On Tuesday a pampered, hugely advantaged and once beloved 81-year-old black man went to jail for 3-10 years for a crime he undoubtedly committed 14 years ago, and perhaps 60 or more equally appalling offenses that escaped judgment since he grabbed the golden ring, the prosecutors said.
Former comedian and America’s marvelous TV dad Bill Cosby will spend what is perhaps the balance of his life in a Pennsylvania prison cell paying off his sentence for drugging and sexually abusing women for a hobby.
Thursday morning a privileged, white Maryland federal appeals court judge born with a silver spoon embedded in his psyche goes to a mock trial before the Republican-controlled judiciary committee of the U.S. Senate for committing an alleged high school sexual assault and an alleged prurient exposure offense while at Yale University during periods of acute alcohol inebriation. His character is on trial. Potential Supreme Court justices are supposed to be immune from even the threat of character assassination.
Unless the odds change dramatically by Friday morning, Appellate Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh will be publicly humiliated, privately congratulated, and then sent on to the highest court in the land to pass judgments on transgressors and supplicants with either a stupendously compelling legal case or lots of money to spend seeking justice.
The nation will depend on Kavanaugh’s honesty and legal acumen to help steer the nation. His human crimes and frailties, as well as the harm he allegedly inflicted on his young victims, will be paid in full during a Senate hearing that has no more relevance to justice than using the toilet.
The carnival of jurisprudence that convened last Monday in a Pennsylvania courtroom and simultaneously in the halls of Congress in Washington, D.C. , sends a message to America that is as bent as the stilted behavior of the accused. The message is that white privilege holds a higher position than the law. It is often said by politicians and scoundrels, if there is an appreciable difference, that our country is a nation of laws. Left unsaid and only revealed by example is to whom those laws apply.
It is a fair statement to say that Bill Cosby got his just deserts when he was convicted. It would have meant much more if the climate for retribution against wealthy and powerful sexual predators had been less capricious when the avaricious sexual events occurred. It is also a fair statement to claim that regardless of what is said before the majority of rich white men who dominate the Senate proceedings, Kavanaugh will walk away, perhaps impugned for a day or two, with the rest of his life still intact.
Despite the huge differences in both scope and viciousness of the alleged assaults by the two men, there are a few similarities that should strongly influence the thinking of the Senate judges that have been impaneled to interrogate and ultimately pass judgment on the fitness of Kavanaugh.
The first is the perception that the complainants who have come forward to expose Kavanaugh should have sought relief at their local police department soon after the assaults occurred; otherwise their complaints have no merit. That is what happens on TV. The abused woman finds solace in the arms of the friendly police, who move swiftly to snare the sexual predator. It is simply total bullshit. Sexual offenses are nebulous both in degree and severity of the crime. Perception plays as big a role as evidence.
Publicly exposing one’s penis in any manner is disgusting, as well as a red flag that the perpetrator is not well, but it is not on the same level of crime as rape by any stretch of the imagination. Neither is the drunken mauling inflicted on a drunken young woman by an intoxicated teenage boy. Both are raging red flags that indicate the actor has a potential personality flaw. Neither offense, however, provides Kavanaugh with an out, any more than a legally blind old man in his dotage is exempt from prosecution because he is now harmless.
Kavanaugh is expected to pass judgment on others based on a life of legal training and life experience. If that experience includes abusing women, acting suggestively, going on sprees of blind drunkenness and then lying about it in the highest councils of government, he is not fit to be a Supreme Court justice. Not because he behaved like millions of other perverse young men, but because he refused to come to terms with his adolescent and arguably illegal behavior.
That alone is enough to disqualify him from the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh knows what he did and prefers denying his bad behavior before both his family and the world. Long before he ever became a judge, Kavanaugh should have revealed his transgressions, when there was still time for atonement. He failed to do so, and it shouldn’t be swept under the rug in order to serve a Republican political advantage.
America deserves better than that.