Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Why Verity did not Testify against Abner

Vacuum County is, when superficially described, a story of a young woman who is falsely accused of DWI, because she refused the sexual advances of a crooked sheriff in a backward Texas community.

 We all agree that sexual harassment is bad. We all know that it happens. Frequently. We know that blaming the victim is not right. And that's quite possibly where what we all agree on ends. And because that's all we agree on, the practice will live on, long after all the present victims and perpetrators have died.

This is true, despite the fact that every so often a great and powerful man (like  Harvey Weinstein) will be brought low when the evidence against him is made public  -- evidence that everybody knew about for years, but that could not be acknowledged until some political events behind the scenes suddenly make the transgressor vulnerable.

We know why victims, like Verity Lackland in Vacuum County, don't testify in open court against their oppressors. We know they often make peace with the situation, because they are threatened with dire consequences if they do speak up.

A excerpt from Vacuum County

In Verity's case, her lawyer, David Smith, advised her to plead no contest to the false charges, because a Vacuum County jury would have ruled against her.Was it right of Verity to take her lawyer's advice?  Was she a coward not to speak up?

An excerpt from Vacuum County

Nabal thought so. Sometimes it takes a victim to know a victim. Sometimes it takes a truth speaker to recognize another true witness. Sometimes everybody who is nice to us and takes our weaknesses for granted is in league with our oppressors, while the only person who makes us feel ashamed is the one who knows we have a soul.

The reason Abner was untouchable at the time was that he served as the right hand man of the County Judge, Saul Jones. But as soon as David Smith was the new County Judge, Abner became vulnerable. By then, Verity had already made her peace with situation, and was serving as Nabal's slut.  When she was asked to testify against Abner, she was reluctant, but for a different reason from the one she had had before.

An excerpt from Vacuum County

There is a time when testifying against a perpetrator would be brave. That time is when he has the whole power of the establishment behind him, and toppling him would also make a dent in the power of those who put him in a position to hurt others. When he is alone and vulnerable, and the people in power just want to use your testimony to bring him low, because it suits their plans, then it is no longer brave.

An excerpt from Vacuum County

There is a time when we can make a difference by speaking up. Doing so at that time would be brave. There is a time when we can be a tool in powerful people's hands, just like a skewer at a barbecue, and then testifying becomes not so brave. In the end, Verity didn't have to testify, because Joe found another way to get rid of Abner, so that he could become the new sheriff.

Sometimes a Democrat is in power, and he uses that power to abuse people, including women. Sometimes a Republican is in power, and he uses that power to abuse people, including women. Sometimes it's just a rich man who has a stranglehold on an industry you want to work in. And some will submit to get in. When the person in power changes, or when somebody is brought low for reasons that have nothing to do with justice, that is probably not the time to revel in exposing him, especially if you got something out of submitting. Why? Because at that time, it is no longer brave. It can be just plain sadistic.

As for telling our personal story of being abused to others, there are times when people do that just to relieve their emotional suffering or to let off steam. It's okay to do that. It's your story, and you can tell it wherever and whenever you want. But if you don't name names, it's not brave. And if you do name names, then you have to be prepared to prove it.

Yes, the history of mankind is full of slavery and abuse and rape and bending the knee to an oppressor, because we are scared. There is shame in that -- for all of us. We need to find the courage in ourselves and in each other to put an end to it. But it's not helpful when we are just making a display of it, and business as usual is what is actually afoot.


  1. I understand people wanting to speak out about certain issues. I just think it is not helpful when some demand everyone participate. With this recent viral hashtag. Maybe some people are more private and do not want to comment on things that were traumatic for them. Maybe some people have stood up to bullies in private and do no want to share about it on social media. I just think we need to respect the rights of others to participate in something or not. I do not think men who did not participate in this hashtag are bad people or condone assault. A lot of families want to discuss things privately and teach their kids without making it be a social media event.

    1. Yes, Julia, I agree. Each person deals with the issue differently and not participating in this does not make anyone a bad person.