A political victory only, not a stand on principle.
No lion, tiger, bear, or wolf would, if it could choose, give up its claws or fangs. No poisonous snake or spider would surrender its venom. Only humans voluntarily abandon their means of survival.
Reason is humans’ tool of survival and separates them from the other animals. The Oxford Dictionary defines reason as: “the power of the mind to think, understand, and form judgments by a process of logic.” Ayn Rand had it right when she warned that reason was under sustained attack. It has only intensified since her death in 1982.
Anybody can accuse anybody of committing a crime. The longstanding legal presumption is that the accused is innocent until proven guilty. Given a guilty judgment’s consequences, the burden necessarily falls on accusers to prove guilt. If it did not, mere accusation would be a verdict leading to punishment of the accused, or Salem Witch Trial justice.
In Anglo-American jurisprudence, proof of guilt must be beyond a reasonable doubt. This high standard will invariably allow some who have committed the crimes for which they are charged to escape punishment. The risks posed by that outcome are generally accepted as less than those posed by punishing the innocent.
The question posed by Christine Blasey Ford’s accusation against Brett Kavanaugh is why the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Senate as a whole, and the American public abandoned the presumption of innocence and the accuser’s burden of proof to determine Kavanaugh’s fitness as a Supreme Court justice.
Most of the senators and the rest of the country had their minds made up before Ford’s and Kavanaugh’s testimony. Prejudgment means the hearing was irrelevant; no standards or judgment at all were applied to the testimony presented.
The standards of those who said they waited until they heard the testimony were only slightly higher. It mostly boiled down to which of the two best comported with how they thought either the accuser or accused should act. While that can be a factor in an actual courtroom, accusations there still require proof and defendants are still presumed innocent until proven otherwise beyond a reasonable doubt.
It is one thing to abandon a standard or paradigm for a better one. That happens in science all the time. It is another thing to abandon a standard based not on any substantive criticism of the standard itself, but because it gets in the way of subjective emotions held by those who abandon it. Neither side of the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation debate adhered to the presumption of innocence and the requirement of proof.
That’s obvious with the opponents, many of whom said they believed Christine Blasey Ford before Kavanaugh even had his chance to defend himself. That they had no standard other than political expediency is readily apparent. If Kavanaugh’s unproven sexual assault when he was seventeen-years-old is enough to keep him off the Supreme Court, then surely Ted Kennedy’s Chappaquiddick scandal and multiple allegations of sexual misconduct against Bill Clinton—most of which had substantial corroboration—should have kept those two “statesmen” out of office.
What’s more disturbing is the behavior of Kavanaugh’s ostensible supporters. Ford’s allegations were riddled with inconsistencies, failures to remember key details, and a complete lack of corroboration. Such a case would never have made it into a courtroom and it should never have been graced with a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, much less an extension for more FBI “investigation.”
Instead, those who should have championed legal standards fashioned over centuries of both logic and experience caved before those who attacked those standards in favor of no standards at all. An accuser who could offer no proof or corroboration other than her own accusation was afforded a forum for that accusation. Senators were afraid of being tagged “unfair” by those who have no objective standard of fairness. The senators did not insist that Ms. Ford present some elements of proof outside her accusation; they apparently asked for no corroborating evidence at all before allowing her to testify.
The opposition’s one standard is political expediency, but the same can be said of most of Kananaugh’s supporters. Not only did they give Ford a forum, but they turned her cross-examination—the harsh engine of truth in an adversarial proceeding—over to an outside inquisitor. Theirs was a political victory, not a stand on principle.
They wanted to avoid being labelled sexist and misogynistic by people who will never vote for them. They wanted to win a swath of women voters who will supposedly be more swayed by the accuser’s sex than they will be by the manifest injustice of compelling a man to offer proof of his innocence against a woman who offers no proof of his guilt beyond her own testimony. Is not that supposition blatantly sexist? Yet it’s been echoed endlessly in the media, often in reports and opinion pieces decrying sexism.
That few see the myriad logical contradictions in this whole affair denotes the sad state of what passes for logic in 2018 America. If Kavanaugh’s opposition had resorted to logic, there were ample grounds for challenging his confirmation without resorting to the sexual assault Hail Mary.
There are substantial questions and allegations about his role in Kenneth’s Starr’s investigation of Vincent Foster’s death.
As associate White House Counsel for President George W. Bush, he helped draft the Patriot Act, calling it a “measured, careful, responsible, and constitutional approach.” The Patriot Act is none of the above, and it rendered the Fourth Amendment’s “right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures,” and the Fifth Amendment’s prohibition against depriving people of “life, liberty, or property, without due process of law;” dead letters.
Judge Kavanaugh, in a D.C Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, held that the government metadata collection program Edward Snowden disclosed “is entirely consistent with the Fourth Amendment.” Kavanaugh is no constitutionalist supporter of civil liberties. Luis P. Almeida correctly labeled him a “swamp creature.” He’s a friend of the surveillance state and part of the judicial mainstream that has read the Constitution out of the Constitution. His opposition is part of the same hypocrisy, so no challenge was raised on those grounds. (Of course, anything having to do with Vincent Foster is strictly off-limits.)
We’ve been treated to the spectacle of a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing that threw foundational principles of justice, law, and logic out the window. To be replaced by…what? Predetermined conclusions based on political expediency? Credibility or performance art of the two contestants? Mystical emanations? The Force?
One never knows what the ever-shifting subjective standards are when logic is defenestrated. The grubby little secret of those who attack logic and reason is they have nothing with which to replace them. A world that doesn’t run on logic doesn’t run, and that’s always and everywhere the plan: to tear down what’s taken centuries to build and replace it with nothing but a chaotic void mirroring the chaotic void between their ears.
The grubby little secret of many of those who attack the attackers is that they present an incoherent or no defense of logic and reason and actually share their opponents’ antipathy. Rarely, if ever, do they go on the offensive by asking with what logic and reason are to be replaced…and insisting on answers. The whole rickety anti-logic edifice collapses under the weight of that question and its follow-ons.
Logic is man’s tool to grasp and deal with reality. Recognition of reality and consequences can be delayed, but consequences can never be prevented. Consequences in a world that believes devoutly in governments and central banks, warfare and welfare, phony money and debt, patently false political homilies, and transcendent “feelings” are severe. However, they will affirm the convictions of that remnant who tenaciously adhere to reason and rationality. That has to count as the silver lining to this dark and intellectually beclouded age.