Kavanaugh hearing raises important

We don’t often wade into national issues, as there is so much to be concerned with here in the Bayou Region.

But the unfortunate displays during the new hearing concerning the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh is the topic of conversations at dinner tables throughout our locale, not necessarily for the political or judicial issues, but some that resonate here.

We’ll explain that a little later.

It is not necessary here to visit in great detail the circumstances surrounding the calling of a new hearing on the confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s most recent choice for the highest court in the land, the United States Supreme Court.

Christine Blasey Ford alleged in a letter to Democratic lawmakers that she had been sexually attacked by Kavanaugh when both were in high school. Accusations from two other women followed. After hearing from both the accuser and the accused, the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmed the proposed appointment, pending a vote by the full senate. That vote has been delayed, as an investigation by the FBI of some allegations begins.

Big issues arise from this difficult episode in U.S. history. One is that the man accused chose to meet the accusations in anger, and in a quite partisan manner. It is true that many men similarly accused — in particular if innocent of what is alleged — might be expected to respond in anger. But most men are not candidates for the highest court in the land. A Supreme Court justice must be able to take the high road, even under difficult circumstances. With his rapid-fire denouncing of Democrats, questions are inevitable as to how fairly Kavanaugh can weigh issues that might have serious political baggage. We would be raising this point no matter if the political pinning were reversed. It is our hope that members of the full senate will consider Kavanaugh’s response to the allegations when considering his fitness to sit on the highest court in the land. We do not say Kavanaugh should be ruled out. But we think senators would not be doing their jobs properly if they did not at least consider his hearing performance.

That aside, the imbroglio surrounding Kavanaugh raises questions that reach far beyond Washington D.C.

We are aware that the #metoo movement has empowered both men and women who have been subject to sexual harassment, intimidation and violation from people in power who are usually men. But the social strength of the movement has a dark side. We sympathize with the victims — in many cases rightfully demanding to be called survivors — to a great extent. The #metoo movement was necessary to pull the bandage off of a festering silence. The pendulum had to swing toward fairness for those victimized. As with any long-restricted movement, it has countered with great force.

As a result, individuals accused of vile actions have been punished, or are pending potential punishment if convicted of crimes. Such prosecutions should be brought when provable and appropriate. But the scarlet letters assigned the accused in many cases have had repercussions that are not always fair. It is our hope that as we struggle through attempts to bring social justice, we will develop methods of coping with sins of the past, and hopefully prevent such sins in the future.

Which brings us to more issues of the future and the past. The case of Brett Kavanaugh, no matter how it turns out, contains a fair warning to all of our sons and daughters as well. It was said to many of us while growing up that our “permanent records” from school would follow us our entire lives. In the case of Kavanaugh — whether guilty or innocent of the allegations he now faces — there is ample evidence of enough beer-soaked fraternity bro-ism to cause wonder and concern about the boy he had been, before transforming into the man acquaintances stand by today.

Most of us have the luxury of not having our youthful indiscretions become part of a national debate. At some point, an accounting, fair or not, could be demanded. A fair question is what the recent hearings might have turned into if social media existed during Judge Kavanaugh’s teens.

We must let the nation’s current embarrassment be a lesson to our children that no matter how far away a person departs from potentially bad decisions, in actions or years, a price can be paid for them, in tears if nothing else.