Saturday, October 06, 2018

Judge Biff, the Burden of Proof, and Seven-Eleven

Lots of animated discussion goes on in teacher lounges. About two weeks ago, a colleague was really getting passionate about how Judge Biff was innocent until proven guilty. No one else could get a word in. Could anyone say that Judge Biff was proven guilty?

The thing is, that's the standard for keeping you out of prison. If the government wants to take away your liberty for thirty years, there really ought to be a high standard for that. On the other hand, it sure seems like rich people have an even higher standard. The President of the United States appears to have committed all sorts of crimes, but he's the one who hand-picked Judge Biff.

Why? Well, after having gone after President Bill Clinton tooth and nail, and after having proposed some of the most explicit, graphic, sexual questions you could imagine,  Judge Biff has come around to the position that you ought not to go around indicting sitting presidents. Also, questioning Judge Biff about his record of sexual abuse is tantamount to ruining his life, so you have no right to question him at all.

If you're in court and they aren't trying to place you in prison, the standard is preponderance of evidence. When you watch Judge Judy, she's acting largely on intuition, but I suppose preponderance of evidence is the standard she's supposed to use. It won't ruin your life, for example, if you have to pay to repair the car that your car hit.

On the other hand, Judge Biff wasn't facing Judge Judy. He was facing a highly partisan bunch of US Senators. I actually thought they were gonna unload him and find someone who'd have equally despicable voting inclinations. You know, if the person weren't so rapey, he'd at least appear to be more legitimate. As for legitimacy, there's a great quote in this Times column:

It’s worth noting that, of the five justices picked by Republicans, including Judge Kavanaugh, four were nominated by presidents who first took office after losing the popular vote.

I think about that a lot. Sure, you can say the Electoral College is the law of the land, but slavery used to be the law of the land too. The Electoral College is blatantly undemocratic, and it's served to give over much of the country to the Koch Brothers and their ilk. It's worth noting that, while they have more money than We, the People, that the majority of us don't support their policies, Trump's policies, or Judge Biff's policies.

Here's the thing--there is innocent until proven guilty, there is preponderance of evidence, and then there is a job application, which is what this was. Imagine you're trying to get a gig selling Slurpees over at Seven-Eleven. If the store owner thinks you might have an issue with alcohol, she's unlikely to place you in charge of her beer cooler. "I like beer," is not going to place you in her good graces. Furthermore, asking her whether she likes beer, let alone whether she's ever had blackouts, is virtually certain to get your application tossed into the trash.

As for ruining Judge Biff's life, remaining on the US Circuit Court is not precisely being tossed into a trash heap. I think of the burden of proof against my colleagues. which is often non-existent. I think of how the DOE treats my colleagues when administration breaks rules. For example, the UFT Contract says that you may not get letters in file for things that occurred over three months ago. The hacks at the DOE, when you grieve these things, maintain, "the event is not an occurrence," and Chancellor Richard Carranza, who appears not to be insane, endorses these decisions at Step Two.

Judge Biff is no more entitled to be Supreme Court Justice than I am to be Chancellor. That doesn't matter, though, because the United States today is run by the uber-wealthy, for the uber-wealthy, and if you don't like it, you can get up and tell your story, as did Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, and they'll ignore it utterly. To them, truth is a diversion, alternate facts are a given, and they're entitled to do what they want, when they want, how they want.

Don't forget to vote on November 6th.
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