How do we develop an ethical framework for judging past actions?
One might say, we look at how those actions transact with the present and future that emerged with them. That is, if we think about time–even a single point in time–as past/present/future in constant and embodied communication, the question of whether or not one should be held accountable for past horrors and violence committed becomes a question about our present and future.
Padma Lakshmi closes her brave and touching personal essay about her own rape at 16 on a similar point.
Some say a man shouldn’t pay a price for an act he committed as a teenager. But the woman pays the price for the rest of her life, and so do the people who love her.
I think if I had at the time named what happened to me as rape — and told others — I might have suffered less. Looking back, I now think I let my rapist off the hook and I let my 16-year-old self down.
Let us not let ourselves down now (or in the future) when we think about holding abusers/predators accountable for sexual assault. Our ethics in these cases should be wary of a temporal limit.