And yes, I recognize that this hasn't been "proven", but really what's the chance than there's a shadowy cabal of women who start companies in order to target individual VCs. These women have little to gain from this and everything to lose. Occams razor is that he's at the very least doing something that's inappropriate.
I've heard stories from several female founders/VC's (not naming names or specific details to protect anonymity) who have experienced repeated unwelcome advances even after it was made clear they had a significant other. That's not as egregious as groping (one of the accusations in this article), but that's still sexual harassment by the letter of the law and slimy as hell every other way.
Another common theme I noticed is when the man in question stays in the gray area where individual incidents aren't clearly over the line and might not qualify legally as sexual harassment, but in context and in aggregate it's clear why a woman would feel very uncomfortable. How do you confront something like that when they can just question your perception of reality?
In all but one case, the women decided against confrontation because the man was in a much more powerful position (such as a general partner of a VC fund), and the women were afraid of retribution and risking killing their careers by taking a principled stand. They all wished they could do more, but decided they didn't want to be martyrs. That's a bad position to be in.
I think it's damning of the industry that these women have accepted silence on the matter as part of the burden of being a woman and pursuing this line of work. Granted I'm looking at this with N < 10, but everyone I've talked to shares the sentiment that it's a pattern, not a coincidence.
I'm hopeful that everything going on around Uber will move the needle enough that more people are willing to come forward.
This seems like a slippery slope. I can imagine malicious but careful predators who constantly test boundaries in a conscious effort to achieve a sexual goal. But I can also imagine a poor socially awkward guy who just has a severe crush, but is doing his damnedest not to say or do anything to act on it- and a woman who would be particularly sensitive to his unwanted romantic desire.
Both would be "incidents that don't cross the line but in aggregate make the woman feel uncomfortable", but the latter deserves understanding and _perhaps_ a calm discussion, but definitely not punishment.
I'm just saying, even the gray area has a spectrum- but any policies people come up with to handle this, would need to establish a threshold higher than just "a woman felt uncomfortable around a specific man", or perhaps a gentle grade of responses.
The point here was incidents that don't cross "the line", which means the location of the line is suddenly up for debate, so you don't even know if you did something wrong.
If the line is up for debate, you would know if you did something wrong - unless you're not following the debate. If you're not following the debate, you really don't have anyone to blame but yourself.
Women are already reluctant to come forward when subjected to overt sexual harassment, let alone "gray area" harassment. I don't think anyone has to fear any kind of slippery slope here.
It is describing a continued change of standards over time, with no clearly defined end-goal other than "nobody ever feels uncomfortable".
> Towards what?
Towards a point where a woman can punish a man for being socially awkward because he has a crush.
> Will women eventually begin to feel uncomfortable about situations that are clearly not sexual?
"Clearly" is a useless word here. And sexual? What about romantic? What about platonic, but more than is welcome?
They already do feel uncomfortable as a result of unwanted attention. I've seen it happen. The person I was replying to was suggesting a world where that is actionable.
> Women are already reluctant to come forward when subjected to overt sexual harassment, let alone "gray area" harassment.
Some are reluctant, which is regrettable and we should support them. Some are not reluctant. And some are eager, in hope of a payday. All of those exist.
> I don't think anyone has to fear any kind of slippery slope here.
When a person is discussing a world where even the nebulously defined gray area is legally actionable, and the only standard is "a woman felt uncomfortable" - yes.
It seems like you're replying viscerally to the idea that sexual harassment is not real, or should not be punished? I never suggested such a thing. I just think that if we're going to try and un-blur the gray area, then we need objectively defined standards.
Repeated unwelcome advances are not OK even if the person is single.
Definitely agree with you there. I added the extra "made clear they had a significant other" since it would help to push the line even further into unacceptable territory. I don't mean to imply that the relationship status is a necessary condition for unacceptability. The fact that women have learned to use the existence of an SO as an escape rather than outright saying no reflects poorly on the men that caused the learned behavior.
Last weekend she received an unsolicited, nearly naked photo from the same male co-worker. Needless to say, he is no longer at the company.
This is sad on two counts. First, it's sad that my relative felt she couldn't report because she thought it would harm her career. It sickens me to say this, but maybe she was right. Maybe it would have harmed her career.
Second, and I've seen this before, she had to endure further harassment until he really escalated so she could report something significant enough that she felt it wouldn't harm her credibility.
Though we're discussing this through the lens of the tech industry, the most horrifying thing of all is that this isn't even a problem that's unique to tech.
It's pervasive. Still.
What prompts this kind of mentality?
Stalking seems to be some form of obsessive behavior, and I suspect that sending pictures is an early stage of such behavior. It also describe a cure for it, ie similar cures we have when obsessive behavior makes someone a criminal.
Maladjusted chuds being maladjusted.
That's not what they said at all.
> > That seems like a reasonable distinction to make, though both can have the same moral fault and/or commit the same crime; motivation is important when we look towards someone's character.
Stop rounding people to stereotypes.
"And I'm not saying X, but X." where "X" = "it's her fault".
Just because you deny what you're about to say in the same sentence just before you say it, doesn't mean you didn't say it.
So what is your motivation for defending someone who's trying to shift the blame to the victim of sexual harassment, and how does that speak to your character?
Ignorance of the law is not a defence against it. That's right and proper.
If I believe you are happy with me taking money from your wallet, and so take some. Can you see that would be a different category morally to if I believed you would condemn such action and yet still took the money. Both situations might be theft, both might be judged morally wrong. But to me the moral character of the person in the two situations is different. And, that differences is worthy of note.
"her silence [...] causing him to escalate to naked pictures"
Don't blame the victim's silence for "causing" an "escalation" to sending naked pictures. He decided to do it of his own free will, she did not "cause" him to do that by being silent.
based upon your post I can understand why you find it difficult identifying such a thing, but there it is.
You're so blinded by your beliefs you've lost all sense of fairness and balance and mistake moderates as the being of the opposing faction.
Yes, and even if the person being rejected poses no risk it's nice to spare their feelings with what amounts to a little white lie. It helps everybody save face and ideally allows the conversation to move on to other things.
This is where professionalism and propriety come in. One's behavior should simply be well outside the gray area and straying into it should, itself, be grounds for confrontation.
That doesn't actually fix anything, you're just defining the gray area to be further to one side. If people actually did that then expectations would change and more innocuous behavior would fall into the gray area, requiring you to move the line again.
The gray area exists because not everybody agrees where the line is.
In some cultures it is illegal for a man and a woman who are not married to even be alone in a room together. In some cultures physical contact between acquaintances is normal behavior. In a multicultural society, whose culture should have the force of law?
This gray area exists because the law needs to operate under the presumption of innocence, defining crimes unambiguously and prosecuting them with due regard for reasonable doubt -- it is deliberately narrow and permissive, because the state is very powerful and if not held to strict limits it becomes very dangerous. However, those of us who wish to have a good social and professional reputation shouldn't expect to maintain it while doing things that are "barely legal"; and those who witness us doing so should not feel that those kinds of things are not to be mentioned or corrected merely because they are not illegal.
