Ford isn’t merely the avatar of every feminist or Democrat who ever angered conservatives. She’s a person who, as best I can tell, sincerely believes that she was grievously wronged by a man who now proposes to sit in judgment on our most important moral and legal questions. She doesn’t deserve the shameful abuse she has suffered from partisans too blinded by their anger to see the person they’re wronging.
But likewise, Kavanaugh isn’t the doppelganger of every prep-school predator or fraternity rapist. He isn’t a stand-in for every privileged white man who ever got away with something he shouldn’t have; he is not the distilled essence of the patriarchy. He’s an individual, not a stock character, one accused of a very specific act.
In assessing whether Kavanaugh is guilty of that act, we of course consider his character. But we should not automatically ascribe to him the character of other white men, prep-school boys, high-school athletes, fraternity brothers, Catholics, pro-lifers, conservatives or lawyers we have known.
Too bad that so many Trumpistas are defending Kavanaugh, not on the ground that this particular person didn’t do this particular thing, but rather on the false ground that pretty much everybody in his position did what he is accused of doing.
In other words, finding it messy and complicated to form a judgment on the actual facts of the case, as Ms. McArdle plaintively urges, they draw their line in the sand, finding all teenage male sexual predation to be forgivable.