Brett Kavanaugh shouldn’t be a Supreme Court justice

On Tuesday evening, I attended the Me Too Kingston panel discussion at the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center. I want to take a moment to thank those who spoke — all of the panelists were engaging and offered valuable information and insight into this most courant of au courant topics.

Tuesday’s talk, along with a five-hour training course about sexual harassment and child sex abuse I took on Saturday, has given me a lot to process. I’m personally realizing in a way I don’t think I ever truly have that being a white male in American society gives me power by default that people of color and women don’t have. I am also realizing that while I have never thought of myself as being a particularly powerful or threatening person, the authority that I do have as the editor of this paper and as a member of the vestry of a small Episcopal church down in Marlboro can be abused if I’m not careful with it. In general, I think this is a time for men to open both our ears and our hearts and listen, carefully, and to take seriously to what women are saying about what they’ve gone through in their lives. Rather than trying to put up walls of denial and obfuscation, men should work toward radical honesty about how women are treated and our own individual behavior and beliefs. It’s going to be a long and difficult path to walk, but at the end of it is a better world with a lot less pain for all of us.

There is, however, a matter that needs immediate attention, and that is the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. While, as of Wednesday evening anyway, Senate Republicans seem bent on ramming it through no matter what, I don’t think he belongs there.

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Being appointed to the Supreme Court means you are one of the most powerful people in the world, who can only lose that power — barring the very rare (it’s only happened once) impeachment — by dying or quitting of one’s own accord. No matter how a justice behaves or what’s found out about a justice after appointment, the public can’t vote anybody off that bench. Should not the bar one has to clear for getting that power be extraordinarily high?

I believe Christine Blasey Ford. She knows full well the shredding Anita Hill got when she went to the Senate to talk about her experience with Clarence Thomas. She can surely expect the same treatment, and maybe worse. Who on earth would volunteer for that unless they knew they were absolutely right about who attacked them?

I, too, was an at-times drunken 17-year-old boy in the mid-1980s. I am not pointing out that I did not sexually assault anyone when I was 17 to try to bring some kind of #NotAllMen glow of moral superiority to myself. I am pointing it out to merely affirm that it is, contrary to what I’ve heard from some of Kavanaugh’s supporters, actually possible to be a drunken 17-year-old boy and not sexually assault anybody.

For me, it comes down to empathy. To grope, try to undress and then cover the mouth of someone else to prevent that person from screaming for help indicates to me a dramatic lack of perception of the fear that person is feeling in that moment. That’s an empathy deficit of profound depth. While we all can grow out of many things, I don’t know if anyone can go from being like that to being able to get over the extraordinarily high bar to be on the Supreme Court. I don’t want someone who might have that little empathy to have that much power. Do you?

There are 12 comments

  1. JP

    Well Dan, this country’s laws are based on, Innocent til proven Guilty. Every person Ford named did not back her up. They all said they knew nothing of what she was talking about. She was inconsistent in her time line, couldn’t name days or dates, and again named people who were there that had no recollection of what she was talking about. So is this what America has become? One person comes out, says you did something, with no evidence or witnesses, and smears your entire life’s work? Or embarrasses your wife and children? Or how about the 65 women that came to Kavanaughs defense. They are also being harassed. Where are all these peoples rights. I only hope that something like this never happens to you!

    1. Steven L Fornal

      Of course, when something monstrous happens to YOU, the memory of it is vivid. Why would such a memory be the same for those that weren’t there (down stairs) and didn’t know what had happened? For them it was just another party without notable happenstance which fell from memory.

      Her memory details fit the long arc of those abused. She put it in scientific terms when asked how she could be sure what had happened and by whom: ““The same way that I’m sure that I’m talking to you right now, just basic memory functions,” Blasey told Feinstein in response. “And also just the level of norepinephrine and epinephrine in the brain that sort of, as you know, encodes ― that neurotransmitter encodes memories into the hippocampus, and so the trauma-related experience then is kind of locked there whereas other details kind of drift.”

      Yup! She also took a lie-detector test also that proved her veracity.

      On the other hand, Kavanaugh refused to simply state that he would certainly approve of an FBI investigation (quite different than the prior six times he was investigated as there were no charges upon which to follow up on) and made this out to be a left-wing conspiracy to get him. Wow! Not to mention his showing of aggression and anger in the face of questioning. NOT the stuff of considered judgment.

