Cartoon: HE would never do that!


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TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON

This cartoon has four panels, plus an additional tiny “kicker” panel below the bottom of the cartoon.

PANEL 1

Three people – a dark-haired woman in a skirt and blouse, a bald man with a tie, and a somewhat hipster-looking guy with a largish beard but no mustache, are walking through a park. The woman is in front; the two men are talking to each other.

NECKTIE: Maybe she’s bitter because he didn’t call her the next day.
BEARD: She could be saying it for attention.

PANEL 2
The same three people walking; we can see the woman looks annoyed as she listens to the two men talk. Necktie is looking up into the air a bit and scratching his chin thoughtfully; Beard is enthusiastic.

NECKTIE: Maybe she was drunk and imagined the whole thing.
BEARD: Yes! She could be delusional.

PANEL 3
In the foreground, a tire swing hangs from a tree branch, and there’s a stream. In the background, the same three people continue their walk. Teh woman looks really annoyed now; Necktie is holding his arms out in a declaratory fashion as he makes his point; Beard is holding up a forefinger to make a point.

NECKTIE: Maybe she made the whole thing up in a jealous rage!
BEARD: It could be a conspiracy.

PANEL 4
The woman has stopped walking and turned back to address the two men. The two men are infuriated, yelling, Necktie actually jumping up and pointing.

WOMAN: Maybe he raped her.
NECKTIE: HOW DARE YOU!?!
BEARD: THAT’S COMPLETELY IMPLAUSIBLE!

KICKER PANEL
A small panel below the bottom the strip shows the three of them; the woman is rolling her eyes, Necktie is speaking a bit angrily, and Beard, looking a bit smug, makes a point.

NECKTIE: It’s wrong to ruin someone’s life with unproven smears!
BEARD: Unless that someone is a woman.

This entry posted in Cartooning & comics, Feminism, sexism, etc, Rape, intimate violence, & related issues. Bookmark the permalink. 

103 Responses to Cartoon: HE would never do that!

  1. 1
    RonF says:

    Interesting that you presume that all the people who are disbelieving of Prof. Ford are male. I’ve talked to numerous women who doubt her.

    Personally I think it’s entirely possible they are both telling what they each believe to be the truth but that 1) something like this did happen to her and either 2a) he was too drunk to remember it or 2b) she was drunk and is accusing the wrong guy.

    The bottom line for me is that I don’t support rejecting this nomination on this basis. Pulling this story out at the very last second after having had it on hand when Sen. Feinstein interviewed Judge Kavanaugh privately and then questioned him in hearings publicly without referencing it makes the basis of the whole thing rather questionable to me. I imagine you think that puts me in your kicker’s camp, but that fails because I would never support doing that to a female appointee either.

  2. 2
    Celeste says:

    Sure, which is why having the FBI investigate is such a good idea.

    Who’s opposing that, again?

  3. 3
    Erin says:

    Ampersand tried to rape me a year ago.

    ——-

    ________________

    ::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    Just kidding!

    Ha ha.

    Also trying to make a point. Go ahead and ban me, Ampersand, if you didn’t like the closeness of my comment and may all your accusations be happy ones.

  4. 4
    Erin says:

    “Interesting that you presume that all the people who are disbelieving of Prof. Ford are male. I’ve talked to numerous women who doubt her.”

    ________________________________

    I served on a jury for a sexual assault trial, and based on how the chivalrous men acted, I would be willing to say that most of the people disbelieving Ford (I can’t bring myself to say “Prof.” for an instructor at a community college) will be women. Men are too easily manipulated by women.

  5. 5
    Erin says:

    Celeste sez:

    “Sure, which is why having the FBI investigate is such a good idea.”

    ——————————————

    If it is to be investigated as a crime, it would be a local matter and a matter for the local police. If the statute of limitations had not already run.

    If you are suggesting a further background check by the FBI, President Trump could order that. Kavanaugh has already had six background checks, this would be his seventh. The FBI would merely gather evidence (maybe they can find DNA samples at the unnamed location based on an unnamed date) and take witness statements and pass them along. They don’t “investigate” in a background check.

    You realize that the FBI is responsible for federal crimes (and an alleged sexual assault 36 years ago is not a federal crime). By the way, the only other people named by Ford have all disputed that there was any party like that at all.

    Then there’s the question of one woman clearly on the “opposite” (read: left) side being able to stop the entire machinery of government with a very vague accusation. That’s great until it is done to your side down the road. The right is going to catch onto this tactic, and Chuck Schumer may be the next to go.

  6. 6
    Celeste says:

    The proper form of address is Doctor, actually.

    And if you had expressed that Ampersand assaulted you to your therapist and husband years ago, took a lie detector test, there were contemporaneous accounts confirming the assault, and you were calling for a full investigation by the FBI, then yeah, I’d say you had some credibility on the issue.

  7. 7
    Mandolin says:

    Lie detector tests have no scientific merit.

    That doesn’t mean she was lying, and the tests IIRC work better if you don’t know they don’t work, which she may not have. But they’re really terrible, and the fact they’re still used or noted at all is an issue.

  8. 8
    Erin says:

    Celeste sez:
    “… there were contemporaneous accounts confirming the assault …”

    There aren’t any … at all. Now you are just making things up.

    “… assaulted you to your therapist and husband years ago …”

    As I understand it, she never named Kavanaugh. Just “someone” kind of did something.

  9. 9
    Erin says:

    Just a note on lie detector tests:

    When there was a full-out investigation for the “Green River Killer”, a taxi driver completely flunked a lie detector test, and a guy named Gary Ridgeway passed one at first. Another note is that histrionic women can easily pass a test about something that is not true at all.

    But those even concern “real” tests. As I understand it, the “lie detector test” was in her lawyer’s office with hand-picked questions. Everyone was on her side and rooting for her. And such, entirely worthless.

  10. 10
    Erin says:

    Further note on lie detector tests:

    There are psychological tactics for handling lie detector tests. They really exist. And I understand Ford was a teacher in psychology at her community college. I assume she can Google them.

  11. 11
    Mandolin says:

    Yes, there are certain psychological conditions that make it easier for people to pass the tests falsely. Histrionic PD may be one of them, although I’ve heard it more associated with narcissism, sociopathy, and practice/compulsive lying, but YMMV.

    There are also psych conditions that make it easy for people to fail even when telling the truth. I would probably fail a lie detector test about my own name and favorite color.

    I don’t see the point in assuming she has a personality disorder based on the fact she can pass a lie detector test. “Lie detector tests don’t detect what they claim to, and lead to false conclusions about topics with high stakes” is enough.

  12. 12
    Mandolin says:

    There are psychological tactics for handling lie detector tests. They really exist. And I understand Ford was a teacher in psychology at her community college. I assume she can Google them

    It’s my understanding that there are straight-up physical ones, too.

  13. 13
    Mandolin says:

    Erin:

    There aren’t any … at all. Now you are just making things up.

    You so easily could have said: “Everything I’ve seen says there aren’t any. What’s your source?”

  14. 14
    Mandolin says:

    Lie detector tests also particularly suck for revealing when someone is lying inadvertently, by stating something they believe to be true, but which is actually false.

  15. 15
    Erin says:

    “You so easily could have said: “Everything I’ve seen says there aren’t any. What’s your source?” ”

    ————————————–

    You’re right, and I have been that way my whole life. I should cut the directness a bit. I do it without thinking when I get worked up about a topic.

  16. 16
    Mandolin says:

    You’re right, and I have been that way my whole life. I should cut the directness a bit. I do it without thinking when I get worked up about a topic.

    Yeah, that totally happens sometimes to me, too.

  17. 17
    Kate says:

    A lot of people are being inaccurate. Here is CNN’s timeline and PBS’s Timeline.

    This is what she initially wrote to her congressman.

    This is a credible accusation. Ford had been trying to get action on this issue behind the scenes for months – starting when Kavanaugh made the short list. It should be further investigated. It is not proof beyond a reasonable doubt. But, that standard is not required to deny someone an honour like a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. Back in the 80’s Douglas Ginsberg was denied a seat because he has smoked pot a couple of times as a student.

  18. 18
    Celeste says:

    The account I’m just making up is here: https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/supreme-court/accuser-s-schoolmate-says-she-recalls-hearing-alleged-kavanaugh-incident-n911111

    That’s not an account that implicates Kavanaugh, (and I didn’t intend to indicate that utt was), it just indicates that this isn’t something that Dr. Ford came up with recently.

  19. 19
    Kate says:

    To me, this is a very strong point against the accusation that Ford is knowingly lying.

    “To me, it’s compelling that [Ford] puts someone else there, and that the person who happens to be in the room has a blackout drinking problem,” said Fairstein. Judge, now a filmmaker and author, described himself similarly in his book “Wasted: Tales of a Gen-X Drunk.” “That’s sort of the intoxicated behavior she described that night,” she added.

    “Ford mentioned details — like the pool party, the narrow staircase, that the house was in Montgomery County. There are enough facts for someone to remember it was their party and their house,” said Fairstein.

    Wigdor echoed Fairstein, saying: “She put a third person in the room. If you were making something up, why would you do that?”

    source

  20. 20
    Harlequin says:

    Celeste:

    Sure, which is why having the FBI investigate is such a good idea.

    Who’s opposing that, again?

    I’m a little uncomfortable with the way this idea is being passed around my liberal circles, to be honest. I do agree that the fact that Blasey Ford wants an FBI investigation is a point in favor of her credibility. But I wouldn’t necessarily say that Kavanaugh’s wish not to have one is a point in favor of his guilt. Exhibit A would be the problems wrought by the FBI’s investigation of Clinton’s email server. Why would any public figure with political valence want the FBI investigating them, guilty or not?

    As a side note, it’s my understanding that there is no statute of limitations on this charge in the jurisdiction where Blasey Ford alleges the attack occurred (I read that on LGM, I think). But I’m not a lawyer.

    As another side note, Erin, even if you were correct that professor would not be an appropriate title for somebody who teaches at a community college, Blasey Ford does not teach at a community college!

    RonF, I wanted to ask you a question about this:

    The bottom line for me is that I don’t support rejecting this nomination on this basis.

    I am wondering what is the basis of the line you have drawn on rejecting nominations. (And that is an honest question, I’m not trying to argue you out of it–though I might depending on what you respond!) Likelihood of the assault having been committed? Time since the event? Severity of the event? Type of alleged assault?

    I think a more proper response here, actually, would be for the nomination to be withdrawn–and if it were a Democratic candidate who had this allegation against him, I would not hesitate to lobby my federal government representatives to do so. And also I think there is more than enough reason to reject the nomination if it comes to a vote, based simply on his multiple counts of obvious perjury.

    This question, I admit, is more combative: Did you notice that your option 2B is pretty close to one of the panels in Amp’s comic?

  21. 21
    Kate says:

    I think a more proper response here, actually, would be for the nomination to be withdrawn–and if it were a Democratic candidate who had this allegation against him, I would not hesitate to lobby my federal government representatives to do so. And also I think there is more than enough reason to reject the nomination if it comes to a vote, based simply on his multiple counts of obvious perjury.

    Well put. I’ll add that recently Democrats have taken rightly down men on accusations of much less – Al Franken, Anthony Weiner. There is no way a Democratic nominee would be pushed through which such allegations hanging over his or her head.

    Summary of the evidence for perjury.

    So, for those going on about the other checks he’s passed…maybe he wouldn’t have passed them if he’d been 100% honest.

    Finally, for all those going on about it being “late in the process”, it wouldn’t be late in the process if the Republicans weren’t trying to ram this through before doing their due dillegence.

  22. 22
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    The common type of lie detector/polygraph test is the Control Question Technique which typically works as follows:

    In a ‘pre-test’ interview the examiner asks some questions to gather information for the actual test. Furthermore, the examiner will give a false explanation of how the lie detector and test actually work, designed to convince the examinee that the detector works perfectly, to produce fear.

    The examiner then hooks the examinee up to the ‘lie detector,’ which is actually called a polygraph, that measures some signs of distress, like blood pressure, pulse, respiration, and skin conductivity. The examiner then does a ‘stim test’ where he lies that he will adjust the polygraph and test that it works for the examinee. In actuality, he performs a little spiel that is designed to convince the examinee that the machine works perfectly.

