Denial Isn't Evidence of Guilt
"It's a trap!"
To deny an accusation against you doesn’t prove you are innocent. But it also doesn’t prove you are guilty.
I don’t mean to insult your intelligence, but as George Orwell wrote, “We have now sunk to a depth at which restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men.”
In discussions today about racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, etc., accusations abound, the accused panic, & the witch-hunters consider denials as evidence of guilt.
Best-selling authors who call themselves experts on these issues today demonstrate versions of this in their writings and interviews. White Fragility author Robin DiAngelo routinely tells her audiences that all of their internal negative reactions to her accusations of racism against them are evidence of their ‘fragility’ & therefore proof of guilt.
DiAngelo describes “white fragility” as “triggering a range of defensive moves” - you know, like denial. Emotions like anger, as well as arguing against her claim, or even silence, are signs of the aforementioned fragility.
Even a sympathetic Washington Post book reviewer admitted that the summary sounds like this:
Either white people admit their inherent and unending racism and vow to work on their white fragility, in which case DiAngelo was correct in her assessment, or they resist such categorizations or question the interpretation of a particular incident, in which case they are only proving her point.
In similar fashion, the so-called ‘anti-racist’ expert Ibraim Kendi told an audience in a commemorative address in NY that “the very heartbeat of racism is denial. When people say they’re not racist, they’re using the words that white supremacists use.”
The Trap is Laid.
This is an old tactic and the problem should be apparent. Consider briefly the following observations:
First, denial is the automatic default response of nearly anyone accused of some form of prejudice or hatred, whether guilty or innocent. How often do you expect anyone to just accept and admit to something that makes you a social pariah? Denial is evidence of nothing other than neurotypical, psychologically predictable behavior.
Second, an innocent person accused of something like that can be expected to react with more offense and more pronounced denial. To me, it’s the half-hearted denial that is suspicious. I realize that some denials can raise suspicion as to their authenticity (“the lady doth protest too much, methinks”), but for the most part a strong denial is exactly what a slandered person would (and should) offer.
Third, this makes the accusation nearly unfalsifiable. Maybe some other person could produce some kind of evidence that you’re not guilty of the charge of racism. But if your own defense of yourself is simply taken as evidence of guilt, this effectively silences you eliminating any possibility by which you could offer a genuine defense.
The fact is that this is a cheap trick (and I don’t mean the 80s group that sang ‘The Flame’). In the words of Admiral Ackbar, “It’s a trap!” There’s even a name for it - a Kafka trap, named for a story called “The Trial” by Franz Kafka. In the story an innocent man is arrested & convicted in court by the use of this circular logic.
We see it in Orwell’s fictional future, in which those accused of thought-crimes either admit it, or are taken as doubly guilty for failing to admit it. You can think of every unjust kangaroo court from history that you’ve seen depicted- the Salem witch trials, the Spanish Inquisition, the ‘Reign of Terror’ during the French Revolution, etc. In each case this same trap is laid in which the very category of genuine innocence for the accused is excluded.
Turn the Tables
Really the quickest way to demonstrate the foolishness of this tactic is to turn the tables on the person using it. Choose any person and any accusation - it’s universally applicable. So if Wally Wokester is playing this game to accuse someone of racism, the accused can change one letter & turn it back by saying that Wally is a rapist.
Of course Wally will deny it, but you can then remind everyone that denial is the very heartbeat of the rapist, and a guilty rapist will inevitably exhibit behavior such as denial, and show emotions like anger. Basically when Wally says “I’m not a rapist” he is simply saying the words that every rapist says.
You see how easy it is? You can read more about this in my best-selling book How to be an Anti-Rapist. Just kidding.
But in all seriousness, remember: a denial is no more proof of guilt than it is proof of innocence. If we made every denial proof of innocence, there would be few if any people convicted of anything. And if we made denial proof of guilt, every accusation would be an automatic condemnation & sentencing with no escape.
The celebrity authors of social justice books should know better than to use such a transparently illegitimate trick. As long as that is the level of their argument, they can’t expect reasonable people to take them seriously.