Today’s Ragtag Daily Prompt word ‘Justice‘ is particularly fitting and poignant when you consider what is happening today and has been happening in the last couple of weeks in the United States of America regarding the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh on to the Supreme court bench. Since he was nominated by everyone’s favourite orange cheeto on July 9, 2018, three women have come forward accusing him of sexual misconduct and harassment. The first accuser, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testified in front of a Senate panel yesterday, after which Judge Kavanaugh was granted the time to present his version of the events. And today, the same panel is voting on whether or not to go ahead with advancing the nomination process to the full committee vote.
I watched the testimonies of both the parties live yesterday. It was at times quite difficult to watch, especially Dr. Ford’s part of it. She was calm for the most part but the gravity of her emotions were evident on her face. Her statements were clear, believable and thorough. Even in the face of difficult questions about a time in her life I’m sure she’d rather forget, she managed to maintain her dignity and decorum, something even GOP Senator Hatch couldn’t deny (he described her as ‘attractive’ as well, which I found exceedingly creepy and in poor taste, especially considering the circumstances of the hearing). After Dr. Ford’s testimony came Judge Kavanaugh’s. The contrast between the two couldn’t be more drastic. Even in his opening statement, Judge Kavanaugh was aggressive, overtly emotional and generally hostile. During his testimony he frequently interrupted the Senators, was almost inappropriate to Sen. Klobuchar (he apologised for this after a recess, but it came across as too little too late) and was shouting to get his points across.
It was reported before the hearings that it is possible that a different facet of Judge Kavanaugh’s personality to the one he embraced during the Fox news interview might be in evidence during the hearing since President Trump had advised the good Judge to be emphatic and aggressive in presenting his side to the committee. This report and the consequent testimony were quite revealing in themselves. A man, a conservative, white, straight family man, the kind of man who is universally representative of the who’s who in power, he shouts, cries, is rude and crude to members of cabinet in the most powerful country in the world, and his actions are considered powerful, even honest. Anything said against him is decried as a witch hunt. A few Republican senators (such as Sen. Graham) defended, consoled and even praised him during the hearing… All of which led me to wonder, why is it that when a man loses his cool and becomes emotional in grandstanding, he is considered powerful and when a woman does that, she is considered emotionally unstable ? If Dr. Ford had cried and torn her hair and added some theatrics to her testimony, would that have made a greater impact on the Republican Senate committee members, or would she have been called attention seeking or unstable or any number of things that we have known women to have been called when something like that happens ? Judge Kavanaugh kept yelling “I’m a good man” and kept mentioning his family and how the accusations have affected them over and over again. While I feel for his wife and his young daughters, if he is indeed guilty, that cannot be a consideration, either for his confirmation or for prosecuting him for the offences (well, the latter is probably not applicable since these incidents happened a while ago, and the statute of limitations almost certainly has expired). Then there is the “boys will be boys” defense. Yes, it might be unfair to have a mistake made in someone’s teenage years spoil a person’s future and his/her whole life. But sexual harassment or anything in that family of offences cannot be written off as just mistakes. And it cannot be a ‘rite of passage’ for young men in any civilised society.
These musings might be unproductive, and this might just be once of the instances where this disparity has become evident. It might be futile to hope for justice for Dr. Ford and women like her, who have been brave enough to come forward, and countless others who haven’t (I mean in general, not just in this particular issue). Nothing has changed since yesterday, as I was typing this, the Senate panel has voted to advance the nominee hearing to the full committee. Judge Kavanaugh may well become Justice Kavanaugh by this time next week. And considering his relative youth, he might very well remain there for the next thirty years. Civil liberties, women’s rights to decide about their own bodies, environmental issues that might indirectly impact the world as a whole (and by extension, our planet), all these crucial issues might depend on his say-so. There is nothing left to say about it, except, “God Bless America”, although I sincerely doubt this is the scenario Irving Berlin had in mind when he wrote those lines !
P:S – I am not a citizen of the United States of America. I don’t seek to offend or support anyone’s political leanings. These are my opinions as a citizen of the world who closely follows politics, who cares about people in general rather than those belonging just to my nationality and above all, as someone who cares about the impact these small events have on a global basis (that includes social, political and environmental issues).