Matters of sexual abuse should never be relegated to a partisan squabble. The most important consideration for any fair minded person who hears claims of sexual abuse should be the veracity of the claims made. In a highly politicized environment, where partisanship seems to be the main criterion that people use in determining where they stand on these delicate issues, it is important to carefully navigate the waters and come to a well thought out conclusion. The decision to support a candidate should never simply be about the party.
There should be no room for sexual harassment in any party and sexual abuse is a crime that should always be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law whenever possible. It does not matter who the perpetrator of these offenses may be. There must be a zero tolerance policy for this type of behavior, and though all acts of sexual impropriety are not created equally, there must be consequences for them all.
In the midst of all of this there must be special consideration for the normal sexual dynamics that take place between men and women. In this context, it is sometimes possible to misread the signals that are sent out by the opposite sex, and when this happens; special consideration should be given to the manner in which one responds to these misread signals. Every attempt to win over someone sexually is not necessarily sexual harassment even if the attempt is rejected. One should keep that in mind even If one holds to the value that sex is an act that is to be shared between a man and woman in the sanctity of marriage, because that is not the prevailing view of our society at large. These are some of the delicate issues that will have to be worked out as society continues to confront these difficult issues. Despite that caveat, it is necessary to stress once again that sexual misconduct should always be taken seriously, and the women who bring these complaints should be given the respect that is given to people who have been the victims of sexual crimes. They deserve to be treated with dignity.
Contrary to popular the popular notion though, women do not have the right to be believed. Once again, to be clear; their allegations should be taken seriously, and every attempt should be made to determine the truth. This is where due process comes in, however; there are times when people do not have time to let the procedure of due process play out, as in the case of Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore. Voters need to make a quick decision, and leading up to that decision; it is hardly likely that due process would determine who is telling the truth, so voters have to look at all of the circumstances in the case and form a dispassionate opinion based on nothing else, but the credibility of the accusations. Obviously for family and friends of those involved, they are likely to believe the person close to them, but for everyone else, pure and simple; it is a judgement call.
Voters should try putting the shoe on the other foot and ask themselves one question. If this were a Democrat, or no one knew the political affiliation of Roy Moore, and these exact charges were brought against him, how would the people hearing these accusations respond to them? Absent any clear evidence, and given the limited time before the election, who is more credible, the accuser or the accused?
If Mr. Moore is guilty of the act that he is accused of committing, he does not deserve to sit in the United States Senate, especially if his actions were a pattern of behavior over an extended period of time as some allege. The truth however is that no one knows for sure, and the only thing to go on is the believability of the parties involved. An accusation in itself, and the notion that all women have the right to be believed is not enough. People believed the woman in the Duke Lacrosse players’ case, people believed “mattress girl” in the University of Virginia case. Brian Banks, a young man black man with a promising future ahead of him with a pending scholarship, and prospects to play in the NFL spent five years in prison based on the word of a young woman who said he raped her. He had to register as a sex offender until he got his accuser to recant here story. People believed Lena Dunham until Random house had to remove the account of the alleged rape from her book, and they agreed to pay the legal fees of the man she accused of raping her. And let us not forget the case that shot the “Reverend” Al Sharpton to National prominence, destroying the lives of several innocent men in the process, the infamous Tawana Brawley case. Let us also not forget the many black men who were falsely thrown into jails all across the South during the Jim Crow era, based on nothing but the word of white women who said they were raped by these men.
Obviously these examples do not represent what happens in every case, but they happen enough to be significant, so when it is simply word against word and nothing more, everyone has to use extreme caution in coming to a conclusion. Women deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. They must know that if they have been violated that they will get the care and access to the justice system that they need and deserve, but they do not have a right to be believed.