When we officially abandon civil discourse | Christine Flowers
But this one caught my attention because I love children, spend a lot of time with them, and used to teach them. I also represent them in immigration court, like the little girl whose hand I held as she told the judge the other day that she was from Honduras, and that she was 5, and that pink was her favorite color.
So when I saw these words, I froze:
“Time to burn everything to the [expletive] ground, when it comes to this vile, non-human garbage who by stealing and cheating ended up in the White House. Are we going to take as any kind of truth an ‘investigation’ that isn’t one? Are we going to take his a–hole supporters who say ‘lock her up’ to Dr. Ford? I’m a good and nice person, a peace-loving person but let every one of them and their sons and daughters get raped, accosted by one of those ‘boys will be boys.’ ”
It went on. I reported the post to Facebook, and as of this writing, it’s still there. That’s Mark Zuckerberg’s problem now, because I’ve blocked the poster. But it was important for me to not simply shake my head as I used to do and move on, narrowing my group of friends to those with whom I could share photos of my sweet black Labs and funny anecdotes from my family along with political essays and ruminations. I’ve resigned myself, ruefully, to the realization that this political and social climate is choosing for me, without my permission, the comfortable echo chamber, where even though I hear kindred thoughts, I miss some of the kindred spirits who didn’t share them.
In other words, I am becoming increasingly isolated from liberal ideas because it is much harder these days to have a civil conversation. And yet I have very good, very decent, liberal friends, like Robin and Donna, Jennie and David, John and Victor, who would never in a million years write about the rape of children in the same breath as they wish death on a president they can’t stand. They make me realize that this is not a partisan disease, even though many of my conservative friends urge me to see “the other side” as the enemy.
I have to admit that these past two weeks, the “other side” has been Dixie to my Union, the Axis powers to my Allies, guillotine-wielding Jacobins to my aristocracy. The Democrats, for whom I have vowed to never again cast a vote, have morphed into a caricature of their former selves in their duplicitous crusade to destroy a man and his reputation. I see nothing there that reminds me of the party I belonged to for 37 years. But that is political, and I understand that there are just as many Democrats and liberals who read my words defending Brett Kavanaugh last week and felt the same revulsion for me that I feel for the despicable assault on the judge.
I would sincerely hope that even they, disgusted with our president and with the people he has chosen to represent him in the cabinet and now on the court, would recoil from the suggestion that my hypothetical children and the children of Kavanaugh supporters should be raped.
You might say that this is anger speaking, and of course it is. But the appropriate place for that anger to burn is in the deep and quiet recesses of the mind, hidden from view. That we have now reached the point that assaulted children are considered appropriate conversational tender sterilizes the soul and induces a nausea that can’t be eliminated by blocking the person who dares to write the words.
RESPONSE from ESHRINK
Dear Ms. Flowers:
Perhaps you are right that we should limit discourse on the subject of sexual assault on children, after all hiding such incidents has worked quite well for the Catholic church [editors note: the movie Spotlight is a peek into the importance of a free press and the commitment real reporters have to exposing the truth]. However; you should be congratulated on your effective use of the time honored strategy of blaming the victim, or even better to further politicize it by holding democrats responsible. Little wonder that you “feel revulsion for the….despicable assault on the judge.” After all he has lived a life of privilege and as he frequently reminded us was an honor student at Yale, which should immunize him from any such accusations.
As a recently retired psychiatrist I have many memories of times spent with patients who have been unable to dismiss the pain from having been violated, often as children. That pain often results in a lifetime of impairment. Dr. Ford’s story was very familiar to me as was Kavanaugh’s response, which was to release an explosion of suppressed rage. His behavior has been excused by his supporters who suggest he has a right to be angry however; were he seen by me as a patient I would consider him a good candidate for anger management training. In the interest of full disclosure, I am one of those “liberal democrats” who would very much enjoy having that “civil conversation” which you say is lacking in your life.