That is the theory everyone refers to when they're trying to justify imposing harsh penalties.
Have you read the laws that Congress actually passes? It would be nice if they actually lived up to that standard.
And you can't get out of the problem by appealing to a reputational shadow enforcement system. If reputational harm wasn't real or powerful then no one would be interested in imposing it. Imposing real penalties with a weak standard of proof on marginal behavior is equally problematic regardless of whether the penalties are formally imposed by the state. And today's attitudes become tomorrow's laws.
Gray areas are gray because they contain both baby and bathwater.
If something is clearly wrong it's easy to make it illegal (and it almost always already is), and if it isn't clearly wrong then we don't have any special knowledge the state lacks that allows us to mete out penalties in borderline cases without punishing good people.
There is a grey area like that but that is not the grey area I am talking about.
To a consider an example you mentioned previously: it's fine to just not ever touch your coworkers. Another example is ethnic jokes: these are not illegal but do you need to do this at work? Staying out of the gray area is not a matter of harsh punishment but rather on insisting on professionalism and decorum.
It is only when people have strayed so far from that -- normalising deviance for themselves -- that you find yourself in a place where harsh punishment is even thinkable. One would not need or apply harsh punishments for matters of decorum.
You're assuming the benefit of staying away from the line is greater than the cost of losing every net-positive thing that isn't entirely white.
It's possible for a workplace to be a sterile environment where one turns one's wrench in silence without human connection, but that isn't how people should have to spend the majority of their waking hours.
And again, that policy is a ratchet. What people take offense to is calibrated by expectations and past experience. If you succeed in exerting social pressure to keep everyone away from the line, you move the Overton window and create a new gray area in what used to be accepted professional behavior. Continue to apply the same line-avoiding policy and you have a ratchet that leads to the imposition of radically Puritanical positions.
For example, tipping -- I honestly can not remember the last time I saw anyone not do it. That doesn't mean tips keep going up and up and up...
How do you explain that?
> Nonetheless, the standard percentage to tip waitstaff has risen over the decades. According to a PayScale study, the median tip is now 19.5%. In recent years, some waiters and restaurants have suggested that 25% or even 30% is the proper gratuity level, and that a 20% tip, once considered generous, is just average today. As recently as 2008, though, an Esquire tipping guide stated "15 percent for good service is still the norm" at American restaurants. An American Demographics study from 2001 found that three-quarters of Americans tipped an average of 17% on restaurant bills, while 22% tipped a flat amount no matter what the bill, and the gratuity left averaged $4.67. Meanwhile, in 1922, Emily Post wrote, "You will not get good service unless you tip generously," and "the rule is ten per cent."
Presumably as a result of most people not wanting to leave a below average tip, which clips the low side of average from the distribution and thereby raises the average over time.
Why should that even be a factor? Unwanted is unwanted, whether they're in a committed relationship or not is not relevant at all.
Parent post included that because these threads are full of arseholes who say things like "he didn't know, why didn't she just tell him?"
It's very common.
While I don't know the details of what happened here, there's nothing wrong or illegal about approaching someone and I'm more than a little miffed that anyone would consider it necessary (or good) to make "unwelcome advances" illegal. Yes, even unwelcome advances to married women.
Bosses, professors, doctors, interviewers and every other situation I can think of have a bright line where it's not okay to try and romantically or sexually engage someone when you're in a context that you have power over them, even if it is ephemeral. VCs are no different.
I'm not even going to try and address groping or other forms of harassment, which are wrong even when a power dynamic doesn't exist.
human sexuality isn't that cut and dried.
Context is important.
yes, technically you could consider rape to be an 'unwanted advance', but no reasonable person would ever characterize it as so. The very fact that it's characterized as an unwanted advance tells you it's not sexual harassment, it's just someone chasing another person.
> Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Very generally, “sexual harassment” describes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.
Federal law appears to disagree with you.
However, it seems to me, as a non-American, that the US is pretty hysterical on this topic. Humans make each other uncomfortable sometimes, some situations are inherently awkward, emotional anguish is inflicted on good people (I've had to fire a few... that's horrible on both sides of the desk)... there's no reason society should be ascribed the duty to guarantee that nobody ever finds themselves in situations they are not comfortable in.
As I mentioned, my partner pushed my boundaries a bit, but I'm doubleplusgood happy she did. In hindsight, my initial reticence was an error, and by persisting she allowed me the opportunity to correct that. Now our lives are significantly enhanced as a result. I don't see why such behaviour should be subject to censure. Did it make me uneasy? In a transitory way, yes. But it's part and parcel of existing in a social fabric.
Do you have any examples? (I'd prefer some with links, please).
There is no "low morality" in a woman accepting an invitation to go on a date even in the most hidebound parts of the United States. But that's not what you mean. You don't mean "interact". You mean "screw". That you're conflating the idea of "regular, not very confident or skilled people" interacting with women with its very small subset, screwing, is telling as to your worldview and how you regard the women under discussion.
You should stop digging.
How do you have brief experiences, btw?
IANAL, but legally it's not sexual harassment because they don't work at the same company.
Something is only sexual harassment in two cases: 1) a supervisor offers something to a subordinate in exchange for sexual favors 2) a company is found to have created a hostile work environment. In both cases it's the company that's liable, not the person or people doing the harassment. There may be some extra rules that exist in individual states, but this is the general idea.
Certainly it's bad behavior, but because there isn't any real power imbalance between entrepreneurs and VCs the problem can mostly be dealt with socially (as has happened here) rather than being a situation that requires some specific legal intervention. (Or at least that's the general legal theory.)
For example, catcalling on the street isn't illegal. It's still sexual harassment, it's still unethical, but it's not illegal.
Apparently in some instances and places it is. Follow the link.
Unfortunately this isn't true, from a legal point of view; in many jurisdictions, the legal definition of SH is specifically tailored (and constrained) to "the workplace".
Mind you I'm not talking about what's "slimy", "invasive", or what infringes on one's natural rights as a human being or anything about that. But rather, the legal definition. Which doesn't always jibe with what people would or like it to be.
There is a huge power imbalance between entrepreneurs and VCs.
What I meant is that the EEOC decided to draw a line, and aside from the "in the context of a company" requirement, the behavior in the stories I've heard definitely crosses that line rather than just being an uncomfortable and sketchy situation.
I would argue however, that because VC's are holding the money and entrepreneurs are trying to raise, it might not be as bad as a boss/employee power dynamic, but the power is certainly held by the VC in the situation.
- The vast majority of highly successful companies don't raise venture. VCs need equity, entrepreneurs don't need money.
- The vast majority of companies that raise VC don't succeed.
- The vast majority of VC funds have lower than market returns.
