I felt compelled to write a response to Chronicle Digital Managing Editor Lucas Gelfond and Chronicle Editor-in-Chief Sophie Haber’s article regarding their opinions about the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. I write this article in good faith hoping it will engender productive discourse on campus and help remedy the ever-present lack of conservative voices in the Chronicle – not as an attempt to stir up controversy.
The left’s willingness to believe Christine Ford’s unsubstantiated and uncorroborated allegations demonstrates a dangerous weaponization of identity politics aided and abetted by the #MeToo movement. Those who disagree with the confirmation of Kavanaugh for reasons other than those motivated by political differences are choosing to evaluate the credibility of allegations concerning sexual misconduct perpetrated by Kavanaugh not by evidence or fact but instead based on the gender of the accuser. The incredibly asinine but prominent “believe women” hashtag represents this phenomenon. It advocates for willful disregard of evidence, truth and corroboration, all supplanted by placing sole import on the fact that Kavanaugh’s accusers are women. Those who counter this argument by contending that Ford’s conviction and compelling composure while being questioned was sufficient to prove Kavanaugh’s guilt are severely mistaken. Just because someone is a woman does not mean that their words have more legitimacy than those of a man. Just because someone appears convincing and honest while testifying, as Ford did, does not mean they are telling the truth. We should not want to live in a justice system where there are only two components for making an allegation an indictment: the mere act of alleging an incident and appearing persuasive while testifying. This stands in stark contrast with the foundation of the American justice system, premised upon equality before the law and the use of competing evidence and testimony to determine the truth.
Many claim that ignoring the allegations of sexual assault levied against Kavanaugh is an inherent part of the misogynistic society we live in, where men’s careers, due to male privilege, are protected at the expense of women. This misconstrues the primary reason as to why people, including myself, were furious with the treatment of Kavanaugh throughout his confirmation process. It is not that I believe Kavanaugh was telling the absolute truth or that I do not believe any of Ford’s allegations. It is much more complex than that; anyone who strongly articulates belief for either of them is misguided. While I am cognizant that the Kavanaugh hearings were not a legal trial, my continued support for Kavanaugh stems from the fact that in America when accusations against someone have not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt, they remain innocent. Thus, an innocent man or woman should not have their career, family, or life ruined. Many feminists want instances involving sexual harassment allegations to be treated with special procedure, including abandoning the necessity of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt (as Gelfond advocates for in his article), as they see sexual harassment as a prevalent issue in society which often goes unreported. This cultural problem is not remedied by blindly believing all women or a complete overhaul of the American justice system; legitimizing ridiculous accusations, such as Michael Avenatti’s claim that Kavanaugh, who managed to interact appropriately with professional women for over three decades after the alleged incident with Ford, was a gang rapist, undermines public faith in the reliability of accusations and allows claims of sexual abuse to be easily misconstrued as political ploys or character assassinations.
While we ought to treat all sexual assault allegations with respect, the accuser is not exempt from being questioned about their credibility. All the people that Ford described as witnesses to the alleged assault denied that the incident occurred under threat of perjury, including her best friend, Leland Keyser. F furthermore, the fact that the alleged assault took place in high school begs another important question: should mistakes made in high school still hold relevance after nearly forty years? Due to the absence of any real evidence, Ford’s allegations fell flat. For those interested in reading a clinical refutation of Ford’s allegations, I highly recommend reading this article; yes, I know it’s Breitbart, but for a school that prides itself on diversity, diversity of thought and opinion ought to be celebrated as well.
While I believe that discourse concerning clear immoral issues such as sexual assault and rape should never devolve to partisan debate, the points of contention concerning the Kavanaugh hearings are less about normalizing sexual assault and more about dealing with varying beliefs on the standards for credibility and the permeation of gender-based identity politics and the #metoo movement all the way to the Supreme Court. I am glad that Kavanaugh was confirmed because it proved the resilience of the American political system even in the face of repressive cultural movements disguised as feminism. After Senator Susan Collins announced she planned to vote to confirm Kavanaugh, she was met with countless rape and death threats. The opposition to Kavanaugh has morphed into a violent mob that lacks any real principles; if they were true feminists they would not believe that Senator Collins ought to vote against Kavanaugh simply because she is a woman.
I thank Gelfond and Haber for starting a civil debate on this complex issue, which affects us not only as individuals in the Harvard-Westlake community but in the country as a whole.