A long-standing feminist talking point holds that women who level allegations of sexual assault or misconduct at men should be believed without question.
Anyone who recalls the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill controversy will recall the first major eruptions of “women never lie about sexual harassment” thinking.
Hillary Clinton put out her latest version of this talking point in a November Tweet:
Every survivor of sexual assault deserves to be heard, believed, and supported. https://t.co/mkD69RHeBL
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) November 23, 2015
Finally, at a campaign event in New Hampshire, a woman in the audience managed to ask Clinton the question that has been on many minds: “You recently came out to say that all rape victims should be believed. But would you say that about Juanita Broaddrick, Kathleen Willey, and Paula Jones? Should we believe them as well?”
Broaddrick, Willey, and Jones are all women who accused Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct – outright sexual assault in Broaddrick’s case. Broaddrick said she met Clinton during his gubernatorial run in 1978, accepted an invitation to visit his campaign headquarters, and ended up in his hotel room, where he forced himself on her. She said she ended up with torn clothing and a bruised lip, which Clinton allegedly addressed with the immortal line, “You better get some ice on that.”
Hillary Clinton must have anticipated someone would eventually call her out on her hypocrisy toward her husband’s accusers, because she had an answer ready for her questioner in New Hampshire: “Well, I would say that everybody should be believed at first, until they are disbelieved based on evidence.” Then she tried to laugh the question off.
There are several problems with this response:
1. It does not remotely resemble the American conception of justice, in which the accused have the presumption of innocence. The accused are not considered guilty until they can produce ironclad evidence that their accusers are lying.
2. It does not remotely resemble the way Hillary Clinton, her husband, or their notoriously vicious campaign team handled Juanita Broaddrick, Kathleen Willey, or Paula Jones.
3. To date, there is no “evidence” to suggest any of those three women should be disbelieved.