Social Media Commentary on Brett Kavanaugh – Christine Ford: Entirely Predictable

 In opinion, Politics, Social Media

The current crop of social media posts and comments concerning Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford would be disheartening if they weren’t entirely predictable. One side, largely consisting of women and men pretending to be women, has painted Kavanaugh as being guilty, largely for one reason. ‘He’s a man, and men have sexually assaulted women, yet suffered no consequences.’ On the other side, Ford is being labeled as a shill because she waited 36 years to make her accusation, and some women have falsely claimed to have been assaulted.

Outright proclamations of Kavanaugh’s guilt are relatively rare. Instead, he is portrayed as a sexual assaulter by inference. The typical social media running commentary, devolves into declarations that a person has been or knows someone who has been sexually assaulted, but didn’t come forward because he or she would not have been believed, or would have suffered grave consequences for reporting the assault.

There’s no question that women have been sexually assaulted, and the culture that has made women afraid to report being victims of sexual crimes is reprehensible. However, personal experiences, as ugly as they have been, are irrelevant with respect to Ford’s charges against Kavanaugh. The fact that some women have remained silent because they feared retribution does not automatically explain Ford’s reason for waiting so long to speak out. And they don’t automatically make Kavanaugh guilty.

Yet that’s how it’s played, not out of concern for right or wrong, but as a means of promoting a political agenda. Kavanaugh is excoriated based on vague accusations, while claims about abuse and assault leveled against Keith Ellison and Cory Booker are ignored. Kavanaugh is a conservative, Ellison and Booker are liberals.

A few representative comments in the midst of a thread that included references to personal experiences were, “GOP Stepford Wives for Kavanaugh…. It’s just sad and scary that there are women who can vote so completely against their interests in this way…. ” and valuable reading on Twitter today under the hashtag #WhyIDidntReport.” But the most telling was, “So basically what Kavanaugh defenders are saying is that boys will be boys and girls will be lying whores.”

Not a single commenter in the thread stated that they thought Kavanaugh had assaulted Ford, yet virtually every comment was a de facto nod to “guilty.” The commenters essentially say that Ford’s claims are true and Kavanaugh is guilty because countless other women who have been sexually assaulted remained silent.

In contrast, the prevailing opinion expressed by Kavanaugh’s defenders is that Ford’s accusations, coming so late in the nomination process, are politically-motivated falsehoods. They then go on to comment about other actions which they view as being motivations for Ford to go public. The statements paint Ford as a deeply flawed liar much in the way comments about Kavanaugh label him as being guilty.

What the majority of commenters on both sides have in common is irrelevance. In spite of their perceived knowledge and self-importance, the segment of social media activists who viciously rail against a person or institution, without clear facts being in evidence, are not doing so to right a wrong.

They are simply grinding their personal axes. In so doing, their obvious chest-beating and back-patting simply trivialize them. But the true loss is that their chest-beating, self-congratulatory back-slapping and diatribes against anyone who disagrees discourages honest discourse and conversations that reasonably address problems, or have the potential to develop solutions.

 

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