WHAT NOVEL STATEMENTS CAN BRIAN BRING TO THIS HIGHLY UNFORTUNATE SHIT-SHOW?
The fourth estate is uddering this cow ‘till dusk come, and the public is chugging their unpasteurized milk. So what value, Brian, can you add to the vomit spewed in wake of this latest of media-sponsored gallon-challenges? What, in your insignificant opinion, do you claim as novel input worthy of my gleaning? Honestly? Nothing you haven’t already read or heard. But I do have strong feelings, strong feelings that, strangely, have more to do with why our feelings tend to fuck up these nationally teachable moments. So gather ‘round, grab a chair, and let’s see if I can’t conjure up some gift of gab that might shed light on a dark minute in American history. (If you go back to when Dr. Ford first contacted Senator Dianne Feinstein regarding the matter, it equates to roughly 1.45 minutes of the ‘American day’.)
BRIAN PUTS HIS CARDS ON THE TABLE
I’m a feminist. So should you be. It’s quite a rational concept, one that’s readily translatable to any human cause for equal rights. But this past Thursday, I made the writer’s Big Mistake: I misused my words. After watching the hearing’s ‘highlights’ — which were broadcast as if it were a contest; or worse, as if we were acting as if it weren’t broadcasting it as a contest — I said the following stupid words in front of Katie:
“Welp, I don’t have a dog in this race.”
This was an unfortunate thing to say. What I meant to say was, “According to the emotive testimonies provided by Brett Kavanaugh and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, it’s truly difficult to tell who’s telling the truth, if any such conclusion can be reached when relying solely on multiple memories stretched out to 35+ years as hedged against the intense moment for which they have been cast.” Instead, it sounded as if I were recusing myself of any opinion on the matter — which, especially to an woman who holds intrinsically stronger views on women’s issues, was an unfortunately false representation of my value system.
Because we’re both rational adults, we could talk through our views and come to a mutual understanding. It helps that we both feel Kavanaugh is unfit for the SCOTUS, which I followed through with by signing Kamala Harris’s petition to stop Kavanaugh. But the reason I made the comment was clear, I think, to both of us: regarding his status of guilty vs. innocent — i.e. matters of justice that require hard evidence and relative certainty — I was being overly vigilant. I know that statement might piss a lot of people off, especially women who hold intrinsically stronger views on issues affecting them, such as sexual assault. And I totally get that it might piss some of you off. The reason I’m writing this isn’t to mansplain the anger away — no, anyone with a conscience should be pissed off about this, regardless of what really happened at that party. Furthermore, I can’t be angry in the way any woman or victim of sexual assault is right now. And most importantly, it’s highly likely that I’m even able to think of things like long-form strategy because I’m not as viscerally linked to Dr. Ford’s experience.
But anger does have its risks. Asia Argento felt the consequences of her anger, however much justified. She elided her own transgressions, which could easily have been a transposed result of her own trauma, an incredibly important phenomenon to be studied if we are to truly remedy this problem. Furthermore, it was only after she was accused that she referred to the complexity of the situation. It was a real blow to read about all that over the summer. So consider this, more than anything, as a friendly reminder that we must try to channel this anger in the ways that will most benefit women’s empowerment. If we don’t — if we descend into the muck of false certainties and misplaced wrath — we will take one step back from the #MeToo movement’s gains over the past year. And that would be all too familiar.
BRIAN DOES SOME FACTS
Anyone who’s red a bok 1nce knows that politics has parented morality, for better or worse, at each turn of the historical page. Since the dawn of nations, it’s always been about statecraft — but if you don’t think that’s tied in with morality, then maybe reed a bok four 1nce. I don’t have enough road to hit 88 mph on this subject right now, lest we turn this post into its own book, which, I do worry, may not be far enough from the end result here. And I wish I could say that where we’re going, we don’t need roads. But that couldn’t be further from the truth either. We’re still just as emotionally fucked as we were 70,000 years ago, and it’s only by the grace of government and law that we’re more ethical. So until we configure peer-to-peer synapsing, we still need words. That’s why I do this. And since I am doing this — i.e. offering this friendly reminder — let’s do our due (diligence is the word you’re supposed to fill in at the end there. Thought it would be cool as synecdoche. Because of the alliterative homonym? Where’d everyone go?), which requires a very glib look at the root of our drives in relation to all this Kavanaugh crap.
