Sunday, September 30, 2018

Ford v. Kavanaugh and the Question of Belief

From the beginning of Ford v. Kavanaugh I have argued that what is in question is “belief.” We will grant that Ford believes what she is saying. We can even grant that Kavanaugh believes what he is saying.

In the American system of justice, belief does not suffice. Being convinced does not suffice. Memory deceives us. Thus, we do not, as mentioned by Niall Ferguson, impose summary justice, and render judgment based solely on the accuser’s word. We afford the accused the due process of law and presume him innocent until proven guilty.

As you know, today’s Democrats have recently decided that their cause is so just and the stakes so high that they have no use for the rule of law and due process. They have declared that Brett Kavanaugh is not entitled to it… because Christine Blasey Ford believes that he assaulted her 36 years ago.

Yesterday, Bret Stephens made the case against basing decisions on belief. He argues that beliefs can lead nations and communities to destroy themselves. As mentioned on this blog, questioning beliefs leads to inquisitions and witch hunts. And they can never be decided.

After all, how do you know what anyone really believes. And, even if an individual believes something very strongly, that does not make it an objective fact. One might also add that transgender identity is, at root, nothing more than a belief. As long as there is no objective biological marker to confirm it, it is a belief, nothing more or less. As for biological markers, I consider chromosomal structure real. A human being is either XX or XY chromosomes. It determines gender, objectively.

Stephens explains that he, like many others, found both witnesses believable.

Sometimes, they [countries] destroy themselves over the things they don’t see, not the things they do. Chief among those unseen things is belief.

Do you believe Blasey? I watched her — vulnerable, obliging, guileless (precisely the opposite of what her skeptics suspected) — and found her wholly believable. If she’s lying, she will face social and professional ruin. Do you believe Kavanaugh? I watched him — meticulous, wounded, furious (wouldn’t you be, too, if you were innocent of such an accusation?) — and found him wholly believable. If he’s lying, he will face ruin as well.

Once you accept that allegations are, for having been alleged, necessarily truthful, you are headed down a dark road. You have opened the door, Stephens explains, to anyone who wants to invent any allegation, regardless of plausibility or factual basis. Witness the absurd allegations offered by Lisa Swetnick:

But that’s not likely to happen. And if suspicion based on allegation — even or especially “believable” allegations — becomes a sufficient basis for disqualification, it will create overpowering political incentives to discover, produce or manufacture allegations in the hopes that something sticks. Americans have a longstanding credulity problem — 9/11 trutherism; Obama birtherism; J.F.K. assassination theories; the “deep state” — so the ground is already fertile.

We should beware of what will grow in the Senate once this seed is sown. We should beware of what will happen in the country as cultural norms shift toward reflexively believing the accuser.

Stephens suggest that the Senate should not vote down Kavanaugh on the basis of unsubstantiated allegations. To do otherwise would set an awful precedent:

The enduring challenge of liberal societies is to react to such challenges, not overreact. The guardrails against overreaction are based in the presumption of innocence and the legal, institutional and personal norms that bolster that presumption. To deny Kavanaugh’s confirmation based on Blasey’s allegation alone — never mind those of Deborah Ramirez or Julie Swetnick — is to remove one of the guardrails for all future nominees of whatever party.

Those who express their full throated outrage at male behavior, who are more than willing to attack and destroy any man accused of any misdeed, should prepare themselves for blowback. In the blowback, women will assuredly be hurt.

Stephens believes that when it’s just a matter of belief, it descends into a power struggle. Then, the issue is not truth or belief but raw strength:

When politics becomes solely a matter of “I believe” versus “I believe,” it descends into a raw contest for power. Historically, it’s been fascists, not liberals, who tend to win such contests.

He concludes by mentioning that Democrats, in particular, have been willing to suspend all doubts and to gum up the process in order to get their way. Thus, he places blame where it rightly should be placed.

But if Kavanaugh ends up winning confirmation, it will have much to do with the perception that Democrats never intended a fair process to begin with, toward either the nominee or his accuser; that they treated allegation as fact; and that they raised their sense of belief above normal standards of fair play. This may be the hill they want to die on. The rest of America should be careful not to follow.


Anonymous said...

Don't tell a person with Klinefelter Syndrome that there is only XX & XY.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Does Klinefelter syndrome make he a she??

Dr. Irredeemable Dreg said...

Nit (~00.15% live births), picked.

Ares Olympus said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Dr. Irredeemable Dreg said...

From attempted rape to college partying.

"Show me the man and I'll find you the crime."
=== L. Beria (Chief, NKVD)

You'd have made a great Lubyanka lackey, Ares. Perfect mindset.

Ares Olympus said...

Dr ID, as they say the crime is the coverup. Life is tough when you were too wasted remember the truth, even if you wanted to tell it. But never fear, there seem to be people who are willing to talk and the FBI is asking! The Choirboy defense only works if you have the GOP votes ready to ignore all evidence.

Anonymous said...

Dr Irredeemable......,

When one has TDS then it becomes easier to think evil of others without any proof. One only hopes that what goes around comes around to those who wish to destroy others.
I studied war because I was always interested in how good people can bring themselves to support a Hitler, Stalin. Khmer Rough, Mao, et al and ignore all that comes with that support. I believe we are seeing how that can work in today's current environment. The rush to judgment, the willingness to believe unsupported allegation, the willingness to #KILLKavanaugh, et al. AO would make a perfect shill because he wants to believe and nothing will deter his desire to destroy those who disagree with him.
We have become so comfortable with freedom that we did not earn that we disrespect all the tenets and people that made that freedom possible. Centuries of jurisprudence becomes meaningless. We will reap the whirlwind that democracy run amok will leave to destroy us. What I fear most is that we are slowly working our way to a civil war because we no longer have the ability to debate ideas or enjoy the company of those we disagree.


Ares Olympus said...

dtrumpet, who do I want to destroy? Certainly there's motivated reasoning on both sides.

Even your hero Trump said "I thought her testimony was very compelling and she looks like a very fine woman to me. A very fine woman" before dismissing everything she said as perhaps a case of mistaken identity?

I don't know if Kavanaugh deserves to be a Supreme Court Justice, but I do know he's made a bad bet, that he could bluster his way through on a partisan majority without caring what's true or how his words are intended to obscure his real history to his invented one. So the character witnesses are now coming forward to test his self-image, possibly through their own motivated reasoning, but as well from people who don't like obvious dishonesty.

Anonymous said...

Ares Olympus is all about facts.

Anonymous said...

"I don't know if Kavanaugh deserves to be a Supreme Court Justice."


Sam L. said...

Ares, we know the Democrats are not choirboys, though they do have their songs memorized.