The Impossible Obligations of Sexual Harassment Allegations – Part 2

I won’t rehash everything I said in Part 1, except to say that if you haven’t read it, you’ll be missing all the context of my remarks here. The upshot is that we simply don’t have the option of “just believe the women,” since that would incentivize dirty politics, false accusations, and outright blackmail.

We also don’t have the option of assuming that the accused is innocent, barring irrefutable proof of guilt (such as a picture of Al Franken). In response to this conundrum, nearly all media elites seem to have settled on “Just believe the women, unless there is an immediate, obvious reason not to believe them.” Even worse, media elites have now commenced demanding that everyone else do as they have done. “Are you going to call those women liars?”

Well no. We aren’t, and we shouldn’t. But at the same time, we absolutely can’t expect the factory employee in Alabama to spend hours researching possible flaws in the accusers’ stories. We’re rapidly approaching an environment where every person in America is somehow expected to have a firm position on the guilt or innocence of alleged crimes that happened 40 years ago, and for which there exists no independent evidence (the one piece of independent evidence has been discredited).

This is insanity. In no other part of American life are individual citizens expected to make private determinations about a suspect’s guilt or innocence. Those who demand that all of Roy Moore’s supporters abandon him immediately? They’re going to have a rude awakening when their favorite politician is accused.

So if we can’t just believe the women, and we also can’t just assume the accused is innocent, what can we do?

It’s time for a new democratic norm in America: if a politician is accused, the election should become about which party the voters would like to be represented by. If the accusation is levied during the primaries, a congressional investigation should be launched immediately, and conducted only by members of the accused’s party. If the members of the accused’s party determine him to be guilty, then the voters can simply choose another candidate in the same party. If the accusation happens after the primary, voters can still vote for him, with the party promising to expel him from whatever position he was just elected to. If the accused is innocent, then he can take his seat as normal.

I’m stunned that this isn’t already happening. While I recognize that cowardice is easier and less politically fraught, this is really getting out of hand. My Facebook feed largely consists of people who think Moore is guilty saying that his supporters don’t even care about pedophilia, while Moore’s supporters are saying that his opponents don’t even care about due process, innocent until proven guilty, or the ninth commandment. I even saw one post calling for church discipline against anyone who is “spreading gossip” and “bearing false witness” against Moore.

This cannot continue. As I discussed in Part 1, many of these situations don’t lend themselves to obvious conclusions. There needs to be a discovery process, and everyone involved in these situations needs to be put under oath. If they won’t go under oath, we assume they’re lying. This would allow information like Beverly Nelson’s alteration of the yearbook to become public knowledge right away, and we would likely learn much more about the strength of each accuser’s story.

So what’s the solution to Roy Moore? The United States Senate should finally do their jobs, and announce a full investigation into Roy Moore’s case. Everyone in Alabama should vote for the party they want to be represented by, and if Republican Senators conclude that Moore is guilty, he can be expelled from the Senate and replaced. If he’s innocent, then Republicans don’t feel cheated out of an election they deserved to win, and if he’s guilty, then his political career is over. I am aware that the Senate has yet to make such an announcement, which is why both Republican and Democrat voters should be demanding one.

We’re never going to find a way to make everyone happy when there are allegations of sexual assault, but we can find a way to create a process that everyone can trust.

Or we could all individually litigate every single accusation. I’m sure that will end well.

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