By Carol Frenier
Through the callous political game-playing of the U.S. Senate Democrats, our entire nation has been thrown into an unnecessarily hurtful debate that pits men against women and liberals against conservatives. I condemn these despicable tactics and encourage women and men of every political persuasion to reject them. These tactics are not new in American politics: They were used to target black men in the Jim Crow South. In the 1930s, for example, nine Scottsboro boys were falsely accused and convicted of rape in Alabama. “To Kill a Mockingbird” is a fictionalized account of that all too common practice.
Now the targets are men, especially conservative men. We have already seen the devastating effects of this trend nationwide in the over-zealous prosecution of Duke lacrosse players and the false Rolling Stone expose of fraternity men at the University of Virginia. Now some senators who oppose Kavanaugh have publicly stated that Kavanaugh has the burden of proving his innocence, reversing centuries old due process requirements of our common law. Several senators stated that they believed Kavanaugh’s accusers even before hearing the evidence. Even worse, the charges are almost four decades old, making it virtually impossible for Judge Kavanaugh to prove he did not commit the alleged offenses.
Regardless of what you believe occurred 36 years ago, the standard of evidence has not been met to support a verdict of guilty against Judge Kavanaugh. The female prosecutor, Rachel Mitchell, reported after the hearing that she would not have prosecuted the case.
Remove the personalities and the politics and this is the bottom line. A liberal woman was given a national stage to make unsubstantiated charges of sexual assault against a conservative man. Neither the accused nor his attorney was allowed to directly cross-examine the accuser, despite centuries of legal tradition that the accused has the right to face the accuser. Why? Because we have decided that women who are “survivors” (and they are all survivers if they say so) are too fragile to be expected to defend their own claims. We can serve in the military, even in combat, but we must be excused from the responsibility of facing a person we accuse of an abominable crime.
I cannot stress how dangerous this is — to women as well as to men. The vast majority of us have loved ones who are male — fathers, husbands, partners, friends and sons.
Try to imagine one of those enduring what Judge Kavanaugh has endured this past week? Try to imagine yourself standing by your son as he endures it. Try to imagine having your son accused of something you believe he did not do and than hearing your neighbor say, “Well, he is man and she is a woman, so…” Think about how that alone would break your heart.
Furthermore, it is clear to most of us that those who are stoking the fires here are using this argument — that women should be believed simply because they are women — as a political weapon. If claims of sexual assault are repeatedly used in this way, sooner or later it will be easier for people to dismiss women’s legitimate claims of abuse as crying wolf.
Therefore I call on our congressional delegation, Sen. Leahy, Sen. Sanders, and Congressman Welch, to show the courage of their Vermont congressional forbears, and condemn these McCarthyite tactics. If you agree, post this article on Facebook and share it with your friends.
Carol Frenier is a business owner living in Chelsea, Vermont, and the chair of the Orange County Republican Committee.