Menu

The Kavanaugh episode got me thinking

Opinion: Columns

October 9th, 2018 11:34 AM

By John Hubbuch

Only the naive could have thought that Mr. Kavanaugh would not be a Supreme Court judge. Republicans do what they gonna do. Democrats do what they gonna do. After all of the month-long hullabaloo, we are where we were at the beginning. Something is wrong with this process.

Millions of written words, a cacophony of braying media, and the collateral damage to Ms. Ford and Mr. Kavanaugh — it all now seems so very predictable and pointless. At least MSNBC and Fox got ratings bumps and the two parties raised some money.

I found it rather thought-provoking in a number of unanticipated ways. I like how the banal and mundane provide an access point, a worm hole if you will, to ideas that I am really more interested in. The Ford-Kavanaugh conflict impacted other areas of intellectual interest to me.

Memory. Just how trustworthy is our memory? I have known Marsha for 54 years so we have had many shared experiences over those years, but some I remember; some she doesn't; some she does; some I don't. Some we agree we were both there, but we disagree on the details. Our past really isn't our past. You think you know your history, but you don't.

Alcohol. How much makes you a drunk? Daily drinking? Blackout drinking once a month? Once a year? Do good people do bad things when they are drunk? Does alcohol reveal or distort essence?

The past. If you do something bad when you are young, does that make you a bad person? How young? How bad? How long ago? What should be the penalty for bad youthful deeds? Is there a statute of limitations on youthful indiscretion, even crime?

Truth. No one can really know what happened at the party Ms. Ford remembered being assaulted by Mr. Kavanaugh. Mr. Kavanaugh said it never happened. Is there truth? If there is, does our subjectivity, a combination of nature and nurture, filter that truth? Of course it does.

Of course, like most everyone in the world, I have no idea what happened at the forever-famous party so many years ago, but I have tried hard to identify my biases. Two come into play here:

First, I don't like the rich and the privileged. The source of my bias, I suspect, is birth in a working-class family in southern Indiana. My dad made fun of the hoity-toity. My experience in college, law school and the work place reinforced that bias. I'm not a frat or private club guy. So I am biased against Mr. Kavanaugh. (A related question: Speaking of rich and privileged, how many of the male Republican and Democratic senators are rich and privileged? How many are guilty of the same alleged conduct as Mr. Kavanaugh?)

Second, until recently I never much thought about women being sexually assaulted. My dad, uncles, friends and sons never did it, and women never talked about. But times change. I now know that most of the women I know have been sexually assaulted in their lives. I have daughters-in-laws and granddaughters. With this evolved perspective, I now have a new subjectivity. 

If a woman says she was sexually assaulted, there is a pretty good chance she was.

So for me, yet another bad, predictable play, performed by the United States Senate Theater had some redeeming value. Kind of like a Nicholas Cage movie. 

At least that's what I tell myself.