Marae TV deserve a standing ovation for the beautiful and respectful coverage of the Awanui Black issue.
Miriama Kamo and the team gave us all insight into a situation which is horrific from every possible angle.
If there are victims of sexual abuse who have been hurt since childhood, that is horrific.
If there is a pedophile ring that goes to the highest levels of politics, that is horrific.
If this is not true, a person who can’t answer back has had his reputation and entire career stained and utterly denigrated, and that is horrific.
As Miriama respectfully put the allegations to Anihera, and gave her room to step back from the claims, Anihera calmly reiterated that she wasn’t making allegations but that she as speaking the truth and then doubled down each time on those statements.
I think it would be difficult to have viewed the episode today and not acknowledged that Anihera Black completely believes what she is saying.
I think in good faith we can all accept that.
The deeply disturbing problem however is that people can believe things that are not true.
Without evidence, we are all left to do the one thing that only makes this worse – speculate.
There will be those who say that we must believe Anihera and that denying her acceptance is a feature of a rape culture patriarchy that undermines victims rights. The social media landscape is zero tolerance and immediate condemnation, where accusation is the new evidential threshold and due process is dead.
This is deeply problematic, but to the ocean of women and men who have been abused, bullied, harassed or sexually assaulted and who have never seen justice, such concerns for due process are offensive. This repressed righteous anger has found voice on social media platforms that are algorithmically fuelled by outrage and side step corporate media gatekeepers.
This is a problem that we are going to have to rapidly come to grips with as it reverberates though out the entire community.
When we commit a crime, we offend against the State. The State takes exception at us breaking the law and it takes us to court, not the individual. This is done so that the event can be removed from the heat of the moment and placed inside a sterile legal environment where mercy is a prerogative. Independent Judges and a jury of peers are assembled to decide what can be accepted and not accepted as legal definitions of action based on centuries of case history.
This has been established so that when crimes are committed we don’t get vigilantes and lynch mobs as aggrieved parties taking justice into their own hands, which is now something we are increasingly seeing on social media.
If people don’t believe in the justice system, they will turn to alternatives to find that justice, which in turn can easily become vigilantism. In an increasingly social media dominated environment, how can we differentiate between subjective belief and objective truth without due process?
Marae TV couldn’t resolve that in 30minutes, but they did show us how treacherously difficult trying to find an answer to that question is going to be.