It's possible that when Robert Louis Stevenson wrote this book
he was on to something bigger than he guessed. [Illustration via
Back in the early 1980s, about the same time that Christine Blasey Ford says she was sexually abused by Brett Kavanaugh in the DC area, an advertising colleague of mine, a suit-and-tie kind of guy from the account management side, got arrested for rape in New Jersey.
And not just for one rape. He was accused — and later convicted — for being a serial rapist. His modus operandi was to hide in the bushes in a park, and then jump out and attack women who were jogging by themselves.
Shock and disbelief
He was a husky, good-looking, college-educated midwesterner — and his arrest threw many of his women co-workers into shock. True, we were working for a small oddball advertising agency that was exceptionally laggard in cleaning up its sexist behavior. But he was not perceived as one of the male chauvinists.
“He was the only guy in account management who looked out for us,” one of the young women on staff told me. “He treated us fairly. He mentored me. I worked late with him lots of times. So did other women. We trusted him.”
I recalled a conversation he and I had, perhaps a year before that, when almost out of the blue he asked if I thought some rape victims were “asking for it.”
“No," I replied. "I mean, asking how could they ask for it? Who asks to get raped?”
“Well, you know…just asking for it.”
Mentor or predator?
That brief conversation helps explain to me how a “nice guy” who helped and mentored his women co-workers could also be a brutal sexual predator.
In an office setting he was always a perfect gentleman, and always a kindly mentor to the women he knew. But the office setting, office attire, and office behavior were in just one compartment of his mind. A strange woman in nylon jogging shorts, her bare legs exposed, running through the park, was in another compartment, the “asking for it” compartment. And therefore she was fair game for rape.
He was Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde, depending on which mental compartment was open for business at the moment.
By the way, I looked him up on the Internet before starting to write this. He’s out of prison now, living in New Jersey, looking middle-aged and overweight. His time in prison seems to have given him a thuggish look. I found him and his photograph on a registered sex offender website.
A hypothesis about Kavanaugh
So what does he have to do with Brett Kavanaugh? Bear with me a bit more while I explain a hypothesis.
Many people somehow sort others into distinctively separate compartments There might be a “nice” compartment and and “asking for it” compartment. Or there might be “matters to me” and “insignificant to me” compartments.
I’ve had male friends who’ve had brief extramarital flings and didn’t quite grasp the shocked and furious response of their wives, because the affairs these guys had “didn’t mean anything.” The guys sincerely didn’t understand, at least not on a visceral level, why their wives were upset by what they saw as a "trivial" affair.
Which brings me finally to Kavanaugh. Do I believe that he is mostly straight arrow, goes to church every Sunday, loves his family, teaches his daughter to pray, and never tells off-color jokes in mixed company? Absolutely.
I also believe Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony that Kavanaugh yanked her into a bedroom when they were both teen-agers, tried unsuccessfully to pull her clothing off, forcibly ran his hands over her body, covered her mouth with his hand so that she couldn't scream for help, ground his hips against her — and then laughed about it with a friend.
Ford's testimony about the laughter between Kavanaugh and another friend tells me something. It says that Ford was in an “insignificant” compartment, unlike the 45 or so women who were former Catholic prep school or law colleagues of Kavanaugh, and who wrote in support of him.
Ford simply didn’t matter all that much to him. Little wonder Kavanaugh can claim none of this happened. Even if he was cold sober, Ford fit in the wrong compartment, and was therefore easily forgotten.
Or perhaps Kavanaugh does remember, at least a little bit. No matter. In either case, how outrageous it must seem that someone from the compartment reserved for people who don't matter can emerge after three decades from nowhere important to sully his name and damage his career.
Tirades and tears
And so Kavanaugh launches into a raging tirade before a Congressional committee, alternately red-faced and weeping. I believe both the rage and the tears. I believe he is apoplectically furious that this person, a woman of no significance to him, has the temerity to ruin his reputation. And I believe his weepy self-pitying disbelief that somebody from the Nobody Compartment has done this to him.
I also believe he has no place on any Federal bench, whether in an appeals court or the Supreme Court. Neither the tears, nor the tirades, nor the allegations of drunkenness, nor the very believable ones of sexual predation comport with judicial temperament.