The Hunt is a movie that came out in 2012; it is set in a small Danish town and is about a male kindergarten teacher. It is a sad and well made cautionary tale about how a witch hunt can happen.
The man is divorced, and clearly unhappy at the limited time he has with his son. It is demonstrated that his wife (who we never see) has an irrational desire to keep him from his son, who loves his father and at one point runs away from home to be with him. This part made me very sad to see.
It is very clear that the man (Lucas) has a good relationship with friends (he belongs to a hunting club) and with his neighbors, has a dog and is good with the kids. One of them a little girl expresses inappropriate amounts of affection for him, which he gently, firmly and rightly rebuffs.
This gets out of hand. The little girl is angry with him, hurt, and tells the principal things that alarm her and make her feel that it is likely that Lucas sexually abused the little girl.
The principal, Grethe, decides to bring in a friend who may be some kind of social worker, to interview the girl. She is given leading questions, and the two adults conclude that she was abused.
The principal is clearly concerned for the girl, but her reactions are unprofessional and stupid. She acts like an hysteric; she does suggest that the teacher take a leave of absence but then before she has even told the police from what we can see she tells the rest of the faculty and all the parents, and tells them there are things to look for in their kids that are signs of abuse–like bedwetting night terrors, things like that. Things that could have multiple causes in fact. Before he is even questioned by the police or charged she has turned the community against him and refused to even explain why to him; at one point when he tries to confront her she runs away from him hysterically. She even informs his wife. Bearing in mind that there has been no investigation, and that the child does not have any visible trauma. (of course as audience we also know it is a misunderstanding involving a five year old who said some things she doesn’t understand the meaning of, mixing her anger with Lucas with some things her older brother and a friend talked about)
The film is a grimly well told story about how this virtually ruins his life.
Bee linked us to the website “Cry for Justice” and there is a link here http://cryingoutforjustice.wordpress.com/2013/02/11/signs-your-husband-may-be-addicted-to-pornography-by-wendell/ that is very much in the same spirit as the witch hunt in the movie. People are fearful of something bad happening–and it erases their sense of a need for fairness and process, eliminates their ability to distinguish what is really happening from what they imagine must be happening.
Now of course child abuse is a terrible thing. But the whole thing hinges on the stupid Grethe and others saying “children don’t lie.” That’s a new one to me–children do lie.
We live in a world of a strange dichotomy of thought. To people n the Cry for Justice site the victims who bring accusations never lie, are never wrong, must always be upheld. Anyone who says “you have to give the accused the benefit of the doubt” is therefore some kind of perpetrator of evil. These people are mostly suffering from a failure of imagination–they can’t imagine they themselves being unfairly, mistakenly or even maliciously accused.
I recommend watching this movie. It should be a sobering tale. One thing that does come out–the zealous investigators had found that all the children had agreed that something bad had happened to them in a basement. They described the basement; the abuse had taken place in the basement.
One problem: the guy’s house had no basement.
Take a look at the page I linked on “signs your husband may be addicted to pornography”. It’s all witch hunt type stuff, send for the Witch Smeller Pursuivant. Might as well be saying “Does he have shifty eyes? Does he ever slouch? Does he ever leave his socks on the couch? These could be signs…”