I think the real situation is more that a lot of inexperienced founders glom onto VCs because they think that not having money is what's keeping them from succeeding.
There is also a common belief that the fact that VCs are predominantly male is creating a power imbalance that's keeping women from being more successful, despite the fact that the empirical evidence from other industries seemingly shows that there isn't much correlation between the sex of the gatekeepers and who they choose to back. E.g. LP is pretty gender balanced and most VCs are male, most literary agents and publishers are female but most published authors are male, etc. If there were more female VCs then it's possible that more women would get funded, but I think right now that theory is more of a truthclaim than anything else.
The power imbalance is pretty obvious in that kind of scenario. It's less of an imbalance if the entrepreneur is also wealthy and just raising money to share risk or build alliances.
Point is, if you have multiple millions of dollars, "do nothing" is always on the table, which isn't so for many founders.
I don't see any power imbalance that exists within the relationship here. Compare this with the laws that prevent a therapist from dating a client, which are in place because one party can take advantage of the other or blackmail them or have them involuntarily committed. That's a power imbalance.
I also think this is a very orientalist view of the industry. How many founders actually raise institutional money off just a deck each year, who don't otherwise have the skills to earn a lot of money consulting or whatever?
I'm not trying to defend the behavior here in any way, I just think that the reason why it's wrong for a VC to aggressively proposition a founder or whatever is different than, for example, what makes it wrong for an employer to have a relationship with an employee.
Occam's razor is a tool to winnow down proven scientific theories, not to bypass the need for evidence. I'd rather vest power in the courts than outrage media.
So for me this means that I wait for the judges to decide. Before he's found guilty it's nothing more than gossip to me, although this is a rather unpopular opinion I guess.
Since he at least didn't deny the accusations this fosters the believes in his guilt.
For this case it's fine then. However, I tried to make a more general statement in my post before, since the zeitgeist tends to prejudgements nowadays, which also was a thing in the middle ages and does more harm than good.
Seriously? I mean then why do we need courts, judges and juries if it's that simple. Details matter and both sides of the story. 
And what do you mean by 'at the very least doing something that's inappropriate'?. By what and by whose standards?
 What if you were charged with the crime of assault (non sexual in this example) and nobody had seen what had happened prior to you throwing (what they thought) was the first punch without any knowledge of the provocation prior to that point (as only one quick example).
This story was posted yesterday and it got flagged. (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14613890) When I saw that, I thought the Hacker News community did not care.
I am glad to see supportive comments like yours in this new thread.
Don't despair, I think we do care. :)
Now the question is, what motivates you to seek out a relatively far-fetched justification for this man's possible innocence?
I realize this isn't a legal matter at this point but I'm speaking of the principle(s) on which those features are based.
It almost always seems to become a case of "you're either with us or you're against us," so let's try to steer clear of that.
You're implying he supports sexual harassment.
He's bringing up a perfectly valid question for discussion: what if the person has an outsized opinion of his attractiveness, and also happens to be a VC -- is that still sexual harassment or just stupidity?
Well, the answer is that in this case it's still harassment.
And so now there's question, answer, discussion, etc. No need to accuse the poster of being complicit himself in harassment.
Edit: I wrote some more downthread at https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14627388, if anyone wants more to read about how we approach this.
HN has been a superb place for discussion of issues relating to workplace harassment and it seems that having certain ideas forbidden is likely to harm the discussion.
There's a difference between expressing a view and setting this place on fire. There's no view that can't be expressed substantively and thoughtfully if one has a mind to, but it takes work. Throwing fuel on the fire or sand in the gears is different; that's vandalism, and it destroys the free exchange of views by ruining the container—the community and site—that supports it. The container is fragile and needs protecting.
People mostly do this without realizing how destructive it is. Dealing with it requires moderators whose role is to protect the commons. That's how HN still exists as a place for (hopefully) thoughtful discussion. We'll never all agree about where to draw the line every time, but that's secondary to the point that someone needs to.
A comment crosses into trolling when it does things that are known to ruin thoughtful discussion, whether intentionally or not. I chided the commenter upthread because they were going much further than merely (say) arguing against a rush to judgment about the OP—they were signalling bad faith with polemical swipes (e.g. 'Your prejudice that in general, "men are pigs"'). That is not thoughtful discussion, it's destructive of it.
When we ask commenters not to do this, reactions vary. Some react by taking responsibility and learning how not to produce such effects in online conversation. Many HN users have gone through that process. I had to go through it myself (it took years); I used to optimize for snark and venting as much as the next person. If HN has anything superb about it, to use your word, it's because of the community members who do this work.
Other commenters prefer the melodrama approach. They proclaim they're being 'censored' for their 'unpopular opinions' by mods who 'can't handle the truth', then storm out the front door with an 'enjoy your circlejerk' or two. (Typically they then walk around the building, come back in through the back door and start over with a new account.) This is the Pythonesque 'help help I'm being repressed' phase of the internet cycle of life. It's eternal and will never go way, but I'm confident that in most cases, most neutral readers observe the same signs of bad faith that mods were reacting to in the first place. How do I know that? Because otherwise our job would be impossible.
In the end the root distinction isn't about what view a commenter has on this or that topic, it's the difference between users who comment with care for the whole and those who don't. Sometimes that's because they're so agitated that they lack the self-control to do anything other than toss a hot potato into the thread. (It happens to everyone.) But often it's just that they haven't yet learned about this dynamic and why it matters. Once somebody gets that, they're motivated to participate in the community quite differently—but it isn't a question of changing their views, becoming more 'conformist' or 'groupthink' or any of that sort of thing people say. It's more akin to not littering in a city park, or to taking good care of a campsite.
The two topics I enjoy which are continually controversial are the "Russian Hacking" story and stories about Wikileaks. Wikileaks has been an interest for many HN readers for years, and so it's interesting to see how recent events have created political polarization where none existed before.
I've noticed that some users will use the tactic of shaming to try to make a point in a discussion. It's hard to describe this, but it's much more like the sort of comments one finds in other discussion fora than what is typically found on HN. Politics brings these out, yet I would be very disappointed if political topics were discouraged on HN, since political ideas and participation are an important part of citizenship and community. And it may take the sort of retort one would get on HN to break someone out of a lazy "comfort zone" belief that they hold simply because it's popular.
Thanks for your efforts moderating, I know it is a thankless duty, but your comment makes me realize that there are likely threads that I don't participate in which get much worse.
The price of admission into a serious conversation about this, to my mind, is some indication of awareness of how prevalent these biases are, including in one's own case. To a first approximation, they determine everything. That is, to a first approximation, the only thing that any of us really thinks is "what I like is good, what I dislike is bad, and others are good or bad to the extent that they agree with me". That goes along with "I'm a noble freethinker nobly standing apart from this groupthink echo chamber" and the associated recommendation, "You should moderate this forum to defend those I agree with and smite those I disagree with." These feelings are so compelling that it's hard to wriggle one's way into a degree of freedom from them. One should make that effort anyhow. My experience is that people who make the effort start to see the problem differently, even as we all retain our biases.
