All opinions herein expressed are subject to revision — probably the opinions of my sources as well as my own — but I’m not going to wait any longer.
That things like what is described in Ford’s letter “happened all the time” is, I’m sure, true. That it’s “all too consistent with stories” that people heard and their lived experience is also, I’m sure, true. But the questions is whether Brett Kavanaugh did something like this. Evidence that stuff like what he’s accused of happened to many people, or that prep-school guys like him always get away with things like this, is not evidence against Brett Kavanaugh. It is more like a cultural script in search of players to be cast in their respective roles later.
Evidence may yet be presented that incriminates Kavanaugh, and it may shift this conversation away from people generalizing from their own experiences. But until then, it is a dangerous thing to proceed toward a judgment, even a political judgment, based on prejudices such as “this thing happens all the time” and “it’s consistent with stories we know.” The sensation of finding archetypal victimizers and victims is what made false stories about Duke’s lacrosse players and the University of Virginia’s fraternity brothers go viral across the culture.
And this “he’s the type” style of accusation will not be used only on privileged men like Kavanaugh. It can, it has, and it will be used on anyone. Of course they’ll deny it. They always do.
Michael Brendan Dougherty. There’s also a counter-narrative that women use sex to get what they want and then leverage it to get even more as victims. I know this to be true because I heard it from a woman, who believed it vigorously.
I’ve always been dissatisfied with the declaration, “Women don’t lie about rape.” Sure, some small number of women do affirmatively lie, but as a general matter, the word “lie” is an odd fit for a real world where perceptions differ and memories are malleable. And, by the way, this isn’t “right-wing denialism,” it’s just scientific fact.
… [I]f there isn’t any corroboration or external evidence outside of Christine Ford’s three-decades-old recollections, that’s simply not sufficient basis for derailing the nomination of an outstanding jurist — no matter how fiercely they’re believed.
I am in favor of withholding judgment on Kavanaugh and his accuser, and I was in favor of that even before it became moot (because he now would lose a forced vote on Thursday).
We’re going to hear the accuser and the accused, and that’s as it must be.
But as I think several steps forward, I can’t imagine any plausible good resolution. Brett Kavanaugh probably can’t disprove the accusations conclusively, but neither can the Democrats disprove the plausible suspicions about the “late hit”:
Unfortunately, with the midterms almost upon us, there is now no path to an outcome that both sides see as legitimate. Democrats can insist that the revelation of Ford’s story was not exquisitely timed to exactly the moment when it became impossible to confirm a different nominee before the elections. But they are in essentially the same position as Kavanaugh: Even if they are telling the truth, they have no way to provide convincing proof.
Megan McArdle (emphasis added).
I suspect that years from now we’ll still be divided into “I fiercely believed her” versus “I fiercely believed him” camps on this as on Anita Hill versus Clarence Thomas.
The hardest thing may be avoiding toxic presumptions or forcing the story into archetypes (see Michael Brendan Dougherty, above).
Rod Dreher, finishing a book tour in Italy, wrote a long blog while at the airport for his return flight. It’s not his best work, but he alluded to getting attacked on Twitter
for suggesting that the way people behave in high school, especially under the influence of drugs or alcohol, should not be a determinative factor in taking public office decades later. Someone said, “I hope you don’t have a daughter.”
I do have a daughter, [but] I also have sons, and I shudder to think what a teenage drunken encounter gone bad might do to their lives over three decades later, if somebody dredged it up. Or what a mere uncorroborated allegation of an unwanted sexual encounter might do to them ….
Just so. I know men are all monsters — a bias I find it all too easy to share — but too easy really is too easy.
Pre-publication update: An old Evangelical friend, (who at least used to be) a good man, is foaming at the mouth on Facebook with “let him who is without sin …” and a Facebook friend replies with lurid innuendo about the accuser.
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