Newman’s irresponsible tweet illustrates need for change
Sept. 21, 2018
by Ivan Raconteur

Regardless of the platform used, people are still responsible for the things they say. This is especially true for elected officials.

State Senator Scott Newman (R-Hutchinson) received a flurry of pushback this week for comments he tweeted regarding allegations against US Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Christine Blasey Ford, 51, a clinical psychology professor at Palo Alto University in California, told The Washington Post in an interview that Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed at a Maryland party they attended in the early 1980s, clumsily tried to remove her clothing and put his hand over her mouth when she tried to scream.

Kavanaugh has denied the allegations.

Monday morning, Newman, who represents portions of McLeod, Meeker, Sibley, and Wright counties, tweeted the following:

“Even if true, teenagers! Frankly, I don’t believe her. Almost 40yrs and now she self righteously comes forward to save us from a dangerous sex offender. This type of allegation seriously jeopardizes women with a legitimate claim, for who will believe them.”

He tweeted this in response to a Pioneer Press story about the allegations against Kava-naugh.

Newman’s tweet was irresponsible, and a disservice to his constituents and others.

He takes it upon himself to decide whether or not the woman’s allegations are true.

This seems an interesting position for someone in Newman’s position to take.

Does he have special inside knowledge of the case?

Newman claims to be concerned about how this allegation will affect women who have “legitimate” claims.

He suggests that no one will believe them.

Well, if other people adopt Newman’s policy of casually dismissing allegations, he is probably right.

Blasey Ford’s allegations may or may not be true, but Newman is not in a position to make that call.

It is dangerous for Newman, as an elected official, to suggest, based on no evidence, that the woman in this case is lying.

This is exactly the kind of “blame the victim” attitude that makes it so difficult for women who have been victims of sexual assault (or attempted sexual assault) to come forward in the first place.

Furthermore, Newman’s statement “Even if true, teenagers!” suggests that even if the allegations are true, they should be excused because it is (apparently in Newman’s opinion) acceptable for teenagers to commit sexual assault.

That must be a comforting thought for anyone with teenage daughters, grand-daughters, nieces, or sisters.

If that is Newman’s argument, at what age should people be held accountable for their actions?

Kavanaugh is a nominee for the US Supreme Court. It is not unreasonable for him to face some significant scrutiny before his appointment is confirmed.

We live in a complicated world. Social media has changed the way people get information and the speed at which it travels.

Innocent people should not be convicted without due process, or be penalized on the basis of false claims.

However, we must also put a stop to the system in which people are allowed to carelessly dismiss allegations, thereby further victimizing a person who is already a victim.

For far too long, people in power have victimized people in subordinate positions and been allowed to get away with it. That needs to stop.

A state senator should realize that.

It will require a change in culture, but we must find a way to respect the rights of both the accuser and the accused. The time to do so is now, and we don’t need politicians standing in the way.

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