Standards of evidence are flexible things, as Clarence Thomas knows. Who should be believed in situations in which there is little or no physical evidence, the events are long in the past, and memory may have faded or been distorted? Do we reflexively believe the accuser, or do we extend the benefit of the doubt to the accused? We have three choices, as outlined in the title of Patricia Sharpe and Frances E. Mascia-Lees’s 1993 paper on harassment in the academic environment: “always believe the victim,” “innocent until proven guilty,” and “there is no truth,” those positions belonging respectively to feminism, humanism, and postmodernism. When Justice Thomas was accused of harassment, his critics insisted that the first of those should be our guiding principle.
But now he is the accuser. Which maxim will prevail?