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Shawn Vestal: The tightrope walkers on the right keep slipping and revealing they just don’t care

Shawn Vestal (Dan Pelle / DAN PELLE)
Shawn Vestal (Dan Pelle / DAN PELLE)

Marv Hagedorn would have you believe that he took to Twitter the other day in order to pose an important question about sexual assault: “When is it too late to speak up?”

Hagedorn, a former longtime Idaho lawmaker who now oversees the state division of veterans services, added: “Sexual trauma is serious and real, what we are witnessing is sending the message that it’s OK not to speak up! It’s not!”

Totally, Marv!

Come on, ladies! Report!

How, exactly, did Hagedorn address this important issue of victims thinking it’s OK to not speak up? By providing a simply excellent example of why they don’t: Because so many men like Hagedorn simply do not take it seriously, however much they strive to pretend to.

His tweet on Sept. 29 was a defensive response and apology for a tweet the day before, in which he wrote this:

“Two ladies have come forward describing how Kavanaugh actually intentionally flashed them with his genitalia uncovered while trying to urinate on them! Regardless that he was a newborn these 2 nurses have been scared & need an FBI investigation!”

See how serious he is about sexual trauma? How real he thinks it is? How much he wants to make us think about the important issues?

It’s a terrible look for someone in a position of authority regarding veterans, given the military’s very serious sexual assault problem. But it’s far from an outlier, as the supporters of Brett Kavanaugh have tried very hard – and frequently failed – in their effort to walk the exceedingly narrow tightrope of pretending to treat his accusers respectfully while completely dismissing everything they have to say.

For those on this tightrope, there really aren’t questions about guilt or innocence. Nor are there any questions about his honesty – some of the tightrope walkers have even argued, with straight faces, that it’s not necessary to tell the truth about petty things if you think your questioners are being unfair.

No, the baseline attitude – which gets to the heart of Hagedorn’s two-tweet tap dance – is that the alleged behavior itself isn’t that big a deal.

It’s just dudes, bro. Everybody does it. Total molehill.

That’s a hard position to take because it’s a despicable position to take, legally, ethically, morally, humanly. Most people find this view awful, and most people who don’t find it awful realize that most other people do. So we have another example, on issues of sexual assault and women’s rights, of the dominant characteristic of the President Grabby P regime – a massive game of pretend-to-care, frequently undermined by a slip of the curtain like Hagedorn’s.

Back there, it’s NBD for the GOP.

The justifications and dismissals and mockery keeps popping out. Most notably, of course, the president himself this week – as if he were bursting from the strain of not insulting Christine Blasey Ford for a few days – sneered despicably at her in front of a room full of cheering, laughing sycophants.

It’s tough to decide where the bottom is these days, given that the mire deepens every hour, but that was it for at least a moment.

The cheering, the laughter – it reveals a true, deeply ingrained ugliness that has arisen in response to the #MeToo movement. The sense that it’s all just boys being boys. Just the way of the world. They let you do it. Plus: Women are kinda liars, and lying women are putting men at risk all over the place these days. Democrat women, that is, evil and manipulative, ruining the innocent men of the country with their dirty lies.

Hagedorn’s idiocy is not a bug.

It’s a feature.

This is not a question of the ultimate, provable truth of what happened to Ford, who presented a moving, credible account of a horrific event that only a cretin would mock. It’s a question of whether the alleged behavior even matters to the people on the tightrope. Whether, if true, they even view it as wrong.

Here’s evangelical leader Jerry Falwell Jr.: “There’s a lot of things that I’ve done when I was a teenager that I certainly am ashamed of and not proud of. People are up in arms over this like ‘oh, this is such a disaster.’ ”

Here’s Rep. Ralph Norman, the South Carolina Republican who told the following joke at a Kiwanis Club meeting: “Did y’all hear this latest late-breaking news from the Kavanaugh hearings? Ruth Bader Ginsburg came out that she was groped by Abraham Lincoln.”

Here’s a voice from the base, a 60-year-old Minnesota pipefitter the New York Times interviewed: “I don’t know any guy who didn’t feel up a woman when he was 18.”

The country is waking up to the ways it has fostered and enabled sexual assault. Meanwhile, Hagedorn and his fellow jokesters keep giving us perfect examples of how it happens.


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