Seeking Kindness in the Aftermath of Kavanaugh – It’s Not Easy

violence

Screenshot of a video on twitter showing a young woman grabbing and destroying signs made by a conservative students group.

It occurs to me that there is a certain inconsistency in promoting kindness and then, at least to some, coming off as politically snarky. Okay, it wasn’t my intent, but I can see how some folks might take it that way.

Today’s the day when the full Senate votes on whether or not to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Frankly, I don’t think either the Republicans or Democrats come away from this clean, and the result, as I said yesterday, is that American politics has officially become a denizen of the foulest sewer, like a mythical alligator.

As I also previously stated, no matter which way the vote goes, we all lose. Oh sure, some people will feel like they’ve won, but look what had to happen to achieve “victory.” Each side accused the other of some pretty vile political tricks, not to mention what ordinary people said and did. Both sides tried to destroy a human being. Both Kavanaugh’s and Ford’s reputations were dragged through the fecal matter, along with their families and anyone who might corroborate their stories, and even children were plagued with death threats.

Anyone who has ever been sexually assaulted or had a family member assaulted in such a manner absolutely projects all of their emotions onto Kavanaugh, as if confirming him to SCOTUS is tacit approval of all sexual crimes, and a total discounting of all victims everywhere.

There has been some push back from those who have been hurt as a result of false sexual abuse allegations, but they pale in comparison, and certainly such people aren’t crowding the streets outside Congress demanding Kavanaugh be confirmed.

feinstein

Video of Senator Dianne Feinstein found on twitter depicting her mood after she read the FBI updated background check regarding sexual abuse allegations against Judge Brett Kavanaugh, and being mocked by a conservative pundit.

What do to?

I don’t know. Not really. I suppose the kindest thing for me to do is shut up and not blog about this at all. So I’m not going to be that kind.

But I can try to understand how the victims/survivors (two different but related definitions) might be, you should pardon the use of this word, “triggered” by these events. The liberal publication Medium sent me links to a list of articles related to the Kavanaugh hearings (generally opposing Kavanaugh) and this time didn’t ask me to pay for reading them. One was titled What to Do When the News Cycle Triggers Your PTSD. Yes, it’s completely credible that an unrelated news event might cause a resurgence of anxiety and fear relative to a person’s own abuse.

In some sense, I read opposing views as an act of kindness (although the authors will never know). It’s pretty tough to understand someone, especially folks who are unlike yourself, if you don’t seriously entertain their perspective. You might still not agree, but at least you haven’t cocooned yourself in your own moral certitude to the exclusion of all else.

So I read Bay Area Law Professors Among 2,400 Stating Opposition To Kavanaugh Supreme Court Nomination as well as Brett Kavanaugh and the Power of Public Trauma, and This Is How Men Forget Women.

Graham

Screenshot of news report taken from twitter covering Senator Lindsey Graham’s retort to a protester demanding that Brett Kavanaugh take a polygraph test.

That said, I also read Graham spars with protester over Kavanaugh: ‘Why don’t we dunk him in water and see if he floats?’, and I’ve got to admit, regardless of your politics, the retort was funny (you’d have to be a Monty Python fan to understand why).

As you can see, I’ve posted a number of images from my twitter feed to illustrate the “mood” of the day, and people aren’t doing so well. The one image I didn’t capture, and I now regret it, referenced an argument by some feminists against “toxic masculinity.” One concern is that little boys are taught by their fathers and other men not to cry or otherwise express pain or anger appropriately. Supposedly, the result is that they grow to be men who don’t know how to emote appropriately, and pent-up frustration and rage turns them into sexual abusers, firearm aficionados, and mass murderers.

So the meme goes, “Feminists promote boys and men crying [insert image of Kavanaugh crying while testifying] Kavanaugh cries. Feminists call Kavanaugh a sissy and crybaby.”

Okay, it’s not that simple, but again, it communicates the mood from both sides of the matter.

I’ve said before that it seems, relative to his history of alcohol use, Kavanaugh lied under oath, but then again, there’s enough soft evidence to suggest that Ford lied as well. That latter statement won’t make me popular in certain circles, but if we reasonably believe there is a significant probability that Ford’s allegations against Kavanaugh are true, we can also believe that Dr. Ford is not a saint by virtue of being a victim.

No, I’m not making light of her victimization or anyone else’s, but I could weave a scenario, admittedly based on soft and uncorroborated data, that Ford also lied, not necessarily about her abuse, but about other aspects of her life she states are related to that abuse.

Is it kind to believe that both people could be telling the truth (for all we know, Kavanaugh was so drunk during the alleged assault that he really can’t recall it) and that both people could also have lied?

I know the only kindness a lot of people will accept is to demonize Kavanaugh and sanctify Ford.

On the other hand, as I said yesterday, it probably doesn’t matter at this point. The deed is done. In some sense, the Democrats did what they intended to do, made their best attempt to torpedo the Kavanaugh confirmation by all possible means.

protest

Screenshot taken from twitter of a protest against Brett Kavanaugh.

