Brett Kavanaugh and toxic masculinity: lessons from another all-male Jesuit high school

In this Sept. 6, 2018, file photo, President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)In this Sept. 6, 2018, file photo, President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

For those of us who lead or are associated with all-male Jesuit secondary schools in the United States, the saga of Brett Kavanaugh has been a roller coaster ride. His nomination to the Supreme Court was a high point; Judge Kavanaugh was expected to join Neil Gorsuch as one of two justices who graduated from the same all-male Jesuit high school, Georgetown Preparatory School in North Bethesda, Md.

“The motto of my Jesuit high school was ‘men for others,’” Mr. Kavanaugh said when his nomination was announced on July 9. “I have tried to live that creed.”

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From that high, we have descended considerably, as Judge Kavanaugh now stands accused of sexual assault by Christine Blasey Ford. That this alleged crime took place while he was a student at a Jesuit high school makes us uncomfortable if not embarrassed and horrified. Understandably, questions remain about the allegation, which Mr. Kavanaugh has denied. Yet our feelings about the nomination and our perspective about it can’t help but change in light of these revelations.

I have been privileged to witness the mission of all-male Jesuit education as a powerful and transforming force.

I am the president of Fordham Prep, a 177-year-old all-male Jesuit secondary school in the Bronx, N.Y., with nearly 1,000 current students and almost 12,000 living alumni. I have seen our students and graduates at their best and, unfortunately, at their worst. Still, I have been privileged to witness the mission of all-male Jesuit education—to develop men for others, who dedicate their lives to God’s greater glory—as a powerful and transforming force. I believe this force can challenge the prevailing cultural forces that pressure young men to adopt values that reflect a vastly different posture toward the more vulnerable members of our society and those who are different than themselves.

Each spring, members of our freshman class participate in a retreat, the final step in their formal initiation as Fordham Prep students. On the last night of the retreat, I celebrate a Mass that begins at 9 p.m. and usually does not end until after 10:30 p.m. It is such a long celebration because at the time of the homily I invite members of the class to come forward and share with everyone—approximately 250 of their classmates, faculty mentors and upper-class retreat leaders—a memory, image, relationship or story in which they find God’s presence. This invitation is at the heart of Ignatian spirituality, which teaches us to seek and find God in all things.

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, the term “toxic masculinity” has entered the popular lexicon.

For our freshmen, this is frequently an exhilarating concept. Up to this point in their lives, they may have experienced their faith as confined to formal prayers or within a church building, a religion class or some other explicitly religious ritual. The insight that God draws near to them in their ordinary experience—that God’s grace is as close to them as their parents’ love, their friends’ acceptance, their growing confidence in learning a new skill or discovering a new talent—is attractive, even as it may be new and exotic.

During the time allotted for the homily, I listen. I listen as the freshmen come up, one by one, and speak briefly about encountering God’s presence. In some cases, they tell their stories with tentative trepidation and vulnerability. They are frequently humorous and self-deprecating. Most often, they are eloquent, inspiring and moving as they talk to their classmates about finding God in the close bonds of family upon the death of a relative; or in the gratitude and love they have for their mothers or fathers; in the joy of a sibling returning home after military service; in the courage of a parent who left her home country to immigrate to the United States; in their triumph in overcoming a personal challenge; in their wonder in finding God in sickness or healing or in an encounter with the beauty of nature.

God’s Spirit helps our students see and know the dignity that resides within each person.

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, the term “toxic masculinity” has entered the popular lexicon. Toxic masculinity, we are told, springs from a society that inculcates young men with a “bro mentality,” leaving them devoid of empathy, sensitivity and compassion and leading them—especially when they are together—to objectify and disrespect girls and women. Some have seen—rightly or wrongly—traces of this toxic mentality in Judge Kavanaugh’s quip in a 2015 speech that “What happens at Georgetown Prep stays at Georgetown Prep. That’s been a good thing for all of us, I think.”

I leave to the experts whether toxic masculinity or a “bro culture” is pervasive and at the root cause of young men’s disregard for the dignity of others. But I can tell you that the freshman retreat experience gives our students a powerful opportunity to experience and model virtues and values directly opposed to this phenomenon. As they listen to each other, I believe they grow in their capacity to enter into another’s pain and joy. In taking the risk to share their stories, they articulate their deepest emotions and identify their most cherished values. God’s Spirit truly animates the whole church. And, I believe, God’s Spirit helps our students see and know the dignity that resides within each person. What a powerful way to inoculate young men against the poison of toxic masculinity.