Fact: We’re stuck in an extremely unfortunate circumstance from which there’s not enough evidence to extricate ourselves. Yes, it’s a shitty fact, no matter how much some of us might want to put the screws into Brett ‘Beers & Yale’ Kavanaugh. It’s particularly unfair in terms of the historical probability that Dr. Ford — along with Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick — is telling the truth. But I urge us to take probability into consideration. People have short memories, and we’ve found ourselves in far worse situations than a political scandal when confusing probabilities for facts — see: the 2016 Presidential Election, which was a political catastrophe if you’re asking me. (Sorry Dad!)
Another fact: It’s entirely possible that Brett Kavanaugh truly believes he did nothing wrong — even if he did do something wrong, perhaps even especially if he did do something wrong. It’s also entirely possible that he remembers doing nothing wrong despite that, when referencing today’s standard for sexual assault, he did do something wrong. It’s therefore entirely possible that references to Animal House culture are — wait for it — useful in remedying how men of that era view or glorify their relations with women. Think about it this way: if you were testing a new medicine in the lab that produced unsavory results, would you simply discard those results, push the product out to market, then try and make as much money as you can before the first class-action suit? Wait a minute, I think I just figured out Big Pharma… Anyway, it’s entirely possible that any or all of these are the case — and as David Markson wrote in Wittgenstein’s Mistress, “The world is everything that is the case.” It’s therefore also entirely possible that Brett ‘Beers & Yale’ Kavanaugh believes he’s justified in doing whatever it takes to become a Supreme Court Justice, and if he believes he’s justified, then he and other men will appear justified until we teach them not to be. And as Oscar Wilde wrote, “It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances.” (I will probably refer to that quote within the next five blog posts. It’s that important and that earnest.)
A third round of facts: The GOP is going to try and swing the Supreme Court to the right. They will do this, as they see it, despite Dr. Ford’s expression of women’s empowerment. They’ll do it because their values are different than yours (apologies for co-opting those with said values, and I thank you for broadening your scope of influence by reading this). You may find this despicable. I know I certainly do. But they think the same about our values. They think anyone holding up this nomination is doing a great injustice to the US, over something that happened thirty years ago (again, not my words, I’m just a messenger). And you know what? I get it. I hate it, but I get it, and here’s an example of why I get it: There are many so-called ‘liberal’ views and/or policies that I find despicable: derivative finance; mass incarceration; wholesale socialism; and I bet you didn’t think those first two were enacted by ‘liberals’, but they were. What’s ‘conservative’ today is often ‘liberal’ tomorrow, and vice versa, making the distinction about as useful as a fucking hole in my head, unless you’re a politician looking for a platform (Sorry Bernie! Woulda voted for ya though!). Furthermore, policies whose virtues people are so sure of in the moment often lead to our biggest fuckups — like derivative finance and the 2008 financial crisis. It was Bill Clinton who enacted those policies (plus mass incarceration), who was also accused of sexual assault — and yet it was the good 'ole stalwart ‘liberals’ that backed him throughout the impeachment process, using much of the same language that today’s ‘liberals’ are using against Kavanaugh today (though, to be fair, we were leagues behind where we are today in terms of women’s issues). None of which is to excuse either Clinton or Kavanaugh. It’s to emphasize that, if you identify as blue or red, if you’re a card-carrying Democrat or Republican, you’re probably far more biased than you believe. And if you’re biased toward a political agenda, as is historically proven, you’re going to discriminate in these cases fraught with uncertainty and ethical implications.
Fourth fact: Once you realize this is all part of the game played by overly ambitious fucks in full Windsors and far too few pantsuits, you realize that an alarming majority of them give scant fucks about moral consistency, and those who do are often forced to compromise, because politics. Most politicians pick a party, whether Republican or Democrat, that best suits their ambitions, and then race — hence the idiom for election campaigns. It’s not the best system, but I highly doubt we’re the most evolved iteration of our species either.
SO EXACTLY WTF IS YOUR POINT, BRIAN?
As mentioned earlier, this isn’t a manly rant meant to get you to agree with my opinions, or dog, to get you nodding your head and saying, “Ah, I get it now. The answer is to just give up!” (Do I look like Rust Cohle, perhaps the greatest television character ever created? No. I’m short, hairy, and do not get high and play the bongos naked in my spare time, for I simply do not posses the audacity, nor the aforementioned spare time.)
On the contrary, I want as much as anything for our species to begin rapidly eliminating cases of sexual assault, even if such progress is inevitably asymptotic. To do this, however, we must fight the battles we know we can win, or the ones that will change the public and political discourse.
