Pointing an accusatory finger at a prominent figure in the news is the easiest thing in the world to do. There will always be a willing audience for it. Newspapers, in need of some kind of gimmick to boost circulation, are more than willing to spread sensational charges across their headlines. Cable new networks, on the air 24/7, have huge blocks of time that need filling. So there will always be a receptive audience for charges of salacious conduct. And sometimes the accusations will prove to be entirely true, sometimes partially true, and sometimes they will reek of the aroma of mule fritters.. So how do we differentiate? How can we arrive at even the semblance of the truth in an emotionally charged and highly partisan atmosphere?
What we have seen in the Kavanaugh case is that what is required is a complete, thorough, and objective investigation carried out by an organization specifically mandated to carry out just such an investigation. Of course, there's no guarantee that, at the end of the day, we will end up with a definitive answer to a sensational charge. That's the nature of these things. But one thing we know for sure, we will not arrive at even a modicum of the truth by yelling at one another across a crowded room.
That's why the application of reason in politics is so important. Agreeing to a thoroughgoing search for the truth doesn't mean you're betraying long-held personal principles. It isn't a sign of weakness or a demonstration of the lack of commitment to a cause. It simply means that you have decided to act rationally, that you haven't sunk to reacting viscerally but that you have opened yourself to the search for the truth and justice.
The point of conducting an investigation is the first place is NOT to reach an arbitrary conclusion. It's a fact-finding mission. It's about searching and probing dispassionately to find out as best as one can what actually happened. Don't get me wrong. The search for the truth is never an easy thing. You can ask the question, for instance, "Whose truth?". Or you can join the cynical Pontius Pilate as he asked Jesus, on trial for his life, "What IS the truth?". Truth is and always has been an elusive thing. But that doesn't mean you stop looking for it.
Simply making a wild accusation of wrong-doing is never the end of the story. Rather it's the opening line in what can prove to be a meaningful dialogue. Just because someone shouts, "I accuse", doesn't make it so. By the same token, making what may appear to be an outrageous allegation doesn't mean it has to be dismissed out of hand as a scurrilous lie. An allegation is simply a prelude to a set of questions that need answers. The allegation may be based on a sincere belief that what one is charging is absolutely true, or it may be motivated by an ulterior motive like greed, spite, or sheer perversity. The point is that we can't let allegations just lie there. Allegations require answers. And answers demand an investigation.
While showing a reluctance to investigate an accusation is not proof positive that the accusation is true, it IS true that such accusations open up a dialogue that leads to the discovery of objective evidence that leads us to a conclusion, one way or another. In this highly charged and emotionally raw world we live in, it is hard to find objective truth. It is perhaps even harder to find an investigative body capable of discovering that truth. But they ARE out there. To deny this is to sink into the abyss of cynicism and despair that is so uncharacteristic of the United States. Such skepticism must be avoided at all costs. We pride ourselves on being a truth telling people, we must accept the fact that if we want to tell the truth, we must first be willing to seek it out!
Filed under: Politics