In Light of the Allegations of Sexual Harassment Against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo:
Some Points of Basic Principle



There is a groundswell of New York Democratic Party figures and mainstream media calling for the resignation of Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo. Part of the impetus is revelations that Cuomo distorted and suppressed counts of nursing home deaths from COVID-19. Another rationale driving and being offered for these calls to resign is that multiple women have come forward alleging sexual harassment by Cuomo. On the latter, Governor Cuomo’s office has asked the state attorney general, Letitia James, to open an independent investigation, and she has appointed two lawyers to the inquiry.

In this light, as we have stressed before, some points of basic overall principle:

* Accusations alone are not proof of guilt, including in sexual harassment claims.

Accusations are part of the evidence, but determining the truth and proving it requires a serious and scientific sifting of concrete evidence, and subjecting the body of evidence to rigorous examination. Such accusations and allegations should be adjudicated by standards of due process. Even though sexual harassment is rampant in this society, including its halls of power, it does not follow that every single—or any particular—accusation is true. The truth of the accusation, the proof of guilt, need to be determined through a systematic, impartial, and rigorous scientific process.

Sexual harassment pervades every corner of this society and makes it virtually impossible for women to work and live without having to navigate a culture of misogyny and male domination. Sexual harassment includes a range of actions from inappropriate and unwelcome sexual remarks to physical advances, all the way to threats of sexual assault—or pressure to submit to sexual “favors” by employers or people in authority. It is important to create the conditions where women are encouraged to come forward with claims of sexual harassment, which should be subject to an evidence-based scientific investigation, instead of either being intimidated, ignored, and shamed, or “automatically” believed on the basis of accusation alone.

* The “court of public opinion” has little to do with truth or justice.

Trials and summary judgments in the “court” of public opinion, in media and social media, are wrong and harmful, precisely for the reasons listed above. The “court” of public opinion does not afford the forum to give people necessary access to the body of evidence nor the scientific sifting through and examination of evidence. In the “court” of public opinion, judgments are assessed and rendered by populist will and majority opinion, completely lacking in correct scientific methods of assessing evidence, and greatly influenced and skewed by politics and prejudices, such as whether one “likes” or “dislikes” the person, instead of an impartial, systematic and rigorous scientific process. This has nothing to do with truth or justice!

Resorting to such methods—including destroying someone’s reputation, driving them from public office and public life, or generally “canceling” them on the basis of accusations alone, without due process to determine the truth of the accusation and defend oneself—violates basic principles of a just society and ultimately leaves everyone at risk and vulnerable to the “takedown” cancel culture.

“...the new communism, as its defining method and approach, emphasizes the critical importance of science and applying the scientific method to everything—to society as well as nature. It firmly rejects any approaches that amount to applying and justifying the bankrupt and extremely harmful notion that “the ends justify the means,” and that “truth” is just an ‘instrument’ of desired objectives, rather than what it actually is: a correct reflection of objective reality.”

—From NEW YEAR’S STATEMENT BY BOB AVAKIAN: A New Year, The Urgent Need For A Radically New World—For The Emancipation Of All Humanity



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