What Feminist Writer Sandra Newman Gets Right about False Accusation and Why That Disarms Her Contention That It “Almost Never [Has] Serious Consequences”

Posted on March 16, 2018


In a recent Quartz.com article titled, “What kind of person makes false rape accusations?” (commented on here), novelist Sandra Newman answers that, among others, people with (Cluster B) personality disorders do (sociopaths, narcissists, histrionics, and borderlines), which is true. People who exhibit the traits associated with these disorders, whether clinically or subclinically, are identified in the law as “high-conflict people.” Court process perfectly syncs with their drive to blame, and they may lie without compunction.

Here’s the problem: While psychological motives may be discerned in major criminal investigations, they are never detected in any “lesser” type of prosecution, particularly in civil court. “Investigators” like Ms. Newman, whose agenda is clearly to challenge the notion that false rape accusations are a serious matter, must discredit that notion while relying on the legitimacy of “lesser” so-called “epidemic” violations like stalking and domestic violence, which may also be alleged (and to a much greater extent) by high-conflict litigants. No one can know what quotient of violence hysteria is based on lies or distortions, and the Sandra Newmans out there have no interest in dispelling that hysteria or promoting a balanced perspective. Sympathy for “the adversary” is unthinkable.

The goal is to emphasize the victimization of women and to dismiss the victimization of the falsely accused (who include women, which is a fact that’s also ignored).

The title of Pulitzer-prize-winning columnist Dorothy Rabinowitz’s book, No Crueler Tyrannies: Accusation, False Witness, and Other Terrors of Our Times, characterizes (false) accusation much more squarely, that is, damningly.

Here are some stories about false accusation and its effects:

Ms. Newman has elsewhere acknowledged what she thinks of liars and expressed how she feels society should regard them:

Yet the thrust of her Quartz arguments is not that liars are monstrous and should be stopped. It’s that lying, even about rape and even to people with guns and gavels, is unworthy of remark, because it “almost never [has] serious consequences.”

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