Editor’s Note: This letter to the editor was submitted by Dennis Clayson, professor in the College of Business.
In a recent opinion column, Albie Nicol stated, “There’s nothing anyone could say or do to make what happened last weekend acceptable.” He was referring to the Kavanaugh hearing and confirmation.
The article was well-written and expressed an understanding of current events and societal implications of political action. While his article was about a larger issue, his initial statement sets the agenda and tone for the column. It was presented as an absolute, and therefore raises a number of serious questions.
Are there any limits on the resolution of injustice?
For a fair and compassionate society, is it better, when charged, to be guilty until proven innocent, or innocent until proven guilty?
Are we to assume that victims never lie?
Are we to assume victims do sometimes lie, but survivors of sexual assault do not?
Are we to assume that even if victims of sexual assault might lie, the injustice which will be created against an innocent person is acceptable if a greater justice is served? In other words, do we need to break a few eggs to make an omelet?
Should different standards of justice exist dependent upon group membership?
Are we to assume there ought to be a hierarchy of justice? In other words, are some people more entitled to justice than others?
If so, can that hierarchy be defined not as individuals, but by group membership as determined by gender, race, religion or even political orientation?
Is injustice acceptable against an innocent individual because the person is a member of an unjust group? Would the answer to this question change if the individual belonged to an unjust group because of factors beyond their control, such as birth?
Is injustice acceptable against a person because the persons’ ancestors were unjust?
And last of all, why should we assume that the hearings, which were almost a perfect example of political theater, reflected anything real at all?
A good argument could be made that no matter who Trump had nominated, even if he had selected a conservative female who was a sexual assault survivor, the vote to confirm would have been identical to that for Kavanaugh.