Monday, September 17, 2018

Kavanaugh: accused

Brett Kavanaugh, much like Justice Clarence Thomas years ago, is currently in the wringer. Democrats are doing whatever they can to prevent his accession to the Supreme Court as Donald Trump continues his long campaign to slowly but surely tilt the court further rightward. With liberal Ruth Bader Ginsburg next up for retirement (she's in her eighties and prone to falling asleep in public these days), the liberals will be losing yet another leftist on the Court (that leaves Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan) after the Kavanaugh hearings are done and Kavanaugh is confirmed—for he will be confirmed as soon as the vote is taken. Meanwhile, in a desperate Hail Mary, the Democrats have trotted out Palo Alto University professor Christine Blasey Ford, 51, who is accusing Kavanaugh of a high-school-era sexual assault. While the assault itself should of course be taken seriously, the timing of its airing is incredibly suspicious. The National Review has a good article that gives proper respect to the alleged victim's situation and state of mind while coldly and fairly looking at the actual evidence against Kavanaugh, of which there is very little. Definitely worth a read.


  1. An unchaperoned 15-year-old girl attends a private party with four teenaged boys, who get smashed during the course of the evening.

    At one point, she finds herself alone with two of the boys in a bedroom. If that in itself is not a signal to the two boys that she is at least open to some hanky-panky, then I'm Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

    And if she had no interest at all in cavorting with the two boys, surely she was not so naive as to not understand what entering the bedroom with the boys would mean in their horny young minds.

    My guess is that one or both of the boys "made a move," but after some fumbling around they were successfully rebuffed. No clothing was removed, and she was allowed to leave unscathed. No police report was filed at the time, and evidently she told no one else about the incident, either.

    If you visit her Rate My Professors page, you get the impression that she is aloof, self-absorbed and controlling. If one were unkind, one might suggest that she fits the profile of a classic social-justice warrior:

    What's even more remarkable is that supposedly as late as 2012, she was still in counseling attempting to "get over" this traumatic event in her early life. We all keep hearing about how "strong" and "independent" modern-day feminists are, but this particular woman is either a shamelessly opportunistic ideologue, or is so delicate and fragile that one wonders how she even gets out of bed in the morning.

    I vote for the former.

  2. No disagreement with any of that here. I did indeed visit the Rate My Professors page. Yikes.

  3. "An unchaperoned 15-year-old girl attends a private party with four teenaged boys, who get smashed during the course of the evening.

    At one point, she finds herself alone with two of the boys in a bedroom. If that in itself is not a signal to the two boys that she is at least open to some hanky-panky, then I'm Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr."

    Given the context of your scenario, that's an absolutely astoundingly misogynist thing to say. Quite apart from possibly being just naive--she's only 15 after all--that girl should be able ***at any point*** to say "enough!"--and the boys should listen. At that point, I don't care how drunk they are, they should not try to prevent her from leaving or from screaming for help after they've prevented her from leaving. That's a very clear instance of criminal behavior in the context of their groping and attempting to disrobe her. That kind of thinking in men is what causes women to get raped--not the fact that some women go to parties and end out in a bedroom.

  4. "And if she had no interest at all in cavorting with the two boys, surely she was not so naive as to not understand what entering the bedroom with the boys would mean in their horny young minds."

    This is also problematic. First, you weren't inside her mind. You don't know if she was "horny" or not. Also, there are all sorts of reasons that have nothing to do with sex as to why a girl and two boys could end out in a bedroom at a party.

    Second--and this bears repeating--if at any point a person becomes uncomfortable with sexual contact, that person has the right to say "no; that's enough, now." And "no" means "no," regardless of what kind of room people are in or what kind of expectation one's partner(s) has/have.

    Kevin, I find it very troubling that you would say there's nothing to disagree with in KB's version of this scenario. His words are implicitly endorsing sexual assault there.

  5. I have been following the Kavanaugh story, too, but I believe the National Review article linked to ought to be supplemented by articles like this one. I find this latter article to be more compelling than the former--particularly given the NR's critical assumption about Ford's memory vs. the counsellor's notes. Ford's explanation for this is quite reasonable.

    I also find it disturbing that so many men seem to think that a woman who has been sexually assaulted will always call the police. This just isn't the case, for so many reasons*--and I have known more than one woman who has been sexually assaulted who has not gone to the police.

    I do not find the timing of this complaint suspicious. The women who accused Roy Moore did not complain about him for all his years as a very important political figure in Alabama. They complained only after he rose to truly national prominence. These women felt that the American public deserved to hear their stories. In terms of the timing of this, I don't see why Ford should be any different.

    I do agree with the NR writer about the point as to whether or not more women will emerge with complaints. The problem is that the Republicans are rushing this confirmation, and so there is very little time for more people to make their complaints.

    I also agree with the linked article about the need to talk to witnesses--and I note that the Democrats want to call witnesses, and the Republicans don't.

    All that said, I do not know if Kavanaugh is guilty of sexual assault and forcible confinement at a drunken party or not. I also do not know if Ford's accusation is politically motivated--and the fact that she's a progressive really could be quite unrelated to what is happening politically. I don't know.

    But I do believe that her case should be judged on its merits. Time should be set aside by the Judiciary Committee to properly study this incident, and to give opportunity for other victims to come forward--and all this is at the minimum.

