Plaintiff and Defendant

One of the things we often, as Americans, take advantage of in our country is our civil liberties. Our right to a fair trial, a right to be defended, freedom of speech. How can we take advantage of these things? Perhaps by not affording them to the people who need to utilize them the most. I’ve always been interested in the justice system, the way that lawyers defend clients that are “obviously” guilty. But, innocent before proven guilty is a statement made by many and, apparently, understood by few.

After reading Ronson, and more directly seeing him on screen, I can see why using the “plaintiff and defendant” example is so important. In a public shaming scenario, there is no defense attorney – there is no defense. There is simply a mob, and mob’s destroy things. One person follows the next because everyone says it’s a good idea. This reminds me of an old adage in our country not too long ago – I think they were called lynch mobs.

United Airlines is a perfect example. Yes, the video (taken from a poor angle) seems bad. Yes, the man had blood on his face. Yes, he was dragged off the plane. Could those United Airlines employees have handled that better? Probably. But we don’t know until we examine all the facts. Foresight is always 20-20 – cliche’, but cliche’s are cliche’s because they are always true. So in defense of the United Airlines employees, I still believe that you are innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt – here’s to hoping that there might be one.

Another popular example not too long ago was during the protests of the travel ban by our current Administration. Many taxi drivers (being of middle-eastern decent) did not drive their taxis for people exiting airports in support of the protests. Uber drivers were not allowed to participate in the protest, and I believe (from memory) that Uber actually kept their rates low, despite the increased demand, in order to take a bigger bulk of the business. Now, many people posted pictures on Instagram, Facebook, etc. of them deleting their Uber apps, now protesting Uber because they wouldn’t let their workers participate in this protest.

Uber is a business folks. Every business’s goal: make a profit. Uber saw that protest as an opportunity to rake in some revenue. From a stockholder’s point of view, Uber made a smart move. Now from a stockholder’s point of view from United Airlines, maybe not the best move, but I digress.

Innocent until proven guilty is what I’m trying to get across. Do not simply shame companies/people for making maybe one of the worst mistakes in their company’s history, or that person’s career. Examine all the facts – once you have all the facts – and make a judgement for yourself. Be prepared to debate with naysayers, and ignorant people without all the facts. And disregard those people – because they are part of the mob.

I know I harped on a very minute point made by Ronson, but I think this is a very important point, and that he would agree. If there is no plaintiff and defense, then there is only an executioner.


Author: Jake B

I am an Economics student with an interest in writing, business, and how the economies of the world work. Whether the problems are in labor markets, policy issues, or small business, I am ripe to learn about anything and everything that may affect change in these interests.

5 thoughts on “Plaintiff and Defendant”

  1. I enjoyed reading this piece. I think it was well organized and I like that you brought a new perspective to the issue. I have thought about the United Airlines situation similarly to you, but it seems to be hard to share that opinion because most automatically side with the man was being dragged off the plane.


  2. I think this is my favorite essay you have written this semester. I think the topic of “innocent until proven guilty” is such an important one. And one that more Twitter users should definitely be familiar with before they go ahead and publicly humiliate someone. In the example of United Airways, I actually just saw an article that came out from the wife of the pilot of that flight. I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but I’m sure she will shed some new light to the situation that may change everyone’s perspective.


  3. I agree that while the judge, jury, and plaintiff have voice online, often the defendant is silent. It takes away from the idea of the internet as a democratic space, and also from boyd’s idea of the internet producing drama and debate.


  4. I agree that there is certainly no trace of defense at all in public shamings. Or if there is, it is certainly overshadowed and quickly swallowed up by the thousands of people attacking the person/company. The ties to United and Uber are really good connections as they highlight your points nicely


  5. Jake, You nail the prosecutor/judge/jury problem with internet shaming. But, on the other hand, at least in regard to the United situation, I’m reminded of Richard Pryor’s famous line, “Who you gonna believe, me or your lying eyes”? ~Joe


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