Stuck in a conversation with someone trying to defend Brett Kavanaugh? Find that the words just won’t come? That they’re stuck behind a lump of tears, rage, or rage-tears? Does your head have a semi-permanent indentation where you’ve banged it against your keyboard out of frustration during an online conversation with someone trying to convince you that men accused of sexual assault deserve a fair trial before being deprived of their God-given right to sit on the Supreme Court? Do people dolefully saying that conservative judicial credentials are more important than a history of sexual violence make you actually miss the GOP of the Clinton impeachment? Are you worried that conservatives won’t rest until every important office in the land is occupied with a man who wants to make sure teen girls can’t end a pregnancy that begins in rape but that teen boys’ future careers won’t be jeopardized by raping?
Yeah, same here.
Because I need to practice talking respectfully rather than using my maladaptive coping mechanisms (grinding my teeth to nubbins; rewriting my will so that certain relatives will not be able to inherit my children if I die; praying that God will open a hole in the Earth that swallows the entire 2020 Republican convention and having faith that God really knows I just mean “soften their hearts,” even if, maybe, I don’t in that exact moment; rage-cleaning, <–actually a pretty helpful coping strategy), I offer the following easy points that, if you practice them in front of a mirror often enough, you may be able to say without making them sound like, “I can’t believe I have to explain why we don’t want a potential rapist on the Supreme Court”:
- We are not denying Kavanaugh of a right to a fair trial. We are denying him a Supreme Court seat. Everyone has a right to a fair trial. No one has a right to a Supreme Court seat. I’m sure that many of us would love to see this go to trial to ensure that Kavanaugh is treated fairly.
- We are determining if we want someone credibly accused of sexual assault on the Supreme Court. As a reminder, a job interviewer can deny you a job because you have a visible tattoo or wear dreadlocks or if they look into the parking lot as you leave and see you get into a car with the words “Wash Me” scrawled into the dust on the rear window. Some of these reasons for rejecting a candidate are unfair; some should probably be illegal. But the Supreme Court has let stand such nonsense rulings. Surely, the Court would agree, then, that a future employer (we, the people) can reject a candidate because of rumors of sexual violence. I have personally filled out more than one job application that requires me to affirm that there is nothing in my past that would complicate my ability to do a good job in the position–and even an allegation of sexual assault would be included in that.
- There are 315 million Americans and 9 Supreme Court Justices. Conservatives can give us better choices than this. If the Trump administration can’t find someone with rock-solid credentials AND free from an allegation of sexual assault, then they need to ask why their pipeline of judges is so flawed.
- Each time they support a man who has sexually assaulted people or been accused of sexually assaulting people, conservatives lose credibility with decent human beings. The Republican Party always has to fend off its nutjob wing–the anti-Semites, the Lost Causers, the conspiracy theorists. It’s a delicate balance, because the worst of the party tends to vote at higher rates, but if they actually got power, their ideas would be ruinous. But, eventually, there won’t be anyone left but the most hateful of Republicans. (Are you a Republican who is upset at me for saying this? Take your anger to your local Republican party and kick out the racists, misogynists, and xenophobes giving Lincoln a bad name.)
- Kavanaugh was known to be a flawed candidate. The GOP was ready with a list of women ready to defend him as a true gentleman (that is, women who were not in the room in this particular instance) the moment the allegations surfaced. This means that they knew he came with the baggage of sexual assault and selected him anyway (See #2 above) because they don’t mind risking the support of decent people (See #4). But the seat is theirs anyway. A Republican is likely to remain in office until 2020, so whoever they picked was eventually going to find a seat on the bench. Why inflict the pain of this conversation on all of us and degrade the dignity of the Supreme Court if they didn’t have to? No good citizen wants the spectacle of Kavanaugh taking a lie detector test. And the whole thing makes Republicans look not just like rape apologists but as politically incompetent.
Does this help? Probably not. I’m not sure that people who don’t believe women who say they were assaulted can be persuaded by logic or ethics. But sometimes people change their minds, and that’s more worthwhile to pursue than sobbing in the shower.