There are many counterintuitive aspects to this. One is that community cohesion remains an issue even when 'popular opinion' (assuming it exists and you know what it is) is wrong. There are ways of disputing popular opinion that cause harm even when they're right; it isn't a simple matter of just 'stating the unpopular truth' (assuming it exists and you know what it is) and then lording it over or angrily lashing out at those who 'can't handle it'. You actually have a greater responsibility by virtue of the fact that you know, or believe you know, more truth. Most people who fancy themselves to be expressing an unpopular truth don't take that responsibility—on the contrary, they use that truth as a weapon, to vent grievances, gain status, and so on. This harms discussion and community even if you are right about both popular opinion and the truth. Indeed, it does more harm the more right you are.
For the record, I don't agree with that commenter's opinion. And I also believe your actions on these moderation issues are well-intended (plus you're doing a great job, probably especially on the invisible parts, kudos).
But for all the talk about not throwing oil on the fire, maybe it's smart if you then also refrain from calling people "trolls" or "trolling" when they're not intentionally doing so. To use your words, it signals bad faith. Especially if you consider that such a person is probably in a bad or angry mood.
In fact, I don't think "trolling effect" is a very good term to use either. That's probably because I carry a sort of romantic idea about my dealings advanced and skilled trolls. Similar to how many people here feel about the term "hacker". Yes there exist criminal hackers, just like there exist mentally insane unstable bad evil trolls. But there are also performance artists, or you know, memetic/social hackers. Still not always good, and almost never welcome. They can use their eristic skills to make stuck up people lose face and/or their shit. They can bring to light collective hypocrisy by placing a very careful wedge in a community. Same reasons we need comedy, satire or jesters. Or just cause a scene for the art of it. If they wanted to, they could "set this place on fire" without snark, polemic or even knowing it was them that caused someone else to push a button and whoooommff.
Just like you don't call someone who steals your USB-stick a "hacker" but a "thief", someone who uses polemic swipes and snark because they angrily voice an unpopular opinion on HN, is not (necessarily) a troll. And to them it comes across as if you're just calling them names, which does not create listeners.
Just call it what it is. The "trolling effects" you talk about have a proper word actually, and are called "flame wars". Even better would be if you'd take some of the well-worded snippets from your post above (and possibly previous ones), for copy-pasting the relevant bits, because well it's not really more than about five typical situations on HN, is it?
Since you want to affect this person's behaviour, it helps to be specific, instead of using a catch-all term like "trolling". Pointing out "snark" and "polemic swipes" apply in this case, because that's undeniable and you can quote the words. Calling it "signalling bad faith" is a very bad idea for hopefully obvious reasons.
Finally, about your last paragraph. Of course you don't want conformist groupthink either. But just like the so-called "troll", your intentions may not line up with what effects you're causing. Depending on how carefully you tread, you may in fact be inciting groupthink, and ironically this attracts (proper) trolls because they love poking that kind of self-assuredness.
 often unrelated stress, but triggered on subjects they feel strongly about--I get this myself as well, but I usually manage to write such words in a textfile, that I keep in a very private very angry folder somewhere (throwing away the vitriol is less cathartic to me, and sometimes there's some useful eloquent bits that come in useful at a calmer moment).
 still not welcome here on HN, which I understand, but more for the same reasons why reddit-style pun-threads are not welcome here either.
 Because (especially in their eyes) they could say the same about you. Also snark and polemic swipes seem to be called out a lot more consistently when it involves "unpopular opinions on HN" (which exist), I notice this myself, even though I strongly oppose most of these unpopular opinions. And that, by itself, can in fact be considered quite rightly as signalling bad faith. So take care.
Sometimes people who are keen to defend harassers might do so because they exhibit similar behaviours themselves or hold similar beliefs and want to defend themselves.
Here is an example from this very story: Caldbeck tweeted in support of Uber: "Also mob mentality w @Uber right now. Guilty before proven innocent on everything".
I genuinely think it's worth self-examining one's motivations if someone's first instinct is to defend the man in such a case. I say this without trying to accuse anyone, sexism is subtle and affects everyone, and it's through self examination that we can grow and improve.
Why do you assume it was his (or her?) first instinct? This HN thread has already well-established that Caldbeck's behavior is repugnant. Do we need every single poster to +1, or can people propose questions for discussion without being accused of being part of the problem?
Ad hominem being acceptable on a few pet issues is a value system I've noticed that many people, including you, have. I would ask why. I've had this turned on me, too, hence why I'm not surprised; I'm reminded of defense lawyers who receive death threats and actual violence, as well.
The "misunderstandings" about which you wring your hands are weaponized against women in the spirit of "don't be hysterical". You're not being moderate when you express viewpoints like this. You're just rationalizing bad shit. And, judging from your sterling work throughout this thread, you know it, too.
This type of behavior is about boundaries. Boundaries are about power.
His behavior crossed what our culture generally says are the boundaries of a professional situation. That's what makes it inappropriate; it doesn't matter what he believed.
It's totally acceptable to meet someone in a social situation and, after a bit of due diligence, it's totally acceptable to ask them out.
But that's not what this was.
I also reject the notion of "position of power" just because he is a VC. Nobody is forced to take his money. You could just as well say the applying women are in a position of power because the VC desperately needs somebody to invest in. I guess a startup should avoid seeking investments where the investor is "in a position of power", anyway.
I am also not justifying his behavior, obviously he made mistakes. But I reject the immediate interpretation of "man abusing his power to pressure women into sex".
The "boundaries" talk is also not really helpful - at some point, somebody has to make a move. If their estimate of the situation is correct, they are not "crossing boundaries". Otherwise they are crossing boundaries and need to withdraw.
Grabbing a knee under the table is of course not a good first move, but we might be missing context.
Nobody's forced to work for a boss that harasses them, yet making unwanted sexual advances against someone who reports to you is illegal as hell.
You have a poor legal understanding of sexual harassment. I strongly suggest that you educate yourself as to what kind of advances and relationships are, and are not appropriate in a professional setting.
* I hate to think that you might have trouble understanding this, but we're not talking about dating a co-worker. We're not talking about a pitch that didn't succeed followed by three months of radio silence followed by them meeting at a social event and realizing that they are attracted to each other.
* The mutual realization that you are attracted to a coworker is not the same as sexual harassment, it's not the same as being asked out by your manager, and it's not the same as receiving unwelcome sexual advances during a pitch meeting from a man who works at VC firm.
* Asking an available coworker out on a date, however unwise it may be depending on your place of employment and working relationships, is not the same as making remarks about her looks, clothes, or anatomy. It's not the same as denying her an investment or promotion because she rejected your advances.
I hope that clears things up for you.
