In recent days, various public allegations have been brought forward against Jacob Appelbaum. The allegations rank from plagiarism to sexual assault and rape.
I find it deeply disturbing that the alleged victims are putting up the effort of a quite slick online campaign to defame Jakes's name, using a domain name consisting of only his name and virtually any picture you can find online of him from the last decade, and - to a large extent - hide in anonymity.
I'm upset about this not because I happen to know Jake personally for many years, but because I think it is fundamentally wrong to bring up those accusations in such a form.
I have no clue what is the truth or what is not the truth. Nor does anyone else who has not experienced or witnessed the alleged events first hand. I'd hope more people would think about that before commenting on this topic one way or another on Twitter, in their blogs, on mailing lists, etc. It doesn't matter what we believe, hypothesize or project based on a personal like or dislike of either the person accused or of the accusers.
We don't live in the middle ages, and we have given up on the pillory for a long time (and the pillory was used after a judgement, not before). If there was illegal/criminal behavior, then our societies have a well-established and respected procedure to deal with such: It is based on laws, legal procedure and courts.
So if somebody has a claim, they can and should seek legal support and bring those claims forward to the competent authorities, rather than starting what very easily looks like a smear campaign (whether it is one or not).
Please don't get me wrong: I have the deepest respect and sympathies for victims of sexual assault or abuse - but I also have a deep respect for the legal foundation our societies have built over hundreds of years, and it's principles including the human right "presumption of innocence".
No matter who has committed which type of crime, everyone deserve to receive a fair trial, and they are innocent until proven guilty.
I believe nobody deserves such a public defamation campaign, nor does anyone have the authority to sentence such a verdict, not even a court of law. The Pillory was abandoned for good reasons.