    Then the actual test starts, where the examiner asks three types of questions:
    – comparison/control questions
    – irrelevant questions
    – relevant questions

    The polygraph response on the comparison/control questions is assumed to indicate a lie and compared to the relevant questions to guess whether the person lied on those. There are two kinds of comparison/control questions that can be used, questions where the examinee is directed to lie or questions where the examinee is told to tell the truth, but is assumed to lie if she answers negatively. Typically only one type is used and usually the latter kind. Those questions generally consist of very broad and sweeping questions, like “have you ever lied to a loved one?” where it is assumed that everyone who says no is knowingly lying (and under stress for doing so).

    The irrelevant questions are merely used as buffers at the beginning of the test to soak up stress and between questions.

    The relevant questions are those that are actually relevant to the investigation, where the examiner wants to know whether examinee is lying.

    There is no scientific validity to this method and one can come up with very logical reasons why a person could fail while being honest. Furthermore, it is rather easy for a knowledgeable and moderately intelligent person to reliably defeat. The way to do so is to recognize the comparison/control questions and intentionally produce a strong body response on them, so the relevant questions have a much smaller response. Some ways to produce a strong body response are to:
    – put a tack in your shoe and press down on it
    – bite your tongue or cheek
    – do a hard math problem in your head
    – think of something distressing

    Examiners sometimes use counter-countermeasures against these countermeasures, like making examinees take off their shoes. However, they can’t prevent all methods. We know that some Russian spies underwent multiple lie detector tests and passed with flying colors.

    Another issue with the test is that it will obviously fail to work on a completely truthful person, who actually answers truthfully on all comparison/control questions. It will also reliably fail on people who lie without stress.

    In practice, it mainly seems to function as a stress- and fear-inducing interrogation technique, to get the examinee to tell the truth out of fear, not because the lie detector can actually reliably detect lies.

    However, if the lie detector test is ordered by a someone who wants the examinee to pass, like the lawyer of the examinee, then it seems completely worthless to me. The lawyer can then select an examiner that is ‘friendly’ and/or instruct the examinee how to pass the test with flying colors. Furthermore, the agreement with the examiner will typically be that only a passed test is made public, so if the person doesn’t pass, no one will know (and they can even try again).

  23. 23
    Sebastian H says:

    Id resist saying that Weiner was taken down on less. The evidence against him wasn’t remotely mixed. The photos of his penis were sent and received by various people, some of whom didn’t want them.

  24. 24
    Kate says:

    Sorry I wasn’t clear. I meant the seriousness of the charges, not the level of evidence.

  25. Erin:

    Ampersand tried to rape me a year ago.

    This is not, by any stretch of the imagination, funny, nor does it even begin to make the point that I think you were trying to make. Your stated reasons for wanting to be part of the conversation on this blog (here and here) were a whole lot better than the level of discourse this comment descends to. Please don’t do it again.

    Also:

    (I can’t bring myself to say “Prof.” for an instructor at a community college)

    As others have pointed out, when someone earns a doctorate, they have earned the title Dr. regardless of where they teach, but I will say about this cheap shot the same thing as I said above and for the same reasons: Please don’t do it again.

    Also, we don’t need to discuss this further here, since that would derail the thread. If you feel the need to respond (beyond a simple apology) please take it to an open thread.

  26. Dr. Ford’s accusations are credible. Even if we grant that the timing of the revelations is questionable–and I think it’s clear that both sides have a political stake in what happens next above and beyond justice for Dr. Ford–that doesn’t change the credibility of the accusations.

    Once you know something like this, it seems to me, you can’t (you ought not to be able to) unknow it, and I think finding a way “to unknow it” is what the Republican strategy is all about. The nuances involved in dealing with sexual assault accusations mitigate precisely against both the rush the Republicans want to put on this (which is part of the larger rush they have been putting on it from the start) and the heavy handed way they have been dealing with Dr. Ford as a survivor.

  27. Erin,

    I have responded to you here.

    (Amp, you might want to move Erin’s and Eytan’s comments over to the “Trapped Inside This Building” open thread so that this topic doesn’t further derail the conversation here.)

  28. 28
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Richard Jeffrey Newman,

    Dr. Ford’s accusations are credible.

    Credible as in convincing or credible as in possible?

    Because I don’t see how such a vague testimony, with no corroborating evidence, made after so many years would be convincing to someone who knows how human recollection works (= badly and with various biases), unless that person was already very biased towards believing the accusation to be true.

    Once you know something like this, it seems to me, you can’t (you ought not to be able to) unknow it, and I think finding a way “to unknow it” is what the Republican strategy is all about.

    The current spat seems to be that the Republicans want Ford to testify ASAP, while Ford and the Democrats want to postpone things.

    I don’t see how your accusation that the Republicans want “to unknow it” can be squared with them asking for Ford to testify about it soon. Demanding public testimony seems the antithesis to hushing things up.

  29. 29
    Erin says:

    It seems that almost every high-profile sexual assault accusation I can think of has turned out to be false.

    Lena Dunham alleged that a guy named Barry sexually assaulted her at her college. Nope.

    Crystal Mangum alleged that Duke lacrosse players confined her to a room and sexually assaulted her. Nope.

    Sabrina Erderly alleged that University of Virginia frat boys took turns sexually assaulting a student named Jackie in the most humiliating ways. Nope.

    Even going back … Tawanna Brawley alleged that four white boys sexually assaulted her and wrote racial slurs on her body. Nope.

    McMartin Preschool. Nope.

  30. LimitsOfLanguage:

    Credible as in convincing or credible as in possible?

    If by “convincing” you mean sufficient to convince me of Kavanaugh’s guilt, no, of course not. They are, and remain until shown to be otherwise, allegations, but I do believe they are allegations of substance, for reasons that others have alluded to and cited upthread. For that reason, it seems to me, given how high the stakes are in this case, they deserve more than what will amount to not much more than a highly elaborate he said/she said, if the only attention they are given is a single hearing, without any further attempts to get at whether or not the allegations are, in any way, true.

    I don’t see how your accusation that the Republicans want “to unknow it” can be squared with them asking for Ford to testify about it soon. Demanding public testimony seems the antithesis to hushing things up.

    Yeah, “unknow it” was not the most precise language to use, I suppose. A hastily held hearing, in which Dr. Ford will be pushing back against the overwhelming momentum of a process that was already near its end, that the Republicans have a compelling political investment in completing ASAP (and that the Democrats have a corresponding political interest in stalling), does not seem to me the way to do justice to knowing anything about what happened or didn’t.

    That’s what I meant by “unknow it.” Giving short shrift to this–and I do think a single hearing without any substantive, non-partisan investigation is giving it short shrift–could turn out to be a very convenient way of pretending, of persuading ourselves, we have dealt seriously with the implications of these accusations, when in fact we have not. (Because if we take seriously what sexual assault does to the person assaulted–which I don’t think we as a society do–not just in the moment, but throughout their lives, then the question of how we should approach dealing with allegations like Dr. Ford’s go far beyond this particular case.)

  31. 31
    Ampersand says:

    It seems that almost every high-profile sexual assault accusation I can think of has turned out to be false.

    I’ve highlighted The essential phrase here.

    Of your five stories, only two are less than a decade old. And I find it amazing those are the only high-profile cases you can think of.

    Bill Cosby? Harvey Weinstein? Kevin Spacey? Charles Dutoit? Russell Simmons? Danny Masterson? Brett Ratner? James Toback? Eric Massa? Matthew Pennell? Roy Moore? Brock Turner?

    Also, there’s no evidence that Lena Dunham’s story in “Not That Kind Of Girl” was false, except in the sense of changing identifying details when she wrote about it. (Here’s a twitter thread I wrote about Dunham.)

  32. 32
    Ampersand says:

    Ampersand tried to rape me a year ago.

    Was this supposed to make me feel something? It did make me roll my eyes – does that count?

    So, Erin – are you willing to go to the police and swear to this? Willing to be investigated? Willing to go to court and swear to this under oath, with the possibility of perjury charges? Willing to take a chance on being sued? Willing to have this talked about in public, and for your real name to be linked in searches to this accusation (and to any fall-out if it turns out you’re lying) for decades to come?

    My guess is that you’re not willing to do any of those things.

    Your point, I think, was that it’s very easy to make a false accusation. But the truth is, it’s only easy to make a false accusation if it’s obviously a joke, as it was in this case (including saying “just kidding!”). In the real world, there are huge disincentives against even making true rape accusations, and even more against making false accusations.

    And no, not banning you for that. But (like Richard), I’ll remind you you recently claimed “I’m not trying to be a troll to get a reaction.” I don’t think your rhetorical strategy, in this case, lives up to that claim.

  33. 33
    Sebastian H says:

    “If by “convincing” you mean sufficient to convince me of Kavanaugh’s guilt, no, of course not. They are, and remain until shown to be otherwise, allegations, but I do believe they are allegations of substance, for reasons that others have alluded to and cited upthread. For that reason, it seems to me, given how high the stakes are in this case, they deserve more than what will amount to not much more than a highly elaborate he said/she said, if the only attention they are given is a single hearing, without any further attempts to get at whether or not the allegations are, in any way, true.”

    At some point we are going to have to decide what to do about very old he said/she said allegations that have no other substantiation, but this case is too subject to outcome oriented thinking to center on it.

    But we need to be realistic about an investigation of thirty year old charges can do. She isn’t sure what year it happened in. She never told anyone before her therapist, decades later. What do you really want from the FBI? Please investigate “was there a high school party in the area with 4-5 people in it, sometime in an 18 month window?” Now the only way I can see any of this getting anywhere is if he had a pattern of rape attempts and other women come forward. Then we have something to get a hold of. Otherwise, you shouldn’t hold up too much hope for an investigation being useful. And even in that case it won’t be an investigation that does it. It will be other women coming forward.

  34. 34
    Kate says:

    This is an interesting coincidence.

  35. While I am sure this will change no one’s mind, it’s thought-provoking and worth reading: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/sep/21/brett-kavanaugh-blame-women-anita-hill-cosby-weinstein?CMP=fb_gu. Note that it has more to do with how we frame situations like this than with who is innocent or guilty.

  36. 36
    annqueue says:

    I’m really disappointed that we’re still at this level of discourse about these things. I was hoping to find something better from the Alas crowd.

    Not that I really have a picture of what that something better looks like.

    It is all very depressing.

  37. 37
    Erin says:

    Bill Cosby? Harvey Weinstein? Kevin Spacey? Charles Dutoit? Russell Simmons? Danny Masterson? Brett Ratner? James Toback? Eric Massa? Matthew Pennell? Roy Moore? Brock Turner?

    You (and I) forgot Al Franken.

    ———-

    Bill Cosby: Yep, I think he did it. I’ll give you this one, and I completely forgot about him.

    Harvey Weinstein: From what I hear, he will not be convicted of any criminal charges. What he says – and what probably happened – is that he was engaged in a slimy (consensual) exchange over years of sex for possible movie roles and promotion in general in that industry. Slimy on both sides, but consensual and legal.

    Al Franken: Who cares if he did some stupid joke in that photograph and who cares if he arranged some line in a play so that the woman should kiss him.

    Kevin Spacey & Roy Moore: Neither have been convicted of anything as far as I know – not sure about Roy Moore.

    The rest: Never heard of them. I’m not the final arbiter of what is “high profile”, but I do pay some attention to the news.

    ____________________________________________

    Kavanaugh & Ford Circus: I see that all of the people she named as possible “witnesses” (people she said were at the alleged party) – every single one of them, including Leland Keyser, who identifies as a good, lifelong friend – has now said to the Senate Judiciary Committee (under penalty if they lie) – that they had no knowledge whatsoever of a party like that.

    Kavanaugh himself also says exactly the same thing. No one is corroborating this story, not even the specifically named witnesses.

    Testimony next week is going to be interesting, if it takes place at all. My bet is that it won’t.

  38. 38
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Richard Jeffrey Newman,

    Giving short shrift to this–and I do think a single hearing without any substantive, non-partisan investigation is giving it short shrift–could turn out to be a very convenient way of pretending, of persuading ourselves, we have dealt seriously with the implications of these accusations, when in fact we have not. (Because if we take seriously what sexual assault does to the person assaulted–which I don’t think we as a society do–not just in the moment, but throughout their lives, then the question of how we should approach dealing with allegations like Dr. Ford’s go far beyond this particular case.)

    But what are the implications of this accusation (not accusations)?

    The Senate’s job is to decide whether a nominee is suitable to be appointed to the Supreme Court. It is not to punish people for crimes they committed and/or bring justice to victims. That is the job for the legal system. Ford appears uninterested in going through the conventional channels, which would be the state police, to get her accusation investigated and possibly brought to court.