>> But I reject the immediate interpretation of "man abusing his power to pressure women into sex".
Oh but that's exactly what this was. It was a man abusing his power to pressure women into sex.
>> Grabbing a knee under the table is of course not a good first move, but we might be missing context.
Grabbing the knee of someone you are not mutually involved with is not appropriate behavior in the workplace. Depending on the situation, it may be inappropriate even if you are mutually involved. But without mutual involvement, it's absolute inappropriate.
"The past 24 hours have been the darkest of my life. I have made many mistakes over the course of my career, some of which were brought to light this week. To say I'm sorry about my behavior is a categorical understatement. Still, I need to say it: I am so, so sorry.
I direct my apology first to those women who I've made feel uncomfortable in any way, at any time - but also to the greater tech ecosystem, a community that I have utterly failed.
The power dynamic that exists in venture capital is despicably unfair. The gap of influence between male venture capitalists and female entrepreneurs is frightening and I hate that my behavior played a role in perpetrating a gender-hostile environment. It is outrageous and unethical for any person to leverage a position of power in exchange for sexual gain, it is clear to me now that that is exactly what I've done.
I am deeply ashamed of my lack of self-awareness. I am grateful to Niniane, Susan, Leiti, and the other women who spoke up for providing me with a sobering look into my own character and behavior that I can no longer ignore. The dynamic of this industry makes it hard to speak up, but this is the type of action that leads to progress and change, starting with me.
I will be taking an indefinite leave of absence from Binary Capital, the firm I co-founded in 2014. I will be seeking professional counseling as I take steps to reflect on my behavior with and attitude towards women. I will find ways to learn from this difficult experience - and to help drive necessary changes in the broader venture community.
The Binary team will also be taking measures to ensure that the firm is a safe place for founders of all backgrounds to find the support and resources they need to change the world, without abuse of power or mistreatment of any person.
I owe a heartfelt apology to my family, my investors, my portfolio, and the team at Binary, who have been completely blindsided and in no way deserve the pain I've caused. But most of all I apologize again to those who I've hurt during the course of my career - and for the damage I've done to the industry I care so deeply about."
Binary issued a statement that said the notion Mr. Caldbeck had “engaged in improper behavior with female entrepreneurs” was “false.” Binary said that while The Information had “found a few examples which show that Justin has in the past occasionally dated or flirted with women he met in a professional capacity, let’s be clear: there is no evidence that Justin did anything illegal and there is no evidence that any of his investing decisions were affected by his social interest.
> Obviously, I am deeply disturbed by these allegations. While significant context is missing from the incidents reported by The Information, I deeply regret ever causing anyone to feel uncomfortable. The fact is that I have been privileged to have worked with female entrepreneurs throughout my career and I sincerely apologize to anyone who I made uncomfortable by my actions. There’s no denying this is an issue in the venture community, and I hate that my behavior has contributed to it.
I wouldn't be surprised if Binary released an updated statement in light of this new apology and indefinite leave.
He hasn't copped up to the assaults, and since they were not employees, the texts may not necessarily have been illegal.
Not entirely contradictory.
> It is outrageous and unethical for any person to leverage a position of power in exchange for sexual gain, it is clear to me now that that is exactly what I've done.
Those read to me like admissions of guilt. I'd expect lawyers to strongly advise against writing such things.
Caldbeck might benefit by spending time volunteering for an appropriate organization as a way to help accelerate his awareness - and to help.
It's really sad to see this story emerge, and I hope we can all take lessons from it and nudge the industry in a better direction.
I would have liked to see more respect given to the victims rather than telling us how difficult getting caught has been for him.
"I have made many mistakes over the course of my career, some of which were brought to light this week."
- I'm probably a pathological predator but prefer to view my illness and/or poor character as a set of "mistakes" because that's easier on me than admitting I'm a piece of shit.
"To say I'm sorry about my behavior is a categorical understatement."
- I would acknowledge who I probably really am but I can't, if I even know.
"Still, I need to say it: I am so, so sorry."
- So I'll just say "I'm sorry" instead.
"I direct my apology first to those women who I've made feel uncomfortable in any way, at any time - but also to the greater tech ecosystem, a community that I have utterly failed."
- I did some really repulsive shit, but I don't want to say how repulsive, so let's just call it "making people feel uncomfortable." Also, I'm really bummed that so many people are getting mad at me.
"The power dynamic that exists in venture capital is despicably unfair."
- This isn't about me at all, guys. It's about The System. If I just start acknowledging and condemning structural violence, maybe I can get the focus of this off of me personally.
"The gap of influence between male venture capitalists and female entrepreneurs is frightening and I hate that my behavior played a role in perpetrating a gender-hostile environment."
- So let's talk about structural violence instead and how I'm just a cog in The System.
"It is outrageous and unethical for any person to leverage a position of power in exchange for sexual gain, it is clear to me now that that is exactly what I've done."
- We all sin, OK?
"I am deeply ashamed of my lack of self-awareness."
- If I had known everyone would get so fucking upset at me, I wouldn't have done those things. I hate it when people get mad at me.
"I am grateful to Niniane, Susan, Leiti, and the other women who spoke up for providing me with a sobering look into my own character and behavior that I can no longer ignore."
- I wish those women hadn't done that. I'm totally fucked now.
"The dynamic of this industry makes it hard to speak up, but this is the type of action that leads to progress and change, starting with me."
- But enough about me, let's talk about The System instead. That's the real problem. In fact, me being a piece of shit and it being brought to light is good for these women. I did them a favor! Don't you see?
"I will be taking an indefinite leave of absence from Binary Capital, the firm I co-founded in 2014."
- Like I said, I'm totally fucked now and my partners booted me out.
"I will be seeking professional counseling as I take steps to reflect on my behavior with and attitude towards women."
- My wife is so fucking pissed, you don't even know. We're probably getting divorced now, so thanks for that.
"I will find ways to learn from this difficult experience - and to help drive necessary changes in the broader venture community."
- I still don't really get what I did wrong, but since everyone is so mad at me, I guess I'd better try to figure out how to not make people mad at me again like that.
"The Binary team will also be taking measures to ensure that the firm is a safe place for founders of all backgrounds to find the support and resources they need to change the world, without abuse of power or mistreatment of any person."
- My partners are super pissed that I fucked their brand, and accordingly, their deal flow. Please don't take it out on them. They're not cool with what I did even though they probably knew about it.
"I owe a heartfelt apology to my family, my investors, my portfolio, and the team at Binary, who have been completely blindsided and in no way deserve the pain I've caused."
- I'm sorry I fucked everybody's shit up.
How would you word your apology such that it couldn't be interpreted in this (self-serving, not actually sorry) way?
Do you think that's true? Like women/men can't harras men sexually?
It seems to me that being sexual harassed by a person in a position of authority over you is unlikely to be that different based on sex but could differ a lot based on some of the characteristics that are often skewed to one sex or the other.
