Can we believe women and have due process at the same time?

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If I’m hearing a lot of the chatter about Brett Kavanaugh correctly, there seems to be two beliefs co-existing out in the wild:

* Kavanaugh deserves due process.

* “Believing women” denies him that due process.

I’m here to tell you differently. Somewhat differently, at least.

I agree that Kavanaugh deserves a fair process of some sort. Accusations of wrongdoing are not, at the end of the day, evidence. Kavanaugh and his accusers both deserve a process that seeks the truth and weighs it as best humanly possible.* I’m not sure that’s what is happening right now.

* “Best” may not be all that great in this circumstance, but that’s no reason not to try.

That said, “due process” is not a magic fairness potion. Tom Robinson in “To Kill a Mockingbird” got due process — would anybody argue he got justice? Due process takes place in a human context, and the truth of the matter is that we humans still struggle to take accusations of sex assault seriously, or with due concern for the victims. (The stories are legion. If you don’t have a personal story about this, you probably know a woman who does.) Oftentimes , due process can reflect that.

Maybe there’s a tension between “believing women” and giving the accused due process. I’m not convinced that we’ve actually believed women enough for it to be much of a problem. Wherever the right balance is, we’re not there yet.


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