Beware the Tricksters

Beware the Tricksters

It’s Halloween and there’s plenty of spooky stuff out there. The news is terrifying. Tricksters abound.

One trickster—a right wing conspiracy stooge named Jacob Wohl—tried to besmirch the reputation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller in an effort to cast doubt on the Russia investigation. Wohl’s tactics weren’t terribly sophisticated. He contacted women who may have had brief encounters with Mueller and tried to persuade them to make accusations of sexual harassment and assault against Mueller. Wohl offered to pay the women $20,000 and, in one case, to settle credit card debt. He set up a sham company for these shady transactions and established secure phone lines for his communications, but at least two of the women sent his initial email inquiries straight to the special counsel’s office. Now Wohl and his buddies are the subjects of an FBI investigation.

Most women know that false allegations don’t stand up to scrutiny. That’s why false allegations are so very rare. Some men believe that all a woman has to do is point and she can take down a powerful man. They claim to be terrified about this possibility. But women and men of substance know that real accusations are damn hard to prove and false accusations are easy to debunk. Plenty of men have been credibly accused by women with nothing to gain and loads to lose. A couple of those men are serving on the U.S. Supreme Court right now, so it’s not like there’s much risk for the accused. The accusers, on the other hand, often risk everything to come forward—their careers, their reputations, their families, their ability to sleep at night. Is it any wonder $20,000 wasn’t enticing enough to make a false accusation?

Look at the case of the Prospect Park rape victim. Back in 1994, the police and an overzealous news reporter called this woman a liar. They said she made it up to get attention. The woman was telling the truth. Furthermore, the man who raped her would go on to rape a lot more women. He’s currently serving time for those rapes, which is how they had his DNA on file when they finally got around to conducting a legitimate investigation. Now, some 24 years later, the police commissioner has issued an apology to the woman. That’s hardly swift justice.

We live in a world where a woman can show up on the steps of One Police Plaza with ripped clothing and a stranger’s sperm inside her and still be accused of trying to ruin some man’s life when she says she was assaulted. So I have to laugh when I hear about some failed hedge fund bro trolling for fake victims. Even if he did find some woman to spin a lie, why would he think anyone would believe her? And even if a few people took the bait, what difference would it make?

Wise up, people. Women are not the villains here. If you want to find a villain to do your dirty work, Jacob Wohl, you should look in the mirror.

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Tiffany Quay Tyson

THE PAST IS NEVER is the winner of the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize, the Mississippi Arts and Letters Award for Fiction, and the Mississippi Author Award for Adult Fiction (selected by the Mississippi Library Association). The novel is shortlisted for the prestigious Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction. This southern gothic novel steeped in local lore was selected as an "Okra Pick" by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance. Tyson's debut novel THREE RIVERS was a finalist for both the Colorado Book Award for Literary Fiction and the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award for Fiction. She was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi and now lives, writes, and teaches in Denver, Colorado.
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