Some Wenatchee residents were not pleased with this op-ed.
Some Wenatchee residents were not pleased with this op-ed, so they protested in front of The Wenatchee World. Jim Allyn

On Monday The Wenatchee World's publisher, Jeff Ackerman, wrote the worst take on the Brett Kavanaugh nomination I have read to date.

Ackerman's headline is a jumble of dismissive cliches used to trivialize rape and sexual assault: Court of public opinion—Battle of the sexes: He said v. She said.

His argument is as dumb as it is familiar: "If the Senate does not confirm Brett Kavanaugh this week...we may as well do away with the Supreme Court and revert to the Court of Public Opinion." To support his thesis, he dusts off a bunch of old takes from last week. He complains about the lack of "due process" in a job interview, falsely claims the whole thing is a "he said/she said," questions the amount of time that has passed since the alleged incidents, expresses sympathy for "a great man" but none for the women Kavanaugh allegedly sexually assaulted, offers up several "who among us hasn't done x" excuses, and bemoans the "lack of evidence" while simultaneously arguing that calls for an FBI investigation are really just a conspiracy to delay the nomination. "It’s about Donald Trump and it wouldn’t matter if his nominee was Jesus," Ackerman writes. All of that, of course, is complete bullshit.

But then Ackerman goes a step further by adding a "humorous" list of 10 questions he thinks we'll need to screen the next person nominated to serve on the Supreme Court if Kavanaugh withdraws or doesn't get confirmed. The joke rests on the premise that shoving your dick in someone's face or attempting to rape someone is the same as opening a present before Christmas, losing keys and blaming someone else, and drinking alcohol underage.

Some readers thought Ackerman's editorial was completely fucking stupid misguided and hurtful.

Though the piece was published Monday, an online version of it was circulating the afternoon before. "Everybody had read the editorial by noon on Sunday," said Suellen Harris, a retired high school English and Civics teacher from Wenatchee. "Lots of people were angry about it."

Kelly Anderson, a professor at Wenatchee Valley College, told me over the phone that she was particularly upset by the comparisons Ackerman was drawing between "inane trivia of daily life" and the sexual assault allegations from Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez.

"You can pick things we've all done—we've all gotten parking tickets, for instance, but we haven't all committed sexual assault," she said. "To conflate those two things is more than upsetting. There were people in the [Facebook group] who said the editorial set off their PTSD. It brought back all this shame and the feeling that no one would believe them. This is very real for people."

Harris and Anderson are both members of Indivisible Wenatchee, one of the many congressional advocacy groups that sprung up in response to Trump's election. After reading the piece, Harris told the group that they should push back against Ackerman's editorial and make their voices heard.

So Monday morning, over 100 people stood in front of The Wenatchee World in protest of Ackerman trivializing Ford's and Ramirez's stories. Harris says they were there for an hour.

Sounds reasonable
Sounds reasonable Jim Allyn

"We just wanted to make our presence known," she said over the phone this afternoon.

Harris says nobody from The World came out and talked to them, but local radio and TV stations did. "We had some media coverage and we all went home," she said.

Harris actually did talk to a reporter from The World the day of the protest. Bridget Mire reported the piece.

Well would you, Jeff
Well would you, Jeff Jim Allyn

Some readers wrote Ackerman e-mails expressing their disgust. In her e-mail to Ackerman, Attorney Michelle Green wrote:

The editorial minimized sexual assault and rape, which are horrific crimes. These criminal acts are not equivalent to losing your car keys and blaming someone else, nor moving your golf ball to get a better shot. Rather, these acts can carry lifetime consequences for the perpetrator (appropriately so, as such acts will impact the victim for the rest of their life). Whether or not Mr. Kavanaugh committed sexual assault, or any other crime, is certainly relevant in assessing his fitness to serve as a justice with lifetime tenure for the Supreme Court of the United States.

As he does in his editorial, he condescendingly responded to Green with a list of rhetorical questions demonstrating his complete ignorance of the difference between a job interview and a criminal trial.

Lindsey. [sic]

Mr. Kavanaugh has already denied the allegation. So...what beyond that is he supposed to do?

The "evidence" so far would likely not be sufficient to open an investigation, would it? Probably why there are statutes of limitations. Memories get foggy (time, place, etc.), physical evidence disappears, etc.

So...at the end of the day...should we just assume he did it, based on her testimony? Is accusation without evidence enough to ruin a man's reputation? I hope not.

Based on what has already been revealed about the accusation, I doubt there is a DA in the country who would take this toi [sic] court, or file charges.

How do we have anything but a "he said/she said" scenario? Just because someone says something, doesn't make it so.

I owe no apology, by the way. I love the First Amendment almost as much as I love the idea of "due process."

Best,
Jeff

In closing, I would like to write my own letter to Jeff.

Dear Jeff,

Jesus fucking Christ. These are not "he said/she said situations." There was another person in the room where Ford says Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her—Mark Judge. The Republican-led Senate Judiciary Committee isn’t subpoenaing him because they want to push the nomination along for completely political reasons. There were also other people in the room when Ramirez says she was assaulted. Both women have requested FBI investigations, and both requests look like they’ll be denied. If you're really interested in getting to the bottom of both of these cases, you might want to support those investigations.


And yes, the FBI could investigate both cases. The White House would have to tell the FBI to do it, but it's possible.

Finally, as the women above have pointed out, while Kavanaugh’s “reputation” might take a hit among some, there are clearly enough people who feel as if Kavanaugh has been wronged. Like many, many, other powerful men, he will likely get through this process without much in the way of consequence. And even if he does withdraw, even if he is not confirmed, he will not die. He simply won’t be promoted to the highest court in the land, which doesn’t seem like such a bad thing for the country. After all, in addition to allegedly sexually assaulting two and maybe even three women, he also lies all the fucking time.

Please stop writing.

Best,
Rich