If you are going to accuse someone of something, you had best be able to back it up. We have an epidemic in our country today of people both in private and in public positions making accusatory statements that can neither be proved nor in many cases even corroborated. Thankfully, most of these accusations come out in the wash as false. Sadly, some do not. Almost as bad as the ones that are falsely accused and then convicted, are the ones who are falsely accused knowingly for the sole purpose of destroying their life or reputation. They survive, but their lives are often damaged for years or decades. There is also the larger case where statements are made to purposefully pit one group of people against another when those statements have little to no basis in reality. In each scenario though, the truly criminal and insidious part is what happens to the accusing party or parties after the statements have been proved false and the dust has settled … nothing.
Three examples recently in the national news stand out: Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation process, the Duke Lacrosse episode (from a decade ago and still causing heartache), and a political commentary heard within the last two weeks on National Public Radio (NPR).
In the case of Judge Kavanaugh, he was accused of sexual misconduct and yet the claims were found to not be confirmable at best, to be blatantly unfounded at worst. In this case, regardless of if you think Dr. Ford was being used or truthful, the evidence does not bear her claims out, at least not against Judge Kavanaugh. There are no corroborating witnesses, there is no physical evidence, and contrary to supporting commentary or evidence, her testimony was found to have multiple holes (such as the reason for placing a second door in her residence, her fear of flying, and her lack of experience with lie detector tests). And yet, what will happen to her? Will she lose her job? Will she face any legal consequences? No, she has not and most likely will not. So we are left with a situation in which one person is able to make seemingly false claims against another with the possibility of destruction of the accused person’s life and career, and no fear of legal consequences for themselves.
In the second case, three of the Duke Lacrosse boys’ team members were accused of gang raping a woman in 2006. Only later did it come to light that the woman had lied, the “facts” had been made up, and the boys falsely accused. Did the boys make a wrong decision by hiring a stripper in the first place; yes, without a doubt. Did they rape the woman; no. And yet, again, what has happened to this woman? Has she been charged with any crime or faced any penalty for lying? Certainly not in a timely manner. Even worse, here again, the accuser was able to make false accusations with the probable outcome of destroying the lives of the accused and having them face jail with little to no possible consequences for lying herself. The young men’s lives and that of their coach and teammates was turned upside down for a lie.
In the last case a late evening interview on NPR showcased the current ability of national figures, or figures with a national platform, to group individuals based upon false accusation instead of actual action. A late evening reporter within the last two weeks interviewed a lady, asking pointed questions to which the interviewee was able to make blanket statements about supporters of a political candidate. The person interviewed commented that not only were certain political figures misogynistic, racist, bigoted, and guilty of other various phobias, but that anyone who voted for that figure and any who even supported the legislation put forward by that figure were one in the same. There was no proof offered. There was no quantitative data put forward. There were not even any quotes by the people who voted for that person to suggest support for any of the positions listed. In fact, evidence submitted in fact supported the opposite. And yet, what will happen to this individual? What will happen to the reporter who agreed and encouraged the statements, despite having a claim of impartiality? Nothing.
We cannot have a country where people are allowed to accuse individuals, and then those individuals are assumed guilty simply because they vote a certain way or look a certain way. If our country is not based upon merit we will soon have no country left. I will leave you with a quote by our second First Lady, Abigail Adams. Hopefully we can find our way back to weighing men and women based upon their character and not their outward appearance or political party.
“Merit, not title, gave a man preeminence in our country … I did not doubt it was a mortifying circumstance to the British nobility to find themselves so often conquered by mechanics and mere husbandmen; but … we esteemed it our glory to draw such characters not only into the field, but into the Senate.” — ABIGAIL ADAMS, letter, Jul. 16, 1784
— JT Cope IV