Kavanaugh Hearing: The wise do not delude the ignorant

October 2, 2018 Opinion , OPINION/NEWS , United States

Reuters photo



Don Krieger



My reply to an experienced prosecutor regards arguments that Judge Kavanaugh should be confirmed to a seat on the US Supreme Court —


Dear Steve and everyone


This is the text of your assertion: “So all men accused of sexual assault are presumed guilty, even after 35 years with just she said, he said.”


(1) You fallaciously generalize the arguments for/against the truth of the allegations of sexual assault by Kavanaugh. (2) You imply that they should be discounted even if true since 35 years has passed. (3) You introduce “he said, she said.” This last contains the implicit bias that there is equal likelihood that each is telling the truth.


(1) The fallacy of generalization is both a fundamentally flawed and weak argument. In the context of this discussion it’s blatantly deceptive since it will only be accepted by someone who is confused which surely you are not.


(2) It’s true that there are statutes of limitations in most American states on most crimes involving sexual assault. This is a serious flaw in our legal system. These are violent crimes with untold and as yet not fully appreciated consequences for the victim and society. The public outrage over highly publicized cases of sexual abuse of children by priests, coaches, and doctors and the workplace sexual abuse of both men and women by powerful Hollywood employers has made this very clear.


(3) Steve, you introduce the implicit 50/50 bias with which we presumably are to judge the truth/falsehood of Judge Kavanaugh and Professor Ford’s assertions. Historically, these should not be viewed with 50/50 confidence since the accuser is rarely lying and the accused usually is. In this particular case, Professor Ford’s is not the only statement we have. This lends additional confidence that she is telling the truth.


You are correct that evidence matters, that probabilities are not the whole story. However, you fail to comment on the evidence that we already know and instead pose deceptive arguments. Your effort to confuse and deceive is compounded by your subsequent statements in which you “cherry pick” instances in which the accuser lied. It would have been more honest to remind us of 20 instances in which the accuser told the truth for each of the tragic instances that you cited.


These efforts to confuse and deceive are quite consistent with the partisan tactics with which the US Senate Judiciary Committee has been controlled by Senator Grassley. Keep in mind that this is a confirmation hearing for the nomination of a Supreme Court Associate justice. It’s not a trial; it’s a job interview. The job of the committee and of the Senate at large is to assess and decide on the ability and willingness of this person to respect the law given that it’s a sure thing that he, you, I, and everyone else has significant biases.


From this point of view, Judge Kavanaugh demonstrated disrespect for the process with his rudeness, inability to control his passions, and clear dissembling under pointed questioning, particularly by Senator Kamala Harris. There can be no doubt that you as an experienced prosecutor and any reasonable person recognizes that Judge Kavanaugh is not credible and that he is not qualified to sit on a Federal or any other court.


In fact, his nomination to the DC District Court of Appeals in 2003 languished in committee for three years because of his record of profound partisanship and he was confirmed in 2006 with the modest majority of 57 votes by the Senate at large. Compare this with the majority of 78 votes with which John Roberts was confirmed the year before.


It’s important that the Senate has become increasingly controlled by partisan politics rather than respect for their responsibilities and for the law. This is evident in the failure of the Judiciary Committee to pass Merrick Garland through to a floor vote. It is evident in their rush to judgement on Brett Kavanaugh, someone whose nomination should have been withdrawn by the President and by the committee since he is clearly not competent to sit on the Supreme Court for the reasons mentioned above.


In public discourse, it’s the responsibility of people who have the time and background to understand such complex issues to make them as clear as possible to those who don’t. This is true of those sitting on the Senate Judiciary Committee, it’s true of the US President, and it’s true of you, Steve. All of you could do much better.





Don Krieger

I have built satellites, worked in the operating room, been in a cult, …

I earn my living as part of a group which is trying to understand and treat head injury.

In my poetry and short blog pieces, I want to express ideas with unambiguous clarity and intensity.

I willingly sacrifice rhyme and meter, art, cleverness, elegance, and beauty for these.

Editor review


  1. Mark Kodama October 03, at 01:00

    Judge Kavanaugh is unfit to be a U.S. Supreme Court justice.

  2. Thriveni C Mysore October 02, at 06:33

    Excellent satire. Thank you Tuck magazine for your gracious support for a cause, else many voices would never have been heard.


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