    Meanwhile, as far as I'm concerned, Trump is in a conflict of interest as it's most likely that he has appointed Kavanaugh in the hope that Kavanaugh will have an incredibly expansive view of presidential powers--powers that Trump clearly wants to use to shut down the Mueller probe. And I must remark at the irony of this, because the same people who cried foul when Obama increased the power of the presidency are now supporting Trump's even more expansive view of the same, but under far murkier and corrupt conditions.

    *Possible reasons: feeling overwhelmed; not feeling comfortable talking to police about a sexual assault; not wanting to be blamed, either by police or by parents; feeling worried about damage to her reputation; feeling that the complaint could cause excessive damage to the perpetrator, etc. All of these feelings would be amplified many times over when discussing the distant past, when women were under a lot more pressure than men in regards to sexuality and society's expectations.

  6. By the way, just for the record, Kevin: I most certainly do not believe that you would condone sexual assault. But I do think that KB's scenario and what he wrote about it are highly problematic, to say the least.

  7. Nathan,

    Think back to your teen years. Even if you yourself weren't a wild-and-crazy type back then, you surely witnessed plenty of stupid behavior, some of which would be labeled, these days, as sexual assault, although back in the day it would have been called by other names, like "groping" and "pawing" and "copping a feel." I know I saw my share of such behavior in college (pretty much all of it consensual), and I don't recall ever stepping in and breaking things up. Did you? Maybe you were a saint and white knight back then, but I'm not "one without sin" who can "cast the first stone" here.

    As for the case in question, it's not even obvious that any of this actually happened. We're talking about a recollection supposedly from decades ago. The therapist from 2012 didn't even have Kavanaugh's name written in the notes. The victim can't even remember which party this happened at (unless she's suddenly changed her mind about that detail, too). The nature of the accusation is such that nothing can be proved or disproved, and then there's the timing of the accusation, which is awfully suspicious, and not an honorable reflection on Senator Feinstein, who apparently sat on this information for at least two months instead of doing the right thing.

    So it's hard to take any of this seriously, and the problem is similar to the problem of how on-campus sexual assault is handled today: it's handled in-house, by student and faculty judiciary committees comprising kangaroo courts that offer no rights to the accused (#IBelieveHer), instead of being handed right over to the police and faithfully following due process of law.

    This Kavanaugh-versus-Ford affair would have had much more substance had the case been immediately handed over to the FBI to discover whatever there is to discover. That isn't what happened, and if the current parties involved can't be bothered to take the case that seriously, why should I?

    There's also the corner into which feminists have painted themselves: either they're powerful, empowered beings who can handle themselves in sticky situations, or they're weak, wilting, delicate flowers who need help and the forbearance that comes from male gallantry. I side with Camille Paglia when it comes to the question of teen girls and young-adult women who get themselves into situations that turn ugly: they're at least partly responsible for their own predicament. That's not misogynistic: that's just the facts. Choices have consequences, and my sympathy is limited.

    In that light, I don't see KB as endorsing sexual assault. His argument, if I'm reading him correctly, mirrors Paglia's point of view on the topic of wise and unwise life-choices that lead to good or bad outcomes. If we grant, for a moment, that Kavanaugh & Co. are, in fact, provably guilty of assaulting Dr. Ford in her youth, then yeah—let Kavanaugh fry. But there's little about this story, aside from a lot of hyperventilating, to convince me there's any real substance to be found. Ford seems to have been drunk herself, but being drunk doesn't remove the power of choice, as you yourself affirm in your above comments.

    Prediction: the Kavanaugh hearing will end up being a blip on the road to Kavanaugh's confirmation, and Dr. Ford will become this decade's Anita Hill.

  8. Hi Kevin,

    I was too busy studying and working up to about 25 hours a week at McDonald's to ever go to parties as a youngster, but I certainly would have said "let her go" if I had been there in this situation (as Ford describes it).

    Actually, what bothered me wasn't KB's assumption that this complaint is politically-motivated--the timing doesn't especially bother me, but I can certainly see how it could bother others--it was his presentation of the scenario, as though a 15 year old girl who goes into the bedroom with two boys at a party should expect to be fully at the mercy of those boys and be unable to leave until they are happy.

    As for the confirmation hearing and its outcome, I will actually be surprised if this does not blow up in the Democrat's faces.

  9. NB: I published my reply before I'd had a chance to read your third and fourth comments.

    With regard to women who delay in talking with the police: I have some sympathy, here, but my sympathy isn't infinite. If someone is truly interested in justice, then she'll work to have justice done as opposed to allowing a situation to sit and fester. Issues of shame and such are mere excuses for not immediately doing the right thing. Many of the justifications for delay that you cited really come down to a kind of spiritual laziness or inertia—an unwillingness to budge, and to get things moving, because it's easier and more comfortable (at least in the short term) to sit and do nothing. Psychotherapist M. Scott Peck noted long ago that laziness is the "original sin" of the human condition; we're all guilty, in some aspect of our lives, of not doing the right thing when the right thing demanded to be done.

    If we grant that it's true Ford found herself in a bedroom with two horny guys, then it's also true that she and those guys ended up in that situation because of a series of choices that all three of them made. There was nothing inevitable about that unpleasant scenario. This assessment makes Ford less of a victim and more of an agent, which is not at all the same as blaming the victim.

  10. Oops: "...Democrats' faces."



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