The Burning of Brett Kavanaugh

Any thinking person today is hearing alarms going off in all directions over the Kavanaugh accusations. It’s obvious that this is all dirty politics; we can see that in the timing, in the fussiness about Ford testifying, in the nasty rhetoric that swirls in poisonous clouds throughout Washington. But the problem is much deeper.

In the first place, we have no clearly defined morés for sexual behavior anymore. The sexual revolution has opened a multitude of fearful doors. Our young women find themselves defenseless in compromising situations and we have no guidance to give them. We have no way to counsel them -- or our young men either -– about just where the line is. Sex is now allowed, performed, promoted. Women feel they can behave in any way they wish, wear whatever they wish, and men have to hold that line and read feminine signals with no idea of what they mean. This looseness has been trending for decades and suddenly now we’ve turned puritanical and are horrified at the very thought of sexual advances happening.

We have no clear idea of what, exactly, “sexual assault” means. From the precious little detail Ford has given, we can’t tell whether she’s describing teenaged roughhousing or attempted rape. She obviously wants us to picture the latter, but if she had suffered such a violent attack, would she not have been visibly distressed at the time? Wouldn’t friends have noticed? If anything happened at all between these two people, how do we know what it was, exactly? A hand brushing across a breast? Some pushing and shoving, playful or otherwise, that got out of hand? At what point do we know that a crime occurred?  “Assault” is a violent, injury-producing attack. At least it used to be. A quick check with a dictionary defines “assault” as “an unlawful threat or attempt to do bodily injury to another.“  If Kavanaugh had actually committed such an act, wouldn’t that have been noticeable to others? Wouldn’t all the details be burned into her brain? You’d think so.

Secondly, we live in a time in which men, especially white men, are automatically guilty -- of most everything, and in which women are all victims –- of everyone male. It is, in part, the vague definitions of sexual faux pas that have made this possible.  Almost any advance a man makes can now be interpreted as over the line because no clear line exists.  I find this disturbing. I’ve been around for a long time, worked with men for decades and have never known any who were sexually threatening, so this intense enmity between the sexes is incomprehensible to me.

Thirdly, it seems that evidence is no longer of any importance –- for anything. Kirsten Gillibrand kept saying in her recent speech on Ford’s accusation, “I believe her. I believe her.”  On the basis of what? Guilt or innocence isn’t determined by “belief” but by evidence, but Gillibrand had already made up her mind without meeting Ford, without examining her testimony, without any specifics at all. Even my religious beliefs are based on overwhelming evidence, not on how I feel at the moment. But today, logic and facts garner no respect –- every opinion is just based on emotional reaction. How is anyone to get a fair hearing under those circumstances?

Fourthly, all this is happening at a time when few seem to understand how things are done, how our government works. Ever since Trump became president I’ve been aware of this confusion. The left acts as if they can get rid of Trump –- evidently by any means –- that Hillary will take over. They don’t seem to be aware that losing an election is an actual loss.  Even Obama said “elections have consequences”.  It means loss of control over administrative agencies; the whole Russia debacle stems from a failure to recognize this fact.  An election loss means loss of control over who gets appointed to the Supreme Court and if you don’t have control of the Senate, that’s just done. So the leftists feel justified in throwing every hissy-fit they can drum up. Damn the law and ethics and truth.

According to the Constitution it is within the purview of the Senate to “advise and consent” on SCOTUS appointees. The Constitution says nothing about grilling these appointees half to death, about setting land mines made out of vague and ancient fictions. The concern is supposed to be whether or not the candidate has the education, the clarity, the self-discipline to weigh issues brought before him. It is not about changing the world. It is not about getting the jump on the opposing party. It is certainly not about high school antics –- if in fact any happened.  The left seems to think that a SCOTUS judge can just haul off and change laws, which explains their hysteria, but a little knowledge about the balance of power would calm those fears. SCOTUS can’t initiate lawsuits; they can only rule on what is brought before them.

We also have forgotten that the FBI doesn’t do this kind of inquiry. Ford wants a special favor –- an FBI investigation. But each federal agency has its own job, its own territory. The FBI can only do background investigations, investigate possible federal crimes, and teenage fondling doesn’t qualify -- unless the activity crosses state lines and involves kidnapping. It is also questionable that the FBI is even capable of objectively investigating anything that connects to Donald Trump and his choice for the Court.  In the last two years this agency has demonstrated appalling bias and dishonesty in its dealings with our president; it is no wonder Ford is anxious for their support here.

We have also lost track of the concept of innocent until proven guilty -- beyond reasonable doubt. This has been slipping away for quite a while now. The media have become our judge and jury; the more sensational and politically potent an accusation is, the more likely it will be seen as true, and no amount of correction will undo that.

What bothers me the most, however, is that we’ve lost all contact with common sense, with any desire to arrive at the truth. The truth is that Democrats believe they will take Congress in November (The key word here is “believe.”) and they want to put off the confirmation vote until then. So, Ford’s accusations have burst onto the scene in a most orchestrated, obvious manner. She wants to raise a fuss, but not be held to account, which says to me that she is unsure about the whole thing. If it were me, I’d want to get on with it, get it over with, but her hesitancy feels really off. If she didn’t want the attention why write the letter in the first place? And where does she get off wanting Kavanaugh to testify first? Testify to what? This all flies in the face of thousands of years of jurisprudence. Common sense would dictate that we pay attention to policies that have worked for millennia, but common sense is dying.

Eventually the dust will clear, and Brett Kavanaugh will be confirmed, and things will calm down -- until the next appointment comes up, until the next overblown accusation is thrown at the next decent man. How many drama-queen explosions can we put up with? How many lies can we absorb? How many crucifixions can one nation stand?

Deana Chadwell blogs at She is also an adjunct professor and department head at Pacific Bible College in southern Oregon. She teaches writing and public speaking.

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