It’s hard not to want to flush the entire process down the tubes, but again, why bother because they’ve already done it to themselves. It’s the American citizens, all of us, who are their victims.

The only way I can think of to be kind is to try to understand the pain everyone is going through and will continue to go through regardless of the outcome of today’s vote.

During the Obama administration, a series of events spawned the Black Lives Matter movement, and at least one result was a series of violent riots. Whether you feel such violence was justified or not, it increased the divide between white people and people of color that of course, was exacerbated by Trump’s Presidency.

Now, the Kavanaugh hearings and Dr. Ford’s allegations have created or at least amplified a second divide, the one between sexual abuse victims (and guys can be sexual abuse victims as well, but that fact tends to be minimized) and men. Whether Kavanaugh is confirmed or not, that divide will increase, but if he’s confirmed, I suspect we’ll see more demonstrations (which is fine) and an increase in violence (which isn’t fine – “I’m a victim of violence so I’m going to victimize others who had nothing to do with my victimization” is an expected result it seems).

What’s the other option? For people consumed with their own passion, there may be no other option. When you are hurt, afraid, panicked, it can be impossible to see past all that (and as a veteran of anxiety and panic attacks, I know this first hand).

I can’t condone violence or threats of violence, especially against children, but I can try to understand that behind all of the rage is a great deal of pain, and yes, pain and fear can sometimes be expressed as irrational violence.

So everybody, let’s take a deep breath, and realize that no matter the outcome, we still have free will, and we can still see past someone else’s anger to the hurt lying just under the surface.

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24 thoughts on “Seeking Kindness in the Aftermath of Kavanaugh – It’s Not Easy

  1. Wait. According to the Washington Post:

    After Friday’s procedural vote, Senate Republicans hope to take a final vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation as early as Saturday.

    Potentially complicating matters for Republicans is that Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) announced Thursday he plans to be at his daughter’s wedding back home on Saturday. But Daines’s vote will not be needed unless one Republican defects and Democrats stay unified against Kavanaugh. In that case, a Saturday evening session could be held open for hours into Sunday so Daines, who supports Kavanaugh, could return to Washington.

    They’re only doing the procedural vote today and the vote to confirm won’t be until Saturday or Sunday?

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  2. So Collins and Manchin are voting for Kavanaugh, so even though the final vote won’t happen until tomorrow, it’s a done deal. You say we still have free will, but the majority of Americans oppose Kavanuagh. The majority of Americans believe Dr. Ford. The majority of Americans think Trump is doing a horrible job. The majority of Americans think Congress sucks. But the majority in Congress doesn’t give a shit what the majority of Americans want, think, or believe. All they care about are their own unenlightened self-interests. So much for free will.

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    • According to a Quinnipiac University poll, as of October 1st, 48% of American voters say Kavanaugh should not be confirmed, as opposed to 42% that say he should be confirmed.

      The following is a copy/paste from that webpage:

      Women oppose confirmation 55 – 37 percent, while men support it 49 – 40 percent.

      White voters say 51 – 40 percent confirm Kavanaugh. Opposed are black voters 81 – 11 percent and Hispanic voters 65 – 30 percent.

      Choosing between Kavanaugh and his accuser, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, 48 percent of American voters most believe Ford as 41 percent most believe Kavanaugh.

      But 49 percent of voters say Kavanaugh “is the target of a politically motivated smear campaign,” as 45 percent of voters say he is not a target of a smear campaign.

      And voters say 48 – 41 percent that Dr. Blasey Ford has been treated fairly. At the same time, 47 percent of voters say Kavanaugh has been treated unfairly while 43 percent say he has been treated fairly.

      It’s an interesting mix of opinions especially if you consider 48% oppose Kavanaugh’s confirmation to SCOTUS and 49% say Kavanaugh was the “target of a politically motivated smear campaign.”

      So about half of Americans, according to this poll, believe Kavanaugh should not be confirmed AND believe he was politically targeted. That’s interesting.

      It looks like the percentages of who in the American public oppose Kavanaugh more or less line up with the percentage of Senators who will vote not to confirm, within just a few points, so things aren’t as lopsided as they may appear (again, it assumes the poll’s numbers are accurate. You may have a different information source).

      It means the general public is more or less just as split as Congress is. Of course, as you saw from the numbers above, if you’re a POC or a woman, you are much more likely to oppose a Kavanaugh confirmation than a white male.

      Yes, individuals have free will. You can choose, at any time, to do anything you want. Of course, there would be plenty of things you wouldn’t do, such as rob a bank or steal a child’s ice cream cone, but they are based on your morals, values, convictions, and such.

      It I was 100% cynical, I’d say that politicians are motivated primarily by politics, and relative to who will be voting for vs. against Kavanaugh, that seems generally true. However, we do have a few people crossing party lines so there’s that to consider. Also, Flake did, after a long conversation with both Republican and Democratic Senators, call for an FBI investigation, apparently moved by his conscious, so regardless of the result of that investigation, he didn’t just knee jerk the vote.

