counter-revolutionaries in the “Terror” in the French Revolution; and McCarthy-inspired investigations of alleged communists in the US in the 1950s all involved the loss of protections for the accused because of the perceived importance of finding “justice.”
At NachtLaw, we fight for our clients to ensure they get the due process the law mandates. In multiple cases, we have gone to court to expand the legal protections that exist for our clients and won. Since 1996, we have tenaciously fought for and saved careers.
It is an honor to fight not only for our clients – but for the American way of life.