When the Chickens Come Home To Roost

 

Last Thursday I sat, transfixed, watching the live proceedings of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee’s follow-on hearings to determine Federal Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s moral qualifications to become the next Supreme Court Justice. We heard Dr. Christine Blasey-Ford describe, and most convincingly, her experiences with Kavanaugh many years ago in which she alleged that he had tried to rape her. In the afternoon, we heard Brett Kavanaugh’s response to those allegations and to questions from members of the Committee. His performance was shocking by any historical standard and it’s safe to say that we have never before seen such a breathtakingly surly display of wildly intemperate public rage, belligerence, naked partisanship and unconcealed contempt for Congressional authority by a Supreme Court nominee. His face twisted in seething anger, he alternately snarled and sobbed as he insulted, mocked, accused and condemned the Democratic Senators (and the Clintons!) who, one must assume, probably thought that they had died and gone to heaven his performance being so manifestly disqualifying on any professional level.

At least, anyone possessing a modicum of intelligence and the barest minimum of civic knowledge and appreciation for the functions of the Supreme Court and its extraordinary importance in our lives should immediately have seen that he should never sit on its bench.

His alleged violent and drunken behavior as a high schooler could be forgiven, were he to acknowledge and apologize for it but, in last Thursday’s performance -as an adult, his clear contempt for the high standards of the judiciary should be unambiguously disqualifying. The problem is, we now live in a country which has also decided that Donald Trump was the best choice to be America’s President. Things once so far outside of the realm of the possible are no longer so predictable, so easily impossible.

Peter Herman offers the following on this extraordinary and unprecedented drama that unfolded in the U.S. Senate. - Eric Tazelaar

 

WHEN THE CHICKENS COME HOME TO ROOST

by Peter Herman, September 30, 2018

Because of a non-malicious technical problem, this opinion piece was not posted until after the US Senate voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh as a justice of the Supreme Court. Nothing has changed in the opinions I expressed, as the facts remains as they are. Nevertheless, some of the comments made after confirmation decrying the supposedly unfair treatment of Brett Kavanaugh stink of hypocrisy. For example, a president who is the laughing stock of most of the world and of most of the US population sheds crocodile tears about how young men will now be the subject of false accusations while doing nothing to rectify a broken justice system. This is a system where boys and young men are given essentially life sentences for offenses far less egregious than the one Kavanaugh almost certainly committed while himself a teenager. A vast number of young people, including a disproportionate number of African-Americans, have not been given the pass that privileged young Brett Kavanaugh received. How anybody cannot seethe with anger at this injustice is hard to imagine.

“What goes around comes around.” Those are words that Brett Kavanaugh used in anger as he lashed out at some of his questioners during Senate confirmation hearings. Though he meant these words in a different context, they have further significance, which I will come to.

As of this writing, no one knows whether the candidate for one of the highest judicial posts in the United States will get a pass. In either case, it will be bad for him. As with Justice Clarence Thomas, who was also accused of sexual misbehavior, the taint will always remain.

I have strong feelings against Kavanaugh; but as for whether his appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court will be a good thing for the country, I cannot predict. Again, I will come to that.

I watched almost all of Dr. Ford’s and Judge Kavanaugh’s testimony, and it would seem that almost any reasonable person witnessing both accounts cannot but see that the judge is either lying outright or lying to himself. Most telling was his refusal on several occasions to agree to an FBI investigation where at one point there were several seconds of silence as he could no longer rely on the canned responses he had been giving to these requests.

Of course, the FBI has done a lot of underhanded things in the past, especially under the tutelage of J. Edgar Hoover, but with the glare of responsible news media it is unlikely the agency would prevaricate. It is almost impossible to believe that Kavanaugh did not fear the uncovering of very uncomfortable events in his life.

He could not hide his past heavy drinking, but what he could try to hide was the strong likelihood of his belligerent demeanor while drunk and his inability to remember his behavior while drunk. People who drink know that there are “mean” drunks and “mellow” drunks. Under the influence of brain-altering chemicals, there is no way of choosing the type of behavior you will succumb to. Such people most often have no or little memory of their actions while drunk. It is a real life Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde situation.

What is most likely is that Kavanaugh did have some memory of what he did but was so horrified of behavior he would not otherwise do while sober that he could not face the reality. As an adolescent, he had to deal with a strict Catholic environment and parents who had high ideals for him. This may be why as a jurist he has employed a large number of women all of whom report exceptional kindness on his part. It may be that he is like those Calvinists who, faced with a predetermined choice by the God they believe in, lead virtuous lives to prove to themselves that they are indeed the ones whom God has determined to save.

This is why I earlier said I could not predict whether, in my own view, Kavanaugh would be good for the country. Like the composer of Amazing Grace, a sinner can, when facing his own terrible sins, make amends. Kavanaugh, in his testimony, said very partisan things that would show him not to be the impartial and measured jurist needed for the highest court in the land; but that could have been a desperate move to save himself from the precipice of shame. Though no one can predict what kind of Justice he would be, I personally would not take a chance with him.

There is great irony in the predicament that Kavanaugh finds himself in. For decades now, lawmakers at all levels have whipped the flames of hysteria regarding sexual behavior, and judges have obliged by imposing outrageous sentences. As awful as Kavanaugh’s alleged act against Dr. Ford was when both were teenagers, a more understanding culture would have provided a way for the perpetrator to apologise, somehow make amends and not be labeled for life. This did not happen then, and it is surely not happening now. How long will it be until sufficient chickens come home to roost?

There is a further irony, at least for those who love boys and are persecuted for it, in that we may side in this case with the “Me Too” movement. Too many women who have been truly abused have erroneously projected their hurt onto those truly loving and consensual relations between men and boys. The answer to those who are therefore hostile to undifferentiated feminism is that we, male and female, boys and girls, men and women are one species and often subject to irrational conclusions.

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