Sir William Blackstone

William Blackstone (1723 – 1780) was an English jurist and judge who wrote Commentaries on the Laws of England which included the statement

All presumptive evidence of felony should be admitted cautiously; for the law holds it better that ten guilty persons escape, than that one innocent party suffer.

This ratio is found in biblical traditions such as in Genesis 18:23-32 when Abraham states that he will not destroy a city with ten wicked men when there are fifty righteous men.

But in the latest frenzy attacking sexual harassment and sexual abuse following the Harvey Weinstein revelations this axiom is being ignored in the pursuit of supposed villains.  Phil Barker writes

Some innocent men are going to be shot in the head. So be it.

Or Emily Linden

Here’s an unpopular opinion. I’m not at all concerned about innocent men losing their jobs over false sexual assault/harassment allegations. First, false allegations VERY rarely happen, so even bringing it up borders on a derailment tactic. It’s a microscopic risk in comparison to the issue at hand (worldwide, systemic oppression of half the population). And more importantly, The benefit of all of us getting to finally tell the truth plus the impact on victims FAR outweigh the loss of any one man’s reputation.

I’m not sure how the likes of Linden can be so sure that false allegations are rare. Were they rare during the Salem witch trials? Or during the various inquisitions? Or in the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany?

Does not the ease of allegation, and the virtue signalling increase the risk of false allegations?

This type of argument – the means justifies the ends – was also seen in the massacre at Béziers in France in 1209 when the Papal legate said

Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius [kill them all; let God sort them out]

It is a mark of civilisation to protect the innocent from false accusation. It is especially important during periods when there is a clamour to go after people for behaviour that was previously ignored, tolerated or covered up.

Protecting the innocent from false accusation does not mean that one supports sexual abuse. It is really about being a virtuous human being, not an enraged animal happy to tear down everything.

About Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus

I'm a retired general who occasionally gets called back to save the republic before returning to my plough.
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25 Responses to Sir William Blackstone

  1. sfw

    When you are without sin you can cast the first and last stone regardless of who you hit. It would never occur to these people that they do not hold the ultimate truth, they possess it and all others are in error.

  2. Elizabeth (Lizzie) Beare

    A good post, Lucius. Needs to be said, and often. Especially when the offences raised are hardly life-threatening in themselves, although the manner in which they are dealt with can actually destroy someone’s life in the sense of career and integrity. Not excusing gross offenders like Weinstein, and the general Hollywood culture, but when extended to far less hurtful things and across whole nations, especially re behaviours in another era, the abuse of power and opportunities for some to be vindictive are great.

  3. Herodotus

    Tim Blair has drawn attention to a Fairfax piece by Phil Barker which had some hasty editing done after he said that in the course of the sexual harassment campaign some innocent men would be shot in the head, and so be it.
    Some might feel that teachers who show small children books about gender fluidity are more deserving of the bullet.
    As usual, the left are hypocrites.

  4. Bad Samaritan

    Yeah, but “the frenzy” is all charade and diversion. The ones doing the shrieking have got skeletons in their closets that they hope will not be found; that by pointing at Harvey etc we will not look at them. Classic unicorn stuff.

    OK, so untalented chicks wanted to be millionaires and famous. Blokes offered them their chance for a screw, and the bimbos took it. WTF, is that really all they have? Even though most of the screwees never made it big, many still got to be minor celebs, and on salaries fifty times what their abilities deserved. Meanwhile, up at The Cross, similarly no-talent sheilas and rent-boys are ekeing it out at $100 per screw (or less).

    Why would any normal person care about dregs like those?

  5. Robbo

    I’d like to see Barker and Linden on the end of being falsely accused of some nasty crime. They would be screaming to high heaven about the injustice and reminding us all about the presumption of innocence. What a disgusting pair of disgraceful wankers.

  6. JohnA

    LQC, it seems you skimped on your research (a la Ford Prefect) at this point:

    This ratio is found in biblical traditions such as in Genesis 18:23-32 when Abraham states that he will not destroy a city with ten wicked men when there are fifty righteous men.

    Genesis 18:

    20 Then the Lord said, ‘The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous 21 that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.’

    22 The men turned away and went towards Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the Lord.[d] 23 Then Abraham approached him and said: ‘Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24 What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare[e] the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? 25 Far be it from you to do such a thing – to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?’
    26 The Lord said, ‘If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.’

    Eventually, Abraham stopped pleading at ten. However that wasn’t enough, and only “righteous Lot” was saved with his two daughters, and his wife who looked back.

  7. entropy

    Noticed that too John,but decided not to sweat the details.

  8. peter

    I think there is a genetic problem here, a very high proportion of the accusers are faded blondes.

