Zerlina Maxwell appears regularly on Fox News, MSNBC, and is a commentator and guest host on Sirius radio’s XM Progress program. She writes as a political analyst for the New York Daily News, the Washington Post, and CNN.com. She has a B.A. in International Relations from Tufts, and J.D. from Rutgers.
Yesterday, Zerlina Maxwell argued, in the Washington Post, that we must always, as a default position, and regardless of due process, automatically believe that women who make accusations of sexual assault are telling the truth.
Many people (not least U-Va. administrators) will be tempted to see [the collapse of Rolling Stone’s UVA rape story] as a reminder that officials, reporters and the general public should hear both sides of the story and collect all the evidence before coming to a conclusion in rape cases. This is what we mean in America when we say someone is â€œinnocent until proven guilty.â€ After all, look what happened to the Duke lacrosse players.
In important ways, this is wrong. We should believe, as a matter of default, what an accuser says. Ultimately, the costs of wrongly disbelieving a survivor far outweigh the costs of calling someone a rapist. Even if Jackie fabricated her account, U-Va. should have taken her word for it during the period while they endeavored to prove or disprove the accusation. This is not a legal argument about what standards we should use in the courts; itâ€™s a moral one, about what happens outside the legal system.
The accused would have a rough period. He might be suspended from his job; friends might defriend him on Facebook. In the case of Bill Cosby, we might have to stop watching his shows, consuming his books or buying tickets to his traveling stand-up routine. But false accusations are exceedingly rare, and errors can be undone by an investigation that clears the accused, especially if it is done quickly.
The cost of disbelieving women, on the other hand, is far steeper. It signals that that women donâ€™t matter and that they are disposable â€” not only to frat boys and Bill Cosby, but to us. And they face a special set of problems in having their say.
Maxwell’s perspective that the supposed injuries of female victims awards them a morally privileged status which supersedes principles of due process, fair play, and objective justice is really just a version of the subjective moral reasoning of the lower-class criminal, who argues to himself that he is entitled to attack and rob other people in the street, because some people were born richer than himself, because of how much he has suffered, and because nobody ever gave him the breaks he believes he deserved.
The idea of Affirmative Action surely was to take people from the welfare-dependent and criminal underclass and give them the kind of elite education that would make them into responsible citizens subscribing to conventional morality with a rational sense of justice and assimilated into ordinary American society. What has obviously happened in Zerlina Maxwell’s case is that she has brought with her from the Hood the simple-minded, narcissistic, and self-entitled perspective of the congenitally stupid and the habitually immoral and is making a profession of persuading the establishment intelligentsia that they should share the mental habit patterns of the mugger, the gang banger, the heroin dealer, and the pimp. She is assimilating them, rather than vice versa.
The Washington Post, however, found it had, in publishing Maxwell’s editorial, gone just a bit too far for the interests of its own credibility. After being mocked all day on Twitter, they changed the editorial’s headline from “No Matter What Jackie Said, We Should Automatically Believe Rape Claims” to “No Matter What Jackie Said, We Should Generally Believe Rape Claims”. SooperMexican