America’s Next Supreme Court Justice, Brett Kavanaugh, Is A Lying, Rapey, Fratboy

I believe Christine Blasey Ford; I believe Brett Kavanaugh did precisely what she accuses him of doing. My reasons for offering this expression of my beliefs are quite simple: Brett Kavanaugh has done everything possible–especially during his ludicrous interview to Fox News yesterday–to indicate to me that he not only did what Ford alleges he did, but that this kind of behavior was par for the course for him and his drunken prep school buddies. (As various other testimonials about his rapey and drunken belligerent behavior on other occasions seem to confirm.) I’m not convicting Brett Kavanaugh in any legal domain and of course, were the Senate not to vote in favor his nomination, they would not be doing so either–they would merely be letting him continue in his present position at the  highly prestigious Federal Appeals Circuit as a judge; still, given these two sources of information available to me about what happened some thirty-six years ago, I’m inclined to find one of the pair named in my opening sentence above vastly more credible.

Ford, that is. Not the dude who looks like just about every other rich, privileged, self-satisfied, smug, drunken frat boy it has been my misfortune to either personally encounter or read about. There is a history to these matters, and in almost every single reckoning, dudes like Brett Kavanaugh are the guilty ones, yet almost always unpunished, and women like Ford, who have been assaulted or harassed, are forced to suffer further indignities. (Three women friends of mine have been raped; not one of them ever filed a report. Their rapists still walk free.)

Seeing isn’t believing. Most of the knowledge we claim about the world comes from testimony, written or otherwise. I know the sun is 93 million miles from the earth; reliable, authoritative, scientific sources tell me so. I know Napoleon came to power in 1799; reliable historical sources tell me so. Neither of these claims graduated to the status of knowledge via a courtroom; they went through ‘standard epistemic channels’: statement, corroboration (possibly via other testimonials), confirmation by taking actions based on the truth of these propositions, and so on. If we were to examine the corpus of our beliefs, we would find that the grounds we have for believing them are exceedingly varied; very few of them have been vetted by any kind of legal standard. There is no reason to hold, as many obfuscators would have us do, that the grounds for rejecting Kavanaugh’s nomination should be a ‘conviction’ by the standards of a criminal court. It should merely be enough that we find ourselves agnostic no longer, and inclined to believe one account. On which we could base our future actions. Like we do every single day of our lives. Context matters, yes, and this is a nomination process for the next Supreme Court Justice. But it is no more, and no less, than a highly dramatized job interview. There are no criminal penalties here. Our standards should be appropriately configured.

And when I do that, I find that I”m in a very familiar epistemic situation: on one side, a graduate of an institution–a fucking petri dish for toxic masculinity–that breeds and confirms privilege, which condones drunken behavior, imbued with a sense of entitlement, allegedly engaging in a species of behavior that is, by all historical and cultural accounts, very common to such places, and on the other side, a woman alleging an assault whose parameters sound very familiar, and who did not speak up for years because she feared precisely the reaction sent her way by the Republican Party.

The evidence is in: Brett Kavanaugh is a lying, rapey, fratboy.

Fraternities: The Curse Of The Sylvan Campus

‘Fraternity’ used to be a perfectly good word–remember Liberté, égalité, fraternité? Used to be, when you saw that word in print, you thought of revolutionaries, the brotherhood of man, the formation of political and social bonds that spanned class and caste and creed. But then it was taken over by a bunch of drunken rapists-in-training, mysteriously granted leasing rights to large mansion-like houses in some of this nation’s finest institutions of academic learning.

The ‘brothers’ of these fraternities have some distinctive features: they consume vast amounts of alcohol (most of which, I believe, they regurgitate in foul streams of vomit, thus suggesting that a good nickname for a fraternity brothers’ band would be The Bulimic Bros); they do not like ‘sisters’–you know, members of the opposite sex, regarding them as mere sexual objects and playthings, only useful as comatose sexual prey unable to offer consent to sexual activity, and for the much-desired ‘notch on the belt’; but they do like to maintain the pretension that they engage in socially meaningful acts of charity and public services work.

The Sigma Nu fraternity at Old Dominion University made its signal contribution to the burgeoning presence of university fraternities in our contemporary rape culture with some welcome banners for incoming women students for the new academic year. They read: “Rowdy and fun/Hope your baby girl is ready for a good time,” “Freshman daughter drop off,” and “Go ahead and drop off mom too.”

Frat

Such behavior is not an outlier for fraternities:

This isn’t the first time, of course, that frat boys have shown their asses in such a fashion. In 2010, DKE pledges at Yale walked around campus chanting, “No means yes/ Yes means anal,” which Anna North described at this website as a “transparent plea for attention.” Texas Tech frat boys put up a similar sign last year. Over the summer, a Sigma Nu member at the University of Central Florida was caught on video chanting “Let’s rape some sluts,” only months after being accused of sexual assault by a fellow UCF student.

I have been remiss, of course, in my summation of fraternity brothers’ characteristics above. For besides the abuse of alcohol (which plays a notable role in the hazing and initiation of new brothers and sometimes leads to their death by alcohol poisoning; bizarrely enough, making someone swallow a liter of whisky is dangerous business) and their misogyny, fraternities are also notoriously racist. Sometimes they dress up in blackface, sometimes they indulge in chants filled with the n-word, the list goes on.

Fraternities are a campus curse. They offer a sexist, misogynist, racist haven for those men who like to drink to excess; they offer a four-year extension of adolescence and a four-year postponement of adulthood; their houses are a safe haven from ‘political correctness’. And best of all, you get to do all of this with your ‘brothers’–comrades in arms at the keg.

Solidarity in the most manly of ways: booze and broads, what’s not to like?