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If Kavanaugh Is What He Was at 17, What Good Is Religion, Education, or Psychology?

By | October 4, 2018 | 0 Comments

The Senate hearing left me unconvinced that Kavanaugh did what Ford accuses him of doing at age 17. An accusation cannot prove its truthfulness by being given emotionally, nor can a claim of innocence prove its truthfulness by being given emotionally. In the absence of evidence, all we have is character assassination ‒ hardly the basis for crucial decisions.

In addition, memory is often fallible. False memories can be implanted unintentionally by a therapist or other interviewer. The evidence for this phenomenon is voluminous. Ford herself published an article on the use of self-hypnosis in retrieving important memories. Note that testimony obtained with the aid of hypnosis is usually not admissible in court because of its unreliability. Since the notes of Ford’s therapist were not made available, there is no way to know whether this problem is relevant here.

Still, for the sake of argument, let us assume for a moment that Kavanaugh did what Ford claims. What then?

Many of the people who now claim that Kavanaugh’s alleged misdeeds 35 or 36 years ago have marked him for life, are the same people who claim that the records of juvenile offenses (with the exception of murder) should be sealed, and then expunged if the young person demonstrates good behavior for a specified time. And they are the same people who approved the release of thousands of convicted felons in California, and who insist that nonviolent offenders not be turned over to Immigration if they are in the country illegally.

These same people called Ted Kennedy the “Lion of the Senate,” but to my knowledge, lions do not drive drunk into the water and leave young women to drown slowly. And these same people trashed the claims of Juanita Broaddrick, Paula Jones, and Kathryn Willey against Bill Clinton. These women were not believed, or even given a hearing, while Ted and Bill were forgiven unconditionally.

Whether these people believe women and condemn men, it seems, often depends more on politics than on any factual or moral considerations. But putting that aside, what can we conclude, based on the unproven assumption that Kavanaugh actually did what Ford alleges?

In commenting on the Kavanaugh confirmation mess, Dennis Prager refers to the concept of a moral bank account: If a man makes 35 years (or is it 36 years?) of deposits, isn’t he entitled to make a withdrawal? That is, for all those years he lived as a good son, a good husband, a good father, a good official, and a good judge. Does all that not outweigh a few minutes of doing something bad? I believe it does.

True, if Kavanaugh had done something bad recently, as a middle-aged adult, one could claim that he was on a downward spiral. On the contrary, he is accused of doing something when he was 17 years old. In this case, the moral bank account applies, and in addition, it appears that deposits are coming in more often recently ‒ something a loan officer would surely note with approval.

Perhaps even more important, if what we do as teenagers defines us for life, what is the point of trying to change, to improve ourselves?

If Judge Kavanaugh remains at age 53 no more than what he is accused of being at age 17 ‒ a drunk, foolish kid ‒ then what was the value of all the schools and universities where he studied? What was the value of all the church services where he prayed? What was the value of all the confessions he made and all the penances he performed? And if he ever had psychotherapy or pastoral counselling, what good was that?

In short, if Federal Appellate Judge Brett Kavanaugh is to be evaluated as if he were still a 17-year-old high-school student, what we are saying is that religion, education, and psychology are total wastes of time. What we are saying is that we are what we were at our adolescent worst, and what we have become as mature adults is inconsequential, even laughable.

Such a negative way of thinking is destructive of everything civilization has attempted to accomplish for millennia. And it is destructive of everything parents, teachers, coaches, and clergy struggle to do for our young people.

Why try to teach young people anything except facts they can use to make a living?

Why try to teach them how to live?

Why try to correct their behavior, when they will remain for all their lives what they were at their immature worst?

Why try to motivate them to improve themselves, when this is impossible, and the effort wasted?

Why hold up admirable people as role models, when in effect there are no role models, because no one can be truly admirable?

In this dismal philosophy, not to say theology, we are not just flawed ‒ which we all are ‒ but fundamentally irreparable. Perhaps Hillary Clinton was not indulging in hyperbole when she called her opponents “deplorable” and “irredeemable.” Perhaps she was expressing openly what many leftists actually believe. No wonder they tend to be angry and depressed. Who wouldn’t be, when life seems so doomed to failure?

The net result: more suspicion, less trust. If Kavanaugh is no better than he was at his worst, what about Christine Blasey Ford? What about Kamala Harris? What about Dianne Feinstein? What about Cory Booker? What misdeeds lie hidden in their pasts? How far back can we go? If high school is fair game, what about elementary school?

Did Ford neglect her kitten when she was a child? Did Harris embarrass sixth-grade classmates by interrupting them incessantly? Did Feinstein spread rumors about a teacher when she was in Catholic school? Did Booker grope a girl when she was 15? (Oh wait, we already know he did.)

The problem with climbing down into the sewer is that the stomach-turning stench will cling to us. The problem with slinging mud is that some of the mud will stick to us. The problem with character assassination is that it renders our own characters vulnerable to the same mistreatment.

The problem with claiming that Brett Kavanaugh is nothing more than he may have been at age 17 is that this mode of thinking repudiates the value of religion, education, and psychology. If there is a more destructive lesson to teach young people, I have yet to hear of it.

Nonsense! We can improve ourselves. We can repent and make restitution for our misdeeds. We can be better than we are. And we surely can be better than we were at our worst. Judge Kavanaugh is what he is today, not what he was ‒ or may have been, or is accused of having been ‒ at age 17. The accusations against him are unproven, and are probably unprovable at this late date. What is proven is his admirable life as a son, a husband, a father, a citizen, a public official, and an appellate judge. Surely that should be decisive.

Author’s Note:

One possible solution to the current problem is for the Supreme Court to reverse or modify its 1964 decision in New York Times v. Sullivan. The Court decided that for public figures to succeed in suing someone for defamation, they had to prove “actual malice.”

That is, if you are in politics, show business, or are otherwise in the public eye, no matter what lies are published about you, you can prevail in a defamation suit only if you have a tape recording or notes revealing that the slanderer admitted, “Of course this is false, but let’s publish it anyhow to hurt that guy.” This is an almost impossible burden, so such suits are rare, and succeed even more rarely.

The intent was to allow free criticism of public officials. But the result is to allow ‒ no, encourage ‒ political foes to fabricate the worst, most disgusting lies without having to pay any price. If you doubt this, ask Judge Kavanaugh, his wife, and especially his two young daughters. (“Did your daddy really wave his wee-wee at a lady? That’s gross!)

Contact: dstol@prodigy.net. You are welcome to publish or post these articles, provided that you cite the author and website.

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