I have a message for virtue-signaling men who’ve rushed to embrace Me Too operatives hurling uncorroborated sexual-assault allegations into the chaotic court of public opinion.
Your blanket “Believe Women” bloviations are moral and intellectual abominations that insult every human being of sound mind and soul.
A certain class of Never Trump harrumphers are leading the charge on behalf of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s memory-addled partisan accuser Christine Blasey Ford — who cannot recall the year she was allegedly traumatized, where it happened, who threw the party that paralyzed her for nearly four decades, how many were in attendance during her claimed assault, how she got there, or how she left.
No matter! Bush campaign hack–turned–ABC News analyst Matthew Dowd doesn’t need any data to analyze. “Enough with the ‘he said, she said’ storyline,” he declared this week. “If this is he said, she said, then let’s believe the she in these scenarios. She has nothing to gain, and everything to lose. For 250 years we have believed the he in these scenarios. Enough is enough.”
Clinton/Kerry flack Peter Daou echoed the unthinking sentiment: “To everyone on the right who says I’m being selective, I BELIEVE WOMEN whether the accused is a Republican or Democrat. And yes, that includes all the names you’re throwing at me. My default in these situations is to BELIEVE WOMEN.”
Ivy League poobah Simon Hedlin asserted: “Accusers go public not because of any supposed benefits but despite the immense costs.” He argued: “When somebody is credibly accused of sexual misconduct, the default should be to believe the accuser.”
That is a dumb and dangerous default. The costly toll of “believing women,” instead of believing evidence, can be seen in the hundreds and hundreds of cases recorded by the University of Michigan Law School’s National Registry of Exonerations involving innocent men falsely accused of rape and rape/murders.
One of those men whose plight I’ve reported on for CRTV and my syndicated column, former Fort Worth police officer Brian Franklin, spent 21 years of a life sentence in prison after he was convicted in 1995 of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl who had committed perjury on the stand. Franklin vigilantly maintained his innocence, studied law in the prison library, and won a reversal of his conviction in 2016. The jury took less than two hours to acquit him. But his name is still not clear. He recently submitted a 200-page application for a pardon for innocence and cannot do what he wants to do — return to law enforcement — unless the members of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles (along with Texas constitutional conservatives who pay lip service to truth, justice, and due process) do the right thing.
In Philadelphia, Anthony Wright also served more than two decades behind bars, like Franklin. He was convicted in 1993 for a brutal rape and murder of an elderly woman. It was a female prosecutor, Bridget Kirn, who “failed to alert the Court or the jury to what she personally knew was the falsity of [police detectives’] testimony, or otherwise honor her ethical duty to correct it,” according to Wright’s lawyers with the Innocence Project. They have filed a lawsuit directly aimed at the prosecutor this week to hold her accountable for her criminal falsehoods.
And just this week, Oregonian Joshua Horner, serving a 50-year sentence for sexual abuse of a young girl, was exonerated after a dog that the accuser had claimed he shot dead was found alive. There had been no DNA, no corroborating witnesses, and no other forensic evidence — just the word of a girl whose contradictions and memory problems were explained away as “post-traumatic stress” while an innocent man nearly drowned.
The idea that all women and girls must be telling the truth at all times about sexual-assault allegations because they “have nothing to gain” is perilously detached from reality. Retired NYPD special-victims-squad detective John Savino, forensic scientist and criminal profiler of the Forensic Criminology Institute Brent Turvey, and forensic psychologist Aurelio Coronado Mares detail the myriad “prosocial” and “antisocial” lies people tell in their textbook False Allegations: Investigative and Forensic Issues in Fraudulent Reports of Crime.
“Prosocial deceptions” involve specific motives beneficial to both the deceiver and the deceived, including the incentives to “preserve the dignity of others”; to gain “financial benefit” for another; to protect a relationship; for “ego-boosting or image protection (of others)”; and for “protecting others from harm or consequence.”
“Antisocial” lies involve selfish motives to “further a personal agenda at some cost to others,” including “self-deception and rationalization to protect or boost self-esteem”; “enhance status or perception in the eyes of others”; “garner sympathy”; “avoid social stigma”; “conceal inadequacy, error, and culpability”; “avoid consequence”; and for “personal and/or material gain.”
Let me repeat the themes of my work in this area for the past two years to counter the “Believe Women” baloney:
The role of the press should be verification, not validation.
Rape is a devastating crime. So is lying about it.
It’s not victim-blaming to get to the bottom of the truth. It’s liar-shaming.
Don’t believe a gender. Believe evidence.
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