Wednesday, October 3, 2018

I Believe Facts And Evidence

If you needed further proof that the Brett Kavanaugh fiasco is about a lot more than just a single court nomination, you need look no father than the new mantra that is going around: "Believe women". We are told that women never, ever lie and not only do they never, ever lie they especially never, ever lie about sexual assault and if you point out the high profile cases where they did just that, well then you are just a misogynist. We are supposed to believe that human nature doesn't exist and that half of the population is faultlessly honest, something that would be a major surprise to all human beings since there have been human beings.

"Believe women" is a nonsensical phrase by any measure. Believe them when? Always? Only in cases of alleged sexual assault? What if two women are giving contradictory accounts of the same event, who do we believe? Believe them why? Because they are women? Because women don't lie (as a brother, son, husband and father of girls, I can attest that is not true)? Because a woman would never lie specifically about sexual assault even though there are lots of high profile cases of that very thing happening?

The thing is, it is not supposed to make sense and it is not supposed to stand up to examination. It is something you just have to say or you are a bad person. Just like "Black Lives Matter" is a mantra you have to agree with without asking any irritating clarifying questions, "Believe Women" is your pass-phrase that signifies you are acceptable for polite, sophisticated company. It also is incredibly dangerous and contrary to the fundamental principles that guide a free society. It is a perilous comparison to make but we already have had situations where the word of some people was given more credence than the words of others. After the Civil War it was not uncommon for allegations leveled against a black man by a white person, especially a white woman, to be automatically given more credence. If you are not familiar with the Tulsa race riots in 1921, you should familiarize yourself with them. Perhaps the quintessential American novel, Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird, deals with the same situation where a black man is presumed guilty because of course a white woman would never lie.

The accusations of sexual assault in the Kavanaugh confirmation circus were chosen for a reason. Sexual assault accusations have been weaponized for decades by the Left. Actual rape is abhorrent to all of us. It is grotesque because it typically pits a much stronger man against a weaker woman. Men are supposed to protect women, not abuse them. It also takes what is a natural and wonderful aspect of humanity and turns it into something ugly. The same act that creates children in a loving family can also destroy the life of a woman. It is a more visceral, more personal crime than shoplifting or stealing a car or dealing drugs and that is why it carries heavy penalties, penalties that I would favor increasing in almost all cases.

But...

Sexual assault is also one of the most difficult crimes to prove. Accusations of sexual assault are notoriously hard to prove because of the nature of the allegations. I am not a cop or a prosecutor but I am quite certain that sexual assault cases are some of the worst to try to deal with.

In general, at least speaking for me and the people I know, sexual encounters are almost always a) behind closed doors and b) a private encounter between two and only two people. I know, that is terribly prudish of me. But what that means is that except in the circumstances of obvious cases like a man abducting a woman at knife-point and raping her, many accusations of sexual assault boil down to a "he said, she said" situation. When a man and woman go behind closed doors, there are no witnesses. There is often little physical evidence that is damning unless a woman is bruised or otherwise shows signs of being forced and even then it can be dismissed as "rough sex". The easiest defense in the world is to simply claim that a sexual encounter was consensual and unless we assign a higher value on the testimony of women, that is a pretty hard defense to get around because of the nature of these encounters. It is worth noting that in the Kavanaugh case there were other people present and they do not support his accusers story, so that makes it even less credible. So my advice to women is this: it is far better to avoid situations where you might become a victim than to put yourself in sketchy situations in the first place. More on that in a moment.

Then there is the nature of contemporary human sexual interaction, especially outside of marriage. I am not sure what it is like today, and I find it terrifying to even consider, but for most of my life a boy and a girl/man and a woman would go out on some dates. Maybe he kisses her, maybe she lets him. Maybe he tries a little more. Maybe on early dates she pushes his hand away but then on future dates she doesn't. It is a horribly awkward dance that has gone on for a very long time but it was part of the teen and young adult dating scene. If a boy and a girl are making out and he "makes a move" and she let's him but then he makes another escalating move and she stops him, did he sexually assault her? If so, most of us are going to jail. Sex between two people outside of marriage is a very emotionally fraught thing. Emotions are invested and often they are crushed. It doesn't help things at all when you let a tiny mentally unstable minority turn an already confusing and awkward process into a politically charged and quite possibly criminal activity.

So you have a situation where there are often no witnesses and no evidence and where the nuances of human sexual behavior leave an enormous amount of room for confusion.

