It was a typical hot, sunny day in Las Vegas as I waited for the airport shuttle to arrive. I tried to soak up as much heat as I could knowing that the brisk, Canadian air was waiting for me about a thousand miles away. As I was reminiscing about the fun time I had over the weekend, my train of thought was violently disrupted by an onslaught of expletives and yelling between a man and a woman who stormed into the hotel lobby.
“I’m going to kill you!” He yelled as he aggressively grabbed at his female counterpart’s arm. The hotel guests in the lobby looked on awkwardly not knowing if they should get involved or hide behind the nearest fern. I don’t blame those who did, because the male looked very unhinged. She was screaming at him to leave her alone but he persisted and became more and more aggravated.
I heroically stepped out from behind the nearest fern I was hiding behind and approached the couple. I was able to utilize some verbal judo but not before signalling the staff to call the authorities. This was enough to deter the male and de-escalate the situation—for now.
It made me wonder: If he is so brazen in broad daylight with multiple witnesses, how does he treat her behind closed doors? It also made me consider the abusers who are charming in public but abuse their partners privately. It was a chilling realization that sometimes you can't tell who the criminals are by just looking at them.
In contrast to the overt experience I had with domestic abuse comes another about a successful man that used to attend my church. He had a beautiful wife and two beautiful, young daughters. They appeared well put together, drove a nice car, with a great sense of style. Looking back, I can now understand why his children were so quiet and apparently derelict of childhood joy. This man was very outspoken, well-spoken, and came across as a devout, conservative Christian. Long story short, it eventually became public knowledge that he was physically abusive towards his wife.
Given my limited experience with both overt and covert abusers, it made me consider the entirety of the White House Staff Secretary, Rob Porter’s, domestic abuse scandal that recently hit the White House. Raj Shah, the Principal Deputy Press Secretary, said numerous times during the questioning period that the allegations against Porter were not consistent with his demeanor and staff interactions with him. This is far from a defense; however, based on my previous experience with the covert abuser—I can understand. When picture evidence surfaced, the White House appropriately condemned Porter.
Although Raj was adamant that the White House used the vetting systems in place, my greatest critique pertaining to how the White House dealt with this situation involves the Chief of Staff, General Kelly’s, apparent inaction. Did Kelly fail the President by not managing his staff judiciously. Were the initial accusations taken seriously? What was done when these accusations arose? What did they know and when? Although it is easy to criticize Kelly, to do so correctly would require the above questions be answered.
The recent onslaught of sexual and domestic abuse allegations we have seen among society’s elites have successfully empowered the court of public opinion rather than the Court of Law. Some would say the latter has been incompetent in dealing with sexual assault allegations. This would be because in the Court of Law evidence is paramount, and if reasonable doubt could be injected, the case potentially falls apart; therefore, going public with these allegations appears to have a more damaging affect to the accused-- legitimate or not.
President Trump tweeted about the most recent allegations:
“Peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation. Some are true and some are false. Some are old and some are new. There is no recovery for someone falsely accused - life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?”
As common sense as this position is, it seems due process are words only appreciated by those accused of wrong-doing. The President makes a delicate, yet poignant, point that subtly warns of an approaching slippery slope; however, it's clearly seen that the weaponizing of sexual allegation was the next logical step in this divisive and toxic social climate.
Domestic abuse is no trivial matter. The allegations against Porter are unequivocally grave and should be taken seriously. The Chief of Staff should consider potentially amending their vetting policy and procedure to avoid future occurrences where the President’s Administration and judgement are undermined. If the court of public opinion is where politicians live and die, it would be wise to strategize accordingly.