Thoughts On the Kavanaugh/Ford Story

I haven’t commented much on all the drama surrounding the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination, and I’ve shied away from mentioning politics on this blog.  However, in light of recent events and the emotional toll they’re taking on people I care about, I felt obligated to speak up. Now, first let me say that I don’t really have any political skin in this game. I consider myself a Libertarian, not a Republican or Democrat, so this isn’t about “taking sides” for me. Therefore, I’ve gathered all the facts and have tried to look at everything from a rational and analytical standpoint. Let’s start with the people involved, Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford.

Both Kavanaugh and Dr. Ford were raised in Bethesda, Maryland, a suburb located just northwest of Washington D.C., where they both lived until college. Kavanaugh went to Georgetown Preparatory School, an all-boys school, and Ford went to Holton-Arms School, an all-girls school. The schools are roughly seven miles away from one another (about a 15 minute drive), so it makes sense that they would have known many of the same people and would have been at some of the same parties.

During high school, Kavanaugh was close friends with writer Mark Judge, who later published a memoir about his youthful alcoholism entitled Wasted: Tales of a GenX Drunk. Judge wrote that the social environment of his peers at the school was “positively swimming in alcohol” and recounted a hookup culture involving binge drinking, especially during a period of time at the school known as “Beach Week.” Judge defined “Beach Week” at Georgetown as a “week-long bacchanalia of drinking and sex, or at least attempts at sex.” He also discussed a phrase, “100 Kegs Or Bust,” in relation to excessive alcohol drinking during his times at Georgetown, and he presented in-depth memories of orgies and attempts to have sex fueled with alcohol at residences along the beach shoreline.

Brett Kavanaugh appears to show up in the book under the name “Bart O’Kavanaugh,” specifically remembered by Judge as a fellow student who who passed out and threw up in a car.  It’s also notable that Kavanaugh’s own yearbook entry mentions him as the “Beach Week Ralph Club — Biggest Contributor” and the “Keg City Club (Treasurer) — 100 Kegs or Bust.” His yearbook entry also mentions “the devil’s triangle,” which generally refers to a threesome between one woman and two men.  Despite Kavanaugh’s rather laughable attempts to explain away these references in the most innocent manner possible, they certainly provide evidence that he was a heavy drinker and a member of the same debaucherous crowd as Judge.

As a side note, what kind of a weirdo keeps a handwritten calendar from when he was in high school?  He actually had that thing on hand three decades later?  Okay.

In 2012, Dr. Ford first mentioned being sexually assaulted during a couples therapy session with her husband.  The therapist’s notes, portions of which were provided by Ford and reviewed by The Washington Post, do not mention Kavanaugh’s name but say she reported that she was attacked by students “from an elitist boys’ school” who went on to become “highly respected and high-ranking members of society in Washington.”

In 2013, notes from an individual therapy session indicate that Ford described a “rape attempt” in her late teens.

In July 2018, after Kavanaugh was reported to be on the shortlist for Trump’s Supreme Court nomination, Ford contacted both The Washington Post and her congresswoman, Anna Eshoo.

On July 9, 2018, Trump nominated Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

On July 20, 2018, Eshoo met with Dr. Ford, becoming convinced of her credibility and noting that Ford seemed “terrified” that her identity as an accuser might become public.  Eshoo and Ford decided to take the matter to Senator Dianne Feinstein, one of Ford’s senators in California and the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee. In a letter to Feinstein, Ford alleged that Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her when both were in high school and stated that she expected her story to be kept confidential.

In August 2018, Ford took a polygraph test with a former FBI agent, who concluded Ford was being truthful when attesting to the accuracy of her allegations. Due to her confidentiality commitment to Ford, Feinstein did not raise the issue in the initial Kavanaugh confirmation proceedings.

