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For a long while, LA Progressive would pick a particularly pointed comment on one of our articles each week and feature it as a "Feedback Friday." The point was to draw readers' attention to the many insightful comments other readers post on the magazine's articles and so encourage them to comment as well.

friday feedback

But as they do, one thing led to another, we got busy, and next thing you know, we had dropped the weekly section.

But then Tom Hall—who regularly contributes articles to LA Progressive—wrote a strong comment on Sikivu Hutchinson's article, "Nate Parker and Predators of Faith" The comment cried out for wider exposure, so we're going to relaunch Feedback Friday with it. Enjoy.

—Dick & Sharon

nate parker rape controversy

Feedback Friday: Due Process for Nate Parker—Tom Hall

The Nathan Parker “story” shines a very frightening light on a serious change in cultural viewpoint about the law in the United States, and particularly in the “progressive” community. The case focuses attention on a wide scale desire to abandon traditional theories of due process rights, including the right of confrontation and the right to a presumption of innocence.

Just a few years ago, we had the McMartin preschool scare. In that case, public opinion was that even the youngest children should be relentlessly grilled by police until they “admitted” being abused (years later some would say that their “admissions” were coerced and false – given simply to end the psychological torture). And society wanted to presume the guilt of the accused, since the crime of child abuse was so horrible that the presumption of innocence “had to be” ignored.

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Our culture has changed. Rape used to be a crime against the men who “owned” raped women. We’ve progressed enough to recognize that it is really a crime against women. But now it is such a horrible offense against women that we have to protect women from any questioning about their claims, and we have to abandon any presumption that an accused is innocent until proven guilty.

We should remember that Mr. Parker was TRIED, with the full cooperation of the accusing woman, and was ACQUITTED. I presume that NO ONE on the jury was ‘in favor of rape’.

But the acquittal means nothing in current thinking about rape. The accusation is the only thing needed to establish “guilt.” And even after the acquittal, the accused remains “actually guilty” in the minds of many people.

We have been here before in our history. Once horse stealing was so serious a crime that society needn’t preserve the presumption of innocence. Once “communism” was such a terrible threat that people accused of being communists should lose their rights to confront accusers or to have due process.

While Dick Cheney was in charge, we adopted the national policy that “terrorism” is such a threat that it was proper to lock people up on just an accusation of terrorism, without trial, and to hold them in prison even after investigators and prosecutors said there was not evidence sufficient to convict them of any crime.

Now we say that Mr. Parker, or any other accused rapist, should be held guilty just on the accusation, and should remain “guilty” despite the trial and acquittal. The suicide of his accuser is tragic. But it is NOT grounds for overturning a trial acquittal. (Perhaps it is grounds for convicting society of inadequately helping suffering people).

Due process protects society as much as it protects individual defendants. Due process is something that “conservatives” have long wanted to end. Now they want all Hispanics and all Muslims to be denied due process in any circumstances. It is really very very sad to see so many “progressives” turn against due process, using the same argument that “conservatives” have always used – ‘this issue is too important to allow due process’.

Tom Hall

Tom Hall