This is a (critical) response to a recent post by the renowned furry voyeur BoozyBarrister. Trigger warning: that post and this one discusses rape. Throughout, I am going to give the author the benefit of the doubt and assume he intended to opine in a useful and constructive way on a number of interesting case studies. Take this as advice on how to do that better, in the future.
Many of us, furries or otherwise, have professional degrees. Every profession has a code of ethics—despite lawyers having a bad reputation for lacking one. When people comment on a legal issue, they disclaim "I am not a lawyer!" But if you are actually a lawyer, you'd rather say "this is not legal advice."
Jargon aside, the spirit of the ethical code among all professionals is: do not represent your profession or leverage your professional credentials if you are not practicing your profession. The contrapositive of this is: if you're going to point out that you are lawyer, what you say next had better be informed by that experience and representative of your professional opinion.
There's a common fallacy you're taught in law school: the argument from authority. It's really hard to avoid when you've spent a lot of time and money and experience learning a profession. You want to wave that thing around to get people to listen to you, whether it's appropriate or not. And make no mistake, Boozy beats you over the head with it in his post:
I’m also a fucking lawyer.
How many of you are lawyers?
We, as … lawyers … fucking failed you.
I got lawyer shit to do before I hit the road this evening.
Cool, I get it. It's a part of his identity just as much as being furry is a part of ours. But if we're being reminded of it so much, surely it's because it bears some relevance to what he's saying?
I love legal case studies and, to Boozy's credit, his first story with "Ruby" is a decent example of one. An unusual scenario, contextual to his furry audience, and his experience and knowledge as a lawyer is disseminated on how a DA might approach the case and the amount of discretion a judge has. Kudos!
The train soon careens off the track with Boozy's second case study, apparently a warning against internet vigilantism. I'm not sure where to begin with this one—the lack of any specific legal experience being leveraged to form a unique perspective is a relatively minor fault compared to the rest. A wag of the finger for trying to browbeat the audience with his credentials here when he's offering nothing more than a naive (in the literal sense, not pejorative) opinion.
More striking is the irony of offering the obvious advice that "you are never getting the full story if you’re only hearing from one side" in a case study where he got an e-mail from a single participant in the story and did no follow up with the other party. Not that it would have been appropriate to follow up with a rape victim, but for fucking real? His professional training should have had alarm bells ringing all over his brain that "THIS IS NOT ENOUGH INFO TO BLOG ABOUT" … but maybe the booze was talking.
And even more striking is his insistence that the system works for rape victims and that the only correct course of action is to involve the authorities. In his edgelord way, he reminds us:
Crimes get reported to the police, fucktards. Not Twitter.
Bitch please. I don't even need to debunk this bullshit because … in a crazy twist …
The System Doesn't Work!
… Boozy literally does it for me with his third case study!
Despite already having discussed someone allegedly getting raped based only on the accused's account, Boozy decides now is the time for a trigger warning. Why? Because we're about to read a direct account from a boy who was raped. Heavy stuff.
Again, it's difficult to pick a spot to begin. Is it the irony of Boozy lamenting that this was a "complete failure of our justice system to help him" right after insisting that the justice system is the only way to resolve rape in your community?
Is it his literal textbook fucking appeal to authority when he says "I've read a lot of victim statements. I believe this kid"? Didn't we just get a condescending lesson on never playing judge from single accounts? (Or is it the implicit I don't believe that potential rape victim above that I used as an example for why you can't believe single accounts?)
Is it his rambling monologue about how bad he feels that this happened at all, or his indictment of furries for not grasping such a basic concept that evidently even "sorority girls" know about? Are we supposed to believe sorority girls don't have unreported or unprosecutable rapes just like this one?
Look, at this point, the train isn't off the tracks:
Know Your Thesis
Whenever you embark on a discussion of a difficult and sensitive topic, it's important to know what you're trying to prove or disprove. There is a real cost to victims for having their trauma used as a bludgeon for no apparent purpose. Part of ethical professional behavior is weighing the benefit of what you're trying to do with the human cost of it.
Even if those humans pretend to be or even think they are animals.
Was Boozy ultimately trying to encourage rape victims to come forward with their stories and trust in the authorities to help them? He failed to make a convincing argument for that and even presented a counterexample for how that doesn't work. Was he trying to scare rapists into not committing the crime in the first place? No rapists were punished in any of these accounts. Was he trying to warn us that a community cannot police itself in the absence of a working justice system? If so … he's just wrong. But he also didn't provide any evidence of why he might be right.
I'm not sure what the point of Boozy's post was. I'm not sure who it helped to read or who learned something from reading it. It certainly had the sort of morbid rubbernecking appeal that an accident off the side of a highway has. I give him the benefit of the doubt that this was not his intent. But I have to ask, what on Earth was?