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+4 votes
we probably have all experienced or at least heard about messed up accountability processes, people's high hopes for transformative justice, and the normal name-calling and defensiveness that happens online.

but what do we think works well if someone you know (or just like online) is accused of rape, or of being a racist, or of liking a racist band? (just a few obvious examples off the top of my head--sigh.)
by (53.1k points)
when i was in eugene, some folks i knew were involved in an accountability process involving a guy that had been accused of raping his partner (of that time). i was not involved in that process; it always seemed stacked against the accused (which was never, to my knowledge, a woman), and was always driven by the most aggressive of the (so called) radical feminists that virtually dominated the town at that time.

as the topic of this process came up in my own discussions (with some of the folks involved, including the accused), i found that there was actually no act of rape (even stretching the term, the way some seem to do these days) ever involved in this particular situation, and everybody i spoke to acknowledged this (some more readily than others). but the process continued, as the accused man went (over some time) from being a fun, confident individual, to a beaten, insecure shadow of his former self. he was like the whipping dog of the eugene feminists. it was actually quite sad.

i never heard a reasonable explanation for why this all happened. especially when there were so many supposed anarcha-feminists involved.

then again, eugene was the only place i lived for any length of time (only a bit over a year) where i was immersed in a "scene". i tried to avoid it, but every one of my friends was involved in that scene, in some way or another.

i have been peripherally around 2 or 3 other situations where accountability processes were invoked. to my understanding, not one of them worked for anyone other than the accuser(s) and their crews, if that.

as has been mentioned on this site (probably several times), an accusation - especially when leveled between friends/lovers - must be taken seriously, but blind acceptance of the accuser's story alone is insane. as dr. greg house says, everybody lies.

in that same eugene scene, i was poo-poo'd for loving to dance to james brown songs. "he beats his wife," i was told, condescendingly. i said, "could be, and if so, i probably wouldn't want to hang out with him; but the motherfucker made some super-funky dance music, and i love dancing to it!"  of course i was then attacked for using the word "motherfucker".

those conversations were with folks that i actually considered friends at the time (though more friends of friends, mostly), and so i wanted them to understand where i was coming from, rather than just saying/thinking "fuck you", and bailing immediately. because these were showcase identity politicians, language was the weapon most often wielded by them, and what comes naturally out of my mouth was frequently not appreciated. eventually, i approached the 2 people that i cared to maintain a relationship with, and said something like: "i find your use of language oppressive as hell, and your attempt to control mine is seen as such. but because i care about you and still want to spend time around you, i will try my best not to offend you."

those relationships didn't last anyway.   :-)

sorry for rambling on so.
this seems kinda like an answer? or at least enough of a reflection to warrant more than a comment?
lol! i talk too fucking much!

(f@ you have and are willing to talk about your experience. also i'm asking questions that are hard for people to address, so...)

i have no answers for this. transformative justice (despite having justice in the name) sometimes sounds ok in theory. restorative justice a little less so (depending on who is defining it, i guess). accountability has lost almost all its credibility for me--although some people are creative enough to surprise me still, so i leave room for that.

a partial list of complicating factors are

a) the transitory nature of most anarchists (and others, but anarchists are who concerns me here) both in space and in time (ie we mostly travel a lot, and also mostly don't remain anarchists for very long), b) we have vastly different standards/criteria for what makes or is a desirable outcome, c)  the name-calling and shallow thinking of the "snitches get stitches" variety, which doesn't encourage (or allow) more nuanced, event-specific conversation (online conversation is implicated in here somewhere too), d) we have a hard time trusting each other (this is related to a and b), and probably other things.

my thought has been for a while that cliques or affinity groups or social circles take topics that are alive for them (snitching, sexual assault, racially complicated interactions, mental health issues/violence) on a peer level, and talk about how they specifically would act and would want to be treated in an Event that made their behavior suspect to others. so that there is a basis of understanding at least how different people are in assumptions and expectations even within friendly circles. i guess it's the Encounter Session Strategy (lol). but these days those who even have social circles don't ever want to talk about these things seriously until it happens to them or a friend, at which point most folks are freaked out and it's harder to have perspective.

still seems like a decent idea, just unworkable.
typical! :)

i like (and agree with) your list of complicating factors.

i am somewhat interested in the distinction between restorative justice (rj) and transformative justice (tj). my understanding is that rj seeks to bring together everyone affected by an act that caused harm (so-called "crime"), have them communicate their perspectives around it, and together come up with a way to "heal" the harm that has been done. tj (as i understand it) has a similar approach, but seeks to actually transform the individuals (and community?) involved "for the better" in the process.

if i have that correct, i think i prefer rj, as it seems somewhat less authoritarian (tj: "you/we must change in these ways" vs rj: "how can we all feel ok about this").

my understanding of both is likely quite shallow, so if you have any better way for me to think about those processes, i'm all ears.

it to me seems there are inherent problems with people living together, and the type of nuerotic society we live in tends to make them worse. The transient nature of anarchist groups is something to be considered, along with the authoritarian ideas that are attached to such ideas as "justice". This is why I'm just trying to put up with where I've always lived, i don't feel like i have much more hope in adapting to any other place or finding "cooler people" as many imagine here.

Unfortunately, it seems like anarchism itself will carry moralistic baggage since it's so heavily tied to radical left thinking, and there are also some things that are legitimately appalling and offensive about the dominant culture, and attacking them isn't easy at all, and has very grave consequences. For example, with rape, when it's actually a RAPE (forced sex), that's pretty fucking serious, and the victim must already be in such a situation where it's difficult to talk about, or it was an anonymous encounter (they didn't know the attacker), so your pretty alone in that case, and would require a lot of strength and thought to actually fix the situation, or call attention to it. and as far as other expanded definitions of rape, well, that just seems to make the situation about a million times as volatile.

f@: yea, like i said it depends which definition one uses. one site i checked was consistent with your break down (which obviously i judge as you do), another one was talking of transformative justice as being more systemic and looking at deeper causes than just the specific event.

that's as much as i got.
If a person is accused of doing a Very Bad Thing, then they are pretty much guilty. All actions should proceed from this basic understanding that accused = bad, you = good.

It is probably most helpful to either put something vague out in the most public of ways while promising incontrovertible evidence to be released chapter by chapter soon, or maybe show up to an event shout some stuff and then punch the accused a few times.

I'm pretty sure that these methods work really well.

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