Tread Carefully

One of the problems of not being taught how to properly communicate with each other as children about controversial issues is that eventually those children grow to be adults. We’ve been able to witness this firsthand over the last 6 -10 years by following virtually any controversial news story. People are so eager to get their point across that it goes from speaking, to shouting, to insulting, to absolutely nothing getting accomplished.

Our latest example of things being communicated entirely out of context are the Kavanaugh hearings. It’s turned in to clear sides. You’re either with Blasey-Ford or you’re against her. You’re either with Kavanaugh or you’re against him. In all actuality, if justice is what you seek, then you shouldn’t be with or against either of them. The new hashtag that states, “I believe Christine Blasey Ford” has taken off just as well as the “I stand with Kavanaugh” hashtag has.

Let me be clear. You can stand with Kavanaugh, and you can believe Christine, and both sides can be right, for now. What should be agreed on is an investigation. If these terrible things happened to Ms. Ford then she deserves justice. If it was Mr. Kavanaugh then he deserves to be punished. The problem, as usual, is coming down to party line voting rather than people actually looking for justice as identified by our current justice system. You can’t just be accused and then found guilty based off the popular vote.

A person is presumed innocent until they’re actually proven guilty by a court of law. That’s how our justice system works. If there is too little evidence to bring a case to the court then it’s set aside. There aren’t supposed to be convictions on circumstantial evidence or hearsay. That type of “justice” went out the door with the Salem Witch Trials. However, if you would like to see it in action in the late 1800s and early 1900s just look to the hate crimes committed because someone had dark colored skin or supported those with dark colored skin. Rather than a race war, we’re going to have a sex war instead. If a man does something a girl doesn’t like all she has to do is make an accusation and that will ruin a good portion of his life while he tries to prove his innocence. This could include breaking up with her, or dating her friend, or not taking her to her favorite restaurant. Then she turns around and says, “He raped me.” At that point life is over for that man.

That’s not the America we want. Trust me, it doesn’t work out in anyone’s favor if an accusation is all it takes to take somebody down. I would hope that everyone, no matter which political party you favor, could agree on this. This is what the Kavanaugh supporters are really trying to say. They want him presumed innocent until he is found guilty. As I look at it from an unbiased view, he’s not getting that treatment. He’s very much being presumed guilty. It’s just the same that Ms. Ford is being presumed a liar. All this depends on what side of the aisle you sit on, of course. Neither should be happening. Ms. Ford should have her allegations investigated and Mr. Kavanaugh deserves to be free from heinous attacks until the allegations are proven.

I’ll give you one of the most terrifying examples I’ve ever witnessed of what can be said that holds absolutely no bearing. Luckily this was an innocent case of storytelling rather than something far more serious. My wife and I had gone to a 4th of July party. The people having the party are neighbors to my mother in law. The neighbors have a little girl who was probably all of 5 years old at the time of this particular party. This little girl was doing cheer routines and talking about being a cheerleader. Unprompted, she tells this elaborate story of how my wife taught her everything she knows about cheerleading and how they would get together and go through routines. This was completely made up. This never happened. My wife never interacted with this girl until that very day and cheerleading was never taught or discussed. After clarifying that this story was untrue and this never happened everyone at the party just laughed and talked about the little girl’s imagination and how great it was.

Glad that story ended well, but what if it were a different story? I’m an almost 6 foot tall, 285 lb, broad shouldered, bearded man. What if her story was that I did something to her in the back yard? What if she made up some story about me teaching her how to kiss or something like that? Would it be a cute reaction about how imaginative she is? Or would I be angrily confronted and have the police questioning me within 10 minutes? What if there was a time when I was in the bathroom, or helping bring some items over from my mother in law’s house to the party, or just any point where someone doesn’t know where I was and they can’t remember if they saw the little girl at the same time? Then it becomes a he said/she said. And since it’s a little girl that has no reason to make something like this up versus a large guy “that looks guilty” based solely on how I look as a person, there’s a good chance that I’m going to be arrested based off of a baseless accusation from a made up story. At that point my reputation would be absolutely ruined. It wouldn’t even matter if the truth finally came out. I would be done. People already would have had their mind made up.

I hope that every high school is taking some time to show both sides of what is happening in this case to their students right now. This is something that happened in high school before social media. In today’s high school life there’s virtually a record of everything you do. Any terrible thing you say, do, or record and put online is out there forever. Imagine what you were like in high school compared to now. I would hope that people would change from who they were in high school to whomever they are now as adults. I made some terrible decisions in high school. I thought and said some horrible things because I wasn’t as exposed to all different ways of life like I am now. To give it some context I’m 39 years old. My graduating class had 98 people in it and we lived in a town of just over 1200 people at the time. There wasn’t a whole lot of diversity to say the least. I’m thankful every day there was no social media back then. I’m sure my strong opinions of what was wrong with the world were about as valid as a 6 year old trying to explain Nuclear Physics.

The point is that young people need to understand that the things they do today can haunt them for the rest of their lives. It’s probably not fair. It’s probably impossible to cover up and forget about the mistakes from your past. But that is the reality of the world we live in. Thirty-six years ago a man may or may not have done something and it’s coming to haunt him at the biggest moment of his life. Even if he is 100% innocent and this assault never took place his reputation will still be tarnished in the eyes of many people for the rest of his life.

No woman, or man, deserves to be assaulted whether it be sexually, verbally, or physically. In kind, no man or woman deserves to be falsely accused of something they didn’t do. Every time an allegation is made it does need to be investigated. That’s what everyone should be looking at before judgment is passed. Let the professionals investigate the allegations and then take the necessary steps from there.

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