    So if your interest is in how we as a society deal with sexual assault allegations in general, then the obvious answer is that the police tends to investigate this if they have sufficient grounds to do so. For IMO evident reasons, this usually requires active cooperation by the accuser, for accusations like these, which Ford refuses, so there is no investigation.

    If you believe that this is wrong somehow, you are free to explain how you want to have this changed. However, any such proposal could not effect the confirmation process of Kavanaugh, as the Senate has full discretion. As such, a confirmation or rejection is done based on the judgement of Senators.

    Of course, you may believe that Senators should agree that this accusation, if true, makes Kavanaugh unsuitable for the job and/or that they should not be content to judge Kavanaugh based on the available information, but should get more information. However, the current demand by Democrats seems quite unreasonable, because they demand something unlawful. The FBI can only investigate federal crimes and the accusation by Ford does not involve any federal crimes, so a demand to wait for an FBI investigation seems like a demand to wait until hell freezes over.

    So if Ford merely wants Kavanaugh to be investigated and convicted normally, then I would argue that she is being misled and used by Democrats to achieve a political goal. If Ford wants to achieve a political goal, then I would argue that even if she was victimized by Kavanaugh, this doesn’t give her a right to advance her politics like this.

    One can also make a decent argument that even if Kavanaugh was found to be guilty of the accusation, this would not make him unsuitable for the job. The alleged assault is claimed to have happened when Kavanaugh was both very young, very drunk and in his free time. AFAIK, there have been no accusations of bad behavior towards (female) work colleagues for the last 35 years. So it seems difficult to claim that Kavanaugh could not be appointed because he would be likely to engage in sexual assault on the job, which seems to me to be the only argument you could make why he should not be appointed because of the alleged assault.

    Frankly, the demands that are made seem to me far more consistent with them being in large part motivated by political goals than purely with a demand to see justice done to a sexual assault accuser or to prevent a person from being appointed who cannot effectively do the job.

    Note that if Kavanaugh is appointed, this doesn’t make him immune to prosecution. So if Ford wants the normal remedy for sexual assault, she can go to the police and Kavanaugh could be convicted (or not) as any other, even as a Supreme Court Justice.

  39. 39
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    I’m really disappointed that we’re still at this level of discourse about these things. I was hoping to find something better from the Alas crowd.

    I think part of the problem is that there just isn’t that much to talk about, with regard to the specifics of this case. No one should have a high degree of certainty about what happened 30 years ago. Professor Ford certainly sounds credible to me, but there’s limitless ways in which she intentionally or unintentionally misrepresenting what actually happened, and very few ways for Kananaugh to defend himself and prove the negative because so many important details, the kind that an accused person normally can use to exonerate himself are missing.

    I would love to read a good back-and forth concerning the more general principles involved in appointing/elevating/firing public and private employees who may be guilty of serious crimes though we can’t prove it and are stuck at guessing probabilities. (and I think this is a serious crime, btw, though I know there is disagreement about that). Do we go with a “more likely than not” standard? Something stricter? How will the standard we accept shape the political landscape? Why are there some republicans taking this seriously, when President Trump is guilty of worse by his own admission, without uncertainty, no FBI investigation necessary? (ok, maybe that last question is the kind of low level discourse we are trying to avoid)

  40. 40
    Kate says:

    The Senate’s job is to decide whether a nominee is suitable to be appointed to the Supreme Court. It is not to punish people for crimes they committed and/or bring justice to victims.

    One can also make a decent argument that even if Kavanaugh was found to be guilty of the accusation, this would not make him unsuitable for the job. The alleged assault is claimed to have happened when Kavanaugh was both very young, very drunk and in his free time. AFAIK, there have been no accusations of bad behavior towards (female) work colleagues for the last 35 years. So it seems difficult to claim that Kavanaugh could not be appointed because he would be likely to engage in sexual assault on the job, which seems to me to be the only argument you could make why he should not be appointed because of the alleged assault.

    This isn’t about getting justice for sexual assault, it is about keeping alleged criminals off of the highest court in the land. Criminals do not belong on the Supreme Court. Full stop. Other people have been denied seats for far lesser allegations such as smoking pot in college or failing to pay social security taxes for their nanny.
    If the allegations are true, and we seat Kavanaugh on the court, we will have put a man guilty of attempted rape on the Supreme Court. Nor would this just be about what happened 30 years ago. If the allegations are true, then Kavanaugh is lying about them under oath in the present day. Perjury alone ought to be disqualifying.* Moreover, (again, if the allegations are true) not only would Kavanaugh have shown no remorse, he would have allowed his victim to be publicly pulled through the mud and gas-lighted, when he knew damn well she was telling the truth. Really think about how awful a person would have to be to do that. It shows a lack of compassion so stunning as to be disqualifying. How will someone with these character flaws rule on cases involving issues like sexual assault, consent and bodily autonomy? We already know, he has made some very troubling rulings in these areas.**
    But, on the flip side, if the allegations against Kavanaugh are false, and he is denied this seat, the consequences are minimal. Whether you believe Kavanaugh is guilty or not, it seems pretty clear that Ford believes she is telling the truth, so there is no question of capitulating to deliberate slander. On a personal level, Kavanaugh will go back to his very prestigious position on the D.C. Circuit. Almost everyone in his professional and social circles either believes he’s innocent or views it as a youthful indiscretion. There are plenty of fully qualified conservatives of better character who could be nominated for the Supreme Court. However, most of them do not see the President of the United States as being above the law.*** Which leads us to the fact that the Democrats have plenty of principled reasons for opposing this nomination:

    * As I linked above, there is good reason to suspect Kavanaugh is guilty of lying under oath on other issues already – so the Democrats have another nonpartisan reason for opposing this nomination.
    ** The linked ruling is among the principled, non-partisan reasons Democrats so strongly oppose this nomination.
    *** Kavanaugh’s position on whether the president can be compelled to testify is yet another principled reason Democrats have for opposing his nomination.

  41. 41
    Kate says:

    There’s also the question of Kavanaugh’s finances.

  42. 42
    Erin says:

    The more I think this through, the more I think that Professor Doctor Ford may not testify next week. She could pull out at the last minute.

    We’ll have to see if my psychic prediction holds up or not. I hope she does, though, and I’ll have the popcorn ready.

  43. LimitsOfLanguage,

    Kate has already said much of what I would have said in response to your comment, so I’m not going to repeat it.

    For me—and I realize this is something that needs to be unpacked much more thoroughly than I have the time to do tonight—the larger picture that is at stake here is whether or not we approach situations like this through a framing that fully recognizes the seriousness of sexual assault, attempted or otherwise, not just as a crime but as an act that has, more often than not, lifelong repercussions for the person who has been attacked. Right now, we do not do this, and I think the entire framing of your response to me is one example of that. Not because you are being insensitive to, or dismissive of, survivors of sexual assault—because I don’t think you are—but because your framing (the way in which your primary point of reference has to do with the legal system, etc.) is rooted in, invested in, a way of doing things (and here I am talking about the nomination and confirmation process) that was designed neither to account for the reality of what sexual assault is nor to conceive of consequences that are commensurate with that reality.

    It is the difference, to put it more plainly, between a way of doing things designed by men for men; and a way of doing things designed to account for the kinds of things, like sexual assault, men do as men. Women, after all, were not at the table when the rules for how to confirm presidential appointments were written. I realize that needs to be unpacked further—perhaps especially in light of the fact that we now recognize sexual assault against men, including when perpetrated by women, in a way that we certainly did not when those rules were written.

    The essay I linked to above by Rebecca Solnit, develops more fully a lot of what I am talking about here, so I will, for now, let a link to that stand in for whatever else I would say if I had the time. Here’s a quote as an example, and please note again that what I am talking about in this comment is how we go about framing our approach to dealing with situations like this, not the question of whether Kavanaugh is guilty or innocent. Kate’s comment addressed this concern already.

    I asked David J Morris, the Marine corps veteran and author of The Evil Hours, a powerful book on PTSD, about trauma and memory, and he replied: “Most men have no idea how truly traumatic sexual assault is. The science on the subject is pretty clear: according to the New England Journal of Medicine, rape is about four times more likely to result in diagnosable PTSD than combat. Think about that for a moment – being raped is four times more psychologically disturbing than going off to a war and being shot at and blown up. And because there are currently no enduring cultural narratives that allow women to look upon their survival as somehow heroic or honorable, the potential for enduring damage is even greater. A traumatic event like the one Christine Blasey Ford is alleging fractures the self, destroys one’s sense of time and place in the universe and generally changes a person completely. It is literally an encounter with death. To suggest that she wouldn’t remember it flies in the face of reason. No sane person would suggest that someone wouldn’t remember the time they were in an airplane crash. From a neuroscientific standpoint, being raped is more traumatic than war, not to mention plane crashes.”

  44. 44
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Kate,

    Criminals do not belong on the Supreme Court. Full stop.

    That is not actually an argument, but rather a platitude. Do you believe that any criminal history will result in bad behavior to clerks and such, or do you believe that it will impact the decisions or do you feel that people in this position have an exemplary role and should be irreproachable? Or is this about wanting a permanent form of punishment? Or something else?

    Furthermore, does this include every crime? Because pretty much everyone has broken a law. Is a person who got a ticket for speeding disqualified from the Supreme Court?

    I’m very interested in knowing your specific reasons and standards.

    If the allegations are true, and we seat Kavanaugh on the court, we will have put a man guilty of attempted rape on the Supreme Court.

    Sure and if the allegations against Bill Clinton are true, you have had a two-term president who raped someone. America almost put him in the White House again, although this time as the First Gentleman. The world is imperfect and complicated & many people choose a lesser evil.

    Moreover, (again, if the allegations are true) not only would Kavanaugh have shown no remorse, he would have allowed his victim to be publicly pulled through the mud and gas-lighted, when he knew damn well she was telling the truth.

    You are ignoring the possibility that he may be guilty while having been so drunk that his memory was impaired, in which case he honestly could believe the allegations to be false.

    Your either/or thinking is actually a very common fallacy, where people assume that one of two extremes must be true, ignoring the many other possibilities.

    As for Kavanaugh’s actual guilt, the preponderance of evidence currently points away from it. The only claims that Ford made that can actually result in decent evidence and that can be checked, which is the presence of one person during the alleged assault and the presence of others at the party, resulted in denials by these people.

    Of course, strong partisans tend to always demand further investigations and believe in conspiracies that need uncovering when the evidence doesn’t go their way. The partisans on the right did so for Obama’s birth certificate, for example. Somehow, when the accusation is against a person whose politics someone disagrees with or who someone is otherwise biased against, it tends to seem far more credible.

    We already know, he has made some very troubling rulings in these areas.

    A main claim in the story you linked to seems to be that Kavanaugh is wrong for not being an activist judge (“society has evolved”). I can see why it would be troubling to you if you want judges to legislate from the bench and/or if you feel that the current situation is very unjust, but this ruling can hardly be called extremist when he merely seems to have reaffirmed established precedent.

    I personally favor that the legislating is done by the legislature, as I favor democracy and its safeguards. IMO, legislating judges violate the trias politica.

    Another claim in the story is that Kavanaugh played “fast and loose” for not judging the case based on information that only became known after he had made his ruling and/or for not being pro-active enough to probe into this. I personally feel that rejecting someone for not being clairvoyant is somewhat unreasonable. I find it impossible to judge whether Kavanaugh was sloppy in this case and if he was, it should only matter if he is/was too sloppy for too many case, which requires a more thorough analysis of his rulings, which I hope is something that the Senate did.

    I looked at this ruling and Kavanaugh ruled that a policy specifically for intellectually disabled persons who are in the District’s care and have never had the mental capacity to make medical decisions for themselves with these rules is constitutional:
    (i) two physicians have certified that the proposed surgery is “clinically indicated to maintain the health” of the patient; (ii) D.C. caregivers have made efforts to discuss the surgery with the patient at the level of patient comprehension; and (iii) no guardian, family member, or other close relative, friend, or associate is available to otherwise consent or withhold consent.

    I don’t see why his ruling is outrageous or extremist. In fact, your example has made me slightly update to consider Kavanaugh more moderate (as apparently this anodyne decision is one of the most damning rulings you can come up with*).

    * Did this case stand out because abortion was involved in a way that has no bearing on the ruling or the policy?

