People remain mixed, divided, or unbothered about the testimonies of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh during the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) hearings. Most can be identified as either pro-Kavanaugh or Kava-nah, whether it is from Dr. Ford’s allegations and testimony or the Supreme Court nominee’s temperament and responses. In this post, I discuss five commandments to consider from the SCOTUS hearings.
Thou Shalt Discern.
People have pointed to the emotions expressed by Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh to determine their honesty.
Discernment helps to avoid superficial reliance on expressions of emotions.
An expression of emotion does not make one right, wrong, guilty, innocent, the same, or changed.
I can relate to Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh.
As for Dr. Ford, I know what it is like to come forward to the people who I thought would be in my corner, only not be believed. I know what it is like for my tears to be dismissed.
I know what it is like to be expected to remain silent, especially to consider the “future” and “family” of an abuser or a harasser.
Regarding Judge Kavanaugh, I know what it is like to face false accusations multiple times throughout my life.
Righteous indignation does not come close to my responses.
I know what it is like to be treated as if I am in the wrong because I felt angry over false accusations.
Nevertheless, I have observed some award-winning performances from people adept at manipulation.
I have witnessed guilty people who cry to draw empathy and appear innocent.
I have seen guilty people who get angry or cry because they have been caught. Their performance of righteous indignation masks their bruised ego and anger over not getting their way.
As a result, I believe spiritually discerning and seeking what is really at work behind the emotions help reveal the truth. On the contrary, our reliance on our pre-conceived assumptions about different emotions can make matters worse.
That is, instead of projecting a story about the emotional expressions, our discernment seeks, “What are the real reasons behind the emotional expressions?”
Otherwise, some of us will act like the friend who thinks her liar of a boyfriend has changed simply because he cried after getting caught, as if it is a revolutionary breakthrough for a man to cry.
Spiritual discernment can inspire us to search for the facts.
No matter how much we identity with someone’s pain, I would rather seek the truth than project a narrative into a situation. It seems that Dr. Ford desired for the truth to come forward, insisting on further investigation and taking a lie detector test.
I do not know what an FBI investigation will uncover because when I look back at the decades of things that I have never reported-even things that I only told my husband last night for the first time in my life-there is no way that the FBI would be able to validate my side of things.
It would remain a he-said, she-said.
Thou Shalt Not Act A Fool During a Job Interview.
I believe we have forgotten the basic common-sense test in this entire ordeal because of the good versus evil and Republican versus Democrat social binary.
Remember that Judge Kavanaugh is on a job interview.
When hiring people, do we want people who lack self-control when addressing allegations about self-control during the interview process?
Typically, candidates present their best professional behavior during the interview.
If the belligerence was the best Judge Kavanaugh can do, then the country can do better.
It seems like a no-brainer.
For someone who has been accused of being an out-of-control, belligerent, sexist, angry drunk who takes advantage of young women, Judge Kavanaugh dropped the ball and the beer cans on showing that he knows how to be composed in the heat of a professional setting.
As much as I can relate to feeling angry over false accusations, I have dealt with navigating a world where many people do not realize how their irrational fears of the “angry Black woman” stereotype influence their interactions. Unlike Brett Kavanaugh, many Black women and I have learned that we do not get the luxury of going urban legend Chuck Norris mode plus steroids and caffeine in any professional setting, even to sheroically defend our names.
Heck, sneezing with a frown can be misconstrued as aggressive.
Kidding aside, most women of any racial and ethnic background are not afforded these privileges. I believe Dr. Ford has recognized these dynamics, too, and as result, remained professional throughout the proceedings.
When given the chance to give my statement and answer questions about my character and an alleged incident during a job interview televised around the world, I cannot imagine “acting a fool” like Judge Kavanaugh. I cannot imagine my close friends behaving like him.
Seriously, vent to your friends and family.
Talk to your therapist.
But, the job interview is not the place, unless you are on a reality television show like The Apprentice.
Wait a minute.
Thou Shalt Not Always Get What You Want.
Unlike what motivational speakers, self-help gurus, and empowerment teachers tell you, sometimes you cannot have it all and rightfully so.
Whenever someone raises allegations from past incident, if they are true, I want to ascertain if/how the person has since changed.
Although I believe some careers allow for grace for our questionable pasts and our transformations, I do not consider all careers worthy of it.
