If you’re troubled by the Kavanaugh hearing, you’re not alone. I watched the hearing with feelings of anger and shock. I am not shocked that it’s possible a woman could be sexually assaulted and have to live with that for years of her life in silence. Unfortunately, as a millenial woman, this is a reality that I am all too familiar with; I have a number of close friends and acquaintances who have been sexually assaulted.
Instead, I’m appalled at the level of hysteria that has been swirled up not just in Washington, but in the nation as a whole.
“Believe women” and “Believe survivors” have been seized as the rallying cries for those that oppose the Kavanaugh nomination. Congresswoman Jackie Speier said that the message that Republicans are sending to all women is that if they come forward, “We will crucify you.”
Republicans are not demanding that we completely disregard these allegations. Senators Flake, Graham, and Grassley have all voiced support for Due Process, and, while supporting Kavanaugh, have voiced respect and support to Ford as well. If in fact Republicans did not believe survivors, the hearings wouldn’t be taking place at all, and Ford would be forgotten within a few weeks. Republicans are simply supporting Due Process. However, the media would have the country believing that the very fact that Kavanaugh still has a chance of confirmation is evidence that sexual assault is being taken lightly.
There is a difference between believing survivors and prosecution. While we may believe survivors, we cannot create a standard in which we condemn people based strictly on accusations and hearsay. We live in a country which remains great because it respects the individual freedoms of each of its citizens through a system of Due Process. This process attempts to seek true justice through assumption of innocence until proven guilty.
Currently, a Dean at my university voiced his concerns about the validity and character of one of the accusers, and students are now calling for his head. The professor was then suspended by Catholic University. These intimidation practices, impinging on Freedom of Speech and virtually forcing group-think are un-American and detractors of liberty.
I guarantee that, just as in the Salem Witch Trials and the French Revolution, should government operate in the way they are demanding, the same people clamoring for this form of judicial practice would be the same ones finding themselves the victims of it.
More than once, I have had friends open up to me about their sexual assault and there was not a question in my mind that they were telling the truth. And while it hurt to watch them suffer and it still hurts, our hands were tied. There were many times when I felt angry after talking to these friends, so ridiculously angry because I knew who these boys were and where they went to school.
I wanted justice and remember venting to my friends constantly about my frustrations, wondering what exactly we could do to stop this. What I realized was that we were experiencing one of the drawbacks of a system that has worked for our country and protected our individual freedoms for years. In a perfect world, a jury could know exactly what happened simply from hearing testimony and viewing the expressions of the defendant and the victim. However, it’s much more complex than that.
To take away that thing that ties our hands would be to exchange one tie for another. If we decide that we must uphold the concept that anyone accused of sexual assault is guilty until proven innocent, and thus open the door to more infringement of personal liberty, we would be appalled at what would inevitably follow. In the words of the poet John Dryden, “Oh curst effects of necessary law!”
The past year has shown a shocking willingness of American citizens to throw out personal liberty for the sake of security. The same group of people outside the Capitol today demanding that Kavanaugh be assumed guilty are the same group of people who protested Trump’s inauguration, terrified that Trump has the massive power of the presidency to abuse and direct against them. When Due Process is sacrificed and the government is empowered at the expense of the individual, they might do well to recall which party and which president are in power.
Finally, what Dr. Ford and her supporters particularly need to understand is that it’s not a matter of whether she is being believed. Her timing alone necessitates serious and careful consideration because what is at stake is the remainder of a man’s life, as well as his family’s life, it must be looked at from all angles and taken the proper precautions before rushing to decisions. When you add the political motivations that may or may not be at play, the level of care needed is magnified considerably.
So yes, believe survivors. But also be aware that when you’re dealing with another person’s life, as you are in any trial case for crimes as large and heinous as the ones Kavanaugh is accused of, you need to wear kid gloves.
At the same time, without knowing Kavanaugh personally, it’s impossible to know for sure whether or not he has committed the crimes he is accused of. If he is guilty, I want him in jail.
As a woman, my gut reaction is to believe Dr. Ford. As an American, watching the political parties scream and protest and use Kavanaugh and Ford as pawns in their plays to gain or block entry to the Supreme Court, I don’t know what to believe. I want to see my elected officials serve their country and use Due Process so that I can understand.
In a classic example of the degrading affect the polarization of American politics is having on American society, both the right and the left are guilty of populist activism and are behaving shamefully.
Let’s take a step back and breathe. Let’s think critically, and, most importantly, let’s try to find the truth.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.