Christine Blasey Ford disrupted the Senate Judiciary’s hearing on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court of the United States of America. She did so by putting into the hands of the Democrat opposition Party an accusation against Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct. She then delayed the hearing by dragging her feet about testifying, with a multitude of dubious excuses, and eventually did arrive to testify, offering a heart-wrenching account of her victimhood at the hands of the allegedly brutal Kavanaugh.
Her accusation was that over thirty years ago, when she and Kavanaugh were in high school, they attended a drunken party where she found herself in a bedroom and was “groped” by Kavanaugh. Ford could not identify the date or time of the misdeed, but, she alleges, has been traumatized her entire life by this terrifying incident. So, to recap, drunken high school adolescents engaged in sexual fumbling thirty years ago. How exactly is this supposed to be relevant to a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing for the nomination of a Supreme Court justice?
So far we have assumed that Ford’s account is true. But what evidence is there to support that? The people she identified as witnesses denied seeing any such thing. Nor was there any other kind of evidence supporting her accusation. We were told that this was an experience that Ford discussed with her therapist; but it would be fair to ask, given the disrepute into which “recovered memories” have fallen, whether this was a “recovered memory” elicited by the therapist to account for some contemporary neurosis or nervous symptoms. If so, it could be discounted out of hand.
Of course, we have all hear, ad nauseum, the feminist commandment to “believe women.” This requirement to believe women is not only ridiculously partisan, but also obviously foolish. Everybody lies from time to time, if not more frequently. As females are human beings, it follows that they too lie. The many legal cases in which female accusations against males have been proven false, and the penalties imposed on the women who lied, make clear to anyone in touch with reality that we should look on any accusation, by a woman or a man, with skepticism. Accusations should be examined impartially, in a disinterested fashion, and the commandment that we should obey is to “believe evidence.”
There are a number of arguments that feminists make about why we should believe whatever a woman says, and any accusation of sexual misconduct by a woman against a man. One is that the woman has suffered a brutal trauma, and to question her account is the rape her once again. This argument assumes what has not been proven, that what the woman says is true. Second is that a woman who has suffered sexual brutality is humiliated, embarrassed, and ashamed, and therefore would only make an accusation if it were true. Once again, this argument assumes what had not been proven, that what the woman says is true. Third, a woman could have no motive but justice, for what other motive would she have. This argument too has not been proven, and in each case should be investigated.
Let us take up the third argument in the case of Christine Blasey Ford, that she had nothing to gain from coming forward. One thing to keep in mind is that anyone who gains notoriety through playing a role in a national political drama is likely to benefit in various ways, monetary and political. Ford has already gained over a million dollars in crowdfunding. As well, she has been offered lucrative publishing deals. Her political standing has been raised to that of feminist heroine for being an abused female who has stood up to her attacker.
Ford is a professor at Palo Alto University, an institution with female to male ratio of 2 to 1 among both students and faculty, a female President, and a strong feminist and leftist orientation. As one former employee says, enthusiastically, “Compelling institutional philosophy aligned with far-left political leanings.” Ford has become a heroine of the left as a challenger of a conservative Supreme Court nominee that the left desperately wanted to keep off the bench. So she has benefited in feminist and leftist standing and prestige.
But perhaps most important, Ford’s opposed Kavanaugh on feminist and leftist political grounds. One of the central demands of feminism is free abortions on demand, the right to “terminate” inconvenient pregnancies by destroying the fetus. Feminists feared that Kavanaugh would vote against free abortions, and so wanted to stop his confirmation at all costs. Ford came forward to oppose Kavanaugh’s politics. According to the mainstream media, “It is no secret that Blasey is a registered Democrat who has given money to progressive organizations and campaigns.” So was her accusation of minor misconduct thirty years in the past was meant, not so much as a publicizing of a personal “trauma,” but as a major political attack, to cast Kavanaugh’s character as a sex offender, and thus to thwart his confirmation? Does it not appear that Ford’s testimony was an attempt at a political assassination? Ford had a lot to gain from this if she succeeded: a major national political victory. As it is, she has become a feminist icon.
Was Ford’s accusation true? There was no evidence to support it. Did Ford herself believe it? She made a good show of believing it, but that is not the same thing. Perhaps she felt that the political end justified the means of accusation. Ford vilified and traduced Kavanaugh with an unsubstantiated accusation. Should Ford be held to account for that?
In such cases, the person defamed can take the complaint to civil court, suing for monetary damages. As a justice of the Supreme Court, Kavanaugh is not in a position to do that. But there is a question about whether Ford’s testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee was valid. One of the other accusers has admitted that she lied. The chair of the SJC has sent the name of three other accusers to the FBI for investigation. Lying to a Congressional Committee can lead to charges of perjury or making a false statement.
Ford has no evidence to support her testimony, never mind prove it. Should her unsubstantiated defamation of Kavanaugh go unpunished? Should Ford be investigated by the FBI for making a false statement? Should she then be indicted, and, if found guilty, punished? Others have received jail terms or fines, depending on the court, for perjury or false statements, or had to pay large cash settlements for unjustified injuries to reputation and opportunity. Does Ford deserve less scrutiny?
Philip Carl Salzman is Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at McGill University, Senior Fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy, Fellow at the Middle East Forum, and a Director of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East. His public interest articles can be found at the Frontier Centre, the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, Gatestone Institute, Middle East Forum, Minding the Campus, C2C Journal, Areo Magazine, and Dogma Review.