The nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court was met by entirely predictable responses. Conservatives gloried in their moment to undo all that is unholy in the courts. Liberals warned of Brett Kavanaugh marching house-to-house and ordering women into slavery. The hysterical praise and hysterical opposition was as surprising as the forces of gravity that act on every body, including our politics, which are careening towards destruction.
I found the confirmation hearings to be so blatantly theatrical as to be totally unremarkable. Senators gave speeches and put on their happy/angry/smug faces as they basically were just banking B-roll for their campaign ads. Totally disgusting. Totally predictable.
And then something else happened.
Allegations of sexual assault.
That wasn’t predictable at all. Sadly, everything that has followed is just as predictable.
I am relatively strange politically. I’m mostly centrist, with odd very conservative and liberal divergences. This is mostly born out of particular Christian convictions coming to bear on specific issues. I have no political party, mostly because I find all of them opposed to the Kingdom at some point. I’m comfortable with this reality. If you must know, I generally lean right on the spectrum.
Judicially, I’m less fuzzy. I think strict interpretations of the law are better. I think words mean things and they mean what they mean. If you don’t like what the laws mean, change them. Until then, read them for what they are.
That being said, it seems like I’m inclined to like the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh.
I say “it seems like” because I’ve basically ignored the circus. I find it all depressing now. So I wasn’t passionate about it and don’t have strong opinions on him.
The questions provoked by these charges, though… those I find interesting.
It’s interesting to ask how far into our lives the failures of our youth should follow us. And are there different tiers of crime that should or should not follow us? Why do we seal youth criminal records if they should follow us? Those are interesting questions.
It seems that Professor Ford notified people of her accusations long ago but her accusations were not acted upon and then leaked at the most opportune time. Why? If political operatives can not be trusted to handle such accusations, are the accusations they deliver themselves trustworthy?
For conservatives, is his nomination worth the effort? He is surely not the very last conservative, strict constructionist in the judiciary. Why not just drop him and find someone whose views may be objectionable to progressives but does not have this stench about them? I am entirely for the overturning of Roe v. Wade. I think abortion is unethical. Evil. A perpetual act of coercion against the most vulnerable aided by persistent moral blindness rivaled only by some of the worst atrocities in history. But I recognize that’s a point of view shared by only half of the country. If/when that decision happens, need it be accompanied by the stench of this? Why not just find someone else?
These are all interesting questions. (For the record, “What will happen to all the men now?” is the least interesting of all the questions. Give me a break [insert the largest eyeroll emoji in history]. Men will find a way to be fine.)
To me, none of these questions should be the first question, the most important.
The question really should be: Is it true? And that question should be asked in good faith, absent uninformed and reactionary antagonism.
The question of the truth of the accusations is really what matters here. If they are true, then Judge Kavanaugh has almost certainly lied, on top of doing something terrible many years ago. He could have been so blackout drunk that he does not remember. That is its own piece of information that we do not know. If the allegations are true, than a horrible crime was committed and there are untruths swirling around a man appointed to a very powerful position. The truth would be devastating.
If the accusation is not true, then someone has leveraged the worst kind of lie to harm a political opponent. It’s a lie that endangers women, who are often accused of lying but almost 100% of the time, are not. The falsehood would be devastating.
As someone who is inclined to want to see someone like Kavanaugh on the bench, I have to say that I wish people on “my team” would ask this question more clearly and without objections like “But it was so long ago!” and “Who will be accused next?!” Frankly, I don’t wish this because of all the men they’re worried about. I wish they’d take the accusation seriously because I have three daughters and a wife and female friends and a congregation with lots of women, too.
I want to live in a world where, if one of these women that I love came forward and said that a powerful man did something dastardly, they would be listened to with concern and care.
“Why did it take so long?” That’s a bad question. Sexual assault comes with immense trauma and shame. If someone says anything, it requires a heroic level of strength and determination. I mean, for crying out loud, look at all that is coming this woman’s way now. You think people hunger for the glamour of being pilloried in the press?
Behind bad questions like those is a fundamental mistrust amongst all political people today that the people with whom they fundamentally disagree could possibly have good motivations. And I think this is a terrible state of things. Like I said, I think abortion is evil. But I don’t think that people who love abortion love murdering babies. I think they love women and want to see them break through systems of poverty and oppression. Now, I think they’ve miscalculated the nature of the other Person involved (the baby). But I think their motivations are good.
To assume, without examination, that all progressives are perverts (I’ve read this on people’s social media) and that this is transparently a power play is a real disservice and not a way I would like to be treated. Therefore, I don’t think people should think/act that way towards progressives (see: Rule, Golden). In addition, to fail to see that progressives hate false accusations of rape precisely because of how it hurts the cause of many many real victims, which they would care about more than Supreme Court seats, is to fail to see the remnants of Good left everywhere. Even on the Political Left.
In addition, to assume that, because a man is conservative and possibly anti-abortion, he is incapable of moral evil is a failure to apply the doctrine of Total Depravity. Not everyone is as depraved as possible, but every person is touched by depravity at every level of our being. We should view ourselves, even the ideologically “pure,” as capable of real moral evil. We should be suspicious of ourselves at all times. And of our tribe.
I have no idea if Judge Kavanaugh did this thing. I know that this woman has several indicators of telling a true story (Boz Tchividjian runs an organization that fights and protects against sexual abuse).
But I want to know the answer to The Question.
He may be a much better man now. He may have been very drunk and did an evil thing and he’s grown up and become a much better person. That’s entirely possible.
That’s not what I need to know right now. The most important question is not what happens to all conservative men running for high office, or judicial philosophy, or questions of the crimes of others or how this relates to sexual progressivism or any of those other things.
The question that’s most important is really very simple:
Is it true?
Imagine, if you would, the terror of the scenario described. Try to imagine being a 15-year-old girl, pinned down by a larger, older male student. Imagine onlookers who could help, but won’t as it seems like your body will be violated in the must intimate and disturbing way. Imagine the raw terror of that and then getting away but knowing that this closed, elite little society is more likely to tell you you’re crazy or were drunk or do anything but believe you because “He’s not that kind of guy.” Imagine only being able to describe that trauma years and years later to your husband and therapist. And then imagine that guy somehow, improbably, becoming incredibly powerful and important. And you finally feel you have to say something about what happened.
Is it at least theoretically possible, is it feasible, logically possible that such a scenario could have happened? It’s at least possible, right?
Did it? Is it true? I don’t know. No idea.
We should be asking that honestly and seriously, though. And we should aim to find out the answer if at all possible.
Is it true?