A Silver Lining
A Silver Lining by Robert Gore – Straight Line Logic
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.