    Which leads us to the fact that the Democrats have plenty of principled reasons for opposing this nomination

    The constitution gives Senators full discretion to decide upon their own criteria and the Americans who voted for them knew or should have known that they granted them this power with their votes.

    Just like some Senators have their rationalizations principled reasons to oppose Kavanaugh, so do others have their rationalizations principled reasons to support his nomination. Somehow these principled reasons almost always align along party lines, which is peculiar if they were actually principled reasons that people arrive at without bias and without realpolitik.

  45. Thanks for that, Michael. On a quick first read, it seems like a pretty thoroughly reported piece.

  46. 47
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Richard Jeffrey Newman,

    Your comment #43 is, like so many of your comments, extremely frustrating to me because I feel that you are not actually engaging me, but instead are doing a performance for others. When I try to get clarification on what you mean, to get you to give more detailed arguments for your claims or such, you very often disregard this completely, making me feel that you refuse to actually engage me in a debate.

    I argued earlier that a confirmation process is not the appropriate way to do justice to alleged sexual assault victims, but instead, that the legal system (should) serve this purpose. You completely ignored this. In general, you don’t clearly delineate what responsibilities and solutions you place on and expect from which institutions, so I never feel that I know what you are actually asking for.

    Take this statement:

    It is the difference, to put it more plainly, between a way of doing things designed by men for men; and a way of doing things designed to account for the kinds of things, like sexual assault, men do as men. Women, after all, were not at the table when the rules for how to confirm presidential appointments were written.

    What does “a way of doing things designed by men for men” specifically mean in this situation? The rest of your comment seems to imply that you want the hearing to be more considerate to people with PTSD and that you feel that by not doing so, the system is designed for men. However, as you yourself argued, veterans do end up with PTSD, so if a hearing involves a traumatized veteran, a man could be called up to testify just like Ford, but also have psychological trauma that would make this difficult. Furthermore, men can get sexually assaulted and raped, as you well know. Is your claim that if a sexually assaulted or raped man would be called to testify, he would be treated better than Ford due to his gender? Or is your claim that no sexually assaulted and raped men end up with trauma that hampers them when testifying?

    If you agree that men can end up in a similar situation, then how can you defend your claim that this is “a way of doing things designed by men for men”? Is it then not more accurate to claim that the “a way of doing things” is designed by people without PTSD for people without PTSD? If so, why did you frame this as men vs women?

    Secondly, what does “the kinds of things, like sexual assault, men do as men” mean and how is it significant? Is this a claim that men always sexually assault differently than women? How is this relevant when we are discussing how victims are treated and when both men and women can be sexually assaulted by men? Or are you claiming that men are more considerate when assaulting men and they do not cause severe trauma?

    Thirdly, what actual rules are you referring to? Because I’m very unclear on this point too. The Senate is free to do the hearings as they please, based on what they decide is appropriate. The delay that Ford and the Democrats are asking for, is AFAIK something that is neither granted or disallowed by any rule and instead, is something that the Senate can decide upon by majority, where female Senators also have a vote. So by ‘rules’ which supposedly were made without women at the table, are you actually referring to ad hoc decisions also made by women?

    Fourthly, you fail to explain what rules you think are appropriate, so we can discuss the upsides and downsides of the rules you want to see. It’s easy to just point at imperfections that exist right now, because reality is always going to be imperfect and any rules are going to have downsides.

    I could go on, but frankly I am at a point that I have nearly lost all faith in your ability and/or willingness to actually clarify your claims so we can get to a point where their validity can be meaningfully debated. You keep talking about how hard it is to ‘unpack’ your statements, but why can’t you be more specific in the first place? We are discussing a specific situation, after all.

  47. 48
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    LimitsOfLanguage,

    By rules, I imagine RJN means norms. Much of the discourse surrounding Kavanaugh and his guilt or innocence sounds as if it’s been inspired by law- specifically the rights we grant accused criminals, or perhaps defendants in civil disputes. Sometimes people appeal to other norms, like what is and isn’t acceptable among young drunk partiers (some of these norms seem transparently sexist to me). I do think it’s fair to question whether or not these norms are appropriate for determining whether or not a person is fit to be a public servant, CEO, or even a run-of-the-mill blue collar collar construction worker. To what degree un-provable accusations can/should have social consequences is worth debating, IMO, especially when the norms we have now were developed with little consideration for the well being of women.

    That said, I’m skeptical of radical changes to the status quo, and I worry that proposed solutions to this problem will be incubated in ideological bubbles. Obvious failure modes will be ignored or unnoticed- and along these lines, I share your frustration. Where are these new proposed norms laid out so that they can be interrogated with the same rigor by which we judge the status quo? If anything, new norms require more scrutiny to the status quo, not less.

  48. 49
    Chris says:

    It seems that almost every high-profile sexual assault accusation I can think of has turned out to be false.

    What a completely embarrassing thing to admit about oneself.

    Neither have been convicted of anything as far as I know

    Completely moving the goalposts. Your original claim was that most high-profile accusations of sexual assault have turned out to be false–a completely absurd statement–not that they had not been proven to be true.

    The rest: Never heard of them. I’m not the final arbiter of what is “high profile”, but I do pay some attention to the news.

    From your ridiculous thesis to the examples you used to support it, it seems like you only pay attention to the news when it serves your narrative, such as your narrative that women who make accusations of sexual assault are almost all liars.

  49. LimitsOfLanguage:

    Out of curiosity, did you read the Solnit piece I linked to? The fact that you wrote this:

    However, as you yourself argued, veterans do end up with PTSD, so if a hearing involves a traumatized veteran, a man could be called up to testify just like Ford, but also have psychological trauma that would make this difficult.

    suggests to me that you might not have or that you may have misunderstood entirely the point of the paragraph I quoted from her piece.

    You also wrote:

    I argued earlier that a confirmation process is not the appropriate way to do justice to alleged sexual assault victims, but instead, that the legal system (should) serve this purpose.

    You did. I said that I stood more or less behind what Kate said in response to this, so, no, I was not ignoring you, but I saw no point in repeating in my own words what she’d already written. I also hope that clears this up:

    When I try to get clarification on what you mean, to get you to give more detailed arguments for your claims or such, you very often disregard this completely, making me feel that you refuse to actually engage me in a debate.

    Up in comment 38, you asked me this:

    But what are the implications of this accusation (not accusations)?

    It was a response to this excerpt from my comment @30:

    Giving short shrift to this–and I do think a single hearing without any substantive, non-partisan investigation is giving it short shrift–could turn out to be a very convenient way of pretending, of persuading ourselves, we have dealt seriously with the implications of these accusations, when in fact we have not. (Because if we take seriously what sexual assault does to the person assaulted–which I don’t think we as a society do–not just in the moment, but throughout their lives, then the question of how we should approach dealing with allegations like Dr. Ford’s go far beyond this particular case.)

    The purpose of a confirmation process is to determine whether or not someone is fit to serve in a position to which they have been nominated, yes? Sexual assault is not just the violation of another human being, it is also, always, an expression of values, and I think the values that sexual assault expresses ought to disqualify someone from a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court (except, maybe, if there is an explicit and ongoing repudiation of and attempt to change those values in word and action).

    We live in a society, as I think the Solnit piece I linked to argues quite persuasively, that prefers to see men’s sexual violence against women as a series of isolated acts committed in isolation not only from each other, but also from the overarching set of values that sexually objectify women, devalue and denigrate women’s lives, and mitigate against our dealing with situations like this one starting from the perspective of a woman who has been assaulted/violated. (And let’s stick with talking about men’s sexual violence against women, for now, since we are talking here about an alleged act of sexual violence committed by a man against a woman.) Were we actually to frame our approach to dealing with sexual assault starting from the perspective of the person who’s been assaulted—even in cases like this one, where the question has less to do with guilt or innocence in the criminal sense and (let’s call it) moral fitness for a job—I do believe the response to the allegations made against Kavanaugh from within what would be a very different confirmation process would also be very different than what we’re seeing.

    You would like me, right here, right now, to propose a set bylaws and rules, etc. that might replace the ones we have and that would account for the above. I’m sorry, but I won’t do that, not because I couldn’t—had I the time and the inclination to engage you in that way, I imagine I could come up with something—but because I think it would be wrong to do so, except in collaboration with women.

    Why do I say all this needs to be unpacked much more thoroughly than I have the time for? Because I am talking more about the larger socioeconomic, cultural, and sexual-political context in which the Kavanaugh situation is being played out than I am about the specifics of what’s happening. As I said, I pretty much stand behind what Kate said in her response to you, and I don’t think repeating what she said is necessary.

    One more thing: I have limited my response here to the issue of men’s sexual violence against women for reasons that I hope are clear, even if you disagree with them, and so I realize I did not respond to your questions about male survivors. I am not going to do that tonight, though.

  50. 51
    Kate says:

    I’m very interested in knowing your specific reasons and standards.

    I have no interest in jumping through your hoops. I gave two examples of lesser crimes which ended previous nominations in the line directly following the one you quoted. My point was that, historically, much less serious crimes than pergery and attempted rape have been seen as deal-breakers by the Senate (pot smoking and failing to pay social security for nannies).

    The world is imperfect and complicated & many people choose a lesser evil.

    This isn’t an election. They can drop Kavanaugh and Trump can choose anyone else he wants. Even I don’t think so pooly of conservatives that one can’t be found who isn’t an alleged to have committed sexual assaults (btw, at least two other accusers have come forward).

    You are ignoring the possibility that he may be guilty while having been so drunk that his memory was impaired, in which case he honestly could believe the allegations to be false.

    He didn’t say he didn’t remember. He stated uncatagorically that it didn’t happen. Now if, as rumor has it, he drank to such excess during this time period that he often had extended blackouts, saying that he can be sure this incident (or the other ones coming to light) didn’t happen is a lie.

    Somehow these principled reasons almost always align along party lines, which is peculiar if they were actually principled reasons that people arrive at without bias and without realpolitik.

    It’s very simple. The two parties have fundamentally different values, which consistently lead them to different conclusions.

  51. 52
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Richard Jeffrey Newman,

    The purpose of a confirmation process is to determine whether or not someone is fit to serve in a position to which they have been nominated, yes?

    Yes, where that fitness is determined by Senators chosen by the American people, based on their own judgment. Of course, you are free to criticize and question this, but ultimately the responsibility lies with the American voter, who placed representatives into office to make practical decisions in their stead.

    Sexual assault is not just the violation of another human being, it is also, always, an expression of values, and I think the values that sexual assault expresses ought to disqualify someone from a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court

    This statement of yours necessitates a belief that values are unchanging, in the short term and the long term, because otherwise you could not argue that people will for their entire life behave according to the values that caused them to commit a crime.

    Do you believe this? Do you for example believe that values cannot be changed by education? Do you believe that values cannot be changed by maturity? Do you believe that values cannot be changed by life experience? Because my understanding of the scientific evidence is that it has been solidly proven that all of these change values.

    Furthermore, do you believe that alcohol and other drugs has no effect on people’s behavior? Because the crime statistics show rather convincingly IMO that inebriated people are much more prone to misbehavior, so if you equate behavior with values, then drunk people have different values to sober people, right?

    Finally, given your apparent belief in unchanging values, do you believe that criminals cannot ever stop misbehaving?

    We live in a society, as I think the Solnit piece I linked to argues quite persuasively, that prefers to see men’s sexual violence against women as a series of isolated acts committed in isolation not only from each other, but also from the overarching set of values that sexually objectify women, devalue and denigrate women’s lives, and mitigate against our dealing with situations like this one starting from the perspective of a woman who has been assaulted/violated.

    The better scientific evidence actually strongly suggests that while society treats sexual violence as a crime that men do to women, it in actuality is a crime committed nearly just as much by women against men as vice versa. I refer you to the CDC’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey.

    So if anything, reality seems nearly the opposite of what you claim, where sexual violence is not something that men are encultured into doing against women, but something that both genders do quite frequently, but where women almost exclusively seek and get remedy against male perpetrators in court, but almost never men against female perpetrators.

    Your claim that ‘society’ sees men’s sexual violence as isolated is extremely ironic, because your feminist beliefs are quite commonly expressed in mainstream publications and in fact have resulted in laws and policies based on such beliefs. In contrast, society is mostly not even aware of the scientific evidence showing that there is a far, far larger disparity between prosecution of male and female perpetrators than in how often they commit these crimes (this disparity also exists for black people and then progressives tend to call it discrimination).

