Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Ford vs. Kavanaugh: Stoking Male/Female Hostility

The long knives are out for Brett Kavanaugh. If you can’t beat them on the law, you can beat them with unsubstantiated, unproven and unprovable accusations.

Women who have had similar experiences tend to believe that Christine Blasey Ford is telling the truth. Empathy will do that for you. Of course, empathy does not tell you whether or not Ford’s attempted rape really happened, whether she misremembered or whether Kavanaugh was the perpetrator.

The Wall Street Journal editorializes about what it calls an "ambush" this morning, echoing a point I made yesterday:

The vagaries of memory are well known, all the more so when they emerge in the cauldron of a therapy session to rescue a marriage. Experts know that human beings can come to believe firmly over the years that something happened when it never did or is based on partial truth. Mistaken identity is also possible.

The Post reports that the therapist’s notes from 2012 say there were four male assailants, but Ms. Ford says that was a mistake. Ms. Ford also can’t recall in whose home the alleged assault took place, how she got there, or how she got home that evening.

Of course, Ford’s lawyer, Debra Katz has suggested that Ford has no obligation to reveal such details. Really? Katz thinks that investigators should suss out the facts. And yet, where are they to get the facts if not from Ford herself? No one else who was supposedly there believes that it happened.

Also, without knowing when and where the alleged assault happened, in whose house it happened, who else was present… it is impossible for the accused to mount anything resembling a defense.

And besides, empathy is two-edged. To the chagrin of many, men will not empathize with Ford. They will empathize with Kavanaugh. They will feel unjustly accused and attacked. They will feel anger toward their accusers. They will want to retaliate.  

Already feminist firebrands are spewing forth a constant stream of hostility toward men. This will contribute to our already hostile cultural environment. If men and women were not living in harmony before this episode, this event will make the situation worse. You may think it’s worth it. After all, with all the sanctimonious mewling about our democracy, the raw truth is that many “democratic” decisions today are decided by judges.

The Journal dismisses the polygraph results:

The Post says she passed the polygraph, though a polygraph merely shows that she believes the story she is telling.

No one suggests that Ford does not believe what she is saying. The problem is: believing that it happened does not mean that it necessarily did happen. Convincing your friends that it happened could mean that you believe absolutely that it did happen. But it does not mean that your memory is correct… especially in the absence of any corroboration.

And, to continue, we have now been told that Ford did not want to be exposed. She was, we are told, a reluctant witness.

The Journal comments:

The more relevant question is why go to such lengths if Ms. Ford really wanted her name to stay a secret? Even this weekend she could have chosen to remain anonymous. These are the actions of someone who was prepared to go public from the beginning if she had to.

And yet, she wrote the letter. She mailed the letter. If she wanted it to stay secret, she would have said nothing. Perhaps she saw herself as a martyr for a cause, as a heroine of the Resistance. After all, Anita Hill was glorified and idolized after she attacked Clarence Thomas before the United States Senate. It didn't turn out too badly.

On the other hand, Ford has a husband and children. Clearly, this is not going to advantage them. But then again, perhaps it will. The media loves her. And the media will continue to love her, no matter what. Or, especially if she becomes the instrument that keeps Brett Kavanaugh off the Supreme Court.

On the other hand, with the exception of Roger Simon, no one is considering the deleterious effect that this will have on Kavanaugh's family. Are his daughters just collateral damage in the culture wars? For all their wailing about empathy those who are out to destroy Brett Kavanaugh simply do not care.

It is also possible that Ford did sent the letter while riding a wave of emotion. Perhaps she did not calculate the potential consequences. After all, she is not a political or a PR professional. For the record she teaches as a school called Palo Alto University in California. Not to be confused with Stanford.

The Journal also makes a point that I noted yesterday. Sexual predators are not one-off perpetrators. If violence against women is their special turn-on, they will have done it with other women:

It would also be a serious injustice to a man who has by all accounts other than Ms. Ford’s led a life of respect for women and the law. Every #MeToo miscreant is a repeat offender. The accusation against Mr. Kavanaugh is behavior manifested nowhere else in his life.

The situation is especially ugly. The war between the sexes continues. It is not going to end well.


A Biden-Dreg said...