I think certain professions, like a position on the SCOTUS, require stringent measures and higher qualifications.
As a result, sometimes, we make egregious mistakes that can prevent us from serving on the Supreme Court or realizing a dream career.Depending on the severity of the crime or offense, consequences to our choices can be long lasting or life-changing. Forgiveness or finding religion does not readily remove all consequences.
For example, if a convicted sex offender against minors claims to have been rehabilitated and wants to fulfill her/his dream of working with children, most of the public would not favor this person caring for our children.
Also, a person who was once convicted of embezzlement will most likely never secure employment at a bank.
As another example, imagine a married person contracted an “incurable” sexually transmitted disease from an extramarital affair and gave it to her/his spouse.
Even if granted forgiveness, this person might still lose the marriage and deal with a lifetime of disease as long-term consequences.
Moving on and forward from our pasts do not guarantee restoring the previous state of affairs.
Just like the victims face putting together a life in ways they had not desired, perpetrators will need to put their lives together in ways they had not intended, either.
If Judge Kavanaugh behaved like a belligerent drunk back in the day and has since changed his life, I think his story of transformation should not take away from his opportunity to serve on the SCOTUS.
Yet, Judge Kavanaugh failed to show the transformation or the falsity of this particular question in his character. As previously stated, it is a job interview.
The alleged sexual assault, however, is much more detrimental than someone who becomes argumentative when drinking. Sexual assault is the kind of crime that has long-term impact on survivors and should carry long-term consequences, such as denial of high level public service appointments.
Getting good grades, attending church, and graduating from an Ivy League school do not form a holy trinity get-out-of jail free card for Supreme Court nominees. These actions do not automatically prove solid character, but unfortunately, they seem to provide good covers.
Frankly, you can make all A’s in school and still act like a grade A pervert.
Thou Shalt Consider Time and Severity.
Plenty of people struggle with the timing of Dr. Ford’s public allegations against Judge Kavanaugh and whether it should impact his opportunity to serve on the SCOTUS.
For the kinds of high profile public-service careers with stringent requirements, timing becomes irrelevant when severe allegations have been reported. Currently, I determine if the allegations made from an incident occurring in a distant past are severe enough to impact someone’s career in public service by the following:
- I seek to understand: Was the alleged crime so severe that if it was reported closer to the timing of the incident, that it would have prevented the person from consideration?
- If the answer is yes, then no matter if the offense was reported thirty days or thirty years later, it needs to be considered. Taking into account the previous point about consequences, despite the length of time for reporting, the person would not get the career opportunity no matter what transformation has happened.
Had Dr. Ford immediately reported the alleged assault, Judge Kavanaugh would not have ever been considered for the role. Therefore, the weight of the allegations remains severe enough to be brought into consideration for nominations to the Supreme Court decades later.
Let’s imagine a teenage Brett Kavanaugh with such a sweet tooth and questionable character that he stole a candy bar from his teacher’s desk thirty years ago.
The incident would not have been so severe that it would have resulted in a stint in a juvenile detention center and thereafter, removing his chances of becoming a Supreme Court Justice of the United States.
The candy bar theft would not pass the time and severity test to be considered worth pursuing for this position.
All of us have pasts, presents, and futures. Instead of saying “nobody’s perfect” when various allegations are made against someone, our society benefits more from careful differentiation in responses and consequences to incidents and crimes.
Thou Shalt Find Better Ways to Get Paid.
A common argument has been promoted about Dr. Ford bringing forward allegations for fame and fortune.
If Dr. Ford is out for fame, then, my Gawd, she needs help because there are better ways to go about it.
If Dr. Ford is a CIA operative who learned to trick a lie detector, then my Gawd, she needs help.
If Dr. Ford went public with her allegations because of a get-rich quick scheme where the publicity would fill her coffers through GoFundMe campaigns, a CashApp account, or hosting fish fry fundraisers, her legal team needs to call Suze Orman pronto because no shame or humiliation is worth whatever money she seeks from this ordeal.
If Dr. Ford was acting throughout her testimony, then Viola Davis and Meryl Streep need to pull up a chair, sip a cup of tea, take notes, and then try to grab the pebble from her hand before considering any more parts in a film.
And she would still need help.
Then again, don’t all of us?
Nobody’s perfect, Bruh.
Thou shalt not judge.