By Sarah Wilson-Daley
Note: This article is in reference to Manny Monte’s opinion piece “Academia’s Mob Mentality” published October 5th in The Union.
First of all, if the Republicans do not like how Democrats are finally standing up to them, then the Republicans have only themselves to blame. President Obama nominated Merrick Garland, a moderate justice, to the Supreme Court, and Mitch McConnell refused to give him a hearing. He was hoping that the Republicans would be able to put two conservative justices on the court, and they did. The Republicans also changed the rules in the Senate so that they would only need 51 votes instead of 60 in order to confirm a justice. Before they changed the rules, the President would nominate a moderate justice in order to improve the chances of having the Senate confirm him or her. By changing these rules the Republicans made it easier to confirm a justice who had more extreme views.
Mr. Montes also accused the Democrats of using Dr. Ford’s allegation of sexual assault as a delay tactic. The Democrats had to question Kavanaugh about this allegation in order to understand his character better since his character would influence his decisions on the Supreme Court. And the public had a right to know about it too.
As to Dr. Ford’s memories of her assault, she has spent her adult life as a research psychologist studying how trauma influences memories. She explained that during a traumatic event the brain secretes chemicals to make those memories not only easier to remember but also harder to forget. She knew that while she remembered her traumatic memories to the point of developing PTSD for four years, she also could not remember other facts that would corroborate her story in a court of law or in front of the Senate. This is why she asked for an FBI investigation before the hearing. The Republicans denied her request.
Some people question why Dr. Ford came forward now after thirty five years. Figures from the US Bureau of Justice Statistics suggest only 35% of all sexual assaults are even reported to the police.The reason is that women are afraid to come forward because they are afraid no one will believe them. In this culture women are blamed for being attacked in the first place. And when a courageous woman does come forward to state that a man had sexually had either assaulted her or raped her, the court system makes her feel guilty for the crime and she has to prove her innocence instead of the other way around. The woman also has to relive her trauma every day throughout the court proceedings. And in the end she still might not get justice. So these women give up trying to tell anyone and keep the trauma hidden so that they can go on with their lives.
Our society has another misconception about sexual assault and rape. These crimes are viewed as consensual sex gone wrong instead of as an act of violence. Sexual assault and rape are therefore normalized in our culture as boys being boys. And when one woman complains, somehow she is the one who gets criticized.
When people express more sympathy for Kavanaugh’s reputation than they do for what Dr. Ford experienced, they are also perpetuating our rape culture. They are immediately discounting Dr. Ford and are reinforcing the belief in women who have been sexually assaulted that no one will believe their stories either. Instead women need to be believed. And they need police investigators to help them corroborate their stories with the facts that their trauma has caused them to forget.
Finally, even if Kavanaugh is innocent, his demeanor towards the Senate should alone disqualify him from being a Supreme Court Justice. He was belligerent, openly partisan, blamed a conspiracy from the Democrats as to why he was being questioned about a sexual assault, and verbally challenged senators as to whether or not they drank beer like he did. As one senator said, if she had behaved that way in Kavanaugh’s court, then he would have thrown her out.
Kavanaugh was not entitled to be a Supreme Court Justice, regardless of his education and previous experience. He needed to earn the right when the Senate was questioning him on whether or not he had committed a sexual assault. If he had been empathetic, even if he did not remember doing it due to his heavy drinking, and respectful to the Senate while they were asking him questions, then he would have behaved like a sober judge is supposed to behave. He would have also reassured the American public that he took the allegations seriously and that he would do his best to be impartial as a Supreme Court Justice. Instead he behaved like a spoiled brat who was not getting his way.