What these conservatives fail to see is that, whatever they think of the motivations of Dianne Feinstein and the Democrats, for others who are inclined to believe Ford this is about a principle as well. It is just as inchoate as theirs but it is also grounded in a desire for justice, indeed for a kind of universal justice that goes far beyond their obsession with the policing of double standards.

Both sides believe there is something wrong with the sexual status quo in this country. But one, despite spilling hundreds of thousands of words of ink on the perils of “hook-up culture,” would like to suspend judgment in this and similar cases because it fears that ad-hoc justice will be meted out selectively or in bad faith. The other would like to create new standards or to revive old ones for assessing the morality of men’s sexual behavior and the admissibility into polite society of those who have fallen afoul of them. It is difficult for me to understand why conservatives are automatically inclined to throw in their lot with the former — unless, of course, what they are trying to “conserve” is abortion, pornography, and alcohol-abetted fornication that by definition taxes our debased libertarian notion of “consent.” They ask why a few men can be expected to answer for the crimes of generations and argue very plausibly that this is not justice. Perhaps they are right. It’s difficult to say this side of heaven and hell what would be.