What happens at the freshman retreat, does not stay at freshman retreat. Our students’ vulnerability and openness to others with backgrounds and experiences vastly different from their own is something we administrators and teachers see every day in the classroom. And what happens during their four years at Fordham Prep, should not stay at Fordham Prep. That, in fact, is the whole point.

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Tim O'Leary
1 year ago

What can Judge Kavanaugh do or say to get you over your assumption of guilt for purposes of the Supreme Count? What evidence would you need to see? Or, in such as situation, is an allegation alone sufficient?

J Jones
1 year ago

Well, now there are 3 allegations, ND the Judiciary Committee knew about the second one last week.

A Fielder
1 year ago

Sen Blumenthal agrees the allegation is credible, this is why he says it should be investigated by the FBI. He would also like to see the 2 million documents that the White House is hiding. I would also like to hear that Dr Fords testimony will be considered. But. sadly, most republicans on the Judiciary committee have already decided that any allegation against him is irrelevant.

Stuart Meisenzahl
1 year ago

J Brookbank
There is nothing to be learned from your position which based on your own tortured conflation of two different situations.

J Jones
1 year ago

Stuart, it isn't my position which presents a learning opportunity. The learning opportunity lies in the damage to the Church's thousands upon thousands of accusers who were assumed to be mistaken in one way or another or assumed to be pursuing an anti-Catholic agenda against a much admired cleric. The learning opportunity lies in the much-documented cover-up by much-admired clerics of other much-admired clerics. The learning opportunity lies in the profound loss of the in-many-other-ways-deserved respect for the RCC. The learning opportunity lies in the deep regret experience by so very many within the Church that we did not, from the beginning, treat accusers decently.

Again, it does not bode well for any effort by American Catholics to re-establish credibility as moral guides.

Tim O'Leary
1 year ago

Brookbank - you now worry me even more. Since mistakes were made in the past, you seem to be saying that an allegation alone, substantiated or not, is sufficient to assume guilt unless there is clear exculpatory evidence of innocence. Would you feel this way if someone accused you of sexual assault? By my very question, are you already under suspicion? Maybe, you think clericalism is behind the defense of Kavanaugh? You have learned nothing of the history of false accusations in US history or in the Church.

J Jones
1 year ago

Tim, I am not saying I believe Kavanaugh's accuser. I am saying it is irresponsible to DIS-believe her in the absence of an appropriately conducted investigation, which does not include publicizing minute-by-minute updates of the investigators' opinions and preliminary findings step-by-step, etc. Death threats against the accuser and the accused are further evidence that this process discourages truth-finding as Judiciary Committee simultaneously pushes for a resolution on the heels of learning there are NEW allegations.

I believe you understand all that. It is simply inconvenient.

You and many other Catholics here continue to prove you have learned very little from the mess in the RCC.

Stuart Meisenzahl
1 year ago

J Brookbank
You argue that "the lesson" from the Laity's past response to the RCC crisis is that "accusers must not be disbelieved". Asking an accuser to provide evidence of his accusation does not constitute "disbelieving the accuser". ...despite your seeming insistence to the contrary.
The requirement that the accuser provide some evidence in order to proceed is imposed by our Jurisprudence under the rubrics of "probable cause" ( to establish a prima facie case) and "the burden of proof" (once a case has been started). Your formulation of a lesson is to simply ignore the basic underpinnings of our system of justice.
Your so called "lesson" is not a lesson at all....it is a basic pervsion of our judicial principles.

J Jones
1 year ago

Stuart, I have not said that an accuser should NOT be required to provide evidence. Of course s/he should.

Again, it seems that very little has been learned.

Stuart Meisenzahl
1 year ago

JBrookbank
"If little has been learned", then perhaps no viable argument has been presented!

J Jones
1 year ago

Stuart, "the argument" is the current state of the Catholic Church, most relevantly here in the US, and the lessons we as Catholics could choose to generalize to other situations in which powerful men in powerful institutions are accused of sexual assault. Again, it does not bode well for the ability of the US Roman Catholic community to regain its reputation as a moral guide that so many here refuse to see the parallels between their own public responses and those responses that contributed to the RCC's reputation for preferring its narrative over reality.

