23 January 2016

Curious Precedent

This is interesting. A judge ruled that a pair of women who believed they were being harassed were not being reasonable in that belief. The judge went through great pains to state that he believed the women when they said they were being harassed, but, even so, the belief was not reasonable.

The idea of a 'reasonable person' or the idea of 'reasonable' lies throughout our law. Juries are told the standard of conviction is 'beyond a reasonable doubt'- not any doubt, but reasonable doubt. When a defendant at a murder trial invokes self defense, the standard by which self defense is measured is not whether or not the defendant felt their life was in danger, thus justifying the use of deadly force, but whether or not a reasonable person would conclude that their life was in danger. If the judge or jury finds that it was unreasonable to believe that the defendant's life was in danger, then the defendant is going down for murder. Reason has by and large been abandoned by our society, yet our law still enshrines and even demands the idea of reason.

And so in this case. The women, who were feminists, felt they were being harassed by a man who followed their twitter feeds and denied their claims using their hashtags. The judge concluded that the feminists were not being reasonable in believing this to be harassment. He felt their view was, simply put, not realistic. In other words, the judge ruled that, in this matter, a pair of feminists were out of touch with reality.

Interesting times.

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