So men in general might feel greater humiliation, perhaps; women might feel more vulnerable: both because of the physical strength of men vs. women in general.
Consider Kafka. Any one incident in one of his stories could be fairly viewed as merely a confusing annoyance, but that would miss the point.
But even the structural nature of violence against women is insufficient context alone. The feelings women experience when they are victimized in this way are products of history. And I submit that you cannot share in that experience without that history, which is to say without having been born a woman.
I can no sooner "truly understand" how women experience these things than I can truly understand how it feels to be a black man called "boy." I understand it intellectually, and I empathize as much as I can, but I'll never "get it" as someone who isn't a member of the out-group.
This isn't a contest of suffering. I can suffer just as much as a woman, if not more, but not in the same way. It is the character of the suffering that makes us different.
What you need to demonstrate is that women are a special class who have entirely different experiences, to any member of other classes, when being sexually harassed.
This stands in stark contrast to some feminist rhetoric as it relies on men and women being fundamentally and innately unequal.
I don't think women are shrinking little flowers, as a class, that experience harassment in a way that no members of the out-class do. This, appears to be the supposition of your post.
How do you suppose you know enough of the experience of members of your own class (eg male) to say they are all markedly different to those of another class (female).
>The feelings women experience when they are victimized in this way are products of history. //
In the general case that sounds like bullshit. Convince me otherwise?
Also, I'm a Beauvoir feminist, so I'm sure we'd have our differences about gender equality.
I've been working with startups since 2011 and in that time I've seen:
-A Head of HR who gave promotions to his employees based on sexual favors given. This person happened to be friends with the CEO and employees got in trouble for reporting him.
-A founder and dealing with the above situation and doing an "investigation" that ended with nothing.
-The same founder referring the employees who were fired to their friends dumpster fire of a company so they could get a referral bonus.
-A founder I worked with belittled women, all of their female developers left after a few months. I wrote a glassdoor review and was repeatedly threatened by said founder.
-Worked with a founder who has repeatedly been accused of sexual harassment to the point where there are multiple articles about it. Same founder hooked up with multiple younger female employees while on coke in another country on a company trip. During a round of layoffs, the women saved were the women sleeping with executives (there were 4!!!). Still CEO obv.
-Finally, at larger companies with multiple younger founders I've seen wayyyy too many situations where male boss puts female employee in awkward situations, whether its an arm around them in the hot tub or extreme extra attention over male employees.
Each time I thought about pointing out this behavior, there was some sort of threat/warning about shutting up and letting it happen, often followed by actual legal threats. Watch who you work with...
Big money leads to terrible behavior due to power differences. Men AND Women willing to take advantage of less powerful people.
I have a female friend who was sexually harrassed by a female VC, and again the same dynamics played out. Its not about gender but primal human desires and power.
From the DoJ:
"Sexual assault is any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. Falling under the definition of sexual assault are sexual activities as forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, child molestation, incest, fondling, and attempted rape."
From the EEOC, the which is the U.S. federal agency that is responsible for civil rights in the workplace:
"It is unlawful to harass a person (an applicant or employee) because of that person’s sex. Harassment can include “sexual harassment” or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.
Harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature, however, and can include offensive remarks about a person’s sex. For example, it is illegal to harass a woman by making offensive comments about women in general.
Both victim and the harasser can be either a woman or a man, and the victim and harasser can be the same sex.
Although the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted).
The harasser can be the victim's supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer."
(Edited to include sexual assault, which was included in the parent comment as one of the things apparently lacking a definition)
I lost my job and got involved in a complex legal matter trying to defend girls from a predatory person. Most people simply do not care, and will avoid getting involved at all costs.
The law should be handling sexual harassment. The reasons why we have these issues with companies is because there's a conflict of interest. The police are a third party and have no interest in the success/failure of the company, ideally.
I think people on both sides of this issue would love it if the law showed itself capable of handling sexual harassment cases. Unfortunately we have way too much evidence that that just isn't the case. The obvious example that comes to mind is Brock Turner getting three months, and that's in the best case where someone is actually convicted. Far too often it never gets to that point, not because the harassment/assault didn't occur, but because the legal system is so utterly shit at handling it. The 'outragism' that so many people decry only exists in the first place because every system that is supposed to prevent or punish these acts has failed so completely.
You're basically arguing that companies should become their own units of law enforcement with their own punishments as they see fit, with no oversight. That is clearly not going to work. It clearly hasn't.
If the law is unfair, we have the power to change that law. Exceptions always exist but we can not make laws on exceptions. Meanwhile companies continue to allow harassment on a daily basis, Look at Fox News. Multiple cases. Imagine in other corporations?
While we may theoretically have the power to change the way law enforcement works on these issues, doing so would be dramatically more difficult than making marginal improvements within the industry itself. We shouldn't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
Industry has never gotten this right. How long until we finally see that the company trying to avoid bad PR and make money doesn't have conflicts of interest with these victims?
I've seen too many companies turn blind eyes to terrible workplace environments because the perpetrator "makes too many sales." or is "too important." It's always going to be a conflict of interest.
My advice to anyone is: collect evidence, quit, and file a lawsuit. Any other internal method will lead to even more abuse and fear.
You can call them over racist discrimination. There's no difference here.
EDIT: Ah, it seems going on record is necessary to actually bring charges to someone.
One journalist got six sources, three on the record, and claims to have verified parts of the stories (such as reviewing message history on phones), which led him to have the confidence to go to press.
It just seems like an unnecessary risk/vulnerability. Of course, there's also the fact that by going on the record you also encourage others to do the same, which is an immeasurable benefit.
I know it must have been a hard decision to make because you were probably worried about how you & your company would be treated afterwards but this is going to help open so many people's eyes.
Not only does naming sources give more credibility, it also doesn't rely fully on the credibility of journalists. You can only say "it's true, just trust me" without being able to back it up so many times.
Testimony of anonymous sources are useful as corroboration, not as the main evidence. The sources here don't need to fear for their lives, nor are they able to produce documents to back up their claims.
I do not wish to diminish the courage that was needed to go on the record here. In fact, this is even more risky because hard evidence is so hard to come by in cases like this.
So it happened, it's just that he doesn't realize how wildly unacceptable it was.
I know this is an unpopular opinion, but due process exists for a reason. We should reserve judgement until the investigation progresses further.
I have nothing to gain from this. I am not suing. I'm founder & CEO of a Greylock-funded startup. Thankfully Greylock has come out in full support, but I didn't know that beforehand and was very nervous when I decided to do the article. The only way that any reporter would agree to publish was if I used my real name. I knew Justin was continuing to harass women, and this was the only way to stop him.
sillysaurus3, you may be thinking of cases where women go to accuse a "rich or powerful" person and are trying to get something out of it. I had nothing to gain and a lot to lose.
