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When Justice Fails

God has given the United States over to divisive blindness and stupidity.

Americans watched Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Brett Kavanaugh testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week. We couldn’t not watch, but drew opposite conclusions. The New York Times quadrant of the country found the fragile determination of Dr. Ford’s testimony utterly compelling; the National Review quadrant reveled in the outrage of Judge Kavanaugh and Senator Graham.

We inhabit different universes. We have no shared standards of conduct, especially sexual conduct. Our elites jettisoned all the old rules a long time ago, and we have to limp along on the thin reed of consent. There were odd twists in the latest spectacle. Some traditionalists excuse Kavanaugh for youthful indiscretions; for sexual progressives, his opposition to Roe is evidence he’s a creepy serial rapist. Our rudderless sexual ethics make no sense: The same people who defend pornographers and sex workers are in high dudgeon whenever someone acts out a pornographic fantasy.

We have no common standard of evidence or proof. Do we believe victims, or assume innocence? Does sincerity and vulnerability make Ford’s story creditable, even in the absence of a second witness? Even if Ford’s allegations were proven beyond doubt, we couldn’t decide whether or not a teenage boy’s drunken groping still matters thirty years after the fact. Can a nation long endure when we can’t agree on basics of decency and fairness?

While the rest of the world looked on aghast, or in bemusement at the latest permutation of American Puritanism, the “greatest debating club in the world” was reduced to stentorian exegesis of inside jokes from a jock’s high school yearbook.

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a soap opera.

In the best of circumstances, the testimony would have been difficult to sort. If Ford is lying, she’s staggeringly accomplished at it. If Kavanaugh is innocent, his offended passion is completely appropriate. Even if Kavanaugh’s snarky question-for-question and evasive lawyerly precisions raise doubts, they don’t prove he’s lying about the assault. Maybe he attacked Ford but was too drunk to remember.

Read more at First Things. 

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