Dr. Tyson, please sue Amet for libel

tysonAnd have done with it for the sake of justice

By  now, Dear Reader may have heard that Fox and Cosmos are investigating Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson over multiple allegations of sexual misconduct and/or rape. I picked Variety at random. Note: they make one error early on.

Both allegations came to light roughly a year after musician Tchiya Amet claimed that Tyson raped her when they were both graduate students.

No. The initial accusation was in 2014. I guess we can’t count on Variety to do journalism, either.

The whole sordid mess is a damned shame at a bare minimum. What’s happening in the blogs and now the media promises to make it worse.

For what it’s worth, I have personally been in contact with Dr. Katelyn Allers, the latest of three women known to have brought forward allegations pertaining to Dr. Tyson’s conduct with them. Dr. Allers had this to say:

I can confirm that the contents of the patheos article regarding my encounter with Dr. Tyson are accurate and based on my experience.

I have been contacted by other, more mainstream sources, so my hope is that the allegations against Dr. Tyson (particularly those by Tchiya and Ashley) will be given serious consideration.

From there, I was down the rabbit hole. I just deleted 3200 words that nobody was ever going to read to give you this synopsis instead. You’re welcome. You are otherwise likely to get this story piecemeal from a variety (no pun intended) of sources likely to be as sloppy as Variety was. Odds are at least as good you or someone you know will be getting their version of things from within various silos. In short order, you’ll be hearing about how this whole thing is some kind of put up job, and good luck sorting out which collection of antonyms is doing the dirty work.

To help make this news story make sense, here’s the timeline to follow.

First, read Tchiya Amet’s blog post of October 8, 2014. [trigger warning]

Don’t you mean COWARD? A Self Hating Coward?
The ONLY way you could EVER be with a Black Goddess, a true Celestial Being, not just one that talks about them, would be by DRUGGING HER, THEN DRAGGING HER TO YOUR BEDROOM, WHILE FULLY UNCONSCIOUS, TAKING OFF HER CLOTHES, AND THEN, WHO KNOWS WHAT WITH HER, OR FOR HOW LONG, WHEN SHE AWAKENS, UNABLE TO MOVE, YOU CONTINUE YOUR DEMONIC ACTS. Is this what you mean by curiosity?

I only recall being at the astronomy department the next day. I do not know how long I was in his apartment. I have no idea how I got back to my apartment. I do not even remember waking up the next day. All I remember is seeing him in the hallway at the astronomy department at UT Austin, and I asked him, “Why did this happen?” He responded, “We are in this alone, and we are in this together”.

Amet’s blog post was linked by one Hontas Farmer on a blog called Quantum Gravity at Science 2.0 on January 28, 2016.

That article was picked up by one Beth Winegarner who posted at Medium on October 5, 2017.

That list was linked by David Gee at Patheos on October 25, 2017.

He followed up on that article on November 8, 2018.

He (David McAfee) followed up again on November 29, 2018.

I’m fairly certain that David Gee and David McAfee are the same person, and that there’s no hijinks up with the names. I just think it’s sloppy. His author page, Patreon links, and email address make it clear he’s not hiding anything.

Beyond providing the above reading list, I don’t have much to say. In the spirit of #metoo, I believe allegations merit investigation based solely on the fact of the allegation regardless of the merits in the claims made. I still believe in innocent until proven guilty where it fits…in the courtroom. I believe the court of public opinion is now, as it ever has been, fickle and subject to fits for good and/or ill and that innocent until proven guilty is a lofty but futile idea in that arena. As you follow various comment sections, more of your inner being will die off and you’ll be tempted to fervently wish half of the people you were reading had no access to voting booths. Note how impartially I phrased that.

The saddest fact of this whole mess is that the window of opportunity to file charges is long past, apparently. I haven’t fact-checked that. It seems to be taken as a given, though, so I’ll accept that at face value. At this stage, the only meaningful investigation that can happen is still in court. I believe I got this from Farmer, linked above. If Dr. Tyson sues Amet for libel, Amet will be able to bring forward the evidence that her claims are true. If that evidence prevails, justice is served and Dr. Tyson goes down. If that evidence doesn’t prevail, we’ll never know whether justice was served, but we can hope, and we can at least know the system tried, however poorly. As it is right now, if Dr. Tyson does not sue Amet for libel, her one recourse to the courts is effectively blocked, leaving only the court of public opinion.

That’s where the Fox/Cosmos farce comes in. Let’s not forget that corporations have a fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders. Someone with a heart of gold might have floated the idea of an investigation, but some hardnosed beancounter had to be instructed to make the appropriate changes to various bits of data because of this new expense item, “Dr. Tyson Investigation.” Whoever agreed to spend that money is only agreeing to this expense because they need to do damage control. One of their assets is besmirched. By now they’ve already been reading their tea leaves to figure out if ratings do better in a Guilty Tyson universe or in an Innocent Tyson universe. My money is on whatever findings coincide with the better ratings outcome.

We’re also largely talking about the haunts of the sci-bro crowd, which is rather a huge part of the overarching point. Cynic that I am, I’m supposing ratings with an Innocent Tyson will be just fine. It’ll be no surprise when a useless, toothless investigation suitable only for providing the investigators with CYA in either the event of Dr. Tyson’s retention or termination winds up simply as “inconclusive.”

Just don’t be fooled into thinking any justice was actually done.

Meanwhile, Dr. Tyson could give lessons in messaging.

Whether I believe Dr. Tyson is innocent or not is beside the point. I have merely set out to provide the reader with the essentials for making up their own minds.