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Thread: Is it wrong to make allegations without presenting supporting evidence?

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    Default Is it wrong to make allegations without presenting supporting evidence?

    [Note: I edited this post to remove the name of the individual recklessly charging "corruption." He/she appealed to the Wayland eNews Editorial Board, apparently citing a Discussion Forum policy--that I can't find anywhere--prohibiting the naming/quoting of people who have made public statements elsewhere. It's not at all clear why someone would request that their name be removed here when one simply has to go to the Wicked Local Wayland article that's online and look in the Comments section, but I'll honor that request. On a separate matter, however, note that I WILL use the name "Voldemort" explicitly rather than say "He-who-must-not-be-named." I encourage the Editorial Board to update its FAQ to clarify its policy on this matter (public naming, not Harry Potter).

    Gluttons for punishment may still be reading the back-and-forth I've been having with a commenter in the Comments section under Shawn Kinney's Town Crier/Wicked Local Wayland letter. My comments on Mr. Kinney's letter are available separately here.

    The topic I'd like to address here is whether it's wrong to make allegations without presenting supporting evidence. In public remarks posted on the Town Crier/Wicked Local Wayland web site, the commenter repeatedly accuses unnamed persons (presumably, school officials and/or school administrators) of corruption (emphasis below added).

    Quote Originally Posted by commenter
    When one was overseeing corruption and mismanagement, the natural tendency is to defend and deflect.

    ...

    The above description of the events surrounding the checking accounts is a description of corruption and mismangement [sic].
    The "above description" to which the commenter refers is apparently Mr. Kinney's letter. Mr. Kinney makes no explicit mention of corruption. The one place where he alleges something approaching corruption is when he makes the baseless accusation that someone intentionally tried to avoid payroll taxes. But he presents ZERO evidence to support that someone intended to do this.

    Quote Originally Posted by commenter
    Now, if the audit proves that no such questionable activities occurred, then there is no corruption.
    Actually, that's not how it works in this country. The accused don't have to prove a negative. It's wholly immoral to assert wrong-doing without evidence. I wonder if there is anyone on the board who disagrees with this sentiment?

    Quote Originally Posted by commenter
    However, if Mr. Kinney's article is correct, the corruption and mismanagement surrounding the checking accounts is clear and it would have happened on YOUR [meaning Jeff Dieffenbach's] watch.
    The commenter again makes a totally backward statement about allegation and defense. Even if the assertions made by Mr. Kinney in his article are correct (and he asks far more questions than he makes assertions), there's no clear story of "corruption." And Mr. Kinney can't get even the most simplest of assertions correct. Eight times, he calls the accounts in question "illegal." To my knowledge, no one with any standing has designated them as such.

    Quote Originally Posted by commenter
    The evidence is clear -- if Mr. Kinney's facts are proven correct, you presided (with others) over complete mismanagement and corruption of at least a certain subset of school funds and DID NOTHING about it -- ever!
    What evidence is clear? There's been NONE presented. Only allegation. Allegation is not evidence. And once again, the commenter makes the disgusting and dishonest assumption that it's okay to make charges first (without evidence) and find facts later. In our court system, we don't allow this. We shouldn't allow it in the press either. In fact, we don't--that's why we have laws against libel.

    Quote Originally Posted by commenter
    Mismanagement/corruption IF the facts of what Mr. Kinney discusses above are proven true through the audit.

    ...

    Jeff [Dieffenbach], I have repeatedly stated that Mr. Kinney's version of events is a story of misamangement [sic]/corruption. If proven false/untrue, it is not. Hardly irresponsible and I doubt as if impartial observers would see my either/or as unreasonable.
    I won't tread the "it's not up to the accused to prove their innocence" ground again.

    Quote Originally Posted by commenter
    There is a basis to believe that corruption/mismanagement existed here. I have said it hundreds of times now -- the audit either proves that to be right or wrong.
    Again I ask, what basis? The commenter weakly cites a single theft of funds--one that was detected and for which the perpetrator was caught--as an example of corruption when in fact it's a case of simple theft. That theft is in no way an example of the broader and wholly baseless charge of "corruption" that the commenter makes (without foundation) against school officials and administrators.

    On the Town Crier/Wicked Local Wayland site, I've tried to illustrate my point as follows. One might say of the chair of the Dog Control Officer Appeals Board in Wayland, for instance, that his/her "inability to protect Wayland from a dangerous dog (the one mentioned in the 2/23/2012 Metrowest Daily News article [among many other accounts]) might certainly appear to some to be mismanagement (this isn't my opinion, however). And if a person really wanted to go out there and replicate [the commenter's] 'attack without evidence' approach, they might even allege that a dog officer MIGHT have been motivated to drag his or her feet on an issue like this for fear that it would interfere with an illegal dog-fighting ring in which he or she was participating (this isn't my allegation, however)."

    It would be wrong of a person to allege these things without evidence. If someone did, I would call them out on it. The commenter, apparently, feels no such moral obligation.

    Is there anyone on this Discussion Forum who thinks that the commenter is right to allege "corruption" without any supporting evidence of any substance?
    Last edited by Jeff Dieffenbach; 10-24-2012 at 01:50 PM.

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