On September 12, 2018, news leaked that Feinstein was withholding a Kavanaugh-related document from fellow Judiciary Committee Democrats.  Feinstein then referred Ford’s letter to the FBI, which redacted Ford’s name and forwarded the letter to the White House as an update to Kavanaugh’s background check.  The White House in turn sent the letter to the full Senate Judiciary Committee.

On September 16, 2018, after media reported anonymous allegations and reporters started to track down her identity, Dr. Ford went public.  In her report to The Washington Post, Ford stated that in the early 1980s, when she and Kavanaugh were teenagers, Kavanaugh and his classmate Mark Judge “corralled” her in a bedroom at a party in Maryland.  According to Ford, Kavanaugh pinned her to the bed, groped her, ground against her, and tried to pull off her clothes and covered her mouth when she tried to scream.  She managed to get away when Judge jumped on the bed, knocking them all over.

On September 20, 2018, it was revealed that more than 1,000 alumnae of Ford’s high school from between the 1940s and present day had signed a letter in support of Ford’s call for a “thorough and independent investigation” before she testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee.  The letter also stated that the school has a long history of similar incidents, and the signatories stated that they were “survivors” who either heard about or experienced sex abuse at the school.

On September 21, 2018, Trump tweeted about Dr. Ford, saying that if her allegations were true, either she or her parents would have reported them at the time of the event. Of course, anyone with friends, family, or loved ones who have experienced sexual assault knows that his statement is complete nonsense.  It’s extremely common for women say nothing at all for a litany of reasons: personal shame, denial, feelings of helplessness, fear of reliving the trauma, fear of repercussions, fear of people not believing them, etc.

On September 27, 2018, both Ford and Kavanaugh testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which pretty much resulted in everyone in America continuing to believe what they already believed in the first place about the incident.

Okay, let’s start with the obvious. Ford was clearly sexually assaulted in high school.  As stated above, she mentioned the incident in therapy sessions in 2012 and 2013, before Trump was elected and before Kavanaugh was even on the radar.  Even Kavanaugh himself said, “I am not questioning that Dr. Ford may have been sexually assaulted,”  so let’s just take the point that she was indeed a victim as a given. To claim she’s making it up entirely is utter nonsense.

Now, let’s begin with the least believable scenario (due to its laughable implausibility): the claim that Dr. Ford was paid off by Democrats to make these allegations against Kavanaugh in a last-ditch effort to torpedo his nomination.  It’s insanely ridiculous how complicated such a scheme would be to pull off successfully.  First of all, the alleged conspirators would have to somehow locate a woman who was of similar age to Kavanaugh, who had been sexually assaulted in high school, and who lived in the same area and was at the same party as Kavanaugh.  The woman would also have to know that Kavanaugh and Judge were friends, since that was part of her testimony.  There is no possible way that Senate Democrats could have found all this information on their own, especially since the records of her therapy sessions (the only previous times she discussed the incident) would have been confidential.  So let’s just throw this scenario out entirely.

The next possible scenario is that Ford, of her own volition, is lying about Kavanaugh being the perpetrator of her assault.  But this also seems severely unlikely once you actually research and understand the motives and statistics related to women reporting sexual assault.  RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, reports that less than 1/3 of all sexual assaults are reported to police.  Why?  Well, 20% feared retaliation, 13% believed the police would not do anything to help (99% of perpetrators walk free), 13% believed it was a personal matter, 8% reported to a different official, 8% believed it was not important enough to report, 7% did not want to get the perpetrator in trouble, and 2% believed the police could not do anything to help (the remaining 30% were not able to give a reason).  In light of all that, we’re supposed to believe that a woman who was sexually assaulted in 1982 and was unable to talk about it until 2012, even to her husband, suddenly decided to use her traumatic experience as a political weapon to ruin the life and career of someone she knows is innocent?  Sorry, I don’t buy that.