Again, that is not an indictment of Kavanaugh; that is an indictment of the apparent inability of so many Catholics here to learn the lessons inherent in the devastation of the RCC:

1) "Good" men MAY also be sexual abusers.
2) Men with stellar professional reputations MAY also be sexual abusers.
3) Men who have not mistreated 99% of the women they have met MAY also abuse some women.
4) Most sexual assaults are not reported.
5) Sexual assaults which are reported are often reported many years later, are often impacted by the effects of trauma on memory and are often difficult to corroborate because of the very nature of sexual assault.
6) It is very common for witnesses to decline knowledge of assaults in order to protect themselves and their own careers from damage.
7) Institutions are invested in protecting their leaders as a reflection of the institution and, as a consequence, institutions MAY lie and maneuver to protect that leader and, thus, the institution itself.
8) Community disparagement of those relative few victims who do report sexual abuse is one of the factors which other victims say kept them from reporting.
9) Community insistence that a man as good as the accused could never have done this is reported by many victims as a significant factor in causing those victims to distrust, dismiss and further bury and silence their own memories.

On and on and on.

Catholics, I should think, would understand this better than any demographic out there today.

But here we are, unable to generalize from our own experience and behave accordingly as individual Roman Catholic citizens.

What a tragedy and, again, an inictment of US, not Kavanaugh.

Stuart Meisenzahl
1 year ago

J.
Pure and utter conflation on your part!

J Jones
1 year ago

Stuart, generalize your learning. It is a basic skill in critical thinking.

Stuart Meisenzahl
1 year ago

JBrookbank
Your kind of "generalization" is the source of all the plagues of racial and religious bigotry. It is the anthisis of critical thinking!

J Jones
1 year ago

Stuart, my goodness. Generalize what has been learned in the US Roman Catholic Church about the right way and the wrong way to proceed when sexual abuse allegations are made against powerful men in powerful institutions.

Patrick Hunter
1 year ago

Fr. Devron,

You state that you will "leave to the experts whether toxic masculinity or a “bro culture” is pervasive and at the root cause of young men’s disregard for the dignity of others". I would suggest that our faith, not experts, tells us what leads to the "disregard for the dignity of others". And that is sin.

Leaving our faith, and not putting God, His teachings and His truth at the center of our lives is what leads to disregard of human dignity.

Disregarding human dignity is not confined to one sex--both men and women can sin. The zeitgeist seems to that white male heterosexual Christians are the root of all evil. You perpetuate this falsehood with your "bro culture" simplicity.

Would it be right for me to say "toxic femininity" was at the root of Eve's behavior, and she was at fault in the garden of Eden. That would not be fair, right or just and I would never say such a thing.

You allude to it, but do not confront it directly. "I have seen our students and graduates at their best and, unfortunately, at their worst." I assume you are writing about Fordham Preps most famous (infamous) graduate, Cardinal McCarrick. Was his sexual abuse of young men and seminarians due to "toxic homosexuality"? No! It was because he separated from God and sinned. His actions were evil.

If you were to write an article about homosexual culture or priestly culture, that cause predatory sexual behaviors, as a bookend to your toxic masculinity article, you would at least be consistent. But still wrong. Sin is at the root of man’s indignity to his fellow man.

The Church, and we as people of God, need to rise above culture, political and worldly things. We need to recognized when we are enmeshed in popular and political culture. The Church needs to speak of sin, of evil and of the truth. As a church, as a culture, as a society, we need to get back to the basics.

Dr. Ford may be truthful. Judge Kavanaugh may be truthful. One is right. One is wrong. One's sex does not free us from sin. The Truth of the Gospel does.

Christopher Devron, SJ
1 year ago

Thank you Mr. Hunter. "Toxic Masculinity" is a term created by the media. I agree 100% that sin is at the root of any lack of respect for the dignity of the human person. It's not an "either / or": i.e., either the problem is "toxic masculinity," or the problem is sin. Be careful of binaries.

J Cosgrove
1 year ago

I wrote my column yesterday on how the Kavanaugh hearing is causing the Democrats to throw out millennia of moral and political progress in the name of tribal passion.

