Editorial, Opinion

EDITORIAL: With Aziz Ansari’s case, social media users aren’t jurors

Mindy Kaling was recently criticized for posting a photo on Instagram of a ticket to an Aziz Ansari stand-up show. More than a year ago, Ansari was accused of sexual assault by an anonymous photographer on the website Babe.

According to text messages posted by Babe, the woman texted him saying she had felt “uneasy” and described how Ansari did not pick up on “clear non-verbal cues.” In Ansari’s response to the message, he wrote, “it would never be my intention to make you or anyone feel the way you described.”

In a statement, Ansari confirmed that he did go on a date and engage in sexual activity with the woman who had published the article on Babe, but said he had thought it was consensual. He said he “took her words to heart.”

Kaling has the right to post about the show and, with that, her support for Ansari. People shouldn’t be attacking her for this — we have no basis on which to determine the validity of one person’s account that we hear second-hand through social media.

We must remember that allegations are claims that have yet to be verified, not hard truths. All of the evidence is not presented before us. When there are completely indisputable accusations, like in the cases of Harvey Weinstein and R. Kelly, one is more likely to be able to determine whether or not a person is guilty.

With Ansari, there is no legal case underway that is taking into account all the evidence and sides to the story — though legal verdicts are not always accurate — nor are there numerous individuals who came out with claims against the same person.

Regardless, the woman who published her experience on Babe should be supported, and we can acknowledge and appreciate that writing about what happened between her and Ansari must have been extremely difficult.

But it seems as though the public has decided to make judgments about this situation through the narrow scope of social media posts and an article. They do not have and cannot obtain a full picture of what happened.

We cannot simply call up Ansari, or that woman, to hear their perspectives directly. We are not on a jury, and we are not in the position to decide if Ansari is guilty — even if he is.

Ansari might have sexually assaulted someone, but it is almost impossible to know the complete truth from what is currently available to the public.

 

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