The Journal dismisses the polygraph test, as does the American Psychological Association:

"Most psychologists and other scientists agree that there is little basis for the validity of polygraph tests."

- TW

Anonymous said...

She says she has been traumatized for 35 years because once she was roughly groped by a teenage boy when she was 15? No wonder I got PTSD from having been grabbed off the street, blindfolded and raped by a stranger at knifepoint around the same time. I told the police and my parents, who were great. But then the mindf*ck aspect got worse and worse.

For decades I never talked about it to anyone else. Back in the 1980’s, if the subject came up in conversation, women would boast, “I would never let myself be raped, I would just karate kick him and run away.” I was ashamed I failed to do that, ashamed that I was paralyzed with fear about walking down a lonely street or leaving my house. Therapists in that era didn’t seem to know about ptsd from rape, so that wasn’t helpful either.

I recall in vivid detail every aspect of my assault, too much so, all the time. EMDR finally helped me by reprocessing the memory so it was actually a foggier memory instead of a terrifying ongoing event.

Anyway, although this is triggering me because it’s about recalling assault, it’s not too bad, possibly because I don’t understand her problem as I’m not a mental health professional, just the head case. What I don’t understand is how someone would be traumatized by an incident they can’t recall clearly, where effective therapy for such a traumatic incident is forgetting.

I find I feel this is like the Mattress Girl, or the dainty accuser of Aziz Ansari, and despite my biography, feel more empathy for the man accused.

Ares Olympus said...

Stuart: Sexual predators are not one-off perpetrators.

That's a very good point, but consider perhaps that Kavanaugh was NOT a sexual predator, but just an ordinary testosterone/alcohol filled 17 year old who doesn't know what he's doing and in the moment sees "fun", having earned his "7 Minutes in Heaven" because he successfully cornered a girl with his wing man, and in his mind, he's just goofing around with his thrusting and grabbing, and if she would just stop screaming, he'd be glad to let her go, no harm done. It's not his fault she ran off like a crazy girl.

And now, should a grown man apologize for his poor drunken joke 36 years earlier, when he finds out she didn't consider it a fun game? Probably YES, if he can remember it, but that's another problem with memory, alcohol reduces it, and distorts perceptions of what really did happen. And if he remembers nothing specific, that's even more problematic, if he can imagine he might have done it, but doesn't know. What does a functional conscience do with that?

Anonymous said...

If he was a black-out mean drunk, that wouldn’t have been the only time either.


Sam L. said...

Assumptions are talking points, not statements of truth.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

I haven't seen anything this well-choreographed since the Rockettes' Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular!

Bring the popcorn. Let's stay up all night watching. Oh, that's right... she's not sure if she wants to testify. I wonder why.

Actually, I'd love for someone to bring me a beer, but I'm probably giving some data warehouse knowledge that I ordered an adult beverage back in 2018, and that makes me a possible sexual predator, seeking to take advantage of a young, impressionable, nubile girl. What an idiot I was for following the accepted norms of gentlemanly behavior back when I was 17. Wow, that Brett Kavanaugh must be a real savage. He should really apologize to a woman he probably never met 36 years ago.

This narrative has been exquisitely engineered so as not to allow anyone to get out alive. This was cooked up by Democrat operatives, Hollywood directors and screenwriters, opposition research firms and acting coaches for this past two years... renting out a hotel conference room for months on end to come up with the juiciest story imaginable.

It's the downside of floating your Supreme Court nominees ahead of time. No one is ever going to do that again... certainly not Democrats. If they told the truth about who they are, they'd probably spontaneously combust with fear.

Spartacus, lead on! Show us the way! The New Jersey Turnpike is now the Appian Way.

Anonymous said...

Christine Blasey Ford has a memory that rivals Hillary Clinton's. She doesn't recall anything.

Her lawyers and Democrat Senators are calling for an FBI investigation of an alleged local crime from 36 years ago. Such officers of the court should be disbarred for the political hacks they are. Deceit is not a frivolous lawsuit. Katz, her lawyer, held fundraisers for Hillary. Another lawyer tells us CBF has no duty to corroborate her story. That's other peoples' job. Says who? Her lawyers? Delay and distract long enough for Maryland law enforcement to get on the case. No statute of limitations on sexual assault in Maryland.