Jonah Goldberg

Michael Barberi
1 year ago

Here is the latest news as of this Sunday afternoon from online news. Note that Prof. Ford named 4 witnesses that were at this so-called party. Of particular importance is the fact that each of them submitted formal statements (that serve as sworn testimony) to the Senate Judiciary Committee denying her accusations. Since Prof. Ford does not know the time, date and place of this incident and each of the 4 witnesses she named has now formally contradicted her allegations, there is no 'probably cause' for a criminal investigation should Prof. Ford file her complaint with local law enforcement authorities in Maryland after the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

It will be interesting to hear what Prof. Ford says at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Thursday at 10am. I will be interested in how she answers the fact that the 4 witnesses she named have contradicted her allegations against Kavanaugh.

Below is the revenant news quote.

The current committee plan is for only two witnesses – one would be Ford, to be followed then by Judge Kavanaugh, who has sternly denied any wrongdoing involving Ford.

GOP Senators and the White House said Ford has offered no corroborating evidence to back up her allegations.

“Dr. Christine Ford claimed she was assaulted at a house party attended by four others,” said White House spokesperson Kerri Kupec. “Since then, all four of these individuals have provided statements to the Senate Judiciary Committee denying any knowledge of the incident or even having attended such a party."

“These official letters from the 4 named by Dr Ford — denying any knowledge of what Dr Ford has alleged — serve the same purpose as sworn testimony,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT).

J Jones
1 year ago

"Serve the same purpose " Absolutely, if the purpose is confirming Hatch's choice.

That is not the same thing as "interchangeable" for ALL intents and purposes.

Can these people be charged with felonies if what they said to their lawyers and the lawyers then wrote is not the truth?

Absolutely not. Any attorney worth.his or her license is saying " Do not get involved. Walk away." Any person with a reasonably healthy survival instinct is listening.

And Orrin Hatch knows that --- and I suspect you do too.

I truly do not understand why Kavanaugh supporters are unable to say "I hope it is not true" and then wait.

Tim O'Leary
1 year ago

Here is a bald-faced assumption of guilt from Sen. Mazie Hirono on CNN today: "I put his denial in the context of everything that I know about him in terms of how he approaches his cases. His credibility is already very questionable in my mind. ... When I say that he's very outcome-driven, he has an ideological agenda, and I can sit here and talk to you about some of the cases that exemplify his, in my view, inability to be fair." This was in response to Jake Tapper's question about whether Kavanaugh was entitled to a presumption of innocence.
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2018/09/23/top-democrat-cites-kavanaughs-outcome-driven-legal-philosophy-as-reason-to-deny-him-due-process.html

Phillip Stone
1 year ago

This thread is full of spite - back-biting, calumny and detraction. The Primary School catechism which nuns at my school taught from called these things serious sins.

Power politics nowadays uses accusations of sexual offences far too often - so often that all credibility of all parties remains in question.

The Creator made us male and female so that together we would give him Glory and serve His Divine purposes. Satan attacked this at the dawn of history, is it right to continue his destructive work even today while claiming to be disciples of Christ?

J Jones
1 year ago

Well, now there are 3 women alleging sexual misconduct by Kavanaugh, and the Judiciary Committee knew about (at least) the second one last week.

Perhaps it is finslly time to exercise the caution the Church's mess should have taught Catholics.

A Fielder
1 year ago

J, in addition to Ford and Ramirez who is the third?

J Jones
1 year ago

Avenatti's client and multiple witnesses

Stuart Meisenzahl
1 year ago

J Brookbank
You fail to note that Dr Ford's classmate Christina Miranda who had posted that the allegation is /was true has now recanted saying to NPR: That "I don't know if it happened or did n't happen"........adding that when she made her post "I just felt empowered"....but I didn't think I would have to defend the comment....."
These stories of corroboration seem to rot and fall just as fast as they have sprung up. Sic semper politics

Tim O'Leary
1 year ago

Fielder – the third is not named, just threatened by that stellar citizen, Avenatti, of Stormy Daniels fame, who for some reason was locked out of his home by his wife a few months ago (now divorcing). Avenatti is claiming more dirt on Kavanaugh in high school, threatening release. Deborah Ramirez, a self-declared Trump resister, took six days to put a story together from Yale freshman year, again denied by the witnesses she claims were in the room. She says she had memory lapses as she was heavily inebriated at a drinking party, was on the floor, and thinks someone exposed themselves to her. She didn’t see Kavanaugh, but heard someone call his name. Again, teenagers, no alleged sexual act, and all claimed witnesses deny it. The NYT says it interviewed hundreds of people and couldn't find any corroboration. Kavanaugh vehemently denies it all. But, how can he possibly prove his innocence? This has certainly reached unprecedented levels of a smear campaign. Somehow, Brookbank sees clericalism in it all.

