Christine Blasey Ford deserves a hearing, although at the moment it’s not clear if she really wants one. What she doesn’t deserve is to be believed automatically just because she’s a woman making an accusation.
When our system of justice is at its best, it judges each individual—the accuser and the accused—fairly, on the basis of the evidence, and with an adversarial process that has proved over the centuries the best way to ascertain the truth.
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Ford’s charge is serious by any standard, and despite the shameful way it was handled—Senator Dianne Feinstein sat on it for weeks, until it leaked out at the eleventh hour—Republicans appropriately agreed to delay a committee vote and hear from both Ford and Kavanaugh at an open hearing.
The problem is that Ford’s accusation doesn’t seem particularly provable—an alleged incident 36 years ago, with few details to check against—and the Democratic-media complex isn’t very interested in proving it. It wants to take Ford’s truthfulness as a given, as matter of cosmic and gender equity.
“I believe the survivor,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal says of Christine Blasey Ford, asserting her status without having any idea whether it’s accurate. The point here is to take rhetorical and political advantage of her alleged victimhood before it’s been established—indeed to use her assumed victimhood to foreclose any serious questioning of whether she is a victim or not.
What we’re seeing, in effect, is the importation of the infamous kangaroo-court apparatus for adjudicating sexual harassment and assault cases from college campuses—which often denies the accused basic protections of due process—to the United States Senate.
Without having any independent knowledge of whether Ford’s account of Brett Kavanaugh’s alleged attempt to rape her is true or not, Blumenthal is still a hanging judge. “This nomination will not only cast a shadow over Judge Kavanaugh, if he were ever to be confirmed,” he says, “it will also stain the United States Supreme Court irreparably.”
There you have it. The court weathered Roger Taney and Dred Scott, but it will be brought to ruination by Brett Kavanaugh.
If we aren’t going to simply assume Kavanaugh’s guilt, we have to be willing to challenge Ford’s account and ask questions about it. But we’re told this is risky, or even out of bounds.
Senator John Cornyn noted Ford’s fuzzy memory of key details, and—in a hardly inflammatory sentiment—concluded, “There are some gaps there that need to be filled.” Chris Cillizza of CNN deemed these kind of queries “walking a VERY dangerous line,” although they are obviously central to testing the accuracy of Ford’s account.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand pronounced, “By refusing to treat her allegations properly”—her otherworldly description of an invitation to Ford to testify in an open or closed setting—“and by playing games to protect Kavanaugh’s nomination, they’re telling women across the country that they’re not to be believed. That they are worth less than a man’s promotion.”
No, that’s not what they’re telling women, or anyone else. The message is that they will try to find the truth before crediting an accusation. This once was a tenet of liberalism, back in the day when it celebrated the Arthur Miller play The Crucible and supported the old-school ACLU. Now, “liberal” means something different—braying for collective justice, regardless of the evidence, to right historic wrongs.
The ABC News commentator Matthew Dowd opined, “If this is ‘he said, she said,’ then let’s believe that ‘she’ in these scenarios. She has nothing to gain, and everything to lose. For 250 years we have believed the ‘he’ in these scenarios. Enough is enough.”
Putting aside the tendentious history, this is a call for people to subordinate their reason and their moral discernment to a social and political agenda. Not all women are to believed, whatever the past sins of the patriarchy. The Duke lacrosse players weren’t guilty. The University of Virginia fraternity story wasn’t true. The Columbia University student who carried a mattress around as a symbol of her alleged rape was found, by a campus tribunal, to have falsely accused her supposed assailant.
This obviously doesn’t mean that women should be disbelieved, either. Almost all the #MeToo allegations against high-profile figures in Hollywood and the media have been credible. It does mean accusations of sexual misconduct—like any other accusation—should be evaluated case by case, and on the basis of the evidence. This isn’t victimizing the accusers. It is serving the cause of justice.
Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii captured the current temper of the left when she said, “I want to say to the men of this country: Shut up and just step up and do the right thing.” This says much more about her—and her own suitability for high office—than Kavanaugh. He has no obligation to shut up—even if about half his Senate audience is losing its interest in due process or fair play.