      Also to consider is his statement re him not having sexual intercourse or anything like that up well into college gives a hint to possible reactions to women; pent up lust unleashed in such crude fashion as grabbing and trying to dislodge her clothing so that he could appear to be sexually viable ergo proving his manhood. We’ve all experienced those boasters of sexual conquest in High School which turned out to be all talk and no walk. So his described behavior coincides with that prototype.

      Oh, and his tears? Probably crying over his chance of Supreme Court being “taken” from him as if he was entitled to it. Much as an actor culls up some deeply personal loss to cry on cue. Also a clue as to his upbringing. Entitlement is a deep, deep malady rarely cured.

  2. Carol Laurito

    First of all Dan, Bill Clinton did far worse in his sexual assaults of adult women, including Juanita Broderick, and of course, his young intern Monica Lewinsky while he was governor and as president and even while in our White House. Who stood up for those women? All were adults and yet nothing was done to respect all these women. No one criminalized Bill Clinton who is thought of as this great man, and still paid big bucks for speaking engagements. Charges should have been brought against him. There should have been FBI investigations and the media should have discredited him.
    This new situation with Judge Kavanaugh’s and Christine Ford supposedly happened 36 years ago when they were 17 and 15 respectively. Young teenagers in high school. Yet no one has asked her did her parents know that their daughter was going to a party at this house? Whose house was it? A relatives? Friend So? Where was the adult supervision at this party which had to have been a pool party since she was wearing a bathing suit under her clothes! Did she lie to her parents about where she was going? Had she was lied to her parents before? Did she go to a lot of parties with teenage boys and girls? Was there drinking? Did she often drink at these parties? Did she get drunk at these parties? Did she ever make out at the parties? so many questions unanswered. All these years Kavanaugh was a judge and only now she remembers something vaguely happened. Funny she just happens to be an anti-president Trump, who happened to nominate Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. She just happens to have several GoFundMe accounts with hundreds of thousands of dollars. Sorry, just too many loopholes in her story, and she had weeks to be carefully rehearsed. Judge Kavanaugh has been around a long time and his record has been outstanding. Ford’s own students tell what type of person she is. Maybe it is time to start vetting our elected officials of both parties, going back to kindergarten. You never know what kind of “goodies” will be found!

    1. Susan

      I don’t know where you get your information, but you clearly did not read her account or listen to her at the hearing. Your ramblings are the stuff of soap operas and FOX NEWS tell us more about you and what motivates you than Christine B. Ford.

  3. Jane

    I think you offer very sensible ideas here and I wholeheartedly agree that he does not belong on that bench. While I found the entire line of questioning about the yearbook to be ludicrous and capable of proving nothing – not even likelihood of his bad behavior – his response to it was all too telling. Even disregarding all the histrionics, his petulance was so over the top it put me in mind of Spicoli, not a United States Supreme Court Justice.

  4. KFS

    With nothing more than a vague accusation from almost four decades ago and no hard evidence to back it up, the far left Democrats on the Senate judiciary committee decided to destroy this man’s character and integrity in one fell swoop!

    This is disgusting behavior from disgusting politicians who sit in judgement of a person when some of their own moral shortcomings are well known (I’m looking at you Blumenthal and Booker) and should not go unanswered.

    The #metoo movement backed by rabid feminists have become a modern day lynch mob out to destroy men’s lives with nothing more than an accusation.

    Here’s a thought to all you Democrats in the senate: If you don’t like Kavanaugh’s political beliefs. DON’T VOTE FOR HIM! but instead the have to destroy his life and reputation. What utter and complete garbage. How do they live with themselves?

    Never trust feelings and emotions in cases like this, they’re almost always wrong, but the facts never are,

  5. Samuel B. Morse

    U.S. President Grover Cleveland (he’s on the $500 currency bill) was accused of sexually attacking Maria Halpin too. He had her put in an insane asylum, and put the child in an orphanage. Then there was Warren G. Harding who….
    It was all on the telegraph.

  6. Frank Honest

    Carol get a grip. First off President Clinton was impeached.

    To the rest of your misguided ramblings….turn off rush, hannity, and levin and you would know the honest answers to all your questions.

    When is “day one” and the wall with full repeal coming?

  7. Mike Shattuck

    Hell of a strange position for a newspaper to take. You don’t believe anyone blindly. You dig and go where the facts lead. In this case, zero evidence, witnesses or corroboration. The same Constitution that gives you a right to publish gives him a right to due process and a presumption of innocence. Again, odd position for a newspaper to take, but we live in strange times.

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