So that leaves us with a scenario in which Ford is telling the truth, or at the very least believes she is.  Now, is it possible that she is simply mistaken about Kavanaugh being the actual perpetrator? Sure, I guess technically it’s possible.  But again, I find it unlikely.  My wife has been the victim of both rape and sexual assault, to various extents, on multiple occasions throughout her life.  Not only does she hate talking about these events with anyone, but even when you can draw it out of her, she frequently doubts herself and wonders whether everything happened exactly the way she remembers.  The details of the memories are always blurry and confusing, which is very common with trauma, especially when it happened a long time ago.  You remember the Who.  You remember the What.  But sometimes the Where and When can get pretty hazy.  Therefore, Dr. Ford’s story is given credence by the facts 1) that she was willing to come forward publicly in the first place, and 2) that she explicitly testified that she was “100 percent” certain that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her.  If you’ve been through something like this with a loved one before, you know those words mean something, because certainty is hard.  If you ask me, based on what can be extrapolated about his teenage years from Judge’s memoir and Kavanaugh’s own yearbook, I find it far more believable that Kavanaugh was so drunk at the time that he can’t remember the incident at all.

In all honesty, there are things I’ve said and done, which I regret deeply, that many people who know me would be shocked to learn about.  None of us are saints.  None of us are above falling into even the worst patterns of behavior.

Personally, I believe Christine Blasey Ford.  Does this mean Kavanaugh is the same person now as he was then?  Not necessarily.  Does it mean he should be arrested or face criminal charges?  Of course not.  First of all, the statute of limitations is long past, so that’s not possible anyway.  But secondly, as many have argued, there doesn’t seem to be any hard proof of the incident in question, which is often the case with sexual assault.  Admittedly, it’s just the word of the victim and some circumstantial evidence.  But this isn’t about criminal charges.  It’s about character.  And based on some of the frankly unbelievable things he said in his testimony, the whole thing reeks of falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus.  For a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land, character really ought to count.  Of course, it ought to count for the presidency as well, but that’s another kettle of fish.

To be honest, I’ve been on both sides of this type of debate, and looking back, I’m ashamed that I once held some of the same attitudes that we’ve seen on display lately.  I’m fortunate to have had my wife in my life for so many years, because she eventually broke me of all that.  She softened me and made me more compassionate and understanding.  As I wrote in my previous blog post, for a long time I didn’t comprehend why so many women waited years or even decades to report being assaulted. Like skeptics are doing now, I would scoff at the allegations and think, “Well, if her story is true, then why wait so long to say something?” But she helped me learn that this is actually the most common response there is for victims.  I learned a lot of lessons the hard way, with plenty of hurt feelings along the way.  I regret those times in the past when I, like so many others, was blinded by partisan politics and just plain ignorance.  I wish I could apologize for everyone out there who has thoughtlessly dismissed these allegations out of indifference or political expedience.  Some things matter more than bills or votes or nominations or appointments or party affiliation.  I hope one day more of our politicians and more of our neighbors will understand that.

I’d like to end with a wonderful article written by a youth pastor.  Please read the whole thing, which is linked RIGHT HERE.  But a few select quotes are below…

The language we use when we talk about these issues, the types of things we share on Facebook, retweet on Twitter, and yell at our crazy uncle on speaker phone in the middle of Starbucks, they have a trickle down effect. Our youth, they hear it, they see it, and their worldview is formed by it. How they talk about and treat each other is directly related to how we talk about and treat each other. So just for a moment, set aside your voter registration. Forget about the winning the midterms, overturning Roe v. Wade, and putting up that ugly political sign in your yard. Let’s have a conversation…

We must — for the sake of our youth — create an environment where our students can feel confident reporting sexual assault. No student should ever be scared to speak out. Every student should have a safe space to open up. And if that church can’t be that place, what can?  There is a reason it took these women so long to speak out, to open up. For years, we as a society have been telling them to shut up…

I know some might say, “But what about the men who are falsely accused?” To that I would reply, “I would rather my son be falsely accused and proven innocent than my daughter be truthfully abused and never believed.”

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s