    Ironically, feminist beliefs like yours may very well contribute to this gender inequality and discrimination.

    Were we actually to frame our approach to dealing with sexual assault starting from the perspective of the person who’s been assaulted […] I do believe the response to the allegations made against Kavanaugh from within what would be a very different confirmation process would also be very different than what we’re seeing.

    You are losing yourself in vagueness again. The problem with not getting specific, but referring to larger ideals is that you never have to deal with the messiness of reality, where different larger ideals cannot be fully achieved by a single policy.

    I’m sorry, but I won’t do that, not because I couldn’t—had I the time and the inclination to engage you in that way, I imagine I could come up with something—but because I think it would be wrong to do so, except in collaboration with women.

    What women? All women in the US? How? Not only do you refuse to state the desired outcome, you also refuse to give some detail on what process you want to get to an outcome. Again, vagueness upon vagueness.

    And what do we do until this ‘collaboration’ has happened? Stop appointing people? Furthermore, do you think that such a large bipartisan collaboration is even possible in the current environment? I don’t think so. So are you being realistic/pragmatic here?

    Because I am talking more about the larger socioeconomic, cultural, and sexual-political context in which the Kavanaugh situation is being played out than I am about the specifics of what’s happening.

    Specific things are happening and choices have to be made right now, one way or the other.

    Ultimately, your statements are not much more than an exhortation that things should be improved and that other people should do that. You evade any possible discussion about what changes are possible and what the positive and negative consequences are of those changes by never getting specific and limiting yourself to stating your ideals. It gets us nowhere, IMO.

  52. 53
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Kate,

    He didn’t say he didn’t remember. He stated uncategorically that it didn’t happen.

    People commonly make far stronger claims than what they actually know for sure, because of how human psychology and communication works*. They also very commonly start to very creatively interpret reality to resolve cognitive dissonance or simply to get their way.

    Remember when Bill Clinton didn’t have ‘sex with that woman’ even though he did have sex according the definition? So he perjured himself, yet the Democratic senators all came to the conclusion that he didn’t, while the Republican senators concluded that he did?

    But of course now the Democrat senators are motivated purely by their lofty ideals, not because they can advance their politics by now having zero tolerance for perjury.

    Lets get real here, if you truly cared about zero tolerance to enforce these lofty ideals, you’d not be supportive of the Democrats, but you’d be disgusted by politics altogether and arguably the entire human race. After all, every ‘normal’ human being is rationalizing, not rational; where selfish desires strongly impact their rationalizations.

    * If someone argues that they cannot remember every moment of their life and cannot be 100% sure that they never assaulted anyone, this will be interpreted by many as an admission that they did assault someone. The reason for this is that people compensate for the bias that they normally expect from people. This in turn makes biased statement almost mandatory, because the more accurate statement will actually often be interpreted in a way that is further from the truth.

    This is one reason why autistic people have a hard time dealing with non-autistics, as they need to learn to lie as they are expected to.

  53. 54
    Ampersand says:

    The better scientific evidence actually strongly suggests that while society treats sexual violence as a crime that men do to women, it in actuality is a crime committed nearly just as much by women against men as vice versa. I refer you to the CDC’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey.

    And that survey found that men and women had similar rates by one measure; but it also found that women were the predominate victims by another measure. (The difference lies in how far back people were asked to recall). Furthermore, that was one finding in one survey, contradicted not only by another finding in the same survey, but also by many other relevant surveys. As far as I know, the finding has not yet been replicated.

    It’s a very interesting finding, and I hope they develop it with further research (for instance, using more detailed questions to get at why the time period is making such a difference). But at this point, the finding you’re claiming is “the better scientific evidence” is an outlier. That may change in the future, but in the meantime, it’s not RJN who is distorting what the research says; it’s you.

  54. 55
    Ampersand says:

    LOL, I do see a difference between when someone is applying for a job (i.e., running in a primary election, or going through a confirmation hearing), versus when someone is already in the job.

    Not giving someone a position is very different, to my mind, from impeaching someone from a position they already have. The former should be done more lightly than the latter.

    With hindsight – remember, Juanita Broaddrick’s accusation was basically unknown when Bill Clinton won the Democratic primary – I wish someone else had won. In my opinion, a plausible accusation of rape is a reasonable reason to choose one candidate over another. (Just as the accusations against Al Franken were a reasonable reason to pressure him to resign.) That Bill Clinton won the primary is, in my view, a failure of the system. Primaries that work better would weed out candidates like Bill Clinton (as, more recently, John Edwards was weeded out in the 2008 primary).

    Being a Supreme Court Justice is a very rarefied position. There’s no reason we shouldn’t want someone of exceptionally good character to fill that spot. “Didn’t commit perjury during his confirmation hearings” shouldn’t be too high a bar to clear – let alone “hasn’t been credibly accused of rape.” Frankly, imo, the GOP’s refusal to share the customary records for the Senate to examine is enough reason to turn this judge away. Let the GOP nominate someone else; there are many other august conservative Judges available.

    And yes, before you say I’ve got partisan bias (which seems to be your response to nearly every person you disagree with here) – sure, I do have bias, although I try to question it. You have bias too. So does everybody. I don’t think constantly accusing people you disagree with of being biased is a constructive approach to conversation, however.

  55. LimitsOfLanguage:

    This statement of yours necessitates a belief that values are unchanging, in the short term and the long term, because otherwise you could not argue that people will for their entire life behave according to the values that caused them to commit a crime.

    This is a response to something I wrote that you quoted only selectively. Let me help you by quoting the entire paragraph, with the relevant part in bold face so you don’t miss it:

    Sexual assault is not just the violation of another human being, it is also, always, an expression of values, and I think the values that sexual assault expresses ought to disqualify someone from a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court (except, maybe, if there is an explicit and ongoing repudiation of and attempt to change those values in word and action).

    Amp has already responded to the ways in which you distorted the study you quoted, so I won’t do that again. Rather, I will say simply this: Given the way in which you elided the part of what I wrote that very clearly says I don’t think values are unchanging, and given that you are trying very hard to hang me on the hook of giving short shrift to male survivors and female perpetrators despite the history of what I have written on this blog (for that last link especially, read the comments), suggests that you are willfully misreading me here. So I think I am done engaging with you about this.

  56. 57
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    It’s probably worth pointing out that even if one doesn’t think a drunken groping/restraining incident disqualifies a candidate for the USSC (personally I think it does), it must be enough to lower the standing of that candidate relative to other equally qualified candidates, which supposedly exist.

    I still think think the guilty/innocent binary is lowering the quality of the discourse everywhere. There are many more possible scenarios between “he sexaully assaulted her” and “she lied” and we have to distribute probabilities acrcross all of these possibilities. Then something like a judgement of fitness has to be rendered according to whatever likelyhood we assign to Kavanaugh’s guilt. We likely need consistently applied norms to make such a judgement fairly, since we can all agree that we are all biased. When it comes to shaping these new norms, anyone who fails to account for the uncertainty involved in cases like this one has automatically disqualified themselves from having an opinion worth considering, and that’s a whole ton of people.

  57. 58
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Ampersand,

    And that survey found that men and women had similar rates by one measure; but it also found that women were the predominate victims by another measure. (The difference lies in how far back people were asked to recall). Furthermore, that was one finding in one survey, contradicted not only by another finding in the same survey

    There is nothing necessarily contradictory about the lifetime figures being different from the past-year figures. The NISVS survey is administered to adults from the age of 18 and up. So the past-year figures will be for age 17 and higher. The lifetime figures include people’s (entire) childhood. So the gap could be partially or fully explained by women recalling more assaults & rapes from before the age of 17 than men.

    Other explanations are also possible. For example, rape seems to have declined by about 85% compared to the 70’s. The lifetime figures extend over a lifetime, so they reflect the rapes that happened during a longer period, including many decades ago when the rape rate was many times higher. Perhaps emancipation (and/or other causes) has caused the rates of abuse of men by women and vice versa to become far more similar over time. Such a change would cause a gender gap between the lifetime and past-year figures.

    I agree with you that the exact reason(s) for the gap deserves further study, so we can interpret the lifetime figures better, but in itself the difference does not show a contradiction.

    , but also [contradicted] by many other relevant surveys.

    The NISVS survey results are not contradicted by most other relevant surveys, because those other surveys don’t ask about sexual abuses that the NISVS does ask about. The NISVS survey also asks the traditional question to men, whether they have been penetrated against their will and it finds low rates that match other studies that also ask that question.

    The first national study on rape was performed by a professor with a rather conservative view on sexual violence (by my current standards). Even a few years ago, she said that it is impossible for women to have intercourse with men against their will or without consent, which unfortunately is still a common misconception. Furthermore, she argued against measuring how often men are forced to penetrate because she believes that this is not as damaging to men as being penetrated is to women. So her questions reflect this and exclude men who have been forced to penetrate. By excluding PIV intercourse forced upon men, but including PIV intercourse forced upon women, she measured only a fraction of the sexual violence against men, if the NISVS survey is to believed, which does measure it.

    I personally believe that even if it is true that men are less damaged by being forced to penetrate, this is not a good reason to not measure this misbehavior. The proper way to handle that is to measure what actually happens and then to separately measure the impact*. Furthermore, I believe that we should combat sexual misbehavior regardless of whether the victim is (very) traumatized.

    Anyway, it is very common in science to use the same or very similar survey questions when possible, which has the major advantage that surveys can be compared. However, it has a major disadvantage that if the initial questions had a bias that steered the outcome in a certain direction, the later surveys that use the same questions will have the same bias.

    So unfortunately, if we want to answer the question of how much sexual abuse happens to men and/or the question of how this compares to victimization of women and/or the question of how prone women are to be perpetrators of sexual misbehavior and/or how this compares to women, decades of research are mostly useless.

    I personally hope that more surveys will adopt more gender-inclusive questions like those asked in the NISVS. Note that the ‘forced to penetrate’ questions can be asked in addition to the traditional questions, so if the researchers report their results smartly, the outcomes can still be compared to the old research, but also to the NISVS results.

    * Which is complicated, because men seem to on average respond differently, which can be interpreted as less damage, but also as men hiding, denying and misattributing the damage that they do sustain, due to male enculturation, like male stoicism. Then it may seem that men have less damage, while they actually hide their pain.

  58. 59
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Jeffrey Gandee,

    My perception is also that for positions of power, people often prefer socially dominant personalities. It seems very likely to me that people with dominant personalities are more likely to engage in certain behaviors during their life, like bullying, sexually aggressive behavior, taking advantage of others, etc. Crime statistics strongly suggest that misbehavior is far more common for young people and that many people ‘mellow out’ during their life.

    Then the preference that Senators, voters and others seem to have for dominant people can make it very likely that the person they prefer has skeletons in their closet, if they ‘mellowed out’ or worse, that they are still engaging in that behavior.

    My theory is also that the more combative the environment is in which the person has to operate and/or the more ill-treated people feel they are, the more likely people are to prefer a ‘champion’ to fight for them, rather than a ‘bureaucrat.’ For example, during WW II, the British people elected Churchill, who was certainly fierce.

    So if my theory is correct, people who feel that it is crucial that they have a strong champion for certain political interests are not only going to care less about misbehavior that is orthogonal to those interests, but are actually going to be more likely to select a person who misbehaves or misbehaved.

    So then the only real solution to this problem may be to reduce the polarization and the feeling by many people that crucial political interests are under severe threat. Especially since once this polarization exists, the resulting behaviors can itself polarize society further and cause them to judge the situation very differently.

    For example, one side may see someone who is a great champion for their interests, with some very unfortunate flaws, which seem small to them compared to how great of a champion they see him or her as. Then the other side, who obviously doesn’t have the same interests and is more likely to see the politics of the candidate as a flaw, will be flabbergasted at how the other side doesn’t consider the personality flaws of the candidate to be disqualifying. So each side then can start to see the other side as insane, for behavior that their own side actually engages in as well, but which seems very different to them, because they lack the outside view.

    We saw this pattern during the last election, where many who disagreed with Clinton’s politics noticed enormous disqualifying flaws in Clinton non-political (past) behavior, while many who disagreed with Trump’s politics noticed enormous disqualifying flaws in Trump non-political (past) behavior. However, those who agreed with the politics of either candidate generally didn’t see the non-political (past) behavior as disqualifying.

