The Paradox of She-Said-He-Said, Resolved Twice
Suppose that she says that he sexually assaulted her, and he says that he did not. Shall we believe her, or not? That question is now before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The existing rule is, don’t believe the woman. But this barrier gives credibility to any woman who defies it. Why would Dr. Ford lie about Judge Kavanaugh, with the vile defamation that was guaranteed to provoke? And not just defamation, but anonymous death threats? With such pressures and dangers, no-one would want to volunteer a lie; this fact supports Dr. Ford’s credibility. So if the rule is that you shouldn’t believe the woman, then you should.
But suppose the rule were, believe the woman. Wouldn’t that give her unchecked power, open to abuse? The history of lynch law in the South supports this; any white woman could accuse any black man, and have him killed at once, no due process needed. It was a system of racist mob-murder, under the cover of protecting the honor of Southern womanhood. So if the rule is that you should believe the woman, then you shouldn’t.
If you shouldn’t believe the woman, then you should; and if you should believe the woman, then you shouldn’t! How to resolve the paradox? I know of two resolutions, one weak, one strong. The weak resolution is by Alternative Evidence. The strong resolution is by Alternative Injustice.
Alternative evidence includes testimony from others, polygraphs, photographs, and physical evidence. All should help, but all have weaknesses. Third-party witnesses make good testimony; but alas, witnesses are often absent, or uncertain, or contradictory, or biased, or tampered with. Polygraphs are pseudoscience, easily fooled by the bold, the well-trained, and the sociopathic. Photographs make excellent evidence, even if they do not prove what they claim to prove, so long as they are vivid; but if they are blurry, or poorly aimed, or ill-timed, or otherwise naturally chaotic, then in court they prove nothing.
Then there is physical evidence, such as semen samples. Once a certain scoundrel, a rich foreign banker whose name I refuse to recall, left behind such evidence, inside a hotel maid whom he had raped. When I first heard this story, I thought, case closed. Blessed be modern science, in the service of truth and justice! How naive I was! For that high-flying low-life got away with his open criminality, and how? By the rich rapist’s standard playbook; smear her, slant the news, lie, distort, pay off the police and the judges. Soon, to my shock and disgust, that vile man jetted far away, all charges dropped, despite the testimony of millions of spermatozoa, all calling him Daddy, all within a woman who didn’t invite them. I consoled my outrage with this reflection; that modern science had rigorously proven the guilt, not only of an individual banker’s rape, but of an entire banking system’s rapine. Hypothesis: lawless oligarchs control the press, the police, and the courts. Hypothesis scientifically confirmed! It’s good to be sure about such things.
Alternative evidence is vulnerable, but alternative injustice is robust. Consider Southern lynch law; the woman was always to be believed, but only if she were rich and white, and he poor or black. Were a black woman to accuse a white man, or a poor white woman to accuse a rich white man, then there would be no lynch mob, nor even a court case. Instead the woman would be called “deceptive”, or “confused”, and therefore deserving “treatment” in a “sanatorium”. So this partial defense of women actually functioned as a complete attack upon the dark-skinned and the poor. Enforcement was disorganized for the stated purpose, but efficient for the unstated purpose.
I propose this as a general rule; that theoretical sexual justice, when partially and inconsistently enforced, in practice serves racial and class injustice. Oppression is intersectional; it can be converted from one form to another, while the sum remains constant. Selective enforcement of insincere justice is how alternative injustice works.
Case in point: Al Franken, as compared to Trump, Moore and Kavanaugh. Franken’s Senatorial career abruptly ended when a photograph surfaced, from a USO show during his comedian days, showing him laughing at the camera while groping a female fellow-performer. Senators and feminists united to demand his immediate resignation, on the theory that his self-sacrifice would shame the political opposition into equal nobility.
To refute that theory, I cite Donald Trump, who bragged on tape to even worse groping; yet this scandal did not deprive him of the Presidency. Instead his interviewer lost his job!
So was Franken’s real mistake in letting himself be photographed? I could get out a magnifying lens and show, by the shadows around Franken’s hands, that he was not actually touching her; that his hands were several feet away from her, but in careful alignment with the camera. I could prove that the photo was a fake and a prank, but so what? To do so I would have to draw attention to the accursed photo itself! So maybe the photo was the sin. Thou Shalt Not Make Graven Images Of Thy Idiotic Pranks!
But I’m not sure. What if a photo emerged of Trump doing his far worse groping? Would that change anyone’s mind by now? Or suppose we’d had photos of Roy Moore dating 14-year-olds? How much would that have added to his opponent’s narrow victory? 1%? 2%?
Franken versus Trump and Moore reveals alternative injustice in action. Franken is down, but Trump is in, not because of any inconsistency or incompleteness in America’s newfound wokeness, but because Franken is anti-oligarchy, and Trump is pro-. But the oligarchs don’t dare say that aloud, so selectively enforced wokeness was the excuse given instead.
(By the way, I am deeply grateful to Alabama’s African-American citizens, who organized and mobilized and got out the vote against Roy Moore. I would not have liked to tell pedophilia jokes about him for his entire term, but I would have done so anyhow, out of patriotic duty. But thanks to the colored folk of Alabama, I am spared that chore. Their opposition to him was boiling hot, for he had nostalgised about the Confederacy; but the white women of Alabama were tepid about him, despite the 14-year-olds he dated, and the 16-year-old whom he attempted to force. It seems that slavery nostalgia is more of a motivator for Alabama’s blacks than sexual assault upon a minor is for Alabama’s women.)
And now we have Kavanaugh, whose Supreme Court nomination has been interrupted by reports from his past, of prep-school attempted rape, and frat-house sexual assault, and a frat-house gang bang. Or so three women recall, despite the many years that have passed since then, and alcoholic haze at the time. Should we believe them, or not? If we shouldn’t then we should, but if we should then we shouldn’t!
Is there alternate evidence? There’s plenty of circumstantial evidence, such as the well-earned bad reputation of prep schools and fraternity houses. (You want to critique elites? Behold the Boyz!) There were rumors of these debauched incidents circulating in those campuses at the time. Perhaps official investigation would find witnesses willing to come forth; but such investigations have been blocked, for Kavanaugh’s party fears the truth.
Yes, I believe the women, though I can’t prove it; but that doesn’t matter. The presumption of innocence is for citizens seeking justice, not for public servants seeking a lifetime appointment. Public servants, like Caesar’s wife, should be above any hint of scandal. Kavanaugh does not meet that standard.
Alas, alas! What has this world come to? What happens at Georgetown Prep doesn’t stay at Georgetown Prep; nor Yale, at Yale! Could this be justice? But what has Judge Kavanaugh ever done to deserve that?
He can take comfort in alternative facts, and alternative injustice. If he gets installed despite scandal, then he will be free to selectively enforce the most rigid of sexual Puritanism, despite the example of himself and the lawless President that he will protect. He too will be protected, by hypocrisy.
For hypocrisy is not a glitch; nor is it a feature. It is the operating system. Hypocrisy is how an unjust system gets things done. Hypocrisy is the unjust means to any end; therefore, to such a system, hypocrisy is an end in itself.
September 24, 2018