  9. Peter

    Men – all are evil so all must pay whether they have done something or not. How often have I read of feminazis claiming that kind of thing. “Every man is a rapist or a potential rapist” is the cry. The Left is ugly, evil, fascist and uncivilized. The screeching crowd of demented peasants with pitch forks and firey torches have nothing on this scum. They will stop at nothing to ram their narrative of hate down our throats.
    One more reason to fight the bastards with every fibre of our being.

  10. duncanm

    not an enraged animal happy to tear down everything.

    but that is the point..

  11. Chris

    Blackstone also says

    I. The right of personal security consists in a person’s legal and uninterrupted enjoyment of his life, his limbs, his body, his health, and his reputation.

    Reputation is as personal and necessary and as important to defend, as the continued enjoyment of your limbs.

  12. Charlie

    Stop living in the 50s. The progressives have been kicking the shit out of principled conservatives like you for decades. They encouraged feminism and ‘listen and believe’ so its only fitting to hoist them on their own petard

  13. EvilElvis

    A pair of idiots.

    The delicious irony of this whole saga is that so many modern feminist hero’s were quiet when the alleged shit went down in all these cases. Do as we say sisters, not as we do.

  14. Excellent article. I have been waiting so long for someone to have the courage to put this case.

  15. Perplexed of Brisbane

    It is pertinent that the Salem Witch trials were stopped because of the spurious evidence being used to convict people (dreams etc). They did not meet the Biblical standard of multiple witnesses before an accusation can be made.

    It was the Puritan Pastor (and I think, one of the proponents of the trials) Increase Mather, who coined the term that has come into legal use about it being better that ten guilty go free than one innocent be convicted. This resulted in the trials coming to an end without the thousands of people being executed as critics have claimed.

    It would be manifestly unfair if men are tried and convicted with no evidence, just to make an example of Weinstein and his ilk, or to make some group feel empowered.

  16. Perplexed of Brisbane

    However, if some “Daarlings” of the Left get taken out by this, there would be a little bit of Schadenfreude to be enjoyed.

  17. Innocent people are killed and maimed in every war. The modern UN pushed ideal of only killing combatants and not harming innocents is why hordes such as ISIS have lasted so long when the mighty German army of WW2 couldn’t.

    If people don’t realise we are in a war, a culture war, then we will surely loose.
    Do y’all remember how we watched ignorant hordes of virtue signalling Muslims rioting over a book being disrespected? Do you recall watching videos of women being caned in the streets for wearing the wrong clothes? Do you recall people being beaten up for saying the wrong things?
    We looked at all that and thought “my God, what savages, what ignorance. Thank goodness we live in a modern society.”

    Now look at what’s happening right under our noses. Wear the wrong hat, get assaulted. Say the wrong thing to a woman or look at her in a way she doesn’t like, or move in for a kiss after misreading her body language and see your life destroyed. In places like Britain violent Muslims are getting away with it while people tweeting or blogging are being charged and jailed for hate crimes.
    Who is being ignorant and signalling their virtue? The progressive left who are at war with us.
    The enemy among us are no different than those ignorant backward animals we see rioting in the streets of Islamabad or Cairo.

    So we’re at war and some innocents will be harmed. But unless we exercise the equivalent of shock and awe of a military war, we are going to have to endure this for a long long time.

  18. Bruce

    From pedants’ corner:

    “kill them all; let God sort them out”

    More idiomatically accurate, but somewhat less pithy is;

    Kill them all, God will know his own”

    Nasty times; but not much has changed for the better since then.

  19. Phill

    Bruce, an even more direct translation is “Kill them. For the Lord knows those that are His own”, but I am just being pernickety.

  20. Iggie

    ‘Here’s an unpopular opinion. I’m not at all concerned about innocent men losing their jobs over false sexual assault/harassment allegations.’

    Therefore Bill Shorten should have been relieved of his position because of this rape allegation.

    That’s fair eh, Emily?

  21. Bruce


    Yep, we don’t want this to descend onto a Pythonesque Latin lesson, a la:

  22. The rule is he who asserts must prove. To allege is different.

  23. JohnA

    entropy #2575865, posted on December 5, 2017, at 8:13 am

    Noticed that too John but decided not to sweat the details.

    Yairbut… it did go to the essence of the argument and undermined his point.

    Another detail – it wasn’t Abraham who was making the judgement on the cities, but God Himself. He carries far more weight on this issue, I think.

  24. Paul

    It is a mark of civilisation to protect the innocent from false accusation

    But our governments and bureaucracy, I.e. the deep state are riddled with left wing barbarians.

  25. Notsofast

    Having worked as a police officer in the field of sex crimes, I can state that 90%+ sexaul assault claims are demonstrably false. Any detective who has worked in this field would agree. They are rarely if ever prosecuted for making a false report, partly because it is technically hard to prove a lie and risky if the prosecution goes wrong, and partly for fear of dissuading real victims.

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