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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

Presumed Innocence

Da’ Dip

On his 1996 album Controversee... That’s Life... and That’s the Way It Is, rapper Freak Nasty released a song entitled “Da’ Dip.” Lyrics included:

I put my hand upon your hip

When I dip, you dip, we dip

You put your hand upon my hip

When you dip, I dip, we dip

I put my hand upon your hip

When I dip, you dip, we dip

You put yours then I put mine

Then we can dip down low

And roll and grind

By the time I arrived in Okinawa, Japan in 1997, controversy surrounding the song on Freak Nasty’s aptly titled album manifested in a fellow military police (MP) patrolman having faced a charge under Article 120 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice for sexual assault.

A buddy of mine, who I’ll refer to as “Big Gif,” attended a dance night at an on-base enlisted club where “Da’ Dip” was being played. Allegedly following instructions of the song, Big Gif was said to have placed his hand upon a female Marine’s hip. I’ll refer to her as “Marine X.”

Though no witnesses came forth to support Marine X’s allegation, Big Gif apparently forgot what MPs were taught during our training. Expressing it in a video better than I could, the advice of “Shut the Fuck Up Friday!” by the Pot Brothers at Law could’ve benefited Big Gif.

When members of the Criminal Investigation Division questioned Big Gif about the incident, he ostensibly cooperated by giving them the very ammunition with which they intended on shooting him in the form of a written statement. Big Gif’s story was said to corroborate Marine X’s claim.

Fortunately for Big Gif, Marine X was said to have later recanted her allegation when other female Marines spoke with her about the implications of ruining a fellow Devil Dog’s career in regards to a hip touch. That’s life…and that’s the way it is.

Presumption of innocence

The true story of Big Gif is a cautionary tale regarding a disquieting trend I’ve observed throughout the years. Of this, in a blog entry entitled Sex as a Weapon, I stated:

I remain cautious in regards to the direction in which society appears to be moving. Using sex as a weapon doesn’t seem to benefit the would-be oppressed as much as it allows for the weaponization of sexuality by perceived victims.

The inability to accuse an individual of sexual harassment, sexual abuse, sexual assault, or rape is something I’m not advocating. Rather, I think that in a civil society it’s necessary to have a means of holding people responsible and accountable for certain actions.

Notwithstanding, I don’t support a carte blanche unfalsifiable claim standard whereby society assumes a prima facie “believe victims” stance. To better understand the reasoning behind my claim, I recommend you read What Brand of Feminism is This?

In Big Gif’s case, he allegedly admitted to having touched Marine X. His apparent admission accompanied a formal investigation. Marine X didn’t simply accuse the MP of wrongdoing and voila, his career was ruined.

Likewise, as an MP and when investigating alleged crimes, I was required to abide by a standard related to the presumption of innocence. This means that any person accused of a crime is presumed innocent until having been proven guilty.

In and of itself, an allegation supposedly does not constitute proof enough to convict a person of a crime. Therefore, due process of law balances the power regarding law of the land and protects the individual person from it.

Not always honored in our increasingly two-tiered justice system within the United States, one hopes that the rule of law includes the process of accurate and relevant evidence-gathering when a crime is alleged. Still, a separate matter presents itself and isn’t as clearly circumscribed as are legal matters.

How is society to respond when a person accuses another individual of something as serious as sexual assault, though the matter hasn’t been adjudicated—or in some cases charged—yet? Do we merely presume a person’s guilt in such instances?

Personally, I’d rather live in a civil society within which we take seriously allegations though require credible evidence before reactively jumping to conclusions. Then again, of course I would advocate this standard as a Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) practitioner.

Not entirely different from my role as an MP when functioning as an interrogator, I’m now employed as an inquisitor of irrational beliefs. The mind is capable of leveling all sorts of false allegations against a person.

“Telemarketers must never annoy me,” “You’re a complete loser,” “Life is awful, because no one will ever love you,” and, “I can’t stand being disrespected,” are some of the charges we bring against ourselves. I’m guessing you can think of many more accusations than this.

I assist people with disputing the bullshit they tell themselves. Can you fathom how unhelpful it would be for me to simply encourage a client to deny the presumed innocence standard and instead opt for a “believe your beliefs” standard?

As foolish as such a suggestion may sound, that is precisely what a “believe victims” declaration advocates. Presuming guilt for the sake of not offending a person’s sensibilities, all while trampling the rights, liberties, and freedoms of another individual, is an unreasonable principle.

Thought experiment

Suppose you disagree with my assertion and you remain convinced that you should “believe victims,” which implies a believe-all-victims rule. Perhaps you will be willing to entertain a brief thought experiment in order to test this standard.

Yesterday, at around 3 p.m., you raped me.

That’s it. Case closed. Shall we move towards criminal charges or bypass that route altogether when considering a civil case in which I may stand to make a lot of money?

Wait, what’s wrong? I presume your “believe victims” requirement remains intact. No, it doesn’t matter that you think I’m delusional. No, evidence isn’t necessary under your proposed standard.

You raped me and now I demand justice! I suppose your employer can go ahead and fire you now, though I’d like to win my civil suit first.

Maybe your friends and family will ostracize you, even your church congregational members may shun you, and you can prepare for going on the sex offender registry. Though it’s my rape, your presumed innocence isn’t my problem.

I can go on a campaign against you using social media and maybe people will post up outside your home, demanding that you move from your neighborhood. You may even contemplate suicide when no one else believes your statement over mine.

Isn’t this lovely? Is the whole “believe victims” approach working in your favor? No? Too bad! Look at me! I’m the victim now. Don’t ask that I provide evidence. It’s too late for that.

And don’t you dare victim-blame me. With your rigid belief mantra and my unfalsifiable claim, you must prove your innocence, because I’m presumed credible and you’re presumed guilty.

Ok, enough of that bullshit. As well, enough of the bullshit standard of automatically believing people as though they aren’t fallible human beings. If you still remain unconvinced that a “believe victims” standard is unreasonable, I truly hope no one ever falsely accuses you of this sort of crime.


Back in 1997, a fellow MP, Big Gif, was said to have been accused of one of the most ridiculous allegations of sexual assault I heard during my time in the Corps. Thankfully, the Marine who accused him apparently dropped charges.

Increasingly, I’ve observed people blindly accepting at face value allegations of sexual harassment, sexual abuse, sexual assault, and rape without valuing the presumption of innocence. This is not how a civilized society functions.

Herein, I’ve used a facetious thought experiment to make a point relating to the absurd “believe victims” standard which is gaining popularity. Although I suspect some people will feign outrage in relation to their beliefs about my position, I imagine rational individuals will understand my point.

Allowing so-called victims to unreliably accuse people of wrongdoing, and then rewarding the accusers with social accolades, is something I don’t abide. Consider the potential damage of a “believe victims” standard.

Person A accuses person X of rape, because person A willingly performed oral sex on person X though didn’t actually want to do so—unbeknownst to person X.

Person B accuses person Y of rape, because at a party decades ago person B believes person Y committed the act. Person Y adamantly denies the allegation and none of the witnesses which person B brings forth corroborate the testimony of person B.

Person C accuses person Z of rape, because many years ago when they were dating, person C consented to multiple instances of sexual intercourse, though now person C regrets the relationship and retroactively revokes consent from person Z.

Are you certain that a “believe victims” standard is an appropriate measure for a civil society? I remain unconvinced. As for those people who have actually experienced trauma described herein, I remain ready to assist.

If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life—helping you to sharpen your critical thinking skills, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.

As the world’s foremost old school hip hop REBT psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.

At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!

Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW


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