"The unfortunate truth is that I simply could not write this until Albergotti published, as I didn't have anyone on the record, which is virtually essential from a journalistic perspective. "
Victims report incidents, an their info is not shared at the time of report. Victims can elect to have their reports unsealed if subsequent accusations are made against the same individual. This mirrors the current status quo, where it's less common for victims to speak out if there are no other cases to corroborate, but makes discovery of other cases more feasible.
It's being rolled out specifically in the context of college sexual assault, but I imagine the approach could work elsewhere too.
I can only imagine how stressful a situation like this can be, so I certainly didn't mean to increase it. Best of luck.
They have fucking text messages to back their story up. Are those easy to fabricate too, when it comes to rich and powerful people?
My comment was a bit too female-focused. It wasn't about she-said's or a female conspiracy, but rather the ease of getting people to smear someone that has enemies.
It's hard not to notice that the claim of sexual harassment is as equally damaging now as being called a communist was in the 50's. It's obviously quite different, but the damage is identical. And when it comes to something so powerful, we should at least respect due process.
It's not, and it's not.
Communist witch-hunts were conducted by secret, back-channel, anonymous snitches, and were all about guilt by association. Accusations of sexual harassment put the accuser incredibly out in the open.
They were also largely used as a weapon against the weak and unconnected - people without the resources, or even awareness necessary to fight back against secret blacklists.
Not to mention that there is a colossal distinction between blackballing people for being communists, and blackballing them for being sexual harassers.
And besides, if history's any indication, the latter don't have problem making a living. There's always someone willing to take a chance.
It was both. A lot of accusations were made in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee, on public record, and those accusers were very visible. For example you can read through http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/6458/ and see that Emil Lustig, Robert Burman, Herbert K. Sorrell and a number of others had no doubt about who they were accused by - they were accused by Ronald Reagan and Walt Disney.
There was also accusation by rumor mill, which might or might not ever lead to a public accusation.
I've seen both modes with sexual harassment claims. Indeed it is not infrequent that, as with this case, the public claims only emerge after someone has been tarred and feathered by anonymous accusations in the rumor mill.
Most of the people caught up had little actual power. The same is true today by virtue of the simple fact that most of us have very little actual power. But there were very prominent people affected of accusations of being communists, such as Charlie Chaplin and Aaron Copeland. Which is again no different than today.
Furthermore the THREAT of being called a communist was used against very prominent people. That was the heart of Joseph McCarthy's power - powerful people were sincerely afraid of him.
There is a distinction, but I suspect that it goes the other way from what you think.
Communists stood accused of being covert agents of a hostile foreign power that we were at undeclared war with. Their purported aim was to undermine and destroy our country to ensure the victory of said foreign power. And there really were such covert agents. For example Harold Ware, Julius Rosenberg, and Aldrich Ames - all real people and all actually agents of the USSR who worked to undermine the security of the USA.
Sexual harassers stand accused of a personal crime whose legal status is not dissimilar to burglary or arson. They are clearly bad people but not an existential threat to our country.
Which accusation sounds worse?
Can you provide stories of accused communists starving to death due to the blacklist?
They were more likely to commit suicide for lack of work. See: Philip Loeb and Bartley Crum, for two.
The analogy remains accurate.
Should you doubt the analogy, I strongly recommend reading http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/03/14/when-kids-are-a... to see how the modern "sexual assault equivalent of the communist blacklist catches children in its net, and what the impact is. Do you think that this is rare? Read https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/ojjdp/227763.pdf for evidence that 1/4 of registered sex offenders were themselves juveniles at the time of the offense.
I dispute this very much. For example, you have people like Chris Brown that can turn their girlfriend into a human punching bag... and nothing happens to them. They just say that they are sorry, and keep in making money hand over fist (and even get women on Twitter saying things like "he can punch me any day").
It is documented that he was beating the crap out her, and he has suffered no ill consequences, or lack of popularity. I'm pretty sure that this does not match up with being called a communist in 1950's America.
> No, I don't. But do you think it's reasonable to crucify him before any investigation happens?
He has come out with a statement basically admitting to it after completely denying it.
No, and if you see anyone hauling an actual, physical tree around to nail him to, you can tell them I said that.
But commenting based on one's perception of the facts based on the published allegations and responses is not, even remotely, analogous to crucifixion.
I'm genuinely curious, and the question is in good faith.
I think people should be conscious of the uncertainty in the facts when commenting based on limited information, but that he is entitled to no more deference from private actors than, essentially, avoiding libelous statements (those known to be false or made with with reckless disregard for truth.)
General private commentary is not, morally or ethically, dependent on an investigation.
And, in any case, an investigation has occurred, preceding publication of the story.
It's especially relevant given how all of this played out. (See the other thread https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14621765 and subsequent admission https://www.axios.com/justin-caldbeck-takes-indefinite-leave...)
Any ideas for recognizing situations where a bit of skepticism is warranted vs situations like this? In this case, I'm a little saddened that my comments caused some more stress for the founders. One of them personally came to correct me upthread.
I think it's still important in general to reserve judgement and to wait for due process, but is there much reason to hold so fast to those views anymore? The speed at which accusations can be confirmed or denied seems to have increased to the point where it might not be so bad to just assume that the truth will usually come out. I don't know.
Most of the men replying in this thread have an incorrect "prior" (in the statistical sense) of the odds that a woman will experience serious sexual harassment in the workplace. This prior emerges, one presumes, because we look at ourselves as the model for estimating that behavior, think "there's no way in hell I'd behave that way, so this must be really rare", and assign a relatively low probability to the occurrence.
That prior is incorrect. There are enough harassers out there, each of whom harms multiple people, that, in fact, the average experience is of having been inappropriately approached, harassed, or outright assaulted, to the point where  a woman has a lifetime 1 in 6 chance of being the victim of rape or attempted rape, and in one survey, 1 in 3 women reported having experienced workplace sexual harassment.  Those numbers may be wrong a bit in either direction, but the decimal point is probably in the right place.
When we hear a claim like "X was sexually harassed by Y", we evaluate the likelihood of that statement in light of our own experience and prior - and assign to it a much lower likelihood of it being true than the true probability. In other words, you mentally calculate: P(harassed | X says harassed). By bayes rule, that's equal to P(X says harassed | harassed) * P(harassed) / P(X says harassed). So when our mental model of P(harassed) is too low, our estimate of P(harassed | X says harassed) is too low. And thus arises excessive disbelief in claims that are more likely to be true.
