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Innocent Until Proven Canceled: Brendon Urie And Fellow Artists Face Sexual Assault Allegations

Victims of abuse always deserve a voice — that goes without question. As seen in the Me Too movement, our society has begun holding prominent abusers accountable and giving their platforms to survivors. In recent years, one aspect of the movement has grown increasingly blurry, though. As a society, we are struggling to define when allegations become truth — when accusers become victims.

Many high profile allegations tend to gain notoriety due to credible evidence and similar corroboration among other victims. Anyone can agree that Jeffrey Epstein had undeniable evidence thrown against him. One would say the same about R. Kelly and Cosby. Spacey and Allen, too. So, now we must ask ourselves, what do they have against them and what do their victims have in common? Numerous allegations and credible stories that align. That is how we used to judge instances of unclear, he-said-she-said cases. Essentially, whoever could provide the most credible evidence and corroboration was therefore owed justice.

There is a justified amount of outrage against this system. Evidence can often be hard to obtain in many cases, especially when trying to obtain proof of sexual harassment and assault. And vice versa, people often feign evidence and warp it into their favor. Take Amber Heard, for instance. The actress submitted a photo that displayed absurd amounts of drug paraphernalia, all linked to Johnny Depp, as evidence in the trial last month. Not suggesting it was staged, but who uses a tampon applicator as a snuff straw? Certainly not Johnny Depp, who according to her “evidence,” has personalized drug boxes. You’d think he’d at least upgrade his other utensils, considering he’s such a high roller.

While it isn’t a perfect or completely just system, the eleventh amendment — or innocent until proven guilty — is in place to serve as much justice as possible.

What Else Can You Expect From A Bunch Of Rockstars?

As we already know, the music industry isn’t exactly known for respecting women. In fact, the music industry might just be the least female-friendly industry following Hollywood.

The latest allegations have been Twitter-based, attacking stars like Justin Bieber and Brendon Urie. While Urie remains under fire, Bieber’s allegations were dismissed, as the timelines did not match up and Bieber provided witnesses and proof of innocence.

#BrendonSpeakUp trended on Twitter for days, but the singer is still yet to comment. Urie has been a target of criticism for a while, as his old stage jokes were deemed offensive (mainly because they are, very much so). Recently, though, the Panic! at the Disco frontman has been accused of something worse than bad jokes. Anonymous allegations came out last week detailing instances of Urie allegedly luring minors back stage and sexually assaulting them. The allegations are few, but similar. They all read the same, claiming the assaults were all against minors and years ago, during the band’s Vices and Virtues tour or backstage after shows (fan fiction style).

The only disparity there is the fact that most of the venues, including the ones mentioned in one of the allegations, were noted to be 18+. This might put a damper on the validity of the story. While I’m not claiming Urie is a saint nor excusing his actions, I’m saying that many are failing to dive into the background and details of the allegations before automatically championing them.

Of course our first instinct as fellow empathetic humans and survivors, ourselves, is to believe their stories. We undoubtedly should listen to accuser’s stories and look into seeking justice. There is just one problem with our current process for doing so.

The Consequences Of Assuming Guilt

The problem with our current system of online justice is that we immediately jump to boycotting and canceling, rather than seeking answers and justice on a more serious level. We jump to repost K-Pop fan edits, but we don’t actually look into the victim’s stories before deeming an artist ‘canceled’ and moving on.

Tyler Joseph of Twenty One Pilots was recently faced with similar allegations to Urie on Twitter. In essence, a young woman accused Joseph of sexually assaulting her in a public school that they both attended in Columbus, Ohio. Many fans quickly turned on the singer who, might I add, just recently welcomed a baby with his wife. What they all forgot to fact check was that Joseph actually attended an all-boys private school, among other disparities. Everyone was so quick to believe a story with no evidence, dates or merit that they didn’t even attempt to validate it.

We saw the same thing happen with alt-pop singer Melanie Martinez years ago, when her career was shattered by false rape accusations back in 2017. Both Martinez and Joseph faced allegations that weren’t researched or fact-checked, and because of that, they have either been ‘canceled’ or had their careers ruined. An easy dive into their stories shows inconsistencies and flaws in the allegations, but many are willing to overlook them for the sake of immediately believing accusers.

When Does An Accuser Become A Victim?

There is a difference between supporting victims and then blindly believing unfounded claims. While we should always listen to accusers and their stories, we should simultaneously investigate their claims and confirm any possible facts and evidence. It not only assures greater chances at justice, but prevents possible false accusations from spreading.

It has become taboo to ask for evidence or at least the slightest bit of validity to back people’s claims that could easily destroy another person’s life. Even a shred is worth backing; a shred of truth, or at least not having incorrect information, could support a claim enough to gain justice. It never hurts to have it, in fact, it is only better for accusers. In the justice system, we must be prepared for tough cases and unbelievers. We are training people to have blind trust in the fact that people will automatically believe them. That doesn’t slide in real life, and if we want to keep seeing justice awarded, we have to work harder.

If one cannot provide evidence or DNA, it would help for their story to at least match up with real life events and dates. It shouldn’t be deemed victim-blaming or rape apology to back a claim with some facts, if not any evidence. I’m no constitution hugger (I mean, come on, a bunch of slaveowners wrote it almost 300 years ago), but something about the concept of keeping neutrality until proof emerges just makes sense.

Featured image via Panic! at the Disco on Instagram

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I cover the politics of pop culture—from celebrities scandals to the flaws in cancel culture. I'm always down for an album review, too. You can find me creating, whether I'm writing or painting.

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