But what if it's true? I thought.
I have known victims of sexual predators. I have known women who were assaulted, and I have known far too many who were manipulated and seduced as trophies. And I know what lurks in the hearts -- and libidos -- of men and boys. I am not unsympathetic, nor only looking to make an argument for "my side." What if it's true?
The only way to find out is to ask the people involved. Under oath. With rigorous cross-examination. The accuser at first said she would testify before the committee. Now, her lawyer is backing off, setting various conditions. She doesn't look like she wants her story challenged, just left hanging out there, as a cloud over the nominee. Meanwhile, Kavanaugh himself and those who knew him best at the time have issued categorical denials. Kavanaugh himself has said he is willing to testify under oath -- under all the career-ending possibilities of perjury. Other persons named in the accusation deny their parts as described by Dr. Ford, the accuser; even one of her friends has backed off and refused to say any more.
What do we make of this?
Well, just as I have known female victims of male sexual impropriety, so also am I all too familiar with the mechanics of anonymous communications, as this started out to be. I have been the recipient of several in the course of my forty-plus years in ministry, and I am all too aware of some of the whisper campaigns that sometimes get started about anyone in leadership. I have also been aware for many years that anybody, at any time, can make an accusation of any sort that can be career-threatening, if not indeed career-ending to someone in leadership. Sometimes the facts can be marshaled to refute such an accusation, sometimes, they are elusive or a matter of interpretation. But even if you can show conclusively that the accusation is in error or malicious, no one can ever un-ring that bell. I have known colleagues accused of things on flimsy or no evidence go on to patiently serve, waiting for years for the cloud over them to dissipate or be forgotten. To be in leadership is to go through life with your chin in the air and your hands to your side, conceding the first shot to anyone crazy enough or evil enough to ambush you.
So, I am willing to hear the evidence. Get it all out. Let all those sympathetic to each side make of it what they can, and all those hostile to each side do the same. Then let the Senate and the public decide. But if, after kicking up this enormous controversy, one side refuses to come forth and deal honestly, then let them crawl back in shame and never be heard from again. And I say that to all parties, the principals and the Senators alike.
Put up or shut up.