On the Kavanaugh Hearings

I’ve kept my fingers quiet on the subject of the Kavanaugh hearings up until now, mainly because I’ve had enough going on in my life that I didn’t want to devote the brain space to policing the conversation that might arise based on whatever I might write. I watched Dr. Ford’s testimony today over my lunch break, however, and I (naturally) had a few things I wanted to say.

The first is a response against the sentiments I’ve heard popping up from Republicans, claiming there’s now no way for men to be “protected” against nefarious, conniving women who will claim rape at the drop of a hat, just to derail a noble, good man’s quest to do something important like get on the Supreme Court. I find this kind of argument extremely depressing. It shows a willingness and readiness on the part of many to assume the worst of a woman who comes forward to accuse someone of rape.

“Why didn’t she come forward earlier?” “Why wait until now?” “She’s just a shill for the Democrats.”

Judging from her testimony, I don’t understand how anyone can continue to ask these questions. Why not come forward earlier in her life? Perhaps because she was a fifteen year old girl who had been drinking at a gathering with boys when the assault occurred. Perhaps because she knew full well that if she made that accusation, no one was going to believe her then, just as so many don’t believe her now. Or if they did believe her, they’d say she was “asking for it,” and they’d tell her she shouldn’t have been drinking.

Why wait until the last minute to come forward, and only when the man was up for Supreme Court justice? Perhaps because she knew exactly what the fallout would be. The name calling. The doxxing. The death threats. The accusations that she’s only politically motivated.

Doing what she’s doing isn’t an easy thing, especially not in today’s social media environment. But I suppose it’s to be expected that people today will believe what they choose to believe, well in advance of actually learning more about a situation.

Would it have been preferable for her to have come forward earlier? Sure. She did try to come forward, but it seems like the wheels of the political process were slow to pay attention to her story. Why not? Well, what would have happened if they’d jumped the gun and started clamoring about her story as soon as they heard it? I tend to think in today’s environment, they would have been casually dismissed as “unsubstantiated claims,” and chided for trying to derail the process. It was a lose/lose situation.

Does Brent Kavanaugh have a long, storied history of excellent work as a judge? Sure. Let’s say for the sake of argument that he’s the best candidate we’ve seen come through in decades. The real question seems to me to be “Should the actions we make in high school and college still have an impact on us decades later?” From what I’m reading about the man, he seems like he would have fit in just fine as a frat member in Animal House. Even when he was in high school.

“It was a different day and age! Boys will be boys! He was just doing the same thing lots of other kids his age were doing!”

That argument is worthless with me. He either did it, or he didn’t. If he didn’t do it, then let the process run its course and prove him not guilty. If he did do it, then I would like to think there are tons of qualified judges who managed to get through high school without heavy drinking and sexually assaulting women.

“But we need to do this now before the Democrats possibly get control of the Senate and ruin our chances to get a conservative Supreme Court!”

This argument, to me, raises the question: “Just what are you willing to sacrifice for political gain?” Judging by how many people continue to be willing to support Trump, that answer’s fairly simple.

The hearings are clearly political. There’s grandstanding on both sides of the aisle, and I don’t like any of it. But I listened to her testimony, and I found her credible and sincere. She certainly believes her story. Why not take the time to investigate it more fully, especially in light of the other accusations that are coming out? This isn’t a situation where she’s just coming forward and saying he assaulted her alone in a car. She’s saying there are other witnesses.

But maybe none of that matters any more. Easier just to believe the story you want to believe and ignore the parts that make you uncomfortable. The narrative that women come forward with false accusations of rape all the time is just plain flawed. Yes, it happens every now and then, but it is very much the exception. It’s incredibly depressing just how often men have been willing to sexually assault women in our history, and just how easily they have gotten away with it. We still have a President who freely admitted to sexually assaulting women.

I wish I had a simple way to end this. I don’t. I guess I’ll just watch it play out along with the rest of America.

And then I’ll vote in November.

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