“Innocent until proven guilty” – yes I’m serious

“Innocent until proven guilty” is a thing with me. When presented with an accusation based on nothing more than hearsay or assertion, I don’t have the information to make a final judgement. It may or may not be true, status to be determined upon the presentation of further evidence. I’ve seen people with different agendas argue for condemnation of others for different particular accusations, based on nothing more than assertions. I find all arguments against “innocent until proven guilty” equally repellent and disturbing.

That’s not to say I don’t judge. I judge actions and opinions and things, especially my own, all the time. It’s one thing to suspend belief for lack of conclusive evidence and another thing to abstain from liking or disliking or assenting or dissenting. I think the admonishment not to judge is not only ridiculous but would also have devastating effects if it was consistently followed.

Without judgement there’s no taste, there’s no choice. If you don’t judge you’re left living in a world filled with whatever presents itself first or is a bargain. Without judgement we fill our lives with the people, things, and ideas that just happen to come along or that we think we can afford. It’s ok to surround yourself with bargain basement stuff, if that’s what you like, if that’s what you choose. But if we can’t or won’t judge then we may as well be given no choice.

Often the bible quote: “Judge not, that ye be not judged” spoken by the character Jesus, is pointed to when making a case against judging others. If you’ve ever read the bible stories you may have noticed that Jesus spends most of his time judging the shit out of everything and everyone and even says that he will judge the whole damned world someday (after he comes back from the dead, LOL). So much for consistency. I know, it’s a pretty wild bunch of stories.

Judgement is crucial to authenticity and we have to be taught how to judge, a process that may well take a whole lifetime. The urge to believe on weak evidence or nothing more than assertion can be strong but learning to judge in proportion to the evidence (a big fat nod here to David Hume: “The wise man, therefore, proportions his belief to the evidence”) is crucial to making good judgements.

Take care

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3 thoughts on ““Innocent until proven guilty” – yes I’m serious

  1. Just weighing in…. Contingent truth claims should be validated by supporting evidence. A wise man once said “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” This is a good principle I think.

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