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The weaponisation of gossip: Third-party reporting in the #MeToo era

'Far from the famously 'difficult to prosecute' cases of antiquated legend, the media-fuelled #MeToo and Time's Up movements have propelled personal gossip, with the help of social media, into being the very fuel on which these cases run'

Persuasion and coercion are useful tools in convincing someone with any level of grievance to pursue their complaint further. From New Labour's vast Criminal Justice Reform sex law emancipation in 2003 to the US Democrats' commercialisation of the Title IX decree in 2011 onwards, the allegations and victimhood industries have become Big Business, and are handsomely rewarding this coercion principle.

High level scalps such as Harvey Weinstein or Bill Cosby join a multitude of those who allegedly got away, from Bill Clinton to Alec Salmond to Ronaldo. What all these have in common is Box Office: whether true or not, the allegations will stick, making previously bold men cowed, and serving as a lesson to others further down the social evolutionary food chain.

A natural consequence of the 'believe the victim' policy brought in by Bystander laws in the US - much operated there by for-profit company Soteria Solutions and by ex-Director of Public Prosecutions and Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer in the UK - is the weaponisation of gossip. Once, hearsay would not have been allowed in court, as being too easy to manipulate or to simply invent in the taking down of a rival. Under 'believe the victim' third party reporting, however, hearsay seems to become somehow permissible.

This kind of third-party reporting has been remarked upon in the case of Marilyn Manson, who has had allegation after allegation against him thrown out, including in the case of ex-lover Ashley Smithline admitting that his ex-partner Evan Rachel Wood had literally coerced her into doing so. The push for jail-time for such mendacious, exploitative behaviour to be truly deterring should surely be full force, as Manson's victim impact statement already declares how the allegations against him have comprehensively derailed his career (not to mention presumably his mental health). Down the inevitable entitlement road of 'believe the victim' ends a swamp of media stories, compensatory interests, and non-negotiable legal fees. Whoever wins and whoever loses, the legal firms will always get paid.

In the UK, there was the tragic tale of Hampshire couple Shaye Groves and Frankie Fitzgerald, the former stabbing the latter to death in a jealous rage. This murder came after Groves had attempted to get a friend to falsely report Fitzgerald for a rape after setting up a camera to film them having sex, and to subsequently use the footage as 'proof'. Hell hath no fury, indeed.

John Lee Osborne, sentenced to 18 years in 2019 for an allegation with no force or violence reported after impersonating others on social media in order to allegedly coerce the woman he loved into bed, was sent down largely because his lover's friend didn't approve of their relationship. It takes a village!

Rape Crisis and SARCs (sexual assault referral centres – no 'alleged' apparently necessary in that name) have been implicated in case after case as the catalyst, after having complainants referred to them by the police. Where better to explore the possibilities of what might or might not have happened than in a softly-lit room while the complainant is in a state of confusion or regret about what the allegations might mean for their personal reputation? And, where better a place to remind them that if they want to press charges, 'victims' are now believed by official, College of Policing-endorsed default?

What they're not told is that once the machinery cranks into action, it's incredibly difficult to stop, and its consequences will be deeply felt by all involved for the rest of their lives. SARC centres of any name thus become surrogate allies in the victimhood industry, veritable War Rooms staffed by ideologues ominously boned up on their double-bound legalese. This particular revolution seems to enjoy a degree of authority approval. #MeToo has profited in the patronage of the elusive 'patriarchy'.

By Sean Bw Parker

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