As you’ve heard, esteemed legal professional Michael Avenatti has been arrested for domestic abuse. Details about the charges and the victim have been minimal so far. We have no objective reason to assume that Avenatti is guilty of anything.
One cannot help but notice the context, though. Avenatti has been a crusader for the #MeToo movement. He has insisted that we must believe women. When Brett Kavanaugh faced decades-old accusations with no evidence to support them, Avenatti did not once caution that Kavanaugh deserves the presumption of innocence. In fact, he contributed to the smear campaign by presenting even more allegations, these from an unbalanced woman with a known history of lying. He wanted us to believe Julie Swetnick even though Swetnick’s claims were unsubstantiated and ludicrous on their face.
Given these facts, it seems only fair to believe Michael Avenatti. We should believe him when he tells us to believe women. We should believe him when he insists that uncorroborated allegations be taken seriously. We should believe him when he implies that it is right and good to drag a man through the mud based on unproven claims. Indeed, we ought to respect Michael Avenatti’s wishes, listen to his arguments, adopt his position on this subject, and therefore assume that he is guilty as sin. It’s what he would want, after all.
Now, I am not quite Machiavellian enough to actually put this into practice. I won’t summarily declare him guilty and I wouldn’t want to see him punished for something he didn’t do. I want to see him punished for the things I’m fairly sure he did do, like conspiring to falsely accuse Brett Kavanaugh. “Innocent until proven guilty” is a bedrock notion of our justice system. We cannot suspend it for anyone, even someone as repugnant as Michael Avenatti.
On a karmic level, however, I cannot deny that Avenatti deserves to get a dose of what he dished out. Can we really feel sorry for someone who charges to the front of the pitchfork mob and then gets trampled underneath it? Can we have any sympathy for a man when his own deranged principles are applied to him? I have no idea if Avenatti is guilty of domestic abuse, but I know what conclusion Avenatti himself would draw if one of his political enemies faced the same accusation. I know that he has no problem destroying a man with rumors and innuendo. Does he deserve to suffer the same fate? Yes, absolutely.
But luckily for him, the justice system is not really designed to give people what they deserve. It’s designed to find the truth. And hopefully we will soon find out the truth in this case.