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Christine Ford vs. Brett Kavanaugh: Two Definitions of "Credibility"

• By Jack Kerwick Beliefnet

To hear numerous GOP and GOP-friendly ("conservative") commentators tell it, both Christine Ford and Brett Kavanaugh are highly "credible."

Of course, none of these pundits claim to believe that Ford was telling the truth when she claimed that she was sexually assaulted by Judge Kavanaugh.  What they claim to believe is that she was indeed sexually abused—but by someone else.

Aristotle, the Father of Western logic, identified numerous fallacies. One of these is the fallacy of equivocation.

This is the fallacy of which those of Kavanaugh's defenders who simultaneously find Ford "credible" stand convicted.

Equivocation occurs when an arguer slides from one meaning of a term to another in order to draw the conclusion that he desires.  A blatantly obvious example of the fallacy of equivocation is something like this: "Joe is a damn good athlete.  Therefore, he must be a damn good human being."

Clearly, "good" means two different things, depending upon whether it is used to describe an athlete or a person.

Similarly, when Kavanaugh's Ford-sympathizing defenders assure us that both Ford and Kavanaugh are "credible," they are guilty of equivocating upon the word credible.

Judge Kavanaugh is credible in that he has articulated a preponderance of exculpatory evidence, i.e. good, coherent reasons vindicating him of the allegation leveled by Ford. Not only have several dozen people, and several dozen women, including ex-girlfriends from the years during which Ford claims he assaulted her, publically attested to his character. Kavanaugh has presented calendars that he kept at the time which, along with the fact that no one who Ford identified as having been present at the party at which the Judge supposedly attacked her has any recollection of the event, decisively establish that he could not have done the act of which he is accused.

"Credibility" in the case of Christine Ford, in contrast, has a dramatically different meaning.

The sex crimes prosecutor, Rachel Mitchell, who the Republicans arranged to question Ford released her findings over the weekend.  The facts of which she reminds the public are crucial.

For starters, Mitchell notes that Ford fails to supply a consistent account of that which is most fundamental, i.e. the year in which the event in question is alleged to have occurred.

Repeat this to yourselves: A woman who claims to have been traumatized by someone who sexually attacked her can't even recollect the year—and, thus, her age—when it transpired.

Mitchell supplies some other insightful observations.

Ford doesn't remember how she got to and from the party where the event is alleged to have happened, nor does she recall any other details of the night "that could help corroborate her account."  Such details include the house in which she insists the assault occurred and the location of the house.

Mitchell mentions the fact that when Ford shared with her husband that she had been sexually assaulted, she "changed her description of the incident to become less specific."

She also points out that Ford "struggled to identify Judge Kavanaugh as the assailant by name." What Mitchell seems to mean by this is that it evidently took Ford over 30 years before she mentioned to anyone that it was Brett Kavanaugh who supposedly assaulted her. Furthermore, she was married for over ten years before she told her husband that Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her.

Mitchell's conclusion is as powerful as it is inescapable: "The activities of congressional Democrats and Dr. Ford's attorneys likely affected her account."

Although the sex crimes prosecutor's findings exonerate Judge Kavanaugh while exposing Ford for the untruthful person that she is, any remotely honest person who had been paying any attention to this national disgrace of a Senate confirmation hearing knew long before Rachel Mitchell came to D.C. that Ford's story is most incredible.

Ford's witnesses—every single one of them—either refute her story directly or, insofar as they deny that they have any recollection of the events that she recounts, indirectly.  And at least one of these witnesses is a person with whom she's be close friends for most of her life.

Initially, Ford claimed that it was four teenage boys that had her alone in a bedroom (of a mystery house whose location and owners she can't recall). This, she said, happened to her when she was in her later teenage years sometime in the mid-1980s.  Subsequently, though, Ford changed her story.  The remake takes place in the early 1980s when Ford is a younger teenager and is trapped with only two boys.

Ford initially said that she didn't want to fly from her home on the west coast to Washington D.C. to testify before the Senate because she had a fear of flying. However, this "fear" never stopped her from flying to many vacation spots.

There are still more reasons that put the lie to Ford's account:

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