Updated: Mar 10, 2021
Thus far, we have focused on the individual side of the philosophy that I have described in my book, The Code (available now). Today, we will begin a new series of posts on the social side of Codism. The intent going forward is to focus more on issues that relate to the individual in the posts on Monday, and on the issues that are more community-focused in the posts on Thursday. Of course, as this is a new site and I am still finding my feet, things may change down the line. I was going to start the series with an examination of the community as conceived in The Code. However, due to the events in Australia over the last few weeks, I have decided to instead begin the series with a post on the importance of the presumption of innocence.
Codism is a philosophy that places the welfare of our families and communities at the centre of life. Our purpose in life, as it is directly related to the continuation of life through ensuring the welfare of our children and families, requires us to conform our actions to those precepts which promote this outcome. This means, in the case of our communities and the individuals who surround us, we are compelled to seek after and support those measures, traditions and proposals, which are likely to enhance the achievement of our Individual Purpose.
One such tradition in the English-speaking world and in Australia more generally is that of the presumption of innocence. This principle is that while a complaint should be taken seriously and investigated by the police and the criminal justice system, the accused is entitled to the presumption of innocence. I.e., being accused does not mean that you are guilty of an offence.
The catalyst for this discussion is two sperate cases that have come to public notice in the last month in Australia. The first case was that of a former political worker who claimed that they had been raped by a colleague in the office after work hours (News.com.au, 2021). The second was an anonymous letter claiming that the Current Attorney-General, Christian Porter, raped a girl in 1988 during the state debating championships (ABC, 2021).
In the first case, the complaint had not been reported to the police by the complainant even though they were briefing journalists and appearing on TV shows talking about their ordeal (the complainant has now gone to the police) (ABC, 2021; News.com.au, 2021). In the second case, the complainant had reportedly told police she did not want to press charges, but her friends made contact with journalists and politicians concurrently to share her ordeal (Independent.uk, 2021).
Now, let me be clear, I do not know and nor can I know the veracity of these claims. Therefore, I am categorically not commenting on the complainants’ or the accused’s credibility or truthfulness. However, if we hold that it is beneficial to the welfare of our families that if they are accused of a crime, they are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law, then these two situations and the frenzied reporting around them should be concerning to each one of us. In both of these cases, the accused has been hounded by tried and convicted in the media.
In the first case, the investigation is still ongoing by the Australian Federal Police, yet the individual accused has ‘been stood down from their job and has been admitted to a hospital for psychiatric care’ (News.com.au, 2021). In the second case, despite the NSW police having ended their investigation, citing, “insufficient admissible evidence to proceed” (9news, 2021), there is still calls for the Attorney General to stand down. He has also taken leave to seek mental health care. Again, in both cases, neither of the accused have been charged with an offence let alone convicted of a crime. Do they not deserve the presumption of innocence?
But it is not for these individuals’ sakes I have written this post; it is for my own sake and my children’s sake. I genuinely believe what I have written in The Code. Our purpose in life is to promote the welfare of our families and an integral part of that involves working to promote the welfare of our communities. I do not suggest that you should do this work from an altruistic impulse. Quite the contrary, it is from a selfish motivation. We should promote the welfare of our community because a strong and healthy community will promote our and our collective families’ welfare.
The presumption of innocence meets this standard. It promotes the welfare of ourselves and our families for as Mr Porter said today when he answered the allegations on the completion of the police investigation, “If I stand down from my position as Attorney General because of an allegation about something that simply did not happen, then any person in Australia can lose their career, their job, their life's work, based on nothing more than an accusation that appears in print. If that happens, anyone in public life is able to be removed simply by the printing of an allegation. Every child we raise can have their lives destroyed by online reporting of accusations alone…no-one is beyond an allegation, no-one.” (ABC, 2021)
We all want those animals who commit rape to be punished (I personally think death is too good for those scum), but in our zeal to demonstrate our purity and our virtue by standing with the accuser, we must be careful lest we crush the innocent. Humans are, unfortunately, flawed beings, some people rape, murder and lie but some are deceived by their own memories (Scientific American, 2016). It bears repeating again, “No one is beyond an allegation, no one.” (ABC, 2021). Our code is premised on the principle of ‘that which promotes the welfare of ourselves, our families and our communities is good, that which harms it is bad’. To punish, to convict, or to destroy an individual on the basis of an accusation alone is as unambiguously bad as to not punish an individual when they have been found guilty of an offence.
My friends, constrain your passions and practise the virtues. Be wise enough to know that mistakes are made even by the best of us. Have the honour to not allow exceptions to what you know to be right and be courageous enough stand against the tide of public opinion. Be honest with yourself as to how you would feel as the accuser and the accused. Be patient and temperate enough to await the outcome of the investigation. If the accused is found guilty, you can vent your bile then if you must. Just remember that ‘Justice is about fair, consistent, and impartial treatment, but it is not about acting fairly or for the involved parties’ interest. It is instead about acting in the interest of the community’ (The Code, 2021). Assuming that an accused is innocent may not be fair to the victim but it is good for the community. Be magnanimous, especially if your enemy is accused. It may be your turn next. Finally, be a friend to anyone even if they are accused.
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9news. (2021, 03 03). Retrieved from https://www.9news.com.au/national/cabinet-minister-rape-claims-nsw-police-closes-investigation/643883e4-2e62-44cb-bd62-1d39b78b37b2
ABC. (2021, 02 24). Retrieved from https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-02-24/brittany-higgins-makes-formal-police-complaint-alleged-rape/13189046
ABC. (2021, 02 26). Retrieved from https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-02-26/pm-senators-afp-told-historical-rape-allegation-cabinet-minister/13197248
ABC. (2021, 03 03). Retrieved from https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-03-03/christian-porter-press-conference-transcript/13212054
Independent.uk. (2021, 03 03). Retrieved from https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/australasia/christian-porter-denies-rape-allegation-b1811436.html
News.com.au. (2021, 02 23). Retrieved from https://www.news.com.au/national/politics/life-comes-crashing-down-for-man-at-centre-of-brittany-higgins-rape-claim/news-story/443cfb99fa5b27a0cd923b3c493af115
News.com.au. (2021, 02 15). Retrieved from https://www.news.com.au/national/politics/brittany-higgins-breaks-down-on-the-project-speaking-about-alleged-rape-at-parliament-house/news-story/3c54d90a75f5255ed8f531ee7f200626
News.com.au. (2021, 02 15). Retrieved from https://www.news.com.au/national/politics/parliament-house-rocked-by-brittany-higgins-alleged-rape/news-story/fb02a5e95767ac306c51894fe2d63635
Scientific American. (2016, 07 8). Retrieved from https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/mind-guest-blog/what-experts-wish-you-knew-about-false-memories/
The Code. (2021). Perth WA: Stadtmauer Publishing.
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