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Why are there inevitably people who want to do the mental gymnastics of assuming innocence for a man convicted of sex trafficking?

I understand assuming innocence the first time someone is accused of anything unsavory because mistakes happen. But once you are convicted, serve jail time and are suspiciously behaving in the same manner...

Who are we serving by assuming innocence?

And let me remind you that in society we have different standards than a court of law. A court of law has to assume innocence, in public we might be doing another human being who is a potential victim great good by expressing concern about the nature their relationship with a known felon & abuser.




I get part of the impulse. The concept that attractive Eastern European women spending their time with a billionaire means that they were trafficked somewhat strips them of agency. Like "you wouldn't do this of your own accord". Maybe they would.

Of course, in this case, the fellow turned out to be a monster. But Sir Richard Branson is on the level AFAIK and he hangs out with attractive women. Presumably they enjoy the company.

EDIT: I can't answer the threads below because I've been timed out for making this comment. Fair enough, but I should clarify: My point is _precisely that_. It's the child prostitution that's the problem. You can just point at the "solicitation of a minor" thing directly. Making it about the attractive Eastern European women is completely unnecessary and only useful to decry the notion that they may choose otherwise than what the MIT folks would choose.


Richard Branson wasn't convicted of child prostitution. At the time of the event quoted by the OP, Epstein had been. For fuck's sake...


There's plenty of actions that, while not illegal, decent people can find distasteful enough to shun people who engage in them. Using your money -- whether directly enough to be considered prostitution, or a little more indirectly -- to surround yourself with women who are 18 years and 10 minutes old is legal but more than a little gross. And extremely gross if they had a choice in the matter roughly equivalent to the Anatole France quote: "The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread."


Richard Branson “hangs out” with 2x-year-old women, not 14-year-old girls. The difference is literally infinite in the legal realm and still enormous in the moral realm.


Mental gymnastics to avoid assuming bad intent without evidence is the only way to avoid becoming a deranged mob. This is a healthy instinct and you damage our ability to have rational discussions by attacking it. Until we get more evidence, and given that there is plenty of actual evidence of wrongdoing in other areas, let's focus our attention there, shall we?


So not taking donations from a felon convicted of sex trafficking and not going to his dinner parties and showing concern for young women from poor countries he keeps around him is being a deranged mob now?


No. I was trying to make a broader point about how we should conduct public discussions. We have a responsibility to about jumping to unwarranted conclusions, and devil's advocates help with that.

Now, making straw men of anyone who dares espouse anything less than full belief in the guilt of the accused, that's definitely a deranged mob kind of thing to do. People assuming the worst about others' motives is the dominant reason we can't have nice things.


That's not what it is about. It is about the story at a certain point of time in the past. Nobody is assuming Epsteins innocence today.


At point in time in the story Epstein had already pled guilty to solicitation of a minor for prostitution as part of a sweetheart plea agreement avoiding sex trafficking charges. This was a well known fact. Noone should have been assuming his innocence then.


> Why are there inevitably people who want to do the mental gymnastics of assuming innocence for a man convicted of sex trafficking?

This is extremely good question that I continue to be unable to find an answer. Much bigger case than Epstein would be that of Donald Trump. Everyone knew he is a six-time bankruptee, posted record $1B (billion) dollar loss with IRS and haven't made any of his many business ventures successful, other than add some to the real estate fortune that his father left him, but nothing too spectacular (growing $400MM to $600MM in two decades, which adjusted for inflation is probably close to zero). Yet the consensus of 2016 was that he is the only man capable of steering forward a budget of the most valuable country on the face of planet Earth. Its boggling my mind, frankly.


> Yet the consensus of 2016 was that he is the only man capable of steering forward a budget of the most valuable country on the face of planet Earth.

To be fair, more people who voted didn't think he was the best choice of a person "capable of ..." than thought he was. He only won thanks to a) a quirk of the American electoral system and b) his opponent also being historically unpopular, by nature of having been in the public eye on one side of the US political system for 25 years.


> He only won thanks to a) a quirk of the American electoral system and b) his opponent also being historically unpopular, by nature of having been in the public eye on one side of the US political system for 25 years.

I can certainly agree with b) but a) is not a very useful way of looking at things. if you went back and changed nothing else about the election except making popular vote the win condition, hillary clinton would obviously have won. but this small modification would have totally changed the campaign strategy of every candidate. people who didn't bother voting might have voted. donald trump might have won anyway with a different strategy. we might not even have been choosing between trump and clinton in the first place!

not saying the electoral college is good, just that this isn't a strong argument to the contrary.


I agree that it isn't a useful argument, but it makes it difficult to argue that Trump had a majority of Americans thinking he was competent to run the country.


> He only won thanks to a) a quirk of the American electoral system

What quirk is that? It has a lot of quirks, and I think you mean one in particular but not sure which one.


> Who are we serving by assuming innocence?

Innocent of what? Nobody is accusing Epstein of trying to do anything suspect via the MIT media lab. Anyone who thought he'd be wandering around MIT dragging trafficked women around with him is probably hypersensitive. Or Epstein was outrageously foolish. Either way; the reasonable assumption is that those women were probably not trafficked.

The argument here is "nobody should associate with Epstine" vs. "We can isolate the good and the bad parts of Epstine's actions and keep them somewhat separate". There is no need for someone to resign because they happened to know Epstien in a professional capacity.




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