  59. 60
    Harlequin says:

    I still think think the guilty/innocent binary is lowering the quality of the discourse everywhere. There are many more possible scenarios between “he sexaully assaulted her” and “she lied” and we have to distribute probabilities acrcross all of these possibilities. Then something like a judgement of fitness has to be rendered according to whatever likelyhood we assign to Kavanaugh’s guilt. We likely need consistently applied norms to make such a judgement fairly, since we can all agree that we are all biased. When it comes to shaping these new norms, anyone who fails to account for the uncertainty involved in cases like this one has automatically disqualified themselves from having an opinion worth considering, and that’s a whole ton of people.

    One thing I learned from a former commenter in these parts: if one wants to design a system that needs to engage in some fact-finding and then apply some sort of consequences to the decision, the experts are people who currently work in the legal system, and one should make use of them. There are a whole bunch of pitfalls that they can warn you about, even if you’re only using them in an advisory capacity. But, I’m not sure that there’s a unique process we can design here, because a lot will depend on the kind of power the accused person wields, what groups can impose consequences on the accused (or on the accuser, if they are found to have made a false accusation), and how public the accusation is. Like, in the case of Congress, I want to say “there should be an ombudsperson focused on sexual harassment and assault for each political party, and a committee for each party, independent of election concerns, who adjudicates the accusations”, but of course there was something like this in Congress already and all it did was pay hush money, which is not a good solution. It may be that what’s happening now–where the media breaks these stories–is the only way to bring public attention and public pressure to bear on the perpetrators. And I think, as times goes on, the increased visibility of these issues will lead to decreased self-blame and an increase in reporting closer to the time of the assault/harassment–I don’t know how long “accusations surface from decades ago” will be a common occurrence.

    Thinking about how to judge cases that do come out, though, here are some pitfalls that I am particularly aware of (there are, of course, others): that the testimony of both the accuser and the accused is evidence, and should be subject to the normal kinds of reliability judgments we make about other eyewitness testimony; that both trauma and time affect memory, but in specific ways; that one’s internal sense of how likely a given bad act is will be affected by one’s perception of how likely that kind of bad act is, in general; that different stakeholders will see the same act in different ways (so even if we agree on the facts of what happened, I expect to see widespread disagreement about the consequences). In earlier comments here (I think particularly #44), LimitsOfLanguage was talking about partisan bias, and I will bluntly say that that is definitely part of the calculation. I think it is appropriate that Al Franken is no longer a senator; I worry very much about what I want to happen if, say, Joe Manchin or Claire McCaskill is accused of similar acts, because they would not be replaced with a Democrat, and the way the country is now, it is hard to say how I would judge the justice owed to their victims versus the justice owed to the many people who would be harmed with even one more Republican vote in the Senate. And that calculation is very different if we’re talking about a judicial nomination, where the nominee can be easily replaced with a candidate who has not been accused of such acts. Which is why, again, as others have said, I don’t think it is sensible to talk about a general procedure for this kind of accusation. I mean, there are commonalities–I have very strong feelings about how proper rhetoric surrounding accusers, for example–and those kinds of norms are important; I think they are currently too forgiving of the accused, where society at large assumes that accusations are untrue at a much higher rate than they likely are, and where society at large is willing to forgive past transgressions based solely on the passage of time and not on any actual work by the accused. But it’s hard to think of a higher level of specificity than that which would apply to the broad range of accusations that are slowly coming to light, from the decades-long backlog of victims who were unable (for various reasons) to access justice before now.

  60. 61
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    Harlequin:

    I have very strong feelings about how proper rhetoric surrounding accusers, for example–and those kinds of norms are important; I think they are currently too forgiving of the accused, where society at large assumes that accusations are untrue at a much higher rate than they likely are, and where society at large is willing to forgive past transgressions based solely on the passage of time and not on any actual work by the accused.

    I think people are just applying something like a legal standard to a situation outside of a courtroom because it feels better to do so.

    The problem is that people want something like a trial that forever settles how people should interact with an accused person. We want to be able to definitely declare guilt or innocence, true or false. I can feel my own brain tugging me toward one extreme or the other. In a close case, if I decide to use a preponderance of the evidence standard when judging the fitness of an accused person to hold a job, I have to grapple with the fact the 50% of the time, my judgement could put the accused’s coworkers in danger, and cause a great deal of pain to the accuser. The other 50% of the time, I’m doing a grave injustice to an innocent man. There’s much to weigh here, and it’s hard, so I think people fail toward a presumption of innocence like that used in a criminal trial, because we are familiar with it, but also for similar reasons to those which made it the standard in criminal trials- we’d rather free ten guilty men than condemn 1 innocent one, and then live with that consequences of freeing those guilty men.

    I have no idea how to design better standards, but my moral intuition is that a “preponderance” standard is unfair, and could only ever work in one-off dilemmas, anyway. Once these standards can be gamed for political advantage, they’ll be weaponized in ways that will distort the make-up of qualified candidates.

    IOW, people know damn well that their judgments of the accused do not reflect the odds that the accused is guilty, and they prefer it that way.

  61. 62
    Harlequin says:

    Jeffrey, I’m not confused about why we have a hard time dealing with accused abusers in our social circles*. I understand it. I just think it needs to change.

    Your explanation is incomplete, too. Yes, we often want to avoid the social and moral discomfort of passing judgment on someone when we can’t know the full truth. And yet, judging by the comments I have read about Kavanaugh and Blasey Ford in places other than this, lots of people are actually quite comfortable thinking that women frequently lie about horrible crimes, or maybe just have incredibly faulty memories. If discomfort around passing judgment was the only consideration, people would be much more uncertain than they actually are about these accusations. So it’s important to realize a desire to avoid passing judgement isn’t the only factor, and that the standard is applied very differently to different groups. It is part of the explanation, but not the whole thing.

    (And I have seen or heard that kind of statement from liberals, too, by the way, at least in other situations. I don’t mean to say it’s just a Republican thing, though some of them have been making unfortunate examples lately. )

    *any social circle, not just friendship: coworkers, church community, etc

  62. 63
    Kate says:

    “…lots of people are actually quite comfortable thinking that women frequently lie about horrible crimes, or maybe just have incredibly faulty memories.”

    This! People don’t seem to be concerned about ruining the lives of people who make accusations when there is no reason to believe that they are lying or totally deluded – much less establishment of pergury beyond a reasonable doubt.

  63. 64
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Harlequin,

    lots of people are actually quite comfortable thinking that women frequently lie about horrible crimes, or maybe just have incredibly faulty memories

    Do you really think that a person has to have incredibly faulty memory to misremember after 35 years, especially when the person had drunk alcohol back then (alcohol affects memory storage).

    I’m truly very comfortable with the idea that many people are very bad at recounting what actually happened, because scientists have done many experiments that show that memory generally isn’t photographic.

    The model of how memory works that most people seem to believe in is similar to a photograph, where people with ‘better’ memory are more accurate. I used to believe this as well.

    In reality, most people have memory like a historian, who finds an artifact and then starts speculating about how this artifact might have been used. Then the speculation that seems most consistent with the findings is taken as the truth and written down. Then new information tends to be judged with a bias towards fitting it into the existing narrative, etc. The subjective nature of this speculation is obvious if one compares different history books (and how different historians have types of narratives that they prefer).

    Similarly, the subjective nature of memory is obvious if one compares different testimony of the same situation, which often differs, even for events that happened recently. Furthermore, we often see people co-opting claims by (trusted) third parties in their own testimony, where quite often, they fail to distinguish between things they heard from others and things they personally observed.

    As the event recedes in the past, people tend to forget details, but retain, if not strengthen their narrative. I watched a ‘real crime’ documentary a while back about a case that dragged through the courts for many years. The same person had testified in court several times, many years apart. It was quite interesting to see this process happen so clearly, where the initial testimony still included observations that didn’t fit in the narrative, while the later testimonies were increasingly ‘polished.’ Details that didn’t fit the narrative had been forgotten and details that fit it had been added (where it is quite possible that these details came from a third party or from mere speculation what should have happened).

    PS. Note that after DNA testing became available, quite a few people were exonerated, who were mainly convicted based on the victim or other eye witness identifying them as the perpetrator.

  64. 65
    Harlequin says:

    LoL: First, I was speaking much more broadly than Kavanaugh and Blasey Ford, as I thought Jeffrey was; most accusations are made closer to the time of the event. And second, while eyewitness identification definitely has serious credibility problems, those problems are mostly among people identifying strangers and particularly strangers of a different race–not among witnesses recognizing people they actually know.

  65. 66
    Kate says:

    Dr. Blasey Ford is an expert on memory and trauma. She explained during her testimony why and how she can be confident about certain central facts while having no memory of peripheral details.
    She also said that she only had one beer. You should watch her testimony.

  66. 67
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Harlequin,

    I agree that most accusations are made closer to the event… and even then quite a few identify the wrong person. So why assume that Ford can’t have done so? According to Ford’s own testimony, she only vaguely knew Kavanaugh. So it seems that he was close to being a stranger to her.

    Ford made the claim that 4 specific people were present. All denied this. So then either 1 person is telling a falsehood or 4 people are. So then the question is why we should believe the 1 over the 4?

    One possible reason is because there is a conspiracy by the 4. I have seen no evidence for this (nor for Ford intentionally lying for political reasons). One of the 4 is Ford long-time friend, so it seems implausible that she would lie for Kavanaugh.

    Another possible reason is because Ford has better memory, for example because (extreme) stress improves memory storage and recall. The first problem with this is that it begs the question, because this reason assumes that Ford was attacked by Kavanaugh in the first place. A second problem is that the evidence suggests that while stress intensifies memories, it also has a distorting effect (on both perception and storage). An example is tunnel vision, where people focus on certain details and lose sight of the bigger picture. In many cases, people seem to focus on details that seem a threat, like people’s hands (with or without a weapon), not necessarily on faces.

    It seems quite common for people with PTSD to create a mental association between the event and something fairly generic, that is not fully specific to the event or the perpetrator. For example, loud sounds, smells, a trait of a person, etc. The first time that Ford mentioned Kavanaugh to others was exactly the time when he was in the news, suggesting that she might have been triggered. She may have seen him and legitimately recalled him as the perpetrator, but she may also have identified him falsely, for example based on a detail that he shares with the real perpetrator.

    The is also the possibility that the memory is fabricated and/or (partially) adopted from someone else. There have been scientific studies that were able to implant memories in a quarter to half of the subjects. Ford has been in therapy and some therapists try to uncover repressed memory, which in actuality seems to cause people to construct memories. So that it also a possibility.

    From my perspective, there are quite a few possible scenarios that could have resulted in Ford concluding that Kavanaugh attacked her, ranging from it being true, to her identifying the wrong perpetrator, to this being a fully false memory. I see no reason why one can be highly confident that she is recounting facts.

  67. 68
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Kate,

    Ford is not actually an expert on memory and trauma. She specializes in statistical models for research. The papers for which she is an author are highly diverse, suggesting that she is a ‘shallow’ researcher, a jack of all trades who mostly assists with research headed by others, rather than a researcher who dives deeply into a subject.

    I scanned quite a few of her papers and saw none that were about the effect of trauma on memory storage and/or recall. If you know of any, I’d like to see them.

    She explained during her testimony why and how she can be confident about certain central facts while having no memory of peripheral details.

    During the testimony, she correctly argued that high stress causes some perceptions to be imprinted very strongly. However, she left out the effects of stress that reduce the reliability of memory: the altered perceptions, changes to memory and intensified memory.

    Furthermore, she didn’t discuss the effects of PTSD, which can result in amnesia of the event that caused it, like forgetting the people involved, including the perpetrator. Then it is possible for victim to try to figure out these important details later, in an unreliable way.

    Her statement that she was “One hundred percent” sure that the key part of her testimony is correct, despite her (apparent) self-assessment of having PTSD, makes it seem to me that she was more focused on defending her story than making scientifically defensible arguments.

    Of course, just about everyone is biased & that is human nature, so I am not accusing her of intentionally deceiving people, but we should judge her reliability as a witness to past events realistically.

  68. 69
    Kate says:

    Ford is not actually an expert on memory and trauma. She specializes in statistical models for research. The papers for which she is an author are highly diverse, suggesting that she is a ‘shallow’ researcher, a jack of all trades who mostly assists with research headed by others, rather than a researcher who dives deeply into a subject.
    I scanned quite a few of her papers and saw none that were about the effect of trauma on memory storage and/or recall. If you know of any, I’d like to see them.

    Actually, I’d like to see you link to the papers you’ve written which illustrate why I should consider your opinion on these issues of any merit.

