I hope the sexual assault allegations against bizarro world president (and real world Nobel winner) Al Gore are untrue. There are two reasons I hope this:
- I have long admired Al Gore and would feel terribly sad to find out that he committed sexual assault; it would change my view of him forever.
- I hope that the alleged victim was not sexually assaulted.
Look: reason #2 is way, way, way more important than reason #1. #1 is about my personal disillusionment; #2 is about the bodily autonomy of another human being. If that woman is making false accusations, then I am glad for *her* that they are false, because that means she wasn’t assaulted. (Though I’d be worried that she’s suffering in some other way if she decided to make up something so guaranteed to be a media nightmare.) If she is making true accusations, then Gore should be brought to justice, as should all sexual assailants.
Culturally, we have invested a lot of mythology around Gore. We hope that these allegations not true, because we hope that someone with great political integrity would also have great personal integrity. But that’s just a hope, and the kneejerk reactions of many in the media (ahem, Steve Kornacki) are about privileging the word of a famous, powerful, rich white man automatically over the word of an anonymous, relatively powerless, and relatively nonwealthy woman. I don’t know who is telling the truth here, but that means I am withholding judgment — not assuming that my wish to see Gore as a heroic figure gives me some higher truth that can’t be disproved.