J Cosgrove
1 year ago

Tim,

Keep up the good work. It's unlikely you will change any commenters' opinions here but by exposing the nonsense they adhere to, some of the lurkers will be informered. One of the side benefits of Trump's obnoxious behavior is that it exposed even worse behavior of the left who object to him. Some on the left are telling their side to behave with reason and civility. Not happening here.

Tim O'Leary
1 year ago

Thanks. The Ramirez story is getting fierce criticism from journalists across the spectrum, including the NYT, WaPo, CBS and on twitter, for its total lack of corroboration, and that Ramirez wasn't even sure if Kavanaugh was at the party until this week. The NYT says some friends had calls from her asking if he was there. This is an example of why it will harm the #MeToo movement and Farrow, who has only published previous harassment stories with meticulous detail and corroboration. Timeline Summary (from Caleb Hull): 1) She didn't know who it was for 35 years; 2) Kavanaugh was nominated; 3) She met with Dem lawyer for 6 days to "assess her memories"; 4) Accused Kavanaugh; 5) She still isn't even sure it was him; 6) All the witnesses deny it; 7) Kavanaugh denies it; 8) Other outlets passed on story. Case closed, only the Democrats don't know it yet.
WaPo: "Ramirez’s accusation has the dual distinction of having more potential corroboration and less actual corroboration than Ford’s. "
NYT: "The Times had interviewed several dozen people over the past week in an attempt to corroborate her story, and could find no one with firsthand knowledge. Ms. Ramirez herself contacted former Yale classmates asking if they recalled the incident and told some of them that she could not be certain Mr. Kavanaugh was the one who exposed himself."
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2018/09/24/critics-condemn-new-yorker-over-uncorroborated-kavanaugh-story-lazy-at-best-slimy-at-worst.html
https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2018/09/24/breaking-down-new-brett-kavanaugh-sexual-misconduct-allegation/?utm_term=.ca9c88be6760

Stanley Kopacz
1 year ago

If they're out there, let the cascade begin. First it starts with a drip, then drip, drip, drip, then the dike bursts. We shall see.

Kelvin Lu
1 year ago

What comes across in this piece is an impulse to "respond" to the media attention that the Kavanaugh nomination has brought to his Jesuit school. Unfortunately, this piece fails to adequately respond to much at all.

First of all, not all Jesuit schools share the same demographics or traits. Perhaps Georgetown Prep had a slightly wealthier demo. Regardless, your typical Jesuit school tends to pull more from the upper middle class based on my experience. Given the headline mentioning toxic masculinity, it's puzzling why the author fails to discuss in any way the relationship between this culture and where someone went to school. At every paragraph I expected some meaningful anecdote that would shed some light, but instead we're just given this slightly delusional tidbit about a long winded retreat. Most people have experienced vulnerability and simply experiencing it doesn't transform one from a "bro" to a kind, sensitive person. If anything, vulnerability tends to make those especially sensitive about it even more sensitive, i.e. the stereotypes of in the closet gay guy or short / small peepee guy with big truck or big muscles. A meaningful discussion probably would have come to the conclusion that men are inherently "toxic" as a result of hormones that allow us to be far more aggressive and violent compared to women, which is why 90% of all homicides are committed by men.

Confirmation bias in herds is strong, and the Catholic church has had their head in the sand for decades if not centuries. Perhaps Fr. Devron should be focusing on the parallel cautionary tales of a patriarchal society that has dismissed the credibility of women for centuries while seeking every rationalization possible to protect itself and a church that has similarly dismissed the credibility of sexual abuse victims while similarly choosing (quite rationally) not to harm itself by defending a position of ignorance until the day of reckoning finally comes (likely soon).

This is what you call a prisoner's dilemma. If someone had the evidence and every court took that evidence and demanded justice in the form of criminal punishment of the Church, this problem would have been rooted out centuries ago. But since the church has had sufficient political power to delay justice for so long they've allowed themselves to dig their hole so deep they couldn't possibly imagine a way to untangle sexual abuse from the church without implicating those at the highest levels (aka the Popes).