  69. 70
    Kate says:

    Ford made the claim that 4 specific people were present. All denied this. So then either 1 person is telling a falsehood or 4 people are. So then the question is why we should believe the 1 over the 4?

    This is a lie. Kavanaugh is the only one who has denied that he was at any such party. After all this time, if he were being honest, he really could only say that he didn’t remember a party of that description, not that it definitively did not happen. Moreover, there is also an entry in his calendar about a party which fits Ford’s description. Most important of all, we have many instances of his lying under oath, including about how much he drank in high school and college. Altogether, this makes him a far less reliable witness than Ford.
    Judge says he doesn’t remember the party. He also denies that he ever witnessed Kavanaugh attacking anyone in the way Ford describes. But he also wrote a whole book about how he often was black-out drunk during that time of his life. So, he’s also a less reliable witness than Ford.
    Ford’s friend says that, while she doesn’t personally remember this party, she believes Ford. That is not a denial.

    From my perspective, there are quite a few possible scenarios that could have resulted in Ford concluding that Kavanaugh attacked her, ranging from it being true, to her identifying the wrong perpetrator, to this being a fully false memory. I see no reason why one can be highly confident that she is recounting facts.

    Which brings us back to…why should I trust your judgement on this issue more than Ford’s or my own? You’re so disdainful of Ford’ credentials, but I don’t see you showing me what yours are.

  70. 71
    Erin says:

    Kate, I hate to state the obvious, but what are YOUR credentials for arguing any of this. And then we can go around the circle and you can demand MY credentials for even posting anything on this message board. I’m not going to publish my credentials just to post on a silly board, and I think LimitsOfLanguage makes very good points that should stand on their own.

    And speaking of statements standing on their own, the questioner in the hearings in which Christine Blasey Ford testified, Rachel Mitchell, an experienced prosecutor of sex crimes, does not really believe Christine Blasey Ford. Independently of that, there is a lot of stuff floating around the Internet that may or may not be true, that for instance the installation of a second door was not what prompted the dramatics in 2012, because it was installed years before that to allow separate renters to enter.

    You seemed absolutely intent, Kate, on presenting anything you can to show that “your (tribal) side” is right, and your intensity is working against you in the plausibility department. I see other people not so much being advocates, but just critically examining your one-sided statements.

  71. 72
    J. Squid says:

    Rachel Mitchell, an experienced prosecutor of sex crimes, does not really believe Christine Blasey Ford.

    I am absolutely shocked that a Republican prosecutor hired by the GOP to discredit a sexual assault victim in defense of a GOP nominee for Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States would publicly say that she does not believe the person she was hired to discredit.

    And she has hardly been criticized at all for her memo.

  72. 73
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    I don’t understand why a redacted version of Ford’s therapy notes isn’t in evidence. It is really weird of her to show notes to a reporter, and then use the reporting of those notes as corroborating evidence, especially when she said during her testimony that she wants to help get to the truth in whatever way she can. Unless they are in evidence, I don’t think it’s fair to say that they are evidence. I realize this isn’t a trial, but I’m pretty sure no judge would allow a lawyer to argue that point to a jury without the notes in evidence.

    If I’m correct in thinking that it’s possible for the notes to be redacted such that only material details relevant to this case are left visible, and that redaction like this is routinely done in a confidential way, then the absence of these notes is a reason to be suspicious that they are corroborating.

  73. 74
    Kate says:

    Kate, I hate to state the obvious, but what are YOUR credentials for arguing any of this.

    I asked is why I should trust LimitsOfLanguage knowledge of memory, and assessment of Dr. Blasey Ford’s memory more than Blasey Ford’s self-assessment. LimitsOfLanguage sets up straw men – no one, especially not Blasey Ford, is arguing that memory is like a photograph. He then links to a brief description of the limits of eyewitness testimony, which, as Harlequin points out, when applied to identification of people, is mostly applicable to strangers, particularly strangers of a different race, not people one knew prior to the event. Then he argues that Blasey Ford only “vaguely knew”* Kavanaugh, and doesn’t that really make him just like a stranger. Which, um, no – actually it doesn’t make him a stranger. Ford contends that chances of mistaken identity with an extreme trauma like the one she experienced, committed by people she knew previously, is so small as to be non-existent. I have no reason to think that she is lying. I have no reason to think that LimitsOfLanguage knowledge of the scholarship on that topic is superior to Dr. Blasey Ford’s. He has linked to nothing that includes data that refutes that interpretation.

    *I don’t know if these were her exact words. Both you and Limits of Language are misrepresenting a lot of statement and not providing links. All the points I listed @70 are linked in earlier posts I’ve put up.

  74. 75
    Ampersand says:

    I’d rather we not get into a credentials fight; in my experience, it’s not a productive line of argument.

  75. 76
    Harlequin says:

    LoL, if memory is as faulty as you claim, then why do you believe any denial issued by any of the witnesses or by Kavanaugh that such a party occurred? After all, even if you were correct that all the other partygoers had denied the party occurred, it’s very easy to forget a party at which (to you) nothing in particular happened; there are more witnesses, but they have far less cause to remember specific events than Blasey Ford. Can you list off every informal gathering you went to in high school and who attended them? I can’t, and I’m much closer to graduation than Kavanaugh and Blasey Ford, and wasn’t as social. I mean, when I first heard this, it was my expectation that most of the people there wouldn’t remember it.

    Extend that: if memory is so faulty, then how can you believe any person who says that they didn’t assault someone? If you can’t know that the victim is accurately remembering, then you can’t know that the accused is, either–they may honestly believe they didn’t do it, and yet have done it. So the proper social (not legal) response to any accusation must be to treat it as if both parties might be mistaken, and to divide any consequences between them. Right?

    Again, my problem here is not the overall level of reliability or unreliability of memory; it’s that people find this important and necessary when talking about accusations but irrelevant when talking about denials. (Not 100% of the time–I have seen this floated about Kavanaugh–but it’s rare.) And again, you’re also wildly overstating the unreliability of accusations by conflating “a person says they were raped/assaulted by somebody but doesn’t know who, and then a suspect is found” and “a person says they were raped/assaulted by a particular person they know” which are really different. If you don’t know the person, you’re remembering physical details about them; if you do know the person, you’re remembering the space in your brain with associations about that person. Different mechanisms. Can that be mistaken? Yes, absolutely! And you’re right, that’s more likely if you don’t know the person well than if you do. But does “this person fits distorted sensory details I can remember about a person I’d never seen before” have the same level of uncertainty as “this person is the person I remember it being, with all their associations in my brain?” Nope! And when we’re talking about, say, DNA disproving eyewitness identification, that’s the first thing, and not the second. Your contention that people are misidentifying people they actually know as perpetrators of crimes, rather than picking the wrong stranger who looks kind of like the person they saw, is so unsupported by evidence that I can’t even refute it because it goes against the baseline assumptions of the research. All I can do is, like, point to the eyewitness identification page of the Innocence Project, which is all about suspect lineups–which you don’t do if the witness already knows who the person is.

    Anyway, this comment is mostly for the people who may be reading this thread. Honestly, I’m unlikely to respond to you again, because of this:

    Ford is not actually an expert on memory and trauma. She specializes in statistical models for research. The papers for which she is an author are highly diverse, suggesting that she is a ‘shallow’ researcher, a jack of all trades who mostly assists with research headed by others, rather than a researcher who dives deeply into a subject.

    Graduate school involves classwork training you in the broad strokes of the thinking in your field, as well as the in-depth work involved in research. Blasey Ford may not research on memory and trauma, but she knows more than you and me (with my judgment based on the interpretations you have presented here of that research–I’m not making any assumptions about your credentials). And the rest of the paragraph I quoted is just a needless attack on her for no reason. So I’m not really interested in continuing this conversation with you, and probably won’t reply to you again.

    For the record, by the way, I don’t ever assume a reply is required to something I wrote here on Alas, or that a failure to reply is a reflection on anyone’s argument. We’ve all got lives.

  76. 77
    Celeste says:

    Whatever you think of Dr. Ford’s account, and I find it credible, it is unquestionably true that Judge Kavanaugh lied under oath to the Senate.

    Surely perjuring oneself on national television ought to be disqualifying?

  77. 78
    Harlequin says:

    Huh, messed up that link, didn’t I! Could a mod fix, please?

    [Done! –Amp]

  78. 79
    Kate says:

    Thanks to both Harlequin and Celeste.

  79. 80
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Kate,

    I base my opinions on what my own research has shown to be most likely to be true. I often base myself on science that has been extensively replicated. For example, there are quite a few studies that show the ability to create false memories in many people by using certain methods, that can realistically happen in real life. I have earlier provided a link to a Stanford article about false memories that had links to two such studies. Furthermore, nearly all wrongful convictions seem to have faulty testimony/identification as a factor (see table 1). Thirdly, the current consensus in psychology is that false memories can be constructed for traumatic events that never happened. As the American Psychology association states:

    But most leaders in the field agree that although it is a rare occurrence, a memory of early childhood abuse that has been forgotten can be remembered later. However, these leaders also agree that it is possible to construct convincing pseudomemories for events that never occurred.

    The mechanism(s) by which both of these phenomena happen are not well understood and, at this point it is impossible, without other corroborative evidence, to distinguish a true memory from a false one.

    However, I don’t give too many links for many of my claims, because of reasons like these:
    – I rarely get recognition when I do, making me feel like a fool for doing so. It also seems that the more solid my evidence, the less response I tend to get.
    – Providing links tends to trip spam filters, especially in WordPress.
    – I don’t always have links handy, for example, because I saw a study or article in the past and have to put in effort to find it again, to link to it.
    – Sometimes I can no longer find again the really good evidence that I saw before.
    – When I do provide links, they are not necessarily going to address (exactly) what other people in the discussion dispute.
    – I get a feeling that providing too many links, and especially the kind of links that I often like to base my opinion on (like scientific studies) are very hard to interpret for many people and thus increase the barrier to communicate with me
    – A single link may only address one kind of evidence for the claim and thus may deceive people in thinking that this is the only (kind of) evidence that exists. A proper overview of the evidence may require many links, which is a lot of effort and which balloons my comments.

    That said, I am often quite willing to give outside support for my claims when asked in good faith. Good faith then means actually looking at the linked materials and commenting on them.

    Harlequin,

    I don’t believe that the denials by the witnesses or by Kavanaugh are certain to be true and have never stated that Kavanaugh is innocent or that the account by Ford is certain to be false. What I disagree with is the claim that we should put high confidence in the account by Ford, despite the lack of solid independent corroboration.

    Again, my problem here is not the overall level of reliability or unreliability of memory; it’s that people find this important and necessary when talking about accusations but irrelevant when talking about denials.

    I commonly see people argue that (alleged) trauma victims should be believed because their trauma would make it impossible for them to forgot or misremember certain things. In fact, this was argued by Ford during the hearing & also by Coons, who submitted this article for the record as for why Ford should be believed (note that the article makes several errors, of the types that I described before).

    However, I don’t recall anyone arguing the opposite: that Kavanaugh’s memory should be considered infallible on key elements.

    I try to respond to what people actually (commonly) argue.

    If you don’t know the person, you’re remembering physical details about them; if you do know the person, you’re remembering the space in your brain with associations about that person.

    I don’t see how this is or can be a binary like that, rather than a spectrum. If my coworker comes to work in a sleeveless shirt and uncovers a tattoo, I will remember that physical detail, making my memory of his appearance more complete. If I meet a person briefly or without making a big impression, my memories of his physical attributes may be quite poor. I may have trouble recalling whether she has a ponytail, for example. Only after more frequent and/or more striking encounters, will her features be etched into my mind. When I no longer see a person, these memories/details fade.

    Ford claims to have attended 4 or 5 parties over a two year period where Kavanaugh was present. She didn’t talk about any direct interactions with or memorable behavior by Kavanaugh. So why should we assume that she already had a solid image of Kavanaugh in her mind? Furthermore, if we doubt Ford’s account, then these claims can be false as well. So even if you were right in your claim that a person would not misidentify anyone they know, which incidentally is not a claim that I’ve seen any solid evidence for, then this doesn’t rule out that Ford may have wrongly identified him.

    PS. An interesting related matter that I find fascinating is how modern media most likely creates one-directional acquaintances, where many people feel that they know the famous person well, while that famous person doesn’t know the other person at all. In the most extreme cases, this can result in stalking behavior where people get very confused about having a relationship with the person. It may perhaps also result in famous people being inserted into false memories in some cases.

