Smith: “Indelible in the hippocampus”

Josiah Smith, Staff Columnist

The Senate Committee on the Judiciary hearing last Thursday featuring Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh was nothing short of absolutely agonizing. In all honesty, I was skeptical of what more could come from hearing Ford and Kavanaugh speak. It seemed that everyone, including our senators, had already consolidated their opinions regarding the accusation.

With Democrats persistent about the need for an FBI investigation and Republicans seemingly assured that they’d vote “yes” regardless, I wondered why we as a nation were willing to put these two vulnerable people in the most scathing spotlight in the country or possibly, given the magnitude of the outcome, the world.

Because this is not a criminal investigation, it seems that the stakes are rather artificial. If boiled down to its simplest function, this is a job interview. There’s no guarantee that Ford will choose to follow through with charges. In Maryland—my home state—there are no statutes of limitations that would prohibit formal charges. Of course, I realize that there are fewer things more important than appointing a Supreme Court Justice. But the prospect that Kavanaugh’s options are becoming a Justice or not becoming one… well, that just seems too candid—too perfect—for a man who now has amounted four separate accusations.

I must say that my doubts were severely tamed after hearing Ford describe her trauma. It was because of her testimony, she had a conviction that was so convincingly authentic. Truly, it is something I will never forget. When Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., asked her to recount the most traumatic part of the assault, she responded with a statement that was powerful to say the least. “Indelible in the hippocampus”—she takes a brief pause—“is the laughter, the uproarious laughter between the two, and their having fun at my expense.”

Rarely, do everyday people get the chance to brief a body within the Senate regarding their personal struggles or traumatic experiences. And Ford’s testimony seemed, somehow, even beyond that. This was an excruciating and terrible scene to watch. Although cherishing how open and public the hearing was, it felt incredibly invasive and, for me at least, unethical to even watch.

All of this cumulates into one pivotal question: who’s lying? Essentially, this would be much easier to answer if we could identify who is telling the truth. Regarding false accusations of rape, it is agreed that around between two and ten percent of reported instances turn out to be false.  Ford’s accusation isn’t, of course, that Kavanaugh raped her, so this statistic is not entirely applicable. However, I think it says something about to what degree accusations are believed. And looking at Ford’s chances of being believed—well, they began extremely slim. Since she first brought her accusation forward, things have only gotten worse and excruciatingly more personal. It is hard for me to imagine that a person would levy such serious accusations while the stakes are possibly too high to even fathom. People have done much worse things for far less and the loss of Ford’s credibility would only scratch the surface for consequences she and her family would have to pay.  

In all, it seems extremely disingenuous to not believe Ford. Nothing is worth losing your credibility, having to move out of your home and receiving death threats on a daily basis. Even if she is completely correct about everything she has said, people will always conjure up something disgusting to say about the choice to come forward. If anything, this whole case has revealed an ugly side of American ideals and the limitless consequences of rage and misunderstanding.

Josiah Smith is a fourth-year English and business management double major.