In our modern social media era prisoner's dilemmas may be much harder to trigger since transparency (and public humiliation) are always two clicks away. Perhaps the lesson about toxic masculinity is that men need outlets for their hormones and aggression and the overly ambitious suppression of biological impulses tends to breed dysfunctional humans as the spectacle of Mark Judge and Brett Kavanaugh now reveals.

rose-ellen caminer
1 year ago

In alcoholic /puritanical societies , like the Anglo /Irish US, until the women's liberation movement came along, it was the norm for teens to get drunk as a cover allowing for sex. The belief was that good girls did not want sex before marriage[ or even in marriage]; both genders partook of this puritanism. But of course good girls do want sex, so the pas a deux devised to accommodate both "truths" , was that if the girl had sex while drunk, it did not really count against her. She was still pure in her eyes,in the eyes of the guy, and in the eyes of the culture. It was not her who consented but the alcohol made her do it. This pas- a- deux was a cultural game which may have persisted in Irish catholic enclaves like when kavanaugh was 17. That it has backfired now for Kavanaugh is unfortunate, but this drinking and having and sex at parties by teens was very much a cultural norm.Now this form of puritanism; good girls don't 'want sex , has been ditched but has been replaced by a newer form of puritanism; it's anti sex and anti male and malicious;if drunk you cannot consent to having sex. That means that any one having sex at a party while drinking can be arrested and charged with rape.That means that any one having sex after meeting someone at a bar while drinking can be arrested. In the name of liberation and ending the patriarchy, hooking up for sex with someone has to be planned out in advance. Spontaneous encounters while drinking at a bar or a party can ruin your life and even land you in prison. If you meet at a bar ,you have to agree to get together some later time, for fear of getting arrested maybe years later by a disgruntled former sex partner.The puritanical culture persists and is even more pernicious then ever!

Tim O'Leary
1 year ago

Brett Kavanaugh and his wife are giving an interview on TV tonight, 7pm Fox News (Martha MacCallum). Notice how circumspect Prof. Ford is in telling her story. It has to be under all sorts of conditions (like going after BK - against legal protocol), not being asked questions from counsel, not taking an oath, wanting others to fill in her story... That vs. BK, who cannot wait to speak out and clear his name. His family are also receiving death threats. Look at what this has unleashed on the nation.
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2018/09/24/brett-kavanaugh-wife-ashley-speak-out-on-supreme-court-nomination-controversy-in-fox-news-exclusive.html

Michael Barberi
1 year ago

It is truly pathetic how polarized and partisan our politics have become, as demonstrated by the Kavanaugh confirmation process and the political rhetoric we are witnessing from both sides. Consider where we stand right now.

1. The 4 witnesses that Prof. Ford says were at this party where she accuses Kavanaugh of attempted rape, have "all contradict her testimony". All 4 witnesses have submitted affidavits from their lawyers to the Senate Judiciary Committee that "serve as sworn testimony".
2. A Yale classmate of Kavanaugh now says he trusted his penis into her mouth against her will and then she pushed him away. She also said both of them were drunk. However, this accuser says there were no witnesses.
3. Another woman (Rameriz) claimed Kavanaugh exposed himself to her during college. However, at first she said that she was not certain if it was Kavanaugh, then she said she thinks it was Kavanaugh. There were also no witnesses..
4. The New York Times said they interviewed several dozen people and did not find anyone that could corroborate Ms Rameriz's allegations.
5. A recent poll of Americans show that 59% of Democrats believe Prof. Ford and 60% of Republicans believe Kavanaugh.

This entire issue will come down to the credibility of the testimonies of both Prof. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh. It appears that all or most of the Democratic Senators will likely vote no and all or most of the Republican Senators will likely vote yes.

From what we know at this point, the Senate Judiciary Committee will not call for an investigation by local law enforcement authorities or the FBI. For one thing, the 4 witnesses Prof. Ford named all have contradicted her allegations. Therefore, there is no probably cause to open an investigation into Prof. Ford's allegations. As for the allegations by two other women, there are no named witnesses nor did the NYT find any corroborating witnesses after they questioned several dozen people. Also, these allegations are not Federal crimes.

Democratic and Republican Senators as well as House Representatives all claim they are being honest, open-minded and fair as they search for the truth. They are not playing partisan politics. I don't know about you but if you honestly believe this claim, I have a bridge in Brooklyn for sale.

A man or woman is not guilty of a crime merely because someone accuses them of a crime. We are not a nation where people are 'guilty by accusation'. In a court of law, the guilt of a person will come down to the principle of 'guilty beyond a reasonable doubt'. The Senate confirmation hearings are not a court of law, but a political process. In a political process, it will come down to the credibility of testimonies and unfortunately partisan politics.

