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What is the "Nuts or Sluts" Defense Tactic, and how is it used? (And why is Bradley Manning's lawyer using it?)

Updated on February 23, 2012

What is "Nuts or Sluts" Tactic?

The term "nuts or sluts" tactic was probably NOT coined in 1991, but it came into prominence when it was used by National Organization for Women (the N.O.W.) when they were outraged by Anita Hill's treatment at the Senate hearings during the Clarence Thomas confirmation to the US Supreme Court, back in 1991. Basically, Anita Hill claimed she was sexually harassed by Clarence Thomas, and the various senators basically attacked her credibility, basically claiming she's either "nuts" (i.e. crazy) or "sluts" (i.e. promiscuous) and her claims are bogus.

It can also be known as "Nuts and Sluts", or reversed, as "Sluts or Nuts". Same idea.

It is basically a form of smear campaign, or if you really want to get technical, the term is "ad hominem" attack. as in "attack the messenger, not the message", in order to undermine the credibility of the accusations, by counter-attacking the accuser.

This tactic was used very often in rape and sexual harassment cases by the defense, by portraying the victim as promiscuous (i.e. "slut") and ASKING to have sex, then reneged after the fact ("nuts"). It happened so often, that it has been banned from the courtrooms at rape trials. The victim's psychological state can NO LONGER be called into question.

Yet you will see this tactic used again and again. Most recently, it was used by Herman Cain during the 2012 presidential primary campaign, describing the women who charged him with sexual harassment, as a part of smear campaign against him. He actually described one of his accusers as "troubled woman", which is just a nice way of saying "nuts".

So why is Bradley Manning, the accused Wikileaks leaker from the US Army, allowing his lawyer to use the "Nuts or Sluts" tactic?

Bradley Manning, and Wikileaks

Bradley Manning, a private in the US Army, is charged with being the person who leaked a huge trove of information, many of them classified material, to Wikileaks, He is on trial to determine whether he should be court-martialed (basically, a military version of "grand jury").

What's amazing about his defense is his lawyer did NOT ONCE deny that Manning had leaked the information, but instead, tried to pin all the blame on the US Army. Basically, Coombs is saying that Manning is not at fault, because the US Army is to blame for giving him access to secrets he should not have, not recognizing Manning's delicate psychological state, and so on.

In other words, US Army is "nuts" for trusting Manning in the first place, and thus, deserved to have their secrets leaked.

Much like a rape victim is "nuts" to trust the rapist to let him go into her bedroom, and thus, deserved to be raped, yes?

I thought Mr. Coombs is better than this... His website claims he had extensive experience on both sides of the table, in wide variety of topics and offenses (see link above). He should know that that this "nuts or sluts" defense wouldn't work at all.

So what the heck was he thinking?


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    • kschang profile image

      kschang 3 years ago from San Francisco, CA, USA

      I am technically a conservative. :D But I call out outrage as I see them, on any side (even myself)

    • profile image

      Barrach 3 years ago

      Wow, funny how your anti-conservative article failed to mention that "nuts and sluts" became most popular when Hillary used it to attack each and every one of Bill Clintons women.