Sunday, November 6, 2011

Cain and sexual harrassment

Let me say up front that I do not “know” if Herman Cain is innocent of the charges brought against him.

But I am sure of one thing. The way we have chosen to punish and prevent sexual harassment is wrong. Why?

Because if a person decides that they have been sexually harassed then they deserve to have their day in court. And the person accused of sexual harassment decides they are not guilty then they deserve to have their day in court. Or, if both agree, they can have a hearing and settle on a result.

But here is the difference in what happens and what I think should happen. The “result” should be made in full public view. Found guilty? Everyone knows. Found not guilty? Everyone knows? A settlement reached? Everyone knows. Everyone knows the facts as presented and they know the results. And they know it forever.

If we did that we would know what Herman Cain’s accusers claim he did. And we would know what the settlements were.

And we could judge if the claims were worthy of our attention and belief and if they really speak to Cain’s ability to be President. After all, we judged Clinton and said, "No problem."

There should be no political opponents using anonymous sources. As Sgt. Friday said, “Just the facts, mam.”

Of course barring a change in our legal system that is unlikely to happen. Lawyers are hired to win, not demonstrate the facts of the matter. Of course if the facts help us reach a conclusion we consider “just” all the better.

And lawyers, unlike what we see on TV, do not want to go into court. They want to win. So if they can settle and get what their clients want, then they have done their job. In most civil cases Side A wants money to sooth their anger at being wronged. Side B does not want to pay the money. In some cases the result is a public trial. In too many cases there is a settlement. A private settlement in which neither side can tell what the settlement was.

Some will claim that a private settlement allows the aggrieved person to be compensated without the embarrassment and emotional strain that a public one would. That may be true, but it lays the groundwork for future claims such as we have now with Cain.

Others will claim that a private settlement saves time and money because going to court is expensive and in too many cases sexual harassment is “he said – she said” and “you had to be there.” That’s true enough, but if everyone knew a public trial/settlement might be the result then people would be more careful in what they say and do. And people would be more careful in what they claim.

Yes, Virginia. There is a Santa Claus and some people make things up for a variety of reasons. Especially if they know a quick and private cash settlement is on the way. And I am not including the ladies involved in the Cain matter.

But to return to Cain, the ladies involved have been released from the confidentially agreement. One has declined to comment. Cain has said that what he did was note that the lady was the same height as his wife, placing his hand just under his chin.

You can call that what you like. But based on the lack of other information I don’t call it sexual harassment. And based on the public’s response, the majority of Americans join with me.

Are we right? Are we wrong? It appears we will never know.

"Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them." - Karl Popper

“Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants. It is the creed of slaves.” - William Pitt

"Logic. There is little logic among the cultural elite, maybe because there is little omnipresent fear of job losses or the absence of money, and so arises a rather comfortable margin to indulge in nonsense." - Victor Davis Hanson