A few thoughts about how people use language in the Kavanaugh story

I’ve been struck, following the New Yorker story of the second woman who came forward to accuse the nominee for the supreme court, Brett Kavanaugh, of sexual misconduct in college, with how people can cite the article to suit their purposes.  For example,  the statement in the article that, “The New Yorker has not confirmed with other eyewitnesses that Kavanaugh was present at the party”  is often cited by Kavanaugh’s supporters, along with this statement by a group of his friends:

“We can say with confidence that if the incident Debbie alleges ever occurred, we would have seen or heard about it—and we did not. The behavior she describes would be completely out of character for Brett….”

But the other side points to other parts of the article, such as this quote from a fellow student: ““I’ve known this all along,” he said. “It’s been on my mind all these years when his name came up. It was a big deal.” And another one “said that he is “one-hundred-per-cent sure” that he was told at the time that Kavanaugh was the student who exposed himself to Ramirez.”

Right now, the first accuser (not the one from this article) is scheduled to answer questions in a public hearing with the Senate Judiciary Committee this Thursday. The Republicans on the committee won’t allow the FBI to investigate her charges, though normal policy would be to have the FBI, which has methods for verifying truth in such stories, investigate.  Why are the Republicans blocking that?  One side repeats that question; the other strives to dismiss it.


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