This does not mean avoiding investigation into Kavanaugh’s behavior, or avoiding questions surrounding his integrity, or raising our voices against his nomination. What it does mean is two-pronged and simple: we need to change our culture, from one that weaponizes assumptions by making absolute claims, to one that sits with their thoughts and feelings for a bit, like people have evolved to do.
Think about it this way: in what other capacity do we tend to believe people who express vehement certainty concerning items of high uncertainty? Anyone who bet their life’s savings on tech stocks circa March 2000 just because James Cramer, perhaps the greatest charlatan financial TV has ever seen, foresaw unlimited growth — well, they got fucked. If you take a weather forecast for gospel you were probably born yesterday. But when it comes to sexual assault, certainties are more direly necessary exactly because morality falls within our individual control and yet we can’t seem to agree on it, which is a clustermindfuck. So in lieu of a better forum through which over 350 million people can hash out their ethical differences, most of us dress up in blue or red for the gallon-challenge, throw up all over each other until our colors are indistinguishable from one another’s, then realize in hindsight how we fucked it all up, yet largely fail to translate these lessons onto the next national moral dilemma. Again, not the best system, not the best iteration of our species — but any significantly more effective method would either be an anachronism or a miracle.
With this in mind, some other things we need to do: Remind ourselves that we weren’t born into the bodies of a liberal or a conservative; that, though somewhat predisposed, we were largely nurtured to be this or that way, less by extraordinary insights of our own and far more by inculcation than we’d readily admit; and that these political parties are fairly nominal, especially when zooming out of the political moment. Furthermore: Our intrinsic ignorance and susceptibility to influence are rarely honored outside a psych lab. For every bullshit claim that climate change is a hoax, there’s an equally bullshit claim that capitalism is a total failure. Both claims are bought wholesale because of emotional investment, or because our emotions are primed to invest in something that makes us think we know this thing that other people don’t. And this, essentially, is also an admission to everyone’s intrinsic ambition, from malignantly unbridled ambition to altruistically sublimated ambition. Accept this, along with its resident angels and imps, and we begin to see far more clearly that we’re just a bunch of human meat-sacks toiling away on a frigid mica of sand among an intractable cosmos.
Then we more readily remember that our politicians will lie to us and disappoint us as often as they don’t — and as often as we’re ready to admit when they do or don’t. They will not do it because they care about Us, but because they care about the US — and themselves. (This isn’t a contradiction so much as a paradox in the sense that those who don’t care about themselves can hardly be relied upon to care about others, but that these carings are a convoluted exchange of values and ambitions that shape their policies on US and Them.) If you don’t like how your politicians care about themselves and the US, vote them out. If you don’t like the process of voting them out, get involved in campaigns to change the campaign and legislative laws, of which their are many. Get involved with advocacy groups aligned with your values and — yes — your ambitions. Fuggit, get on Twitter. Tweet about the fears of being a woman in a patriarchal society. But please, don’t post a constrained hypothesis about why Kavanaugh should be in jail, or how Trump proposes the same hypotheses re Hillary — not, at least, without acknowledging a level of awareness about what you’re doing (i.e. make it funny). In the meantime, let us meditate, masturbate, smoke some marijuana, play Madden whilst belittling our online opponents re their inability to configure your unstoppable 4-3 zone D. The ways in which we sublimate assumptions predicated on raw emotion do not even have to start with an ‘m’.
Because remember, the other ‘side’ — which doesn’t really exist — is just as pissed off as you, for largely opposing if brainwashed reasons. By flinging bullshit at bullshit, we create a no-man’s land of cattle-dung over which our fourth estate drags their cows, milks them, and watches us lap up corporate milk that wasn’t even good for us before it was all shit-clogged and riddled with pestilent ideologies.
Yes, this seems like a lot of words for a simple request that we do our best to stop weaponizing assumptions by making absolute claims. But the thing is, it’s something we have yet to grasp as a species. We thought the Internet would help, only to be proven the credulous fucks we so inherently are. After all this technology and medicine, all we have to show for our emotions is roughly equal to what we possessed at the dawn of humankind: self-control.
During the instant following the hearings, I made the mistake of allowing my own feelings about objectivity’s crucial role in justice to override my value system’s communications mechanism. This might seem like an Overreaction to that aforementioned benign episode. But all this really is, is a friendly reminder that we’re far more similar than different, and that our anger can confuse those two. In the end, rational morals would have us all support feminism, women’s rights, and equal opportunity. But whenever shortfalls of progress in those departments start to piss us off, let’s just remember how our anger can only increase the deception that we’re more different than alike, reset ourselves, and think how we can redeploy our tools to make up for lost ground and keep this train going in the right direction.