Hopefully everyone will always give others the benefit of the doubt.
Yet the operative word in that statement is “doubt.” I realize that sometimes — even after the verdict is in and it is “Guilty” — the person so charged and convicted is still not really guilty of the charge.
Without casting stones at anyone in particular who is accused of something reprehensible, especially while the accusation has not been proven beyond a doubt, I still want to write about those who might have put themselves into the kind of position where such accusations might surface.
When I was growing up, my mother used to tell me things like, “Do not associate with those who can and probably will get you into trouble,” “You need to protect your reputation,” and “Never deliberately place
yourself into a dangerous situation.” When you’re a teenager, you don’t really imagine that anyone you know will lead you into trouble worth mentioning, and you figure that you don’t have much of a reputation anyway because you haven’t done very much so far to “earn” one; and from your young perspective, a “dangerous” situation might involve mountain climbing (which I did turn down), hitch-hiking (which I always felt was very situational, and dealt with that one accordingly), or riding a motorcycle without a helmet, on the back of
a bike operated by a complete stranger (I always knew all those who had bikes and asked me to ride).
So starting out on my adventure into the world of adults and adult-living, I came prepared with some guidelines to help me along the way. Apparently not everyone starts out with that advantage.
Although we — people in general — like to imagine that it is just common sense to not do certain things, we learn all the time that what we turned down thanks to our common sense, someone else jumped right in to do, considering it an opportunity to take advantage of a promising possibility. Many young girls who are lured into unhappy situations with the promise of a modeling or acting career soon discover the reason behind the promise and learn something very unsavory about men in certain positions. What these girls discover about such men can color their viewpoint toward all men in general if they do not get their thinking straight right away. Some of those young woman go for years — or perhaps forever — without revealing what happened as they reached for that non-existent shining star, whether because of embarrassment, fear, or to avoid casting aspersions upon their own reputation. Sometimes they might actually hesitate to cast those aspersions upon someone who has a “great” reputation or a “big” name, regardless of the fact that the deed they committed was just as unsavory and reprehensible as that committed by someone languishing in prison for doing the same thing.
Just because a girl (or woman) could not reveal what happened at the time it happened, does not mean that it did not happen. And just because accusations are made does not make them true.
I always feel that one of the ways one can tell if a person is being truthful when they reveal a horrible episode from their past that involves someone rich and famous is to check out their motive. What does that person have to gain? Is there a lot of money involved? (Is someone — a newspaper, a TV station — paying them for their story? Is there a book deal in the works?) Is this some kind of vendetta against the person or payback for something (aside from the actual abuse though, which the person is just now getting up the courage to reveal)? Is the person looking for some kind of strange fame-by-connection-to-a-
that will invariably go along with all the questions and unkind comments from those who are choosing to support the accused? Why would someone, and let’s say a woman, put herself through that ugly wringer for the “prize” of no money, no fame or glory, and lots of personal emotional pain and anguish? It does not seem to be the kind of thing that a woman (or anyone) would do — without good and sufficient reason.
We all know how easy it is to accuse someone of something. It happens all the time. It happened to Michael Jackson, to President Clinton and Hillary Clinton, to Jerry Sandusky, to O.J. Simpson –– no one is really safe from such accusations. Sometimes they turn out to be true; sometimes not. But along the way, lives are changed and some lives are more or less “ruined” from the accusations by virtue of how that situation plays itself out.
I guess it all goes back to who we grow up to be and how we present ourselves as who we are. Chances are if we don’t have it in our hearts to abuse our partners, random acquaintances, or our children (ever, not even giving the appearance of being involved in such abuse, or unwittingly allowing ourselves to get involved with the kind of people who might create those kind of circumstances to entrap us — in other words, always very carefully following my mother’s advice), we will likely not be brought up on such charges. Yet still, we can never control what other people do.
Years may go by, and things may continue to look like they will never see the light of day — meaning that what is not true seems to have the better press agent — but I really do believe that truth never suffers from close examination. Lies can be told again and again, and people can back up the lies by swearing they are true, but truth is in a category by itself. It truly is what it is, and given enough time and people brave enough to speak that truth, all will be revealed.
When you’ve spent your life climbing to the top, it’s a long way back to the bottom.
It seems like it would be a good idea to always become the person you want others to think you are first, before you become famous. That way, you won’t ever have to worry about that awful and humiliating
fall–all the way down.
Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune. She writes a weekly column in this newspaper. To contact Maramis, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.