    PS2. My description of Ford as a jack of all trades was not intended maliciously and contains no objective epithets, IMO. I personally don’t consider a generalist to be lesser than a specialist in general. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. I was merely trying to accurately describe her rough level of expertise of the topic under discussion.

  80. 81
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    Celeste says:

    Whatever you think of Dr. Ford’s account, and I find it credible, it is unquestionably true that Judge Kavanaugh lied under oath to the Senate.

    Surely perjuring oneself on national television ought to be disqualifying?

    This. Even is his lies aren’t material enough to count as perjury, a judge must have more respect for sworn testimony. He should be held to a higher standard than I would be in front of a judge like him.

  81. 82
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Jeffrey Gandee,

    Ford said during the hearing that the therapy notes are incomplete and (partially) incorrect. Her claim is that the therapist didn’t write everything down and made mistakes. So we already know that the notes don’t (entirely) match her testimony from the hearing.

    It seems rather obvious that few minds will change if they become public, because those who already believe Ford will believe her explanation of the discrepancies, those who disbelieve her will see the discrepancies as strong evidence that she is lying, while moderates like me will argue that it is not hard evidence either way.

    Celeste,

    Perjury is legally defined much more strictly and/or differently than most people seem to think it is. For example, the federal rules state:

    (1) Having taken an oath before a competent tribunal, officer, or person, in any case in which a law of the United States authorizes an oath to be administered, that he will testify, declare, depose, or certify truly, or that any written testimony, declaration, deposition, or certificate by him subscribed, is true, willfully and contrary to such oath states or subscribes any material matter which he does not believe to be true; or

    (2) in any declaration, certificate, verification, or statement under penalty of perjury as permitted under section 1746 of title 28, United States Code, willfully subscribes as true any material matter which he does not believe to be true

    This was further qualified by precedent, mainly in United States v. Dunnigan, where the following definition was used: “[T]estifying under oath or affirmation violates this section if she gives false testimony concerning a material matter with the willful intent to provide false testimony, rather than as a result of confusion, mistake, or faulty memory.

    This makes proving and prosecuting perjury quite hard, because it means that stating a falsehood is not perjury. It’s only perjury if the person knew at the time of the testimony that the statement was false, which requires proving state of mind, which, of course, is hard. You generally need the person to admit to lying, to make a different statement not too long before or after the testimony, or such. Proving that the statement is a falsehood is not sufficient.

    As far as I can tell, Kavanaugh did tell falsehoods, but it is unproven that he ever believed something different, although a decent argument can be made that he most likely did for some of the stupid yearbook stuff. However, I have seen no evidence that he disbelieved his testimony when he made it. A gap of over 30 years seems quite sufficient to me to believe that any false statements may be due to confusion, mistake or faulty memory. Kavanaugh testified that he was pressured to write outrageous things by those who compiled the yearbook and it seems plausible that he ‘sanitized’ his memories, as cognitive dissonance theory would suggest people may do.

    Of course, you may consider it disqualifying for someone to do this, but a great many people, if not nearly everyone seems prone to adjust their beliefs to solve cognitive dissonance. So is this then a case of disqualifying Kavanaugh for behaving exceptionally, or it is a case of it being noticeable in his case? Is it a case of duplicity or is it a case of ignorance, where Kavanaugh is unaware of human psychology, so he was stupid enough to actually state his current views on the past with confidence, rather than say “I don’t recall” or to hedge every statement he made.

    Note that I am not saying that you or anyone else should not oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination, I’m merely challenging some of the arguments for it.

  82. 83
    Erin says:

    Jeffrey Gandee sez:

    “This. Even is his lies aren’t material enough to count as perjury, a judge must have more respect for sworn testimony. He should be held to a higher standard than I would be in front of a judge like him.”

    I’m shocked – SHOCKED – to find something he said is at variance with something someone else said. And also to find that there is gambling going on in this place.

    Kavanaugh answered well over 1200 written questions and went through days of testimony. The reality is that anyone who goes through that will leave something – somewhere – that can be *disputed* as a lie. A.N.Y.O.N.E. No matter how conscientious that person is. So would you, Mr. Gandee.

    A material lie that would be perjury would be Kavanaugh saying that he had graduated from law school when that, in fact, was not the case. Finding something that someone else may characterize differently, given the volume of information and statements Kavanaugh had to produce, is normal and human.

    But I understand that the democrats are just going to use every cutthroat tactic they can. They purposefully tried to disrupt the beginning of the hearing by harassing Grassley (watch it on YouTube – Kamilla Harris started). If I am being charitable about the situation, they didn’t handle the accusation of Christine Ford in the most optimal way (being uncharitable, Feinstein sat on it for political strategy, who cares who is hurt by that). They have said that they will impeach Kavanaugh even if he makes it on the bench. They are trying to smear him and find anything they can, with any dirty tactics they can find.

    It may well backfire. Or it may work.

  83. 84
    Erin says:

    Here’s one that the democrats can try:

    Kavanaugh willingly and knowingly experimented with – and ingested – the mind-altering substance ethanol. He is still using this drug, which has been associated with the “loosening up” and rape of women since time immemorial. This drug is so dangerous that it was completely prohibited by constitutional amendment in the United States at one point.

    In addition, Kavanaugh’s mother was seen several times proselytizing outside of a church.

    You’d suddenly see shocked pronouncements that Kavanaugh is shooting up ethanol, and we don’t need a drug addict on the Supreme Court. And he certainly must not come from a good family.

    A witness has also come forward that Kavanaugh was completely naked in front of a women he didn’t know, and made no attempt to cover himself. He didn’t care. The witness – the nurse during his birth – has already signed a sworn statement.

  84. 85
    J. Squid says:

    Kavanaugh, clearly and repeatedly, never perjured himself a single time.

  85. 86
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    I think Kavanaugh told a couple of small lies. At one point, I stupidly called these perjury, which I shouldn’t have done because I’m not a lawyer. I really have no idea what is and isn’t perjury. I do know that Kavanaugh lied about a few small details while answering questions that he probably should have dismissed as beneath the dignity of the committee. Still, he was under oath, and he did lie, and I think its acceptable to hold him to a higher standard, even if his lies were only about boofing and devils triangles.

    To tell you the truth, I’ve hated this whole ordeal and the way it’s making so many incredibly smart people write and say stupid things. It’s hard to know what to think when even the experts start to lose their minds. This process has become so poisoned, and it’s not the fault of one person or one side. I seriously think this country needs something like a redo on this appointment, but of course that can’t happen because that would mean dropping Kavanaugh and handing the Republicans a loss. I think both sides could stand to take a loss here and promise to do better next go-around. One idea I had is for someone to broker a deal where Kavanaugh’s bid is pulled, and DiFi steps down from the committee (replace her with another D). It’s probably unfair to Kavanaugh, he deserves a vote even if the vote is “no,” and there is a chance he’s entirely innocent (I actually think it’s a good chance fwiw) and his reputation is pretty screwed up now regardless of what actually happened- but is his honor and reputation really worth all this? Ugh. It’s too late now anyways.

  86. 87
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    LimitsOfLanguage,

    I realize that if the notes say what she says they say, hardly any minds would change (though I’d update a bit toward believing Ford). I think you are ignoring the possibility that they actually don’t say what she says they do, or that they include other details that cast doubt on Kavanugh’s guilt- this could include things like details about the boys that would exclude Kavanaugh or Judge, or perhaps details about more than 2 boys. Everyone knows about the existence of these notes, but no one knows how/if they were shared with WAPO. That’s a problem.

    I guess the WAPO reporter is itself very weak evidence that these notes exist and say what Ford says they do, but if so, why is she turning down the committees request to see them (which is weird in and of itself- if they want, the committee can subpoena the entirety of her notes)? I see that as weak evidence that they don’t say exactly what she says they do- but it could be the case that the redaction process simply isn’t that secure, and she’s afraid that non-material information concerning her mental health may be leaked. I have no idea, but I think it should have been a bigger deal during the hearings, since it’s the most important piece of corroborating evidence… but it isn’t in evidence.

  87. 88
    J. Squid says:

    This process has become so poisoned, and it’s not the fault of one person or one side.

    Really? I only remember one side breaking established rules to steal a SCOTUS seat. I only remember one side proclaiming and then spending 8 years opposing everything the opposition tried to do. Including things that they were previously for. I only remember one side’s SCOTUS appointees deciding an election in favor of the party that nominated them. I only remember one side nominating somebody to SCOTUS even though their vetting revealed some major potential issues with that candidate.

    I wonder what you think the other side has done that’s even remotely equivalent.

    In short, I find your assertion to be ridiculous.

  88. 89
    J. Squid says:

    There are so many times that Kavanaugh, clearly and repeatedly, never perjured himself a single time.

    I’m not sure how anybody can make that accusation against Kavanaugh in good faith. It’s unpossible to do so.

  89. 90
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    Really? I only remember one side breaking established rules to steal a SCOTUS seat.

    I wasn’t thinking that far back, I was talking about the more immediate rhetoric and actions surrounding this hearing. What happened to Garland was very unfair, and given the built-in advantages republicans enjoy in the senate, it sets a bad precedent. Someday it could lead to something like a crisis.

  90. 91
    Ampersand says:

    I don’t understand why a redacted version of Ford’s therapy notes isn’t in evidence.

    Ford’s lawyer has said that they’ll give the notes to the FBI, if the FBI interviews Ford.

  91. 92
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    If it’s good evidence that corroborates her allegations, she should hand it over without conditions. This tactic makes no sense.

  92. 93
    Harlequin says:

    If you were her, would you hand anything over to the Senate that you wanted kept confidential? Look what happened the last time she tried that.

  93. 94
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    If you were her, would you hand anything over to the Senate that you wanted kept confidential? Look what happened the last time she tried that.

    Maybe, maybe not. I’d need to be made very clear about the redaction process. If not then I can’t use the notes as evidence. I couldn’t have it both ways. It would also depend on what’s in the notes, and the scope of the request (do they want every note ever written, relevant excerpts, or the notes taking during relevant sessions? In theory any of these could be subpoenaed, so I’d probably want to negotiate before it comes to that.

    Apparently, Grassly made my same arguments as I’ve made above in a letter released after I went to bed last night. It’s a much more severe letter, and includes a few new requests.

  94. 95
    J. Squid says:

    I wasn’t thinking that far back, I was talking about the more immediate rhetoric and actions surrounding this hearing.

    As far back as the last Supreme Court seat to be filled is too far back to consider who is responsible for the complete breakdown of rules and norms that allowed the federal gubmint to function for the last few decades?

    And even if I grant you that we should only consider the last 6 months, uhhhh….. the idea that both sides are to blame is pretty fucking far off the mark. Even considering only the last 6 months, your assertion is still ridiculous to the point of being fantasy.

  95. 96
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    And even if I grant you that we should only consider the last 6 months, uhhhh….. the idea that both sides are to blame is pretty fucking far off the mark. Even considering only the last 6 months, your assertion is still ridiculous to the point of being fantasy.

    Explain- I have a feeling your pointing to some incident that ocurred appoximately 6 months ago. As for the hearings themselves, there was been so much bad behavior on both sides, you’d have to be blind not to see the degree to which democrats and republicans both prioritized grand-standing over fact-finding. Republicans are trying to plow ahead indifferently, and democrats seem hardly willing to admit that there is no room for certainty with regard to these allegations.

  96. 97
    J. Squid says:

    Can you name the bad behavior on both sides? It’s hard to refute your claims in anything other than the most general terms when you name no specifics.

    For example, name the Senators and their actions that you find to be “grand-standing over fact-finding.”

    … democrats seem hardly willing to admit that there is no room for certainty with regard to these allegations.

    What? I mean, I guess if you find pointing out that all the easily documented lies Kavanaugh has made under oath make him less than a credible witness, okay? But that’s hardly evidence for your accusation.

    I’m not pointing to a specific incident in the last 6 months. I’m pointing to what the GOP has done to federal politics over the last 10 years. They broke our federal government to the point that cross party compromise is now impossible.

  97. 98
    desipis says:

    I guess if you find pointing out that all the easily documented lies Kavanaugh has made under oath make him less than a credible witness

    Can someone provide details of this, with quotes (or ideally videos clips) of Kavanaugh’s testimony against the specific details of evidence that unambiguously shows he was lying? Everything I’ve read seems to be built on journalists’ interpretation and doesn’t detail the actual evidence.

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