Bearing False Witness
“Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor” is one of the Ten Commandments, commonly translated as lying. However there is more to it than that. It is a specific command not to “bear false witness against….” The reason this is a commandment is that nothing does more damage to a person’s reputation than to be falsely accused of something. How do you prove you did not do something? The stigma of an un proven but seemingly credible accusation can be with someone for the rest of their lives. If this is a person in the public eye – it is even worse.
You will always be suspect to some people.
The court of public opinion does not operate the same way a court of law does.
In the court of public opinion a person is guilty until proven innocent. Their good name is smeared all over the myriad of publications and today it is even worse, with the Internet one story can go viral in a matter of a day. It can wreak havoc on a marriage and children, on work relationships, church relationships and in some cases land a person in jail.
Recently a young college athlete was released after serving 6 years in prison for raping another young college student. She finally confessed that she had lied about the whole thing. She had borne false witness against him and it ruined his life. He will never have those 6 years back, and his reputation has been marred for life. Even though she confessed to lying there are some who will always look at him suspiciously. In my opinion that young woman should be sentenced to 6 years in prison.
We have been subject to a LOT of accusations flying around about many people in Hollywood, Congress, pro Sports and the business communities. Sexual harassment and misconduct including rape are serious offenses and should be treated as such. But there is a reason why many crimes have a statute of limitations. After a certain point, the point is moot. People say it is hard for victims to speak out etc. At the moment when something is happening to you you make a decision to tell someone or keep quiet about it. If you made the decision not to say anything then keep your mouth shut. It is not wise or prudent to decide, “oh yeah and by the way 20 30 10 years ago I was assaulted.” Memories are funny things, they grow fuzzy over time and the imagination and desire to make a thing seem worse than it was kick in. There are no credible witnesses, no evidence. People sometimes want a situation to be so bad that they embellish it for the sympathy.
There is a heavy price to be paid for being falsely accused, but there is also a price for the person making false accusations. Depending on circumstances it could be against the law. When the allegations are proven false you will forever be known as the person who bore false witness against someone. You will have hurt yourself, your family and friends and who will ever trust you again? You will have all but ruined someone else’s life and career and for what? Your 15 minutes of fame? Money? Revenge?
We all have an obligation to take these situations seriously, which means not rushing to judgment or jumping on the bandwagon just because. We need to all we can to investigate these stories, hear both sides and weigh the evidence carefully, before we rush to judgment.
A person in this country is still innocent until PROVEN guilty, I want that extended to me, don’t you?