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Maybe I am misunderstanding this sentence, but if you ask someone 'what went wrong' to help alleviate further victimization - isn't that gathering information on what advice to give, and not about giving advice? This might be a small thing, but it is something I noticed.

I don't understand the difference. You can't give someone advice if you have no idea what happened to them.

Regarding the distinction between pre & post-victimization, I agree the two circumstances are not identical but the advice for the two situations will have a significant amount of overlap. "Make sure to use a u-lock" is good advice for all cyclists in the city, including those who just had their bike stolen because an insufficient lock tends to be the most common failure point in my experience.

I wouldn't like to get advice if I lost a bike, I would like empathic support, care, understanding and a friendly hug.

I agree that a different tact might be necessary for post-victimization, but I flatly don't understand the aversion to advice. I mentioned a friend who locked up a very expensive bike with a dog collar chain, thinking it would be enough. Her bike was stolen within 5 minutes. She ended up buying the same bike again within a week, and it would've been absolutely cruel to not warn her that she should get something stronger than a dog collar chain.

Lastly, I fully agree that rape is far more traumatic than a bike theft! The purpose of analogies is to pare down the common elements to avoid confusing what motivates our positions on each respective issue. That's precisely why I picked something relatively trivial like bike theft, it doesn't stop anyone from adding distinguishing factors.

You're right, the gazelle analogy absolutely does not apply in the context of sexual violence. I didn't realize I left that implication until later and though I didn't intend to imply a connection, I regret not saying so explicitly.

The parallels between bike theft and rape are obviously not going to perfectly match, nor should we expect them to. My point here was to start with something small ("giving advice to victims on how to reduce risk") and then start extrapolating to see if we can reach a consensus on what precisely is bad about that. I'm not sure that the distinction you draw about "against what the person wants to do" is valid in this context. For one, protecting against bike theft goes beyond just time consumption. For me personally it has affected so many decisions I make about what components I'm willing to buy (and willing to risk), what places I'm willing to bike to, whether I should carry just my u-lock or bring a heavy cable as well, and has made the prospect of getting an electric motor & battery a non-starter. This also applies in other crime context, for example some people like to start a car early and leave it running to warm-up, but several states make it illegal to do so because of car theft concerns.

I disagree that we're confusing multiple issues; my central point is that these things are deeply related.

This is what I'm talking about. It's ok to say that these issues are related to each other, but it'll remain useful to retain the ability to discuss and evaluate individual components. Otherwise:

A: "It's ok to offer victims advice on how to reduce their risk."

B: "No because the advice gets packaged with doubt over whether the victim really is a victim."

A: "Ok but I'm not saying we should doubt victim's stories, I'm only talking about advice on how to reduce risk."

B: "But the advice tends to be given at inappropriate times and with what appears to be insufficient compassion"

A: "Yes that would be a problem, but again I'm not suggesting that people give advice inappropriately. I would hope that when I advocate for something, folks can presume there's an implied 'appropriately' qualifier in there."

B: "Well most of the advice people give is straight up wrong."

A: "I just said..."

And so on. I'm not saying that the concerns you raise are invalid! But stuffing everything into the same discourse gets confusing very quickly. My post was strictly about "giving advice to victims" and the pushback you're giving invokes all these collateral issues I never argued in favor of.

Maybe it turns out it's impossible to disaggregate "giving advice" from all the other phenomena you're describing, or maybe it's impossible to give advice with appropriate timing and grace. Those are important discussions to have but nevertheless it helps to first imagine the least convenient possible world and to keep issues discrete, otherwise it all gets mixed into a murky soup.

The failure mode isn't always obvious. I had a friend that was very new to biking who used a dog collar chain to lock up a $1k bike. It got stolen within 5 minutes. A lot of times we couldn't tell what the issue was because the bike would have vanished, so we'd ask what precautions they took and then scour the scene for clues. Sometimes we'd have no idea until and when the bike was recovered.

I feel like we're confusing multiple issues here, so I'll try to break them into discrete pieces:

  1. What is victim-blaming and why it is bad
  2. How prevalent victim-blaming is, and whether it varies depending on the offense
  3. What is the appropriate time to offer advice to a victim of an offense
  4. How often allegations from a victim are met with suspicion or doubt, and whether it varies depending on the offense
  5. How much reporting a given offense is discouraged, either formally or informally
  6. How humiliating being a victim is, and how much that varies depending on the offense

There's probably more but that's a good start. It seems to me that you're flattening all those discrete points under the same penumbra of "victim-blaming" with the implicit connotation of "therefore X is bad".

I admit I don't have a definition of victim-blaming that isn't question-begging, since I couldn't find a consistent standard for how to determine if something is 'blame'. But at minimum, it seems clear that victim-blaming is not the same thing as items 4 through 6. I think it would be helpful if you used more precise language because most of your post is an argument against victim-doubting, victim-humiliating, etc. It might be a good idea to taboo the word victim-blaming unless you can offer a detailed definition.

Yes, there's a lot of ideas worth considering here.

If you're looking for easy wins to root out incorrect beliefs, have you considered first looking at all the ones that would dry up your dating pool if you stopped believing in them and told other people in your social circle about how you changed your mind?

Yes! A lot of filters seem to be consciously implemented, in the vein of "I know I shouldn't say this because it'll get me kicked out." But to make sure unconscious filters are also rooted out, I made it my mission over time to be more transparent about speaking my mind regardless of the social consequences. Surprisingly I can't say I experienced any fallout worth mentioning. I also recognize that I speak from a privileged position because my social life has been bustling for a while, so I wonder how much my tack would change if I wasn't so lucky.

I was not aware of this shift at all, so thank you for the update. BLM started out as a slogan that sort of coalesced into a central organization, but it still has to wrangle with various competing local or independent chapters (I distinctly recall groups within the same area accusing each other of being a scam). So I don't think it ever made sense to say "I support BLM's policy positions" unless you were very specific. My praise was limited to Campaign Zero's specific positions and that remains the case, but I should probably add more detail going forward.

It's really difficult to find effective organizations that don't experience this kind of mission drift. For example I used to work for the ACLU and used to be proud of my affiliation, but I barely recognize the org anymore.

Well damn, I really appreciate the comment.  Your books have been such an inspiration to me but I still haven't read Legal Systems Very Different from Ours yet. It's been a while since I've looked into non-government law enforcement and the essay above wasn't intended to be a comprehensive primer on the topic; rather it was focused on my own trajectory and how I changed my mind on a relatively narrow slice. Thanks again for the link, and for everything you do!

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