Rush to judgment.
That is a process of accepting an unsubstantiated allegation as a fact.
A former Nevada lawmaker named Lucy Flores recently leveled an allegation against former Vice-President Joe Biden—a potential Democratic candidate for president—of inappropriate physical contact with her body. Specifically, Ms. Flores has informed the public that the former vice-president touched her in “an intimate way reserved for close friends, family, or romantic partners” by smelling her hair and placing an extended kiss on the top of her head.
This alleged misconduct occurred in 2014 during a campaign event in which she had elicited the political support of Biden who accommodated her request.
At least two Democratic presidential candidates, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Julian Castro, and a host of media pundits have rushed to judgment by effectively pronouncing Biden guilty of the “misconduct” by accepting the Flores allegation as fact without any corroborating evidence.
Ms. Flores said at the time that she “felt powerless to do anything about” the unwelcome Biden contact.
In 2014, she was a 35-year-old highly-educated Democratic state lawmaker aware of sexual harassment and misconduct issues involving men and women, many in positions of power.
Under the legal rules in Nevada, the first step that should be taken in situations where an employee or anyone suffers sexual harassment is to follow their employer’s guidelines for reporting such conduct.
Further, the Nevada Equal Rights Commission (NERC) states that sexual harassment is a form of sexual discrimination that violates both Nevada state law and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Rule 20 of the Nevada legislature’s Joint Standing Rules prohibits sexual harassment, including the unwelcome advances like the one Ms. Flores said Biden made toward her.
Ms. Flores, therefore, as an informed state lawmaker, was not “powerless to do anything about” Biden’s unwelcome physical contact. She had both the intelligence and legal venues for reporting what she felt was unwelcome physical contact. The NERC informs that a failure to report sexual harassment may limit the remedies available to the victim.
There was even a 1-800 hotline in Nevada in 2014 for reporting sexual harassment.
In a Huffington Post article yesterday, Ms. Flores said she waited five years to disclose the Biden unwelcome physical contact because the former vice-president’s “behaviors were not being taken very seriously.”
She offered no explanation as to how his “behaviors” were being taken un-seriously.
She was also quoted in the HuffPost piece as saying:
“I just can’t imagine that there was never a situation where someone said to him – ‘Mr. Vice President, you probably should stop doing that. You should probably stop touching women in that way. You should probably keep your hands to yourself.”
Ms. Flores had the perfect opportunity to tell the then-Vice President precisely that, but chose not to do so.
An unsubstantiated conclusion can be drawn from Ms. Flores’s failure to either officially report or at the very least confront Biden about his unwelcome contact were less important than securing the vice-president’s political support she needed at the time.
Ms. Flores certainly had both a legal and moral responsibility to do one or the other.
And what I “just can’t imagine” about this sordid political episode is that Ms. Flores did not tell anyone—a family member, a friend, a fellow lawmaker, or anyone connected to the political event where the contact supposedly occurred—that Biden’s contact made her uncomfortable in anyway. Or, at least, she has not to this point offered any corroborating support for her delayed outcry allegation.
The “rush to judgment” train has left the station with Sen. Elizabeth Warren and presidential hopeful Julian Castro as it engineers.
I suggest that the former vice-president, who has had more than his share of tragedy in life, just get off the train and let it crash on its own down the line as the Democrats are so famous for doing.