So, my very geeky suggestion for this is: Be very precise about the question you're asking about and the assumptions that go into it. You can often find a way to validate those assumptions to check what you're asking about.
pdf page 15 (document internal page 8): "Based on testimony to the Select Task Force and various academic articles, we learned that
anywhere from 25% to 85% of women report having experienced sexual harassment in the
We found that when employees were asked, in surveys using a randomly representative sample
(called a “probability sample”), if they had experienced “sexual harassment,” without that term
being defined in the survey, approximately one in four women (25%) reported experiencing
“sexual harassment” in the workplace. This percentage was remarkably consistent across
probability surveys. When employees were asked the same question in surveys using
convenience samples (in lay terms, a convenience sample is not randomly representative because
it uses respondents that are convenient to the researcher (e.g., student volunteers or respondents
from one organization)), with sexual harassment not being defined, the rate rose to 50% of
women reporting they had been sexually harassed."
The cited EEOC report has fairly extensive citations backing up its claims.
As I said - I have no specific numbers I believe are The One True Answer, but it's fairly clear from a variety of sources that the decimal points are in approximately the right place. For the purpose of what I was discussing, 25% and 85% are approximately the same ("Very much higher than one might guess if we use our own behavior as a model").
Skepticism is always warranted, this situation was no exception (even though the admission that has since emerged seems to implicitly confirm the reports.)
But skepticism doesn't mean don't form and express a view on the facts based on what information you do have, it means be aware that you don't have the whole picture and refrain from action that is too extreme for the information you have, and remain willing to revise your opinion as more information becomes available.
The last bit takes active effort to counter confirmation bias and the desire to avoid having to admit error.
> I think it's still important in general to reserve judgement and to wait for due process,
Even in government, “due process” isn't a binary thing; what process is due varies based on the action being taken and other elements of context. Even if we extend the concept to include private action, things like posting a comment expressing concern would have much less process due than any substantive government action.
Even a government agent acting in their official capacity doesn't have to wait for a conviction to say that they believe someone is guilty.
But @sillysaurus3 basically said that there is no amount of evidence that could satisfy "reasonable doubt" with this statement:
> When it involves rich or powerful people, the ability to get many she-said's becomes easier.
This statement basically says that gathering multiple claims and multiple accounts/allegations cannot be proof against a rich or powerful person because of some inherent propensity of women to come out of the woodwork to lodge harassment/assault claims against rich/powerful/famous people. So once you are rich and powerful you immediately win all he-said/she-said situations because people have to give you the "benefit of the doubt." (not that I agree with this statement)
It's not a controversial observation that rich and powerful people can acquire enemies, and some of them have been slandered by the press.
It was difficult to separate that situation from this one. I assure you, I'm a reasonable and thoughtful person and it's not fair to say that I basically said there's no amount of evidence that can satisfy a claim against a powerful person.
The original comment was "Maybe we should wait to see how this plays out before making any judgements." Nothing more.
This whole conversation was a request for more information, so if you're going to throw me under the bus for it, you'll just push those who want to ask harmless questions further into the camp of "I shouldn't say a word." And when people have beliefs that seem reasonable to them, this can be a harmful situation when those beliefs are false.
For example, it seemed perfectly reasonable to me that a journalist shouldn't wield the power to destroy someone's reputation without any independent oversight. It's a simple proposition with simple, obvious consequences. But pointing out that no investigation is going to occur helped me realize that it's an absurd standard.
EDIT: Also, most of my comments received around 8 upvotes. They've been bouncing up and down, but the point is, clearly a lot of people felt similarly. So by voicing these concerns, it probably changed a lot more minds than my own. Talking this out and being open with it seems like a good thing.
when taken at face value is implying (indirectly) that it takes more "she-saids" to make a claim against a rich/powerful person believable than it would for a "normal" person.
It doesn't even have to have anything to do with women. It just implies that even multiple claims by separate parties might not be enough when the target is someone rich or powerful (or famous) if it's a "my word against yours" type situation. From my point of view, that's just giving more power to the rich or powerful.
If this guy could say "I was never even alone in the same conference room with any of these women, let alone at a bar where any impropriety is a matter of their word against mine" I think this story wouldn't have run.
Seriously guys, when you're at work, just fucking work and all this bullshit magically goes away. No dating, no uncomfortable discussions of race or politics or sex, just do your job and go home. Talk about tabs versus spaces if you need to spice up a Friday afternoon lull.
Do you apply this standard in other areas? If someone tells you they had chicken for lunch, do you say, "Hold on, let's wait for the investigation to determine what you actually had for lunch"? Or if six people told you they had chicken for lunch?
I believe you are wrong about this. Text messages are easier to fabricate than other forms of digital evidence, and less risky than something like paying people to pretend to be witnesses.
This is about calling out shitty but legal behavior. The VC didn't even deny he was lecherous, just that he didn't do anything illegal. That's tacit confirmation that it did happen.
This is an interesting comment and sheds some light on what is happening here.
There is no need to be publicly named in a news article to bring charges in a court of law; but in a court of law there is a clear and regular process for evaluating charges; and one does actually submit to the possibility of retaliation in a limited form: false accusations carry punishments of their own.
Justin has already quit. In some sense, charges were brought in the court of public opinion -- and for these to have any weight, there must be some element of credibility attached to them. Journalists are not cops and just quoting "unnamed sources" is not enough to substantiate the idea that someone should lose their job, in part because unnamed sources accept no scrutiny and no risk. Attaching one's name to something like this is the only way to lend any weight to it, in the absence of any judicial process.
EDIT: Thanks for the clarification, all. As many have pointed out, there's also the harassment portion. I guess my question is now: how do you prove intent? I know nothing about due process, so I'm curious. I suppose in this case it really matters what it says in the texts.
He is accused of sexual assault and harassment. The particular harassment is, in principle, more readily demonstrable (though perhaps not legally actionable, “sexual harassment” short of assault isn't always illegal, though it may well be newsworthy, without an employment relationship.)
OTOH, in the case of a VC against people seeking funding, some forms of what would analogous to quid pro quo sexual harassment in employment could shade into the crime of soliciting prostitution.
In a legal case (which is not now pending from any information published, but that could change), any facts from which an observer could infer that the intent at issue was more likely than it would be in the absence of those facts are evidence (providing that they aren't inadmissible for other reasons.)
Legal proof isn't mathematical proof; in general, the ways you'd forms belief about something in your daily life are how it is “proved” in a court of law.
The degree of certainty a juror is expected to have for a conviction in a criminal cases is very high, but that's not a matter of how it is proved, but how conclusively it must be proved.
edit: For reference the actual physical acts are battery in the legal sense.
Some types of sexual assault can be proven by medical examination, if the exam happens soon after, although many actions that qualify as sexual assault will either not show up on an exam, or can be proven to be "sexual" but not "assault." However, in cases like this where there is an ongoing relationship before and after the incident, the text messages will often refer to physical events. These can be evidence that a physical event happened, and what the attitudes and beliefs of the involved people were towards the incident at the time. Although even that is still a large amount of he-said-she-said and drawing large inferences from circumstantial data.
Sexual harassment law only applies to the workplace.
An action need not be legally actionable to be newsworthy, or to be important for people who might want to know of their risk of being subjected to similar action.
They help move the needle from simply "He said; she said."