I remember watching the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings broadcast back in 1996. It was my first exposure to the idea of restorative justice, and an incredible lesson in forgiveness. Do I consider the slight against me more heinous than murder and rape that withholding forgiveness might be justified? The weekly broadcast was a reminder of how powerful forgiveness can be.
Juxtaposing those hearings with the Ford/Kavanaugh debacle yesterday highlights a failing in the guilt/punishment driven “justice” system. There are certain crimes where it makes sense to ascribe guilt and mete out punishment — financial reparations when someone has caused monetary loss, removing a person from society when they are apt to continue harming others. I doubt that is the case here. I know what I wanted from the guy who assaulted me — for him to own it and to learn from it. Had Kavanaugh admitted to terrible behavior as a young man, said that there were occasions when he was so drunk he does not recall his actions (thus cannot confidently recall or deny assaulting Ford), been truly remorseful for both his behavior and how his behavior impacted other people, and acknowledged that he is aware of his faults and has stopped drinking (or ceased drinking to excess) and acting in a domineering/privileged way … but, no. We get a belligerent assertion that he is not, well, belligerent. And never drank to excess.
I’d still object to a SCoTUS nominee who thinks it’s debatable whether a president can be indicted while in office. Or that criminal investigations into a president should be deferred until he is out of office. Or that George W approach to torture, extrajudicial detention, and war was a bit of all right. But I would at least get the desire to forgive someone for their decades-old actions if they owned those actions, regretted those actions, and changed.