Watching the story unfold about Brett Kavanaugh’s alleged sexual attack on a young girl while he was in high school has been distressing, right? I’ll say up front that I believe his accuser, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. This is an intelligent, reputable woman who knew full well that she was putting herself and her family in jeopardy by stepping forward. She has nothing to gain but heartache, aggravation and yes, even fear by going public with the story of this assault.
But what I also believe is that there’s a good chance Kavanaugh doesn’t think he did it. He doesn’t remember because he was totally blotto. It was over quickly. He didn’t “score” (which he would NOT have forgotten). His buddy was likely egging him on, then jumped on him – who knows why; they were drunk – and the next thing you know, they’re stumbling down the stairs belching and listening to some jerk belt out the lyrics to “Roxanne.” Hey! Somebody change that lame music and where’s the keg?
Either he doesn’t remember, or he’s too cowardly to admit that he screwed up. If he does remember, he missed his opportunity to say he’s sorry, he was drunk and immature, and then to apologize as sincerely as he’d demand any idiot who tried to pull that with one of his daughters would be expected to do. Maybe he’d even have the guts to offer to step down, like Al Franken (whose questionable sense of humor wasn’t nearly as offensive as this shit show).
Regardless, chances are that Brett and his prep school buds preyed on girls at every weekend party. That weekend was likely just one of dozens – hundreds? – of weekends in his high school and college years where excessive drinking contributed to varying degrees of aggression toward young women.
I’m not saying it’s okay. I am saying it happens. Plenty. I can’t speak for how that age group interacts today, but I doubt it’s much different from when I was growing up. Kavanaugh’s crowd followed about ten years after mine, so I can picture the scenario pretty clearly. Again, it wasn’t right – but it wasn’t uncommon.
Here’s where I’m going with this essay. I’m going to blame this in part on . . .
Private school ain’t the real world
Brett Kavanaugh is the only child of very successful parents. Right off the bat, I have to wonder if he would have been quite as predatory if he had had sisters. Strike one.
Then, at the cusp of puberty, he was sent to an all-boys Catholic school. Strike two. His parents’ intent surely was to give their son the best education they could afford. Plus, parents who put their kids in same-sex schools generally believe that without the distraction of girls/boys, their child will find it easier to concentrate on studies and, hopefully, excel academically minus all the hormonal drama.
There’s some logic to that. Scholastically, same-sex education can offer an academic edge to many students. However. And this is a big “however.” When young people are segregated from the opposite sex during an activity (school) that demands most of their time and focus during their teenage years, they lose the opportunity to interact with both sexes in a relatively safe, non-threatening environment.
Your lab partner could be the football quarterback, or the quiet girl who also sits behind you in Spanish. In class, at lunch, in clubs, in sports, these young people become more than just “other.” A guy learns that the curvy girl he’d like to know better is an ace in geometry and has a wicked sense of humor. She’s more than boobs and butt and big brown eyes. Her name is Allison and she has a Golden Retriever that looks a lot like his.
But if they go to different schools, and are both smashed at a weekend party, guess what? She becomes boobs-butt-big brown eyes because he’s a teenager and that’s all he sees. It’s human nature. Not knowing who she is or having had practice interacting every day with girls like her, is a recipe for trouble. He’s been hearing guys openly bragging at his testosterone-soaked prep school and doesn’t know what’s fact and what’s fantasy. I don’t care what his IQ is; he’s young, dumb, immature, and horny. Alcohol adds fuel to a fire primed to burst into flame.
It goes back to the whole concept of “other” that everyone’s talking about today in regard to intolerance and fear of immigrants, LGBTQ folks, and people of color (stay with me here). Mankind has a nasty inclination to treat unfamiliar people as being a little less human than ourselves. Empathy is a muscle we need to develop and consciously employ when we find ourselves not quite able to relate to another person’s humanity.
And it can be hard. It takes a consciousness and willingness to make that effort to recognize that you’re viewing someone as “other,” then to stop and try to imagine that moment from another human being’s perspective.
Which brings me back to Brett Kavanaugh and “boys being boys” and the mess that most teenagers are, at least during some period of their adolescence. Empathy and maturity are a lot to expect from the average 17 year old kid – even when he’s sober.
But it’s not impossible.
Allowing young people to get to know each other growing up is every bit as important as focusing on classwork. We need to be educated AND know how to get along with others, right? Familiarity doesn’t breed contempt when we’re talking about teenagers; it’s more likely to breed comfort. Distractions become, well, less distracting when encountered on a daily basis.
I suspect that the many people who have come forward to say how great Brett Kavanaugh is could be mostly right. Being an asshole in high school or college does not mean someone can’t grow up and turn into a decent human being. Heaven help us if that weren’t the truth.
Don’t shoot me, but I guess what I’m saying is that I don’t think a very stupid and mean act committed at age 17 while he was drunk out of his gourd should be the reason why Kavanaugh loses this appointment.
Having said that, I do believe that Brett Kavanaugh should be denied a seat on the Supreme Court because of his disturbing statement to the effect that nothing should be done about gun control because so many people own guns. Huh? I also believe that he should not be on the Supreme Court because he thinks birth control is a form of abortion. Huh? This man has a wife and two daughters and needs to get a clue. I also think that Donald Trump is already a lame duck, and if that’s what stopped President Obama’s proposed nominee from being named to the Supreme Court, well, quid pro quo. Let’s vote in a Democratic Congress this fall and start Making America Sane Again.
There are any number of really good reasons why Brett Kavanaugh shouldn’t be on the Supreme Court. I think being an asshole at 17 may not be in the top ten.
Oh. And please consider the pros and cons before sending your kids to same-sex schools. People can get creepy there. Your tax dollars are dealing with it right now.
Today there was yet another mass shooting, this time at a Rite Aid distribution center in Maryland. Rite Aid was my client for nearly twenty years and my heart goes out to the family, friends, and coworkers of the victims.
We need judges open to new, fair legislation to restrict gun ownership in our dear country. (Hey! How about outlawing BULLETS?) Brett Kavanaugh has made it clear that he’s not willing to consider gun control laws that may help curtail the senseless murder of innocent people in the US.