Short Take: You Can’t Fix “Axiomatic”

In an apologist post of such stunning obviousness that it ended up at the Bulwark, Chris Truax explains that Joe Biden isn’t Harvey Weinstein. No, he doesn’t mean “presumed innocent,” as in not yet convicted of any crime by any court anywhere. He means convicted by the Court of #MeToo.

None of these women are claiming that Biden engaged in any form of sexual misconduct. Instead, his once famous and now infamous tactile style made them “uncomfortable.”

What these people are saying isn’t that Joe Biden is unfit to be president because he’s a sexual predator. What they are saying is that Joe Biden is unfit to be president because they don’t like his personality. It’s not what Joe Biden has done, it’s what he is and how he relates to other people.

Whether it’s about his “tactile” personality or his “tactile” touching, sniffing, kissing, is a question for those doing the condemning. That the measure of sexual misconduct is “uncomfortable” is at issue. But then comes Gertrude.

No woman should ever be subjected to sexual assault or even actual sexual harassment. That’s axiomatic. But we’ve gone far beyond that now. Many progressives are taking the position that “Feeling uncomfortable is never OK.” That is, of course, absurd. Anyone, man or woman, is going to find themselves in uncomfortable social situations, whether it’s politely listening to someone overshare about something or accepting a hug from a well-meaning but overly demonstrative acquaintance.  That’s the price we pay for living in a vibrant, diverse society.

To the insipid, this may well frame the distinction that the #MeToo scolds fail to recognize. But those first two sentences give the game away, and Truax contributes to the problem he believes he’s challenging.

What is sexual assault? What is “actual sexual harassment”? Biden touched women without their invitation or consent, enthusiastic or otherwise. Biden put his hands all over women, perhaps not for his sexual gratification, though I hesitate to assume what goes on in another person’s head, but the nature of harassment has always been the discomfort, if not emotional pain, of its victim.

But it’s axiomatic, which means there’s nothing to see here, nothing to discuss. It’s obvious. It’s self-evident. It is because, well, it is.

In logic, there is a technique known as reductio ad absurdum. The idea is that if your argument can be used to prove ridiculous things, then there must be something wrong with your argument. When this happens, you should take a close look at it to see where you are going wrong. The MeToo movement seems to have reached that point if its logic requires declaring Joe Biden unfit for the presidency and lumping him in with a serial rapist like Harvey Weinstein.

Did Weinstein get convicted of being a “serial rapist” and no one told me? One would expect Chris Truax, who works for Appellate Defenders of San Diego, to appreciate the presumption of innocence, or at least be sufficiently circumspect not to characterize a guy awaiting trial as a “serial rapist.”

Then again, one would expect a lawyer to not succumb to the facile urge to call wildly ill-defined words like sexual assault and “actual” sexual harassment “axiomatic.” Reductio ad absurdum, indeed.

Is Biden’s touching different than any other guy’s touching? Beats me. Is the measure of unfitness that it makes some woman feel uncomfortable? Unfitness for office isn’t a crime, but a political choice. Feel free to deem someone unfit because you hate pants suits or weird orange hair. It’s entirely up to you.

But what is not acceptable is to gloss over the hard problems, the lawyer problems, of what distinguishes crimes in real life from what passes for offenses in the Court of #MeToo. And for crying out loud, don’t contribute to the legal ignorance that permeates internet discussion by presuming Harvey Weinstein has already been convicted.

If you can’t be bothered to define offenses, simplistically sloughing them off as self-evident, at least show the legal fortitude to note that Weinstein has yet to be convicted of anything. And Weinstein isn’t running for president, a distinction that should be axiomatic.

6 thoughts on “Short Take: You Can’t Fix “Axiomatic”

  1. B. McLeod

    I think Biden is only semi-axiomatic, which means he doesn’t have to be banned unless he has a bayonet mount, special grips, or other scary-looking features.

      1. KP

        Yes!
        Boss, that was one of your classics! I’ll bet you laughed when you wrote i!
        I’m sure if Biden was thirty and handsome there wouldn’t be the problems, its just that no-one likes old men…

  2. Lee

    So if I lean close to a woman and whisper “you’ve got spinach in your teeth,” I’ve committed a Biden?

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