Off the Front Page

Yes, the front page of FtB is woefully and shamefully out of date. There is a blog on there whose blogger decamped for greener pastures* three months ago, as well as the blogs of others that have left us more recently.

More critically, our four new bloggers aren’t featured in the body of the page. This is because our webmaster has been devoting time to an overall redesign that doesn’t stick new people down at the bottom where they may not be seen. However, it doesn’t solve the problem of our new bloggers writing good stuff that is being missed in the meantime. So, here are some recent posts to give you a sense of why you should be putting in the work to go to their blogs to find their stuff.

Ally is writing about a subject dear to my heart: how to discuss the complexities of rape. In this case, he’s using a couple of examples to talk about how not to write about false rape allegations:

What Ben misses, I think, is that the single biggest obstacle to justice and personal recovery for rape victims is excessive disbelief. It is disbelief that sees too many reported rapes being “no-crimed” by police or inadequately investigated. It is disbelief that sees rape victims being branded liars or sluts by internet vigilantes, and it is the fear of disbelief that deters many victims from reporting the crime in the first place. If we genuinely want rapists to be convicted for their crimes, saying “I believe her” (or for that matter “I believe him” in around 10% of reported rapes) has to be the default starting position for police, media reporters and social media commentators alike.

This does not imply that belief trumps evidence. I don’t think anyone is suggesting we “throw out the judicial process.” Nobody is suggesting police, prosecutors and juries abandon the collection and analysis of evidence and testimony, or the requirement that someone be proved guilty beyond all reasonable doubt. The moral payback, I believe, is that when allegations have been properly investigated and there is no proof that an individual is guilty of the offence, that person is held unequivocally to be innocent, without a stain on (usually) his character.

Yemisi wonders whether those condemning vigilante “justice” for alleged thieves in Nigeria would be so quick to condemn violence in response to other “crimes”:

I wonder how many people that are indignantly condemning the lynching of the 4 University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT) students would also condemn this action if the accusation was not that of robbery but that of sodomy. What if these students were accused of being gay, would it be OK to lynch them?

I ask this question because many Nigerians often very casually mention that gays should be publicly ridiculed, mobbed and stoned to death. Many Nigerians make it a duty to leave threatening messages on social networks where any gay person, lesbian, bisexual or transsexual is featured.  When I granted a National newspaper an interview where I condemned the anti-same-sex marriage bill and called for the recognition of LGBT rights as human rights, many Nigerians left comments calling for gay Nigerians to be lynched. Unfortunately, only few Nigerians ever bothered to condemn such comments.

Tauriq lays out which debates he would really prefer to be having:

This doesn’t mean that we don’t legitimately care about these, nor that these aren’t discussions worth having, or are simple to solve. But, if more people – often opposing – were willing to critically examine WHY they are opposed to these problems – instead of reacting “from the knee” – we would either have less vitriol, less discussions or better quality ones.

There are good reasons to oppose euthanasia, as I’m sure there are might be better reasons not to legalise abortion than “killing babies is wrong because God says so”. We might not be convinced by these opposing arguments, so far, but setting the views we think right against the best views of the opposite side only highlights how much stronger our views are.

Sunil gets into the emotional valences of color and what those mean for those of us with darker skin colors:

I love that jarring last line, because it never occurred to me to wonder if any country would have a black house as their leader’s home.

The association of whiteness with goodness and blackness with badness is a known socio-cognitive bias. The skin tone implicit association test for example “often reveals an automatic preference for light-skin relative to dark-skin”. There is plenty of explicit bias too – you only need to watch Indian advertising or read the matrimonial columns for a few days to understand the high value that is placed on light skin. This advertisement for “Garnier White Complete Fairness Cream” for example, is par for the course. There’s a good discussion in the forum on the origins of skin colour bias, for those who want to know more.

I was reminded of these matters because a few days ago, a law student filed a complaint in India’s consumer court against a crayon manufacturer, for having a pink/peach crayon called “skin”.

Go read them and catch up on what you may have been missing. We’ll keep the pressure on to get that new front page up.

*This is a joke that works much better in a country where the money is green.

Off the Front Page
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