Politics

Standing Up for Justice is Not Politically Correct

CNN has just published an article on GOP Representative Jason Lewis. Lewis currently represents Minnesota’s 2nd congressional district and is running for reelection against Democratic opponent Angie Craig. Of course, given that he is a Republican it should not be a surprise that CNN would find a reason to go after him. The title of the piece in question is “GOP Rep. Jason Lewis once mocked women who felt traumatized by unwanted touching.” What an animal! Clearly, he is one of those evil men who should be villanized without given the benefit of the doubt or looking holistically at the issue.

However, upon reading through the article I admit that I am a little confused. I will summarize what they wrote. Essentially, Lewis hosted a radio talk show from 2009 until 2014. In November of 2011, Lewis responded to sexual harassment claims that were levied against then presidential hopeful Herman Cain. These allegations came from two women during his time as the president of the National Restaurant Association. One of the women accused Cain of having a thirteen-year affair with her as well. Neither woman pressed criminal charges and the accusations were dealt with via settlements. As a reminder, a settlement does not imply guilt. It often means that it is more cost effective, both financially and for brand association, to simply pay out money in order to deal with the issue.

CNN quotes Lewis as making the following statement on his talk show, “’I don’t want to be callous here, but how traumatizing was it?’ Lewis said. ‘How many women at some point in their life have a man come on to them, place their hand on their shoulder or maybe even their thigh, kiss them, and they would rather not have it happen, but is that really something that’s going to be seared in your memory that you’ll need therapy for? You’ll never get over? It was the most traumatizing experience? Come on! She wasn’t raped,’ Lewis added, using a voice mocking an emotionally distraught woman.”

The article then continues to go through other comments that Lewis made in reference to sexual harassment protections enacted by federal law, specifically the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The article specifically mentions that Lewis made an issue of the fact that he could no longer call women “sluts.”

It is not until the end of the article that the meat of the issue comes out. He is further quoted, “As you know, I was a vociferous defender of Mr. Cain during the sexual harassment allegations because I detest sexual harassment law. Sexual harassment law bestows in the eye of the beholder anything he or she wants it to be it. It distorts our free speech rights. The law is wide enough to drive a semi through. It is, it is indeed just an albatross around the neck of every person in America who’s got someone who doesn’t like them […] It is absolutely out of control. We’re not talking about a quid pro quo, ‘you have sex with me or you lose your job.’ We’re not talking about somebody placing their hands upon somebody else. Clearly a violation of a number of things. We’re talking about offensive speech being deemed offensive by someone who thinks they can shake down somebody for a lot of money and a settlement.”

The thing is, he is absolutely correct. While I understand that being gruff, direct, and obnoxious about the point can cause some people to have angry reactions, none of that changes the veracity of his statements. In our quest to ensure that victims receive justice, some have gone to the extreme of believing any story that tends to elicit an emotional reaction instead of demanding proof.

This same phenomenon even occurred while I was in the Army. It was circa 2013-2014. I was approximately a year out from retirement when I received a tasking from my Brigade Headquarters for a new sexual harassment training we needed to give. I read through the training, then through the updated regulations, then I called JAG directly. The theory behind the update was good in its intent. If you are drunk you will sometimes make bad decisions and therefore you should not take sexual advantage of a person if they are drinking. The issue that I have with this is that you cannot take away personal responsibility and still remain fair and objective. When two people go out drinking and thereafter decide to engage in some sort of sexual activity, who is taking advantage of whom? Both people are under the influence, so is it possible for either to give consent? The regulation was written so that whoever made the first complaint was the one that was now considered the victim. At first the JAG office argued with me that I was misreading the intent. The problem is that one cannot read intent into a law or regulatory guidance. Laws can only do two things: tell you what you must do or can’t do. Anything else is up to the interpretation of the individual. Judges will often look at a law and see where it misses the mark, but they are held to the standard of enforcing as it is written. The same goes in the military. Eventually even the JAG had to concede that, as it was written, the regulation was completely devoid of any justice.

Lewis was brining up the same point I did with sexual harassment law. In fact, we can look to the Kavanaugh hearing to see exactly where such ambiguities lay. The Huffington Post published an article titled It’s Time to Start Believing Victims of Sexual Assault” by Marcia Sirota. This article was published on 1 February 2018. In the last paragraph she states, “For the longest time, we’ve mainly given perpetrators the benefit of the doubt. Now it’s time to start giving the benefit of the doubt to those individuals accusing powerful men of sexual harassment, assault and rape. It’s the only way to redress the egregious errors of the past and begin to create a fair and equitable environment for complaints of this nature to be explored.”

So, the only way to go back and address injustice is to now convict, without fact or recourse, all men who are accused of any sort of sexual misconduct? I can understand why many people view it this way. After all, there is simply very little evidence in these cases. Very typically it comes down to his word versus her word. When this happens, it is often next to impossible to determine what actually happened. Does this mean that there are victims out there who will never have their story heard or believed? Absolutely. Is this fair or just? Absolutely not. The sad truth is that there is not a better or fairer way to ensure justice for all.

The left wants us to simply forgo the trouble of trying to determine the truth. Why do that when we can live, instead, in a world of emotion. They want us to succumb to the passion that those who are victimized have. This would only lead us to anarchy. Justice has to be built upon facts, evidence, and most importantly a system that believes the accused is innocent until proven otherwise. This should not just be in the court either. Peoples lives are often destroyed by nothing other than the presumption of guilt, and a reputation is not something that is brought back as easily as it is tarnished.

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Matthew Wadler

Matthew Wadler is a U.S. Army veteran. Matt served in the Army for 20 years as both enlisted and officer before retiring. His service includes time as Military Police, Field Artillery, Adjutant General, and Recruiting. His deployments include Somalia and two tours to Afghanistan. His formal education includes a master’s degree in HR Management. He is a strong supporter of the constitution and advocate for the military and veteran communities. Follow Matthew on Twitter @MatthewWadler.

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