It's a simple concept, one that is at the very core of jurisprudence. Innocent until proven guilty! It should also apply on a social level as the bottom line of all civic justice. And yet all too often people accused of wrong doing are judged guilty before the verdict is reached. Where does this ancient love of rushing to judgement come from? And what purpose does it serve? It's difficult not to conclude that many among us enjoy a victim on a spit; that a deep purist social need is being catered for and fortified by a streak of holier-than-thou pride.
Recently the legendary Australian entertainer Rolf Harris was charged with child sex abuse in a London court. He was also charged with four counts of making indecent images of children relating to alleged incidents last year. Despite pleading his innocence long before his courtroom appearance, finger-pointers seem to have made their minds up. Harris, well known for his skill as a painter as well as being a family entertainer, had to endure the ignominy of having his paintings taken down on a cruise liner and even having a portrait of the Queen at Buckingham Palace removed by a "judicious" palace official.
Let's be blunt here: too many people are afraid of being stained by association with a man who, until a guilty verdict is reached, is an innocent man. A man who was once feted around the world. And too many people don't think of what it would be like if they faced Harris's problems. The man deserves some respect regardless of what people think about the charges. And those who perenially rush to judgement should wake up to themselves once and for all. He may ultimately be found guilty or he may be proved innocent, but for now he is innocent until proven guilty. That is true justice before justice is served.