George Hasara – Columnist
If your neighbor said that right this moment, there’s a penguin in your bathtub, could you prove this to be false? Simply draw back the shower curtain and voila!, an empty tub (at least no penguin). Specific time and place have provable and falsifiable attributes. Universal or open-ended negatives are another story. My penguin proposition is an intentionally absurd example to highlight the pitfalls of trying to prove a negative. How would you go about proving that a penguin has NEVER been in your bathtub? That’s an aquatic bird of a different feather. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh finds himself in a penguin predicament. He’s in the cross-hairs of an 11th hour character assassination attempt with his foes suggesting that he prove alleged events never happened. Two women, so far, have come forward with lawyers in tow, claiming sexual impropriety, dating back decades. The accusations don’t need to be true to be effective, they simply need to be somewhat plausible but vague enough to make them neither provable or falsifiable. The scenario of an inebriated teenage boy from a well-to-do family, acting in an insensitive and sexually inappropriate way, sounds like it might be in the realm of possibility. But, so are countless other hypothetical situations. An accusation should not have automatic credibility simply because it involves sexual predation. Interestingly enough, Kavanaugh’s judicial acumen is on display as he attempts to defend himself. Writing in a letter, he says “I will not be intimidated into withdrawing from this process. The coordinated effort to destroy my good name will not drive me out.” Kavanaugh and his wife gave an extensive interview on Fox News. A letter was put together with 65 signatures of women who vouch for his good character. Very impressive, but the judge should know that no amount of positive recommendations preclude the possibility of wrongdoing. No matter how hard he tries to protect his “good name,” it’s still near impossible to prove a pesky negative. Contact George at firstname.lastname@example.org.