I read Dylan Farrow's open letter about her abuse with heartache. My heart got even heavier after reading defense after defense of Allen; on The Daily Beast (It was an awful article, I'm not going to link it), on numerous other "news sites" and even here on Daily Kos. I was happy to find what I found to be a more thoughtful tome on whether or not it's ok to like Allen's moves at Think Progress. Alyssa Rosenberg credited another article with influencing her thinking, and that turned out to be the article that really encapsulated the way I've been feeling about this story.
Aaron Rady wrote an article for The New Inquiry called Woody Allen's Good Name.
The article starts off talking about reasonable doubt. Unless a man is proven guilty, which Allen never was, we must presume him to be innocent. But there's a real problem with that outside of a courtroom:
If you are saying things like “We can’t really know what happened” and extra-specially pleading on behalf of the extra-special Woody AllenHi, The Daily Beast!, then you are saying that his innocence is more presumptive than hers. You are saying that he is on trial, not her: he deserves judicial safeguards in the court of public opinion, but she does not.I can't tell you how many times I've read that very phrase over the past few days: "No one can know what happened." It is almost always followed by some defense of Woody Allen. No one can know, and it was looked into by "Official People", so stop spreading vile rumors by speaking of this issue."
Rady points out that it is true in a court of law that a man is presumed innocent until proven guilty, but that we are not a court of law. And that, in a court of law or in the general public, in a "he said, she said" kind of situation, someone has to be lying. If you give Woody Allen his presumed innocence, then you are in essence presuming that Dylan Farrow is lying.
Should we not first presume that Dylan Farrow is telling the truth? Why is it that the accused gets the benefit of the doubt but not the victim?
We hear a lot about how often men are falsely accused. Inevitably in the comments section there is the story about someone who knows someone why was falsely accused, as if that automatically applies here. Rady goes on to talk about those "chances" that Allen is among them:
The second reason it’s okay if I’m wrong is that I’m probably not wrong. It’s much more likely that I’m right. Because I am not on Woody Allen’s jury, I can be swayed by the fact that sexual violence is incredibly, horrifically common, much more common than it is for women to make up stories about sexual violence in pursuit of their own petty, vindictive need to destroy a great man’s reputation. We are in the midst of an ongoing, quiet epidemic of sexual violence, now as always. We are not in the midst of an epidemic of false rape charges, and that fact is important here. All things being equal, it’s more likely that the man who has spent a lifetime and a cinematic career walking the line of pedophilia (to put it mildly); all things being equal, the explanation that doesn’t require you to imagine a conspiracy of angry women telling lies for no reason is probably the right one. It’s a good thing that juries can’t think this way, that they can’t take account of Occam’s Razor, because—in theory—the juridical system needs to get it right every single time (or at least hold tenaciously to that ambition). But you and I can recognize the bigger picture, because we aren’t holding a person’s life in our hands. Especially in situations like this one, the overwhelmingly more likely thing is that he did it. The overwhelmingly less likely thing is that a pair of bitter females—driven by jealousy or by the sheer malignity of the gender—have been lying about him for decades.Woody Allen, no doubt has a lot of influence at his disposal, which he is accused of wielding to great effect in the Farrow profile in Vanity Fair. After he was able to walk away from the 1992 debacle of his affair with his lover's daughter and accusations of abuse of his own daughter, he was able to marry his lover's daughter and adopt two other girls.
Who is watching out for those girls? That's the question I was really left with. Innocent or guilty, there are enough red flags in this story to justify the question.