Let's be honest. There's no there there. No recollection, no specifics, no evidence. And now Senator Hirono, close to the action from Hawaii, tells the rest of us skeptics to shut up. Scholarly, erudite, clairvoyant rhetoric. From members of the world's greatest deliberative body.

And all this will BACKFIRE. Give CBF an opportunity to testify. If she misses the deadline, take the vote. Get this done. Take names: Feinstein, Leahy, Booker, Harris, all of them. This is so shameful. This is the civility we get from Democrats. Their media organs tell us our system is broken, our politics is broken, our rhetoric is beyond the pale. Now this. We need more moderates to rescue us from all this radical nonsense. The Republican moderates are setting a shining example by enabling this crazy extravaganza.

So let's fix it. Let's bring forth a supposedly reluctant witness to testify in the eleventh hour about a traumatizing dry #&@% that happened back in high school. That's a new low. Let's hear it.

Walt said...

I agree w everything both Stuart and the Journal said and, before I got here, I've been trying to make all those points tonite on fb threads where "liberals" have been convicting him not only of viciously attacking Ford but, using the rapists-do-it-serially theory, of multiple attacks. But as Jonathan Swift said, "you can't reason a man out of what he hasn't been reasoned into."

@Anonymous 1: I know you weren't asking for sympathy, but your post deserves to be acknowledged . With sorrow and respect.

Ares Olympus said...

I'm always interested in opinions, so I present Dennis Prager, and in this regards I agree, the word "survivor" ought to be reserved for more serious circumstances than "playful" groping by a drunk teen. She even admitted she only feared he might kill her out of clumsiness, not intent to harm, and tugging at clothes while pinning her down might also suggest a game rather than attempted rape, at least in his mind.

Nearly every woman past puberty has experienced a man trying to grope her. (This is, needless to say, [morally] wrong.) My mother was groped by a physician. She told my father about it. My father told the physician that if he were to do it again, he would break his hands. And it remained a family folk tale. If you had told my mother she was a “survivor,” she would have wondered what you were talking about. The term was reserved for people who survived Nazi concentration camps and Japanese prisoner-of-war camps and for cancer survivors, not women groped by a man.

OTOH, where Prager might be wrong is how adults can or should talk about their underage exploits that might be shameful. Honest people deny what didn't happen, and fearful people deny what did happen, and we can't tell the difference. But since the story is so disproportionately mild, we can assume similar transgressions have happened millions of times, and real women have experienced them shamefully, and kept them secret, and wrongly blamed themselves for what they experienced.

So if personal shame can be set aside, and personal ambition can be set aside for a moment, a man might still apologize when accused, if there's the slightly belief he could have acted badly under the influence as she described. And if he offered a sincere apology for something he can't even remember doing, could that be enough? Certainly a man who could offer such an apology would show himself self-aware enough to be considered for the highest court of the land.

And it might be one small step towards healing male/female hostility.

Anonymous said...


If any of the above is true then the young women, and their teachers as well, were elitist snobs and racist to boot. One has to ask themselves why much of Ford's history has been scrubbed?


Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Where were you when the Challenger blew up?

I was in my 8th grade drama class. I remember where I was standing, my view of the stage, and the name of my teacher.

That was 1986... more than 30 years ago. This is a startling news moment, but certainly not a violent attack.

Does violence switch off memory? I can remember every fistfight I've ever been in. Vividly.

Why can't Ford remember the most basic details surrounding a traumatic event?

Ares Olympus said...

IAC, who are you arguing with?

Donald Trump "saw" thousands and thousands of people in New Jersey cheering when the towers went down on 9/11. You'd think he'd get his facts straight about such things but memory does seem a flawed thing.

I agree we generally remember emotionally charged experiences, like a car accident, and it probably helps if you take down "Comey Memos" immediately after an experience to avoid having memories get mixed up and crossed to other events, or even a story someone else told you. Memory really can be that bad!

My speculation is that once danger is passed, like fear of someone raping or accidentally killing you, attention shifts to other fears, like trying to explain ripped clothing to parents who didn't know where you were. So her fear of losing her freedom or fear of upsetting her parents would seem to be greater than her fear of Brett's next drunken attempt on her. But we don't really know much at all.