However, and this is so critically important: just because an allegation is difficult to prove does not mean that we should lower the standard for evidence. If anything we should raise the standard because it is so easy to falsely accuse someone of this crime. Here is a very recent example: Woman says lawmaker raped her the night she graduated Georgetown. Here is the gist. A woman by the name of Candace Faber claims that a man who is now a Washington state Senator named Joe Fain, raped her on the night of her college graduation. She claims she was inspired by the Kavanaugh case to "come forward". These are the salient facts:

  • Ms. Faber met Mr. Fain on the night she graduated.
  • By her own account she and Mr. Fain spent the night drinking heavily, dancing and kissing.
  • She accompanied Mr. Fain to his hotel room apparently voluntarily.
  • At this point, behind closed doors, she claims he pinned her down, pulled down her dress and raped her.
  • She claims she "told him to stop and put her foot on his head to push him away"
  • Finally, and this is where it gets a little weird, "After the man raped her, she wrote, she asked him for a kiss goodbye before leaving the room."

Ms. Faber spent the night with a man she had just met, dancing and drinking and making out with him, before walking with him to his hotel and then going up to his room. She told her mom and a co-worker afterward that she had been raped, although the co-worker concedes that at the time she "was struggling with her mental health", whatever that means.

So should we "believe women" in this case? She says she told him no and put her foot on his head to shove him away. On the other hand she says she was drinking heavily with him, had been making out with him, went willingly to his hotel room and after he supposedly raped her, asked him for a kiss. Now I have never been raped or assaulted but that seems to be an odd response. I would imagine that if the police investigate this allegation, prosecutors will not press charges based on the "he said, she said" nature of the encounter and her odd behavior of asking him for a kiss after he allegedly raped her.

Can I at this point suggest that while I don't know if Mr. Fain raped Ms. Faber or if they just had sloppy drunk one-night-stand sex and he never called her again or somewhere in between, perhaps it would have been wiser for Ms. Faber, a graduate of a prestigious university, to not get really drunk and go to the hotel room of a man she had just met that evening after spending that evening making out with him.

You're victim blaming! REEEEEEE!!!!

That is another dumb phrase that needs to die a quick and painful death. It is not "victim blaming" to point out simple common sense. If you park your brand new Mercedes in Detroit with the windows down, the key in the ignition, the doors unlocked and the engine running with the radio blaring country music and come back the next morning to find it gone, would anyone be surprised? That doesn't make stealing it less of a crime but it is basic common sense that you wouldn't do that. We tell kids to not talk to strangers and never, ever get in a car with strangers. Is it then "victim blaming" if a child ignores those precautions and is abducted? Of course not. So the message to our daughters and female loved ones should be this:

Sexual assault is real and all too common. It is very hard to prove but if it ever happens to you please come to us and we will go together to the police. We love you and would never want anything like this to happen to you so to reduce the chance of getting into a bad situation, don't drink to excess and don't go alone with a man you aren't married to somewhere out of sight, especially when one or both of you has been drinking. When people drink, their inhibitions loosen and their decision making skills plummet. That is why you are not allowed to drive a car while inebriated. So please use common sense and good decision making to avoid situations where you might find yourself in an uncomfortable or dangerous position. You can't avoid every circumstance where you might get in trouble but you should avoid the ones you can.

Those sort of cautions were part of parenting young women for centuries and no one thought it was odd. It was simply being aware of human nature.

Today it is considered preferable to demand that we "Believe Women" after any accusation of sexual assault instead of counseling common sense precautions that would help girls and young women avoid these situations in the first place. Even if you for some reason believe her story, it remains an irrefutable fact that if Christine Ford had not gone to a house with a bunch of boys that she didn't know when there were no parents around and underage kids were drinking, then none of these alleged events would have happened. "Well girls should be able to go wherever they want without fear of consequences!". That sounds lovely but in real life we all know better. Go walk around an inner city this weekend wearing a white hood and see what happens. Sure you should be able to do so without fear of consequences but in the real world that isn't what would happen. Heck, wearing a MAGA hat or an American flag t-shirt can get you assaulted in a lot of zip codes in this country and that is First Amendment protected political speech. You are free to do whatever you want but you are not free of the consequences of your actions.

As for me, I believe in facts and evidence. I believe in due process and presumption of innocence and just because this isn't a court of law doesn't mean basic principles like that no longer apply. The reason we have things like due process, evidence and witness based trials and presumption of innocence in courts of law is not because they are some esoteric legal constructs but because they are foundational to a functioning society. I believe women when their accusations are credible, defined as being provable. In the case of Ms. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh, I believe him as of now because her accusations are not credible as she lacks any sort of evidence or proof.

I don't believe women just because they are women, or men because they are men. I don't automatically believe accusations of sexual assault just because other people have been actual victims of sexual assault. I believe in facts and evidence. We live in dangerous times when saying that is controversial.

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