I took a YouGov survey this morning. The first several questions dealt with sexual harassment in general. The next few dealt with the specific allegations made against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
One question asked whether or not he did what he was accused of doing.
I immediately ruled out the choices at both ends of the spectrum – “He definitely did it” and “He definitely did not do it.”
I wasn’t actually there so there is no way I could be definite one way or the other.
There’s no way anyone could.
I might not even be able to be definite if I were there, given that alcohol was involved and memories – especially old memories – are unreliable. Just ask any group of adult siblings how things went down in their family when they were growing up.
So, just as I always toss out options that include the words “always” and “never” when taking a test, I tossed out “definitely did” and “definitely did not.”
That left me with “probably did” and “probably did not.”
In considering those choices I had nothing to go on but the testimony I heard, my life experience and my knowledge of human nature.
Regular people, I discovered young, aren’t above invoking political slander.
I was at a party in a cool apartment above a hip restaurant across from the campus of the university I was attending when I came face to face with this reality. The party was a gathering of those of us who worked on the campus newspaper.
I was standing near the kitchen when Keith, the host of the party, walked by.
“Here,” he said, handing me his joint, “hold this while I answer the door.”
Before I could respond, the joint was in my hand and someone was snapping a picture of me. I think it was Mark Somebody.
“Now you can never run for anything,” he said.
I looked at him dumfounded. “You know I don’t smoke,” I said.
“It doesn’t matter,” he shrugged.
My fellow SNOOZER (State News-er) was willing to lie about me at some point in my future. A budding journalist was willing to lie and I was aghast.
Any honest person will admit that political slander has happened on both sides, case in point: the swiftboating of John Kerry.
People will lie and exploit the vulnerable to promote a political agenda.
Just ask Sarah Weddington.
“The ends justify the means,” they say.
People lie to make themselves appear more sympathetic.
Just ask Norma McCorvey (when you get to heaven).
God rest her soul.
The Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion was steeped in a lie.
So my life experience tells me that people do lie, even under oath, even when its supremely important.
And the Bible backs up my life experience.
Otherwise there would have been no need for God to make His ninth commandment.
(I’m assuming you know it.)
Judge a tree by its fruit.
That’s what Jesus said.
So I took a minute before choosing my answer to look at Judge Kavanaugh’s fruit.
I considered the testimony of friends and former female clerks in his court, how they said he always acted professionally and treated them with respect.
I thought about his young daughter suggesting to her sister that they “pray for the woman” and I thought about the idiom that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, since we are talking about fruit.
I thought about rookie mistakes, growth, maturity, and redemption.
I dated a boy in high school who broke up with me because I wouldn’t have sex with him. I ran into him at a party several months later. In his drunkenness, he tried hard to take advantage of me.
I know nothing about his life now, but if I learned that for the last 40 years he has been a fine man with fine children and a fine reputation, I would believe it and rejoice that he outgrew his youthful foolishness. I’d chalk his high school behavior up to a rookie mistake – to a young man trying to measure up to society’s definition of being a man just as I chalk my own high school stupidity up to me trying to measure up to society’s definition of what it meant to be a woman.
But I wouldn’t give the same benefit of the doubt to the 30-year-old high school teacher who molested me.
Unless he gave one heck of a God-glorifying testimony.
And had one heck of a bushel of good fruit.
So, did Justice Kavanaugh do the things he was alleged to have done?
I checked the box for “Probably not.”
But after listening to the heartwarming speech President Trump made just before Justice Kavanaugh was publicly sworn in – the speech in which he said to Justice Kavanaugh something along the lines of, “Under a historic amount of scrutiny, you were found innocent.” – I realized that I’m an idiot.
And I wish I could go back and change my answer to “Definitely did not do it.”
Because that’s what the presumption of innocence is all about.
I can presume someone is definitely innocent – even if I wasn’t there – unless and until the evidence proves them guilty.
Thank God for that.
God bless you Justice Kavanaugh.