The recent anonymous accusation against Judge Kavanaugh raises the troubling specter of the Salem Witch Trials. Innocent individuals, accused in a frenzy of ignorance and superstition, were tried, convicted, and put to death by a system willing to accept unreliable and difficult to refute charges.
The same holds true for the anonymous and ancient accusations of sexual misconduct against Judge Kavanaugh.
Now I would be the last person to defend such behavior. The long troubling history of sexual abuse gives one a powerful reason to find and punish such criminality. But we cannot do that at the cost of sacrificing our long-standing well-established principle of the presumption of innocence.
In cases such as this, the passage of time degrades our ability to investigate, substantiate, or disprove such allegations. Under our system, the presumption of innocence prevails. No matter how horrendous the situation, to do otherwise would eliminate any defense against such allegations.
If we will evaluate the fitness of an individual with a long public career for any position by considering anonymous allegations of conduct from high school no one would pass muster.
No matter your position on the Judge’s qualifications to sit on the bench, hysterically embracing what amounts to be charges of witchcraft and consorting with the devil is setting a dangerous precedent.
Where does one draw the line?
Such behavior, if it happened, rarely ends with high school. That’s where it starts. But absent similar behavior as an adult, it is not something we should consider. This is nothing but character assassination.
It is troubling that the letter was held onto for several months before releasing it to the FBI. If such things are critical, why not bring it to the FBI long before the hearing begins? It sounds more like strategy than the pursuit of the truth.
The problem in this country is the widening chasm between left and right. The phenomenon is compounded by the data-driven marketing wizardry of social media. If one reads a left-leaning article, one is presented with five more. If one searches for a conservative concept, five more suggestions are offered.
The search for ideas that one agrees with becomes not just a source of information but a source of reinforcement and validation. The tragic demonization of the print media, a once invaluable source of balanced reporting, coupled with the rise of social media without any cross-checking of truth, compounds the problem.
The instantaneous nature of social media without filters and the unwillingness of many to take the time to read anything beyond a Tweet or Facebook post forces the once fact-driven print media to report “news” derived from social media.
It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy of half-truths gaining widespread acceptance. And the algorithms feed you what you want to see, not what you must see.
The polarization of this country, more so than any sitting President, Congress, or Supreme Court Justice, will be our demise.
Left wing and right wing won’t matter if it’s not connected to the body in the middle. If we do not work together to fly we flop uselessly on the ground, unable to soar as America once did.