[INDOLOGY] To post or not to post

Isabelle Ratie isabelle.ratie at gmail.com
Fri Oct 7 13:28:31 UTC 2016

Dear friends and colleagues,

We are all tired of this discussion and I apologize for belatedly adding my
voice to it. My intention was to remain silent, but I have changed my mind
because Audrey Truschke has rightly pointed out that so far those voicing
their disagreement with her were all men.

I am a woman. I am European. There is hardly any need to say that I
consider sexual harrassment utterly unacceptable. Yet as Walter Slaje and
Arlo Griffiths, I did find Audrey Truschke's message somewhat disturbing. I
realize that she had nothing but excellent intentions in posting it and
this is certainly not to hurt her feelings; besides, Philipp Maas is
probably right in pointing out that this whole disagreement might simply
betray a cultural gap between the USA and Europe (which, as he also pointed
out, is NOT to say that Europeans would take sexual harrassment less
seriously than Americans, but only that for instance my French colleagues
and myself would expect such a grave matter to be judged by an independent
court of law, not by a mere university committee!). Anyway as Walter Slaje,
I find public pillorying extremely unpleasant and dangerous, especially
when a defamation lawsuit has been filed and a court decision is still
awaited: this defamation lawsuit is presented in the post as a devious way
of "silencing" the victims, and the rhetoric of the post leaves little room
for the possibility that a wrongly accused man may be fighting to get his
reputation back when his whole career and probably much more are at stake.
Contrary to some of those who have contributed to this discussion, I
believe that we cannot afford to let the medias' carelessness and
self-righteousness force us to "take sides" in matters that are not theirs
or ours - but only the courts' - to judge. I entirely agree with Audrey
that sexual harrassment is awful and that it can occur in all academic
disciplines, including ours (and indeed why would it not?); but it seems to
me that it's also important to keep in mind that innocent men and women are
sometimes wrongly accused; that this is why courts must be allowed to
investigate in their own time and independently; that filing a defamation
lawsuit is not a sure sign that a guilty individual is trying to silence
his victims; and that a scholarly forum such as INDOLOGY is not an
appropriate place to discuss such matters.

With best wishes to all,
Isabelle Ratié
Professor of Sanskrit Language and Literatures
Sorbonne Nouvelle (University of Paris 3)

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