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Smollett Shows Why Accusers Cannot Simply Be Believed

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Smollett Shows Why Accusers Cannot Simply Be Believed

Smollett Shows Why Accusers Cannot Simply Be Believed
February 25
22:29 2019

The notion that an accuser should be believed took hold with the #MeToo movement that popped up in conjunction with the Judge Kavanaugh hearings.  Not only did the concept of believing a woman at face value become the cause célèbre of the day, but it provoked a number of accusers to come out of the woodwork targeting very prominent and powerful men.

While in most cases, it was delayed justice, the movement also fostered several dubious accusations – most notably by Julie Swetnick.  She was the woman who sleazebag attorney Michael Avenatti coached into false testimony.  Although there were threats of legal action against them, none has been seen so far.

While much of the false accusation is intended to harm only a specific person, the Kavanaugh case harmed the #MeToo Movement.  The idea that a woman should be believed based solely on her claim is a very dangerous notion in a society where we at least somewhat value a rule-of-law and the concept of innocent until proven guilty.

Proffering that argument is to endorse the Salem witch hunts and the Inquisition of the Middle Ages – and innumerable examples found in authoritarian and despotic regimes.  It has destroyed or taken the lives of untold numbers of people in every era.

That issue came to light again in the case of Jussie Smollett, who claimed to have been beaten by a couple of white supremacy, homophobic Trump supporters.  He WAS believed at first, with sympathy and support coming mostly from Democrats and their friends in the press – despite the fact that there were red flags all over the initial story.

As the accusations unraveled, the same Democrats and news personalities began to backtrack and babble – trying to absorb Smollett’s lies while maintaining an allegiance to the left-wing concept that any protected class has to be … protected.

Despite the seemingly overwhelming evidence against Smollett, the left initially responded with a mantra of “innocent until proven guilty” —  unaware or unconcerned that they were indirectly and hypocritically condemning their two-year rush-to-judgment against President Trump.  But that is another story.

One of the outgrowths of both the Kavanaugh hearings and the Smollett case has been several politicians and commentators who discount these examples and say that they do not prove that sexual assault and homophobic attacks do not happen.  Of course, that is making a case for the obvious.  I would readily admit to my belief that the vast majority of accusations are true.

Too many of those selfsame politicians and commentators go one step too far.  They complain that accusers – especially women and gays, by their own statements – are NOT believed – meaning that they should be.  That is a bridge too far.

They complain that law enforcement – from police to the courts – does not believe women and gays.  It is a belief that may be based on a bit of paranoia and inbred social bias.  They need to know that justice in America does not –and should not– take ANYONE at their word, not even me.  Our entire judicial process is founded on evidence and corroboration.  Perhaps an individual cop or prosecutor may believe an accuser’s story, but the greater judicial system does not.  The final determination is in the court where the rule-of-law applies and any accuser – and wronged person – must prove their case.  Whether in a criminal or a civil case, the prosecutor – the plaintiff – bears the burden of proof.

Unfortunately, many cases of abuse or assault are not provable.  That is unfortunate, but we cannot lower the standard of justice.  If we did, we would only encourage an outbreak of false reports.

The accusation against Kavanaugh and the false claims by Smollett are sensational but only the tip of the iceberg.  False claims – especially of sexual or spousal abuse – are far to frequent to make accusation alone the legal standard.  Divorce hearings and terminated romances are plagued with false accusations.

The left is upset with Smollett because he establishes the existence of false claims – just as did Avenatti’s client.  But it would be wrong to conclude that these are unprecedented exceptions.

As a just people, we should be able to agree that most accusations are legitimate – but very hard to prove in many cases – and that we must adhere to the rule-of-law and the requirement of proof as a minimal standard.  That will not bring justice to every victim of an attack – nor will it bring justice to those who are convicted falsely – but it’s the only way a just society can deal with these matters.  The current system is not perfect, but pretty damn good.

So, there ‘tis.

About Author

Larry Horist

Larry Horist

Larry Horist is a conservative activist with an extensive background in economics, public policy and politics. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman, as well as the White House. He has testified as an expert witness before legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress, and lectured at major colleges and universities. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He can be reached at lph@thomasandjoyce.com.

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