Let’s talk about the unfairness of our “justice” system through a wider lens than the present fury being expressed over whether men get victimized by rape accusers under our system. Let’s talk about how well our system conducts itself no matter WHO appears before it, or for what reasons.
For starters, if our expectations of perfection serve as the basis of our system of jurisprudence—as in, nobody ever gets wrongly accused or convicted—we might as well pack it in as far as even trying to pursue justice goes. Perfection is an endless aim…not a final destination point. That said, clearly we operate under an imperfect system of justice that requires constant examination and course correction—just like everything else that human beings do.
Our entire jurisprudence process EXISTS to enable supposedly impartial courts to take an “I said/you said” disagreement and “sort it out.” And from what I’ve heard, the most ardent supporters of our rigid law and order system claim that our courts do a pretty good job of granting the presumption of innocence to the accused. Law and order promoters claim we do this well—despite overwhelming contradictory evidence and complaints that rise constantly from those caught up in (and ground up by) our justice system—mainly because they want to see “those people” locked up. “Those people” turn out to be “anyone not like me/not from here/not sharing or living my beliefs.” Consider the current inhumane treatment of asylum seekers at the border, or of American-born children witnessing their parents now being deported without due process, or of a person of color who smokes weed in a state that still considers it illegal, as examples of how unfairly and unequally our system treats the diverse PEOPLE who come before it begging for justice, and mercy, and compassion.
Of course, most of us know in our hearts that there exist two forms of justice in our current capitalistic, for-profit social system: one for the rich, and one for the poor. When accused of criminal activities, the rich typically make bail; hire expensive lawyers and private detectives; show up in court looking like highly successful citizens, and otherwise skew the presumption of innocence into a firm guarantee of freedom…unless such “overwhelming” evidence exists to prove guilt that it absolutely cannot be denied—at least without the system appearing to the world like a third-world kangaroo court. That’s far above the standard for “beyond a reasonable doubt”, which does not mean beyond ANY doubt whatsoever. It never has meant absolutely zero doubt. That’s why juries debate and consider and agonize over the testimony when making decisions that affect the freedom and lives of other people.
Conversely, poor people and people of color often cannot make bail, so they languish in prison waiting for their trial—often for months or even years. They lose their jobs and cannot support their families; cannot afford a quality defense (so they rely on overworked public defenders) and then they show up in court wearing orange jumpsuits, chains, and handcuffs—often dirty, disheveled and with unruly hair—generally appearing beaten down by the incarceration process. They are too often presumed guilty by the jury of their “peers” because subconscious bias asserts itself in the experience of judging “other.”
The problem with sexual assault claims? They just as often target the first group of individuals as the second, because financial success does not cause violent men to stop inflicting violence on the women in their lives, or even on strange women who happen to be less powerful or successful than themselves. In fact, extreme success too often emboldens violent, narcissistic, and aggressive men by making them feel untouchable by a system they imagine they can control by using their wealth. I sense that’s where the current raging backlash against “false accusations” arises from right now. Not from the poor and disenfranchised—who have always KNOWN that our judicial system is inherently unfair to both the accused within their communities AND to the victims—but from the privileged and powerful, who have too long asserted that the system works perfectly for us “all”…until now, when they too are confronted by its seemingly unfair processes and procedures.
That’s not the fault of accusers who seek justice. If an accuser doesn’t present ample evidence to undermine reasonable doubt, the case ultimately gets dismissed when justice works. That’s how it’s supposed to work, anyway. That it tends to favor the white, wealthy, powerful individuals who get accused of committing crimes is an open secret that serves the ruling class, so there it remains…in the shadows until a situation like we now have turns a spotlight upon it.
To focus on how “unfair” our justice system treated a privileged, spoiled, entitled, wealthy white male misses the larger point by about a million miles. He GOT the job after an at-best perfunctory and rigged “investigation.” The system bent over backwards to ensure he didn’t get treated like an ordinary, working-class person. In that, the deeper corruption reveals itself for those who have eyes to SEE it. To those who insist the system was “rigged” against Kavanaugh…you are undermining the trustworthiness and integrity of the very system you expect women, and blacks, and gays, and immigrants to subject themselves to because you claim it’s “fair” when they experience it.
I find that fascinating. Because next time privilege asserts that the system IS fair to the underclasses, the underclasses will remember that the privileged just claimed it was a swamp of deceit and corruption once “their kind” got caught within it.