A Cold Take on the Kavanaugh Debacle
1. Every allegation of sexual abuse should be taken with the utmost seriousness, and investigated accordingly. Dismissing allegations out of hand as implausible, exaggerated, fanciful or fabricated is the best possible way to encourage sexual predators in our midst, and to discourage victims from coming forward. (Jacob Denhollander made this point brilliantly: “If a 10 year old being molested by her uncle saw your tweets about sexual abuse or heard you speak about it, would she feel safe to tell you? Or would you reinforce her shame and silence? Some of you have that 10 year old in your life and you’ll never know because of your damn politics.”)
2. The presumption of innocence is as crucial as ever in the pursuit of justice. As tempting as it may be to set it aside when dealing with powerful or privileged people, we should remember that abandoning the principle will almost always harm disadvantaged or marginalised people in the long run (historical examples are legion: witch hunts, the Spanish Inquisition, show trials, lynchings, and so on).
3. Our political or theological alignment with a person must never lead us to assume their testimony is true and their opponent’s is not. If anything it should make us more sceptical, not less, since our motives to believe them may be mixed. If the social media circus shed light on anything—and mostly it didn’t—it revealed how political partisanship has spread to the question of whether an abuse allegation should be believed or not.
4. It should not be legal for unborn children to be deliberately dismembered in utero. Come to that, it should even not be thinkable.
5. This does not mean, however, that anything which leads to abortion restrictions is rendered morally acceptable on that basis. The ends do not justify the means.
6. The Church of Jesus Christ is called to take the side of the poor, vulnerable and afflicted, defying the powerful, fashionable, wealthy and influential where necessary, and that is true whether the vulnerable person is born or unborn, male or female, Republican or Democrat, slave or free. We sing Hannah’s song, not Homer’s; the bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble bind on strength.
7. It is possible—necessary, even—for Christians to believe all of these things at once.