It’s highly unlikely, even if an FBI investigation materializes, we’ll ever know the full truth surrounding Brett Kavanaugh and his accusers.
But, there is a bigger issue than Kavanaugh and his alleged misdeeds: As a society, we don’t seem to care if he assaulted these women.
I don’t know if Brett Kavanaugh is guilty of assaulting anyone. I pray for him, his family, his accusers and their families, for our country and for the grace to love and forgive in the dark times facing our country today. But, whether he did it or not, I am troubled by the fact that our society, as a whole, is dangerously dismissive of abuse.
Trumpists want Kavanaugh confirmed regardless, and don’t want to know if he’s a predator. That truth would just get in the way. Democrats, were the roles reversed, would turn an equally blind eye to the truth — as they did with Bill Clinton. When the political stakes are this high, the truth is avoided at all costs.
But, the cancer of this disregard for truth and morality has spread far beyond Washington.
Only 3.5 percent of rape reports result in prosecution. And when those are prosecuted, judges and prosecutors — not all, but too many — go far afield to excuse the behavior of the attackers.
Just last week, Anchorage, Alaska Superior Court Judge Michael Corey sentenced Justin Schneider, 34, to no jail time after Schneider pleaded guilty to one felony count of assault for masturbating onto the face of a woman he’d abducted and choked unconscious. A kidnapping charge was dropped in his plea deal.
The prosecutor reasoned Schneider had suffered enough because he lost his job as a result of the conviction, and that’s a “life sentence.” It’s good to know the loss of a man’s job is equivalent in our justice system to a woman being abducted, choked and sexually assaulted. FYI — there’s no Monster.com to undo her lifelong emotional and psychological wounds.
Schneider’s case mirrored that of Brock Turner, the Stanford athlete caught sexually assaulting an unconscious woman in 2015.
Turner faced 14 years on three felony counts, but was sentenced to six months. Why? The iron-clad legal reasoning: Brock Turner was a very good swimmer, and he had a bright future. Brock the jock served just 90 days. His victim likely will carry that assault with her for life.
California Congressman Ro Khanna, D-Fremont, well-summarized the Turner sentence, though his words could apply to the reasoning some apologists use for Kavanaugh.
“It sends the wrong message,” Khanna said, “that if you are from a privileged background, if you are a star athlete, and if you commit your crime on a college campus, then the law does not apply to you.”
Judge Aaron Persky was recalled on June 5 by Santa Clara County voters over the Turner sentence, by a margin of 62 to 38 percent. The good news: Persky lost his seat on the bench for balancing the horror of a woman being raped behind a dumpster with a six-month prison sentence. The bad news: almost 40 percent of voters in a county where only 21 percent of people voted for Donald Trump thought Persky’s logic was just fine.
The margins are far worse here in Trumpistan, where inventing excuses for misogyny and sexual misconduct is the order of every day. In an unscientific News & Eagle online poll, 76 percent of respondents as of Thursday morning said allegations of sexual assault during high school should not be considered in Kavanaugh’s nomination process.
That has nothing to do with guilt or innocence. That means 76 percent of respondents didn’t even want to know guilt or innocence. It shouldn’t even be considered, they’re saying. The truth of sexually assaulting a young woman simply doesn’t matter, it seems. An unfortunate number of women echo this blasé attitude toward rape and sexual assault, downplaying its importance or reasoning that people with male genitals simply can’t help themselves, and thus shouldn’t be held accountable.
“We’re talking about a 17-year-old boy in high school with testosterone running high,” former Florida Republican congressional candidate Gina Sosa reasoned to CNN last week. “Tell me what boy hasn’t done this in high school, please. I would like to know.”
Gina Sosa, I’m glad you lost your primary, and I shudder to think of your high school experience. FYI, Gina: I was a boy, and I — like anyone with the least semblance of a moral compass — managed to make it through puberty without trying to rape anyone.
Sosa and the other “he couldn’t help but rape her” apologists are polluting our society with the worst kind of misandry — the polar opposite of misogyny. They reason that boys and men are so incapable of controlling themselves, when they do commit rape it’s not really their fault. It’s all in their genetics.
This flawed and dangerous reasoning casts discredit on the vast majority of men who never attempt these acts, excuses the misdeeds of the Brock Turners of this world, and teaches our daughters that rape and sexual assault are simply the price of living in a world with males.
If we are to create a society that works for all its citizens, we must get past excusing rapists and minimizing their impact on victims. We must stop casting boys as animal-like brutes, and stop excusing the ones who do act that way. We must stop teaching girls to expect and accept that behavior from boys, and to stand by them when they’re victimized.
That’s not a feminist issue. It’s not a liberal issue. It can’t be an issue tied to gender or party. If we truly desire to be a just and “great” society, we must pursue truth, especially when it takes us places we don’t want to go. Until then, all the window dressing of our supposed ideals is meaningless.
A shorter version of this post originally was published in the writer’s column, “Reflections with Purpose,” published Friday, Sept. 28, 2018 by CNHI news.