We need to let the Senate Judiciary Committee complete its job including respectfully hearing the testimony of both Kavanaugh and Prof. Ford. Let's pray that they make the right decision.

J Jones
1 year ago

Michael, I support your final paragraph. Most of what comes before it is you attempting to do the Committee's work for them and demonstrating why that is irresponsible.

Michael Barberi
1 year ago

J Brookbank,

Your accusation that I am doing the Committee's work for them is absurd and disingenuous. I have laid out the facts as I see them, and my judgment is based on these facts. As for my opinion, it might change or not after I sincerely and carefully hear the testimony of Judge Kavanaugh and Prof. Ford.

Keep in mind that Americans are split over the Kavanaugh's confirmation on a purely partisan basis. Someone is not being "irresponsible" merely because they have a different opinion that is in tension with the opinion of another. At this point, many people believe Kavanaugh and many people believe Prof. Ford. Nevertheless, we all must make a sound judgment by weighting the evidence fairly based on the facts and not based on political ideology in whole or in part. The accused should be considered innocent until the evidence against the accused is proved credible.

J Jones
1 year ago

No, there is no moral imperative moral that we must all make a sound judgment in this matter or in any other investigation into allegations of sexual assault. That is the role of neutral, professional investigators who assess the full body of facts, after everything available has been collected through a neutral investigatory process, not an analysis dependent on the changes-every-few-hours through the kind of narrowed media consumption most of us engage in.

The moral imperative is, in fact, the opposite of that which you claim. And our own experience in the Catholic Church makes that evident.

Michael Barberi
1 year ago

J. Brookbank,
You misunderstand what the Catholic Church teaches. Any Catholic who is in a position of responsibility where they have to weight evidence and render a judgment concerning allegations of crimes or immoral sexual behavior has a moral imperative to make a prudent, fair and reasonable judgement based on the evidence presented by the accused and accuser. In this case, we are talking about the decision of members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. There is nothing immoral or irresponsible about sincere people that reach different decisions based on a prudent and fair hearing of the evidence.

If the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee believe the allegations about Kavanaugh should be investigated or not by an appropriate, independent and impartial authority (e.g., the FBI or local law enforcement authorities) then they will render such a decision and provide their reasons. They may ask for an investigation or they may not. The reasons might be that the allegations are not Federal crimes, the fact that the 4 witnesses Prof Ford named all contradicted her testimony, or that there is no probable cause for an investigation by local law enforcement authorities.

According to your comments, you leave no room for legitimate disagreement. More importantly, if people disagree with you, you think they are being irresponsible. Nonsense.

Let's agree to disagree about this issue and leave further arguments to a later time.

J Jones
1 year ago

Michael, you are not a member of the Judiciary Committee. Yet you continue to weigh (some of) the information available.

Thus, you contribute to the onslaught of pressure that is widely understood to contribute to the suppression of reports of sexual reports and, in so doing, you also contribute to the cultural context that encourages institutions to expect they will get away with mishandling allegations which threaten the reputations of the institution and its leaders.

That is irresponsible.

Michael Barberi
1 year ago

J Brookbank,

This my last comment to you on this blog.

You are being shamefully irresponsible to assert that my comments 'contribute to the suppression of reports of sexual abuse (reports), and in doing so contribute to the cultural context that encourages institutions to get away with mishandling allegations...etc". Your comments are both unsubstantiated and grossly false. Shame on you. Obviously, you cannot win an argument with me based on the facts, so you resort to false assertions about my motivations, ends and character.

I never said or implied that the Senate Committee should not call for an investigation. That is their decision. I responsibly put forth my opinion based on the facts. If you disagree with what I said, then put forth your factual argument, and do not put forth shameful ad hominem statements that smear my character.

Those who know me and my many comments over the years know that I am balanced, respectful, unbiased and factual. I laid out what I know about the Kavanaugh issue to the best of my ability. My comments are not a dissertation on any subject, so don't accuse me of weighing only 'some' of the information available. I weighed the information that in my judgement is important. If other information becomes available I will treat it appropriately.

You need to reflect on your motivations, ends and the means you chose to achieve them.

J Jones
1 year ago

Michael, there is absolutely no reason and certsinly no moral imperative for the public at large to be engaged in repeated evaluations of the publicly available information about accusers and their allegations when sexual abuse is alleged. It contributes, comment by comment, to the environment I described.