      You said:

      All they care about are their own unenlightened self-interests. So much for free will.

      You and I see free will very differently it seems. If politicians are feathering their own nests, so to speak, they are choosing to do so. It’s very human to consider your own needs and desires before others. It’s the path of least resistence. We’ve seen a few folks in this drama who have chosen otherwise, but you’re right, from politicians to protesters, the prime motivation was to follow what they felt benefited them the most.

      Oh, I found a link to an article in my Facebook timeline that suggests the whole sex scandal thing was a big smoke screen covering the real reason he should not be confirmed. It’s something I hadn’t heard before, and I thought you might be interested.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, I forgot to look this up before. According to the Gallup poll for Sept 24-30, Trump’s approval rating is 42%, so I guess you could say, assuming 100 of those polled either approved or disapproved of Trump, that the majority, that is 58% of Americans disapproved of him.

      Interestingly enough, the approval ratings of other Presidents for their second year in October didn’t vary much:

      Barack Obama: 45%
      George W. Bush: 65%
      Bill Clinton: 44%
      George H.W. Bush: 57%
      Ronald Reagan: 42%

      Obama’s approval rating for the same period was only 3 percent higher, and Bill Clinton’s was only 2 percent higher. Amazingly, “Dubya’s” rating was 23 percent higher than Trump’s and his Dad’s was 15 percent highter, both of them beating out Obama and Clinton at the same points in their Presidencies.

      Of course these poll results go up and down based on a lot of variables, and we’re only looking at snapshots in time, but the data does make things clearer that making more generalized statements.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It would seem that even if Kavanaugh is confirmed today, the saga will be far from over. House Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York, called an FBI. investigation into Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh a “whitewash,” and if his party wins the House in November, he will immediately demand another investigation including subpoenaing the FBI’s records.

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  4. Whether or not there is another investigation, the way the Republicans handled this is ridiculous. You don’t go, there, there, dear, don’t worry your sweet little screwed up head and call it due diligence. (Yet I have no confidence that further investigation now or later would accomplish anything, although there’s an outside chance it could. For all we know the foreshortened “week” only served the purpose of offering time to “fixing” the situation. But there’s also the possibility that no matter how carefully done, nothing would ever have been concluded clearly. So what? it should have been done right. That’s all.)

    But that’s not what I was going to say. Here’s what I brought:

    I may be chasing a cat up the wrong tree, so to speak, and my commentary is probably all for nothing, but when does a religious person get to say, “I respect you as a human being though you disagree with my beliefs, but when will you respect my humanity and worth as well?”

    No, I absolutely don’t believe [somebody — or other — not the point] intended all of that. He was merely speaking his mind. But as I told him before, words have power. We know that for an absolute fact. This is why you don’t casually lace your speech and writing with racial or ethnic slurs. Because they can cause emotional pain. As people of faith, we are commanded to treat others, especially those who are not like us, with kindness and compassion. Being human though, we sometimes don’t obey that command, and in my experience, Christians can be pretty biased, both relative to secular people as well as to each other (you have never been in a contentious community until you’ve been involved in religious blogging).

    The lack of taking women seriously, the fact that women know they are stuck with the status quo, means evangelical women go ahead and vote in disproportionate numbers for people who despise them. It’s their only “hope” — no hope in this life, do something stupid to gain in the hereafter (supposedly).

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  5. I was a little surprised to find that there were about 100 people protesting against Kavanaugh and promoting socialism yesterday afternoon at the Boise City Hall. Of course, they have that right, but one woman attacked a man holding up a pro-Trump, pro-Kavanaugh sign, which is outside the bounds of legitimate protesting. Here are the photos. I posted a link to the story in another comment.
    Kav protest 1

    Kav protest 2

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  6. It’s interesting you didn’t know there were problems with Kavanaugh before the allegations that were sexual in nature… considering people had told you. I wrote to Flake (before his fancy dance about getting a smoke screen of an investigation). After all that mess (during the period where we were seeing that a week was complete bull shit and even that was being cut short), I wrote a second time to one of my own senators (the one who had written back). He had answered with nothing but words about no proof couched in nice words. I told him about things we knew concerning Brett/Bart (he has signed for himself that way, but that’s not anything I said to a senator), things we knew BEFORE all that and the fact that we weren’t (even the senators weren’t) allowed to see his full record of work. So when the Republican jerks talk about his record, remember we didn’t have access to it.

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  7. Hey, James. This is funny too?

    LINDSEY GRAHAM

    I think Dr. Ford was treated well. I think the roles were reversed. The slut whore drunk was Kavanaugh.

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      • You gave an example of someone who’s perspective on a topic was unacceptable to tolerate for you. (I don’t want to reference the conversation again now.) Would it have made him seem better to you if he threw in laughing about it? I always wonder how this goose and gander stuff seems to work for some people.

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