By Sandy and Robin . . . Is Kavanaugh guilty of Ford’s accusations? Of Ramirez’s? Of Swetnick’s?
We don’t know.
Is Kavanaugh innocent? We don’t know.
If he is guilty, is immaturity and high-school-boy-stupidity the best explanation and the assumption that he has grown up a given, or was and is something more sinister at play here? Is, as stated by Dr. Karen Franklin in a thought-provoking piece, group sexual assault no youthful indiscretion but rather functional behavior that serves a purpose?
We don’t know.
We do know this. No one should be surprised. This is the logical next step in a journey that began almost three decades ago.
When the powers that be set in motion the creation of what would become the public sex offender registry, they were creating a tool that would soon take on a life of its own. It morphed quickly from a law enforcement instrument designed to be helpful in monitoring highly dangerous serial sexual offenders into a catch-all black hole that required little more than a public accusation of sexual wrong-doing to set it swirling.
It even became an inspirational mechanism for fueling the use of internet sting operations, utilizing fake targets and false images in the effort to entrap tens of thousands of American citizens and permanently destroy their reputations.
Those whose behavior was deviant, even in the absence of danger, were easy targets. It immediately swallowed anyone whose behavior raised in parents the fear of what could happen to their children, including those children becoming sexual beings before the parents were ready for that to happen. It became a vehicle with which to express our disapproval, our moral indignation, and our disgust at the behavior of others.
And now, just the threat is enough, just the accusation. Just the suggestion, even.
The mere allegation of sexual wrongdoing is a ready accomplice to those needing the edge in child custody disputes or seeking revenge in a wronged relationship. It is the best of campaign strategies against opponents for those seeking public office.
It has been used to disenfranchise thousands. It has created industries whose very livelihood depends on its continuing existence.
It has toppled CEOs. Destroyed those prominent in industry and entertainment. Put an end to careers, both in the performance arts and on the athletic field. It has caused the removal of artwork from galleries, not because the subject matter of the art was sexual but because the artist was on a sex offender registry. It has severely limited the travel, both domestic and international, of a large portion of American citizens. It has made many jobless and homeless and hopeless.
It is responsible for rampant acts of vigilantism, for wanton destruction and untold misery, for death, both by murder and suicide.
And now that accusation is used to influence the outcome of the highest court in our legal system.
Some of those decrying its use now are the same ones who pushed, over the years, for the increase of its breadth, scope, and strength. They have introduced and supported bills making criminals of teenagers who engage in sexual activity with each other and who engage in the phenomena known as “sexting.” They have written laws allowing children as young as nine to be convicted and registered as sexual criminals.
They have punished young men for a lifetime for one act of criminal sexual behavior that occurred when they were minors. And now they beg for mercy for one of their own, saying minors should not be held to the same standards as adults.
Is Kavanaugh guilty? We don’t know. It probably doesn’t matter.
We do know that this is not at an end. The black hole of accusation and of the public sex offender registry is not through gorging itself.
Its next victims will be your brothers, sons or daughters, husbands or wives, or yourself. You might be guilty, or you might be innocent.
And that won’t matter either.
Sandy is communications director for NARSOL, editor-in-chief of the Digest, and a writer for the Digest and the NARSOL website. Additionally, she participates in updating and managing the website and assisting with a variety of organizational tasks.
As vice chair of NARSOL, Robin is the managing editor of the Digest, chair of the marketing committee, and provides assistance to the webmaster in keeping our websites running smoothly. He also serves as president of Vivante Espero, NARSOL’s foundation and legal fund.