PS why can you analyze the public statements of these women, each of whom is known to be reliable and dependable and honest to those who have known them for years, but your statements about them are off limits?

Eileen Jackson
1 year ago

Well, now that you've heard it what do you think of your boy's fitness and temperment to be a supreme court judge?

Jenna Lyndly
1 year ago

Given the new evidence from the year book of the students claiming to be part of the Renate Alumnus and the 100 Kegs or Bust, Judge's ongoing remembrance of repeated drunken debauchery, reports of mixing grain alcohol in a drink to get women completely inebriated to take advantage of them, and the testimony of the general debasement of women by the students at the Jesuit Prep School, it appears the author is living in a fantasy world. These boys don't appear to be learning any positive life lessons.
Given all that has come out from the Catholic Church on leaders abusing children, and now Jesuit Prep School male students abusing girls, the Church needs to face up to their many, many extreme failures and make some drastic changes. The first change needs to be stopping propaganda like this article. Anyone involved in a prep school like this had to know what was going on and just ignored the problems rather than intervening. Same thing that happened with the abuse by leaders in the Church. At present, there is overwhelming evidence that the leaders and teachers of the Catholic Church CANNOT be trusted with children of any age. Parents BEWARE!!!
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/24/business/brett-kavanaugh-yearbook-renate.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

Vincent Gaglione
1 year ago

The inferences about the student “culture” at Georgetown Prep during the Kavanaugh years, as described in various reported references in their yearbook, make me wonder about the teacher advisor. It seems that he or she was oblivious to what was written, for example, “Renate Alumnius” and “KKK” references, both of which do imply some less-than-Christian attitudes. Braggadocio is the common denominator in all-male high schools, but my yearbook from an all-male working-class Catholic high school in NYC doesn’t include such in it.

It only reaffirms for me my constant refrain, what indeed among other things has Catholic education provided except people who left the Church and scandalous material for newspaper fodder?

J Jones
1 year ago

"Brett Kavanaugh and the Cruelty of Male Bonding" re: the Kavanaugh HE documented in HIS yearbook.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/09/brett-kavanaugh-allegations-yearbook-male-bonding.html

Stuart Meisenzahl
1 year ago

J Brookbank
The author of your referenced article one Lili Loofbourow has written numerous tracts attacking male insensitivity and bonding....a simple Google will demonstrate my point. She is an encyclopedia of feminist complaints and would readily declare Shakespeare's Henry V-St Crispian Day oration to be Toxic!

Eileen Jackson
1 year ago

"Attacking male insensitivity" ? What would you suggest she do about it. You don' have to be a feminist to notice the behavior of men. By labeling all women who oppose male abusive behavior as feminist you are not getting yourselves off the hook for your insensitivity. And by the way, I have many friends, male friends, who were also gang raped by boys bonding with each other at their expense.

Stuart Meisenzahl
1 year ago

Eileen associate yourself with Lili L if you wish, but please do not portray her other than she is: she makes her living analyzing every imaginable portrayal and interaction with men as a demonstration of all men's failure to understand, empathize or appreciate women for the sensitive, painfilled individuals that they are.
Most of her writings have nothing to do with any alleged physically abusive behavior. Your tossing that in as a rejoinder is a red herring, I went to the trouble to read the Loofbourow article J Brookbank referenced and then found a number more on my own. I am willing to bet you did not do as much.

Peter Blau
1 year ago

While I appreciate Fr. Devron's pride in his school's Freshman Retreat, I do sense smugness of the kind coming from all quarters in the Kavanaugh discussion. Essentially; "SOMEONE ELSE'S school, tradition or social group has a problem, but thank heavens, we do not."

People who promote public schools point fingers at "elite" private schools, those who didn't play football look down upon those who did, and now we're to believe Fordham rather than Georgetown Prep has found thea way to "inoculate young men against the poison of toxic masculinity."

Well, let me tell you something: no school and no social group in society is immune from bad behavior and no one has a vaccine to prevent it.

The truth of it is that certain situations give their own opportunities for problems to occur: the all-male, unmarried priesthood, leading to the opportunity for pedophile sex abuse, to give one example, and the enormous freedom enjoyed by urban, affluent teenagers to socialize without adult supervision, to give another example.

Mary Boyle
1 year ago

There are currently 1000 students, but only 12,000 living alumni? What's happening to all the graduates of Fordham Prep?

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