Regarding Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court, sexual assault, and false accusations

Like many of you, I have been watching the coverage of the Brett Kavanaugh nomination-turned-fiasco. I have read the particular accusations against him and the many, varied responses to them. I read this coverage with a slight partisan perspective as someone who believes in Constitutional originalism and as someone who has concerns about a society that permits the killing of its young, and yet…I’m troubled.

I am concerned by the very serious accusations against Kavanaugh, and I am distressed by the responses to them.

I believe that there is more at stake in this moment than the nomination of an individual to the Supreme Court, no matter how important that is. How we handle sexual assault allegations, how we speak about women, what we expect of young men, and how we handle investigations into accusations of years-ago crimes that by their nature delay reporting of them—all of these questions are in play. We would do well to slow down, listen closely, and think deeply.

Toward that end, I commend this article: Between Brock Turner and Brett Kavanaugh, When do Girls Matter? Two warnings before you click on it, though. To all my readers who have been sexually assaulted or abused, this article may  trigger renewed trauma in you. Please click carefully, if at all.

To everyone else: I find the author’s logic to be very sound…and deeply painful. This is not an easy read. It is worth our contemplation, nonetheless.

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I have noticed that some of my friends with sons have a different reaction to the Kavanaugh allegations than I do, as a mom of daughters. Several times in the last week, I have heard the issue of false accusations raised. This may seem easy for me to say, but I think our societal fear of false accusations may be a red herring.

Yes, if your son were to be falsely accused of a sexual crime, it would be devastating and life-altering. I get that. The incidence of false accusations, though, is quite small.  Regarding that question, I found this article well-researched and helpfully detailed: What Kind of Person Makes False Rape Accusations.

Please do not allow the bogey-man of false accusations to stand in the way of you supporting investigation of sexual crimes and caring for victims. In my personal friend circle, I see a prevalence of sexual assault that matches or even exceeds the reported percentages. The numbers are real and shockingly high. In contrast, I do not believe a single one of my friends has ever been falsely accused of sexual assault.

The numbers of false accusations do not remotely compare to the number of actual sexual assaults. We must not put off grappling with something that happens often by an overblown fear of something that does not.

 

©Laura Goetsch and Thinking about Such Things, 2018.

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Evangelicals, we have a major blind spot

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I have become convinced that white, American evangelical Christians have a major blind spot. I say this as a member of this community, reflecting on my own people.

Very often, we evangelicals do not see power. We are blind to power dynamics in the world and blind to them in the Scriptures. We cannot assess whether power is being used ethically and justly because we do not notice it is being used at all.

Here’s one way to test the teaching you’ve received and the lenses you’ve been given: were you taught that David’s sin with Bathsheba was primarily sexual? Or were you taught that his sin was the way he abused his power?

Continue reading “Evangelicals, we have a major blind spot”

On MSU and leadership

The President of Michigan State University, Lou Anna Simon, resigned from her position yesterday. She was pressured to do so by those who have watched Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse victims give statements on what they suffered at MSU and other gymnastic facilities. The leadership of USA Gymnastics is under similar pressure, as it should be.

Simon submitted a six paragraph letter of resignation to the MSU Board of Trustees. After stating that “[t]he survivors’ accounts are horrific….tragic, heartbreaking, and personally gut-wrenching,” she goes on to say,

As Nassar’s legal journey to prison was drawing to a close, more and more negative attention was focused on Michigan State University, and on me.  I am pleased that statements have been made by Mr. Fitzgerald and Board members about my integrity and the fact that there is no cover-up….As tragedies are politicized, blame is inevitable.  As president, it is only natural that I am the focus of this anger.  I understand, and that is why I have limited my personal statements.   Throughout my career, I have worked very hard to put Team MSU first.  Throughout my career, I have consistently and persistently spoken and worked on behalf of Team MSU.  I have tried to make it not about me.

You know what this ain’t?

LEADERSHIP.

Continue reading “On MSU and leadership”

The insufficiency of “consent”

IMG_2291I had just turned 22 when the Monica Lewinsky story broke. I remember a phone conversation with my dad at that time in which we disagreed on the relative guilt of the parties—he argued, if I remember correctly, that the preponderance belonged to President Clinton. I argued that Lewinsky and Clinton shared near equal culpability. After a bit, my dad concluded the conversation by saying, “Laura, I think you may be too young to understand.”

He was right.

I was too young, too inexperienced in the world. Here’s what I did not understand: power.

Continue reading “The insufficiency of “consent””

Two questions and three articles on #takeaknee and President Trump

Controversy erupted over the weekend as NFL players joined Colin Kaepernick in kneeling during the Star Spangled Banner. The President tweeted repeatedly in response and railed against these actions at a rally in Alabama.

I have written many times on this blog about justice and the Black experience in America. At this moment, I only want to ask a few questions and point you to a couple articles.

Continue reading “Two questions and three articles on #takeaknee and President Trump”

Why I’m open to school choice, as a special needs parent

With the revelation a year ago that our twin daughters have dyslexia, we joined the millions across the country who are parenting children with learning disabilities. We now know that our kids have special needs, and we must navigate the education system accordingly.

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The first day of kindergarten

We were shocked to discover that our public school could not help us with dyslexia. They were not even aware of its signs.

For almost two years, we asked “Why are the girls having so much trouble learning to read? Why is this going so slowly and so painfully?” Neither their kindergarten nor their first grade teacher had answers. They told us to just keep working at home while they worked at school, and it would eventually click.

It never clicked. In first grade, the girls started seeing the school reading specialist several times a week. We asked her, too. All she could point to was their anxiety about reading.

Finally, I grew suspicious and googled symptoms of dyslexia. The girls were textbook cases. An outside evaluation later confirmed this. Why had the teachers at school not seen this? As I talked with them about it, I learned that they had not been trained to spot dyslexia. Not even the reading specialist.

How could this be? Research indicates that up to 15% of the population may be dyslexic, and yet public school teachers have not been trained to spot the signs? Even if only 5% of schoolchildren are dyslexic, that still adds up to 2.5 million children this year. Continue reading “Why I’m open to school choice, as a special needs parent”

Making sense of the news in the Trump era

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The view from where I sit

Ten days in, it is clear that one of the main tasks of responsible citizens during the Trump administration is to distinguish facts from fiction, hysteria from reasoned analysis. This, of course, is always the task of a responsible citizen, but it becomes paramount with an administration happy to baldy lie about the most trivial issues and a media driven to hysteria by every move the administration makes.

As much as I wish Donald Trump were not President and as much as I doubt his competence, I am unwilling to assume that every single action he takes is abhorrent and wrong-headed. I have neither the emotional stamina to live in outrage for four years nor the confidence that continual panic serves the common good. Instead, I must sort through the facts, do my best to discern the truth, and then pick my battles. Which actions and appointees are tolerable, and which ones threaten our democracy?

Continue reading “Making sense of the news in the Trump era”