Christine Blasey Ford, a psychology professor at Palo Alto University in California, recently accused Supreme Court of the United States justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh of a sexual assault that happened over 30 years ago. They were teenagers at a party. Kavanaugh tried to force himself on Ford, and Ford resisted. Ford has taken a polygraph exam to support her claim as well as having records from her counselor as far back as 2012. Both Ford and Kavanaugh are considered to be good honest people by those that know them, and the statute of limitations has long since run out.
Simply put, there isn’t a way to find out what really happened that night at the party, unless some other person who was present remembers and decides to speak up. Ford cannot remember the exact location or date, other than a vague “Montgomery County,” but she has described enough details for anybody with the memory to recognize. According to Linda Fairstein, the former chief of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office’s Sex Crimes Bureau, the details that Ford recalls are credible. Thirty years does affect memory, and the trauma behind a violent incident like that would make any memory hazy, but the specifics that Ford provided make her account more believable.
The issue isn’t really about whether or not Ford is telling the truth, because we can’t know for certain. The issue isn’t about justice either, because Ford hasn’t sought justice or anything of the sort. It is clear she spoke up either for her civic duty or for political gain.
What we should care about is how Kavanaugh and his party defend him.
The arguments about Ford’s veracity are expected at this point, even 27 years after Anita Hill stood in front of the Senate for Clarence Thomas’ hearings. Hill was a former colleague of Thomas who, like Ford, accused a Supreme Court nominee. Her testimony in front of the Senate was a farce, and Ford’s isn’t likely to be much better. America hasn’t come that far yet.
However, there’s been a disturbing argument that if Ford is telling the truth, what happened over three decades ago hardly matters to a man’s character now. Teenagers do that sort of thing, it’s completely natural for a girl to get sexually assaulted at a party, and then the assaulter grows up.
I won’t even try to defend that argument. People may change over the years, but rapists are often serial offenders. They’re a certain type of people that seek to hurt or have power over others. This is the same reason that Ford held back her account for so many years: a belief that people can change. Kavanaugh by most accounts seems to have become an excellent person after his teenage follies, but it’s hard to trust someone who once took violent advantage of a person to make decisions that affect the whole country.
Right now, the only thing we can do is watch with rapt attention as to what happens next. If we are not satisfied with the results, we will take action at the polls this November to make some changes ourselves.
Won Hee Kim is a third-year English major with minors in creative writing and economics.