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December 22, 2017


I think you have presented a very good analysis of the current state of affairs in regard to sexual harassment in employment situations. IN political situations the same dynamics exist along with some other dynamics: partisan politics, respect for (or disrespect for) processes such as elections and procedures already in place in the House and Senate,

And a significant further complication is that Harassment is on a continuum that includes behavior which should probably not be considered harassment but in an overheated environment gets lumped in with the real thing.

I think the "well investigated" is essential for use to find a way out. Otherwise we will as a society oscillate between periods of unfairness oand overreaction (and false accusations, especially in the area of politics) and periods of suppression of the victims.

But I also think that just the fact that this is a matter of discussion will help move us forward.

Peons are sites for the enjoyable exercise of power; middle managers are competitors for resources and advancement; bosses grant privilege power and opportunity. The replacement of your boss will not necessarily be to your advantage, especially if he hired you.

I suppose the middle is interesting, because here people seeking to move up will often need or desire the support of their peers and an emphasis on process and fairness could be advantageous.

There are also fiefdoms. Being able to get somebody else's peon fired would demonstrate power and reflect badly on your mid-level competition.

In politics, well Franken is no longer competition for Gillibrand or Harris, if he ever was, nor is he any longer competition for Booker as VP material.

The reason the “you’re accused you’re out” approach is so prevalent

Another reason, in addition to liability, is that zero tolerance relieves those in charge of any responsibility for making or explaining any kind of judgement call whatsoever. Chickenshit school administrators love zero-tolerance policies for the same reason, even when they hurt the kids : the ass of the person who must enforce the policy is covered from both directions.

absent mind-reading or perfect universal surveillance, we're going to have to have a mixture of both. we can't trust personal testimony absolutely (either as accusation of defense), but we also can't discount it completely (because it's all we have).

"Chickenshit school administrators love zero-tolerance policies for the same reason, even when they hurt the kids :"

Worst policy ever. What's worse is it let's the administrators decide who to apply it to. Zero tolerance only means I can have zero tolerance. Kids deserve chances, period.

I just stumbled across a statistical point that is worth mentioning.

False accusations of rape are estimated at 2-6%. Now those are ones that are *provably* false so it wouldn't surprise me if accusations of harassment (a lesser charge) might get in the 5-10% once you add those that are false but difficult to prove as false.

The exact numbers on these things are hard to come by, but lets look at a set of stylized facts that I don't have good cites for, but seem probably true.

1) Many of the bad actors are also repeat actors.

2) Repeat actors in a corporate culture which is permissive could harass dozens and given time potentially a hundred or more people. This creates a situation where both these things could be true:

A) That most women tell the truth. (Only 5-10% are mistaken/overreacting/lying)


B) 1/2 or 1/3 of the men you know of who have faced accusations aren't guilty/shouldn't be fired.

So when you hear men say things like "I've worked here 15 years and seen three people fired. One of them definitely didn't do anything wrong at all, one of them was guilty as sin, and one of them was inappropriate but shouldn't have been fired" they aren't necessarily saying something that should be translated as 1/3 to 1/2 of female accusers are liars.

Thanks for a grounded post Sebastian. What you're saying makes perfect sense

Not understanding who gets zero tolerance and who gets an actual investigation goes a long way to explaining how people will perceive their workplace as being contradictory or biased. It seems particularly likely to be misunderstood if it's not evenly applied, as your class conditions example lays out well.

Thanks for giving me a tool to better interpret these things.

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