Over the weekend in the United States a new Supreme Court Justice was sworn in. His name is Brett Kavanaugh and you may have seen some controversy over his appointment.
Kavanaugh has been accused of sexual assault by multiple women. He then appears to have lied when being interviewed by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
There was an outcry and a demand for an FBI investigation, which was granted. Except the investigation's parameters were set by the Republicans who had a keen interest in the investigation coming up clean. These were such ridiculous parameters that the main accuser wasn't even interviewed.
Some people said we shouldn't get all worked up about it here in New Zealand because how does a Supreme Court Justice in the United States affect our lives? Which is a stupid line of reasoning. Being able to care about things beyond your immediate life is a large part about what it means to be human.
Animals in the wild "care" about their own lives. They "care" about their offsprings' lives, and in some species they "care" about their immediate tribe's lives, but they do not care for abstract animals they will never meet. Humans can, and should.
If we didn't care about the things that didn't immediately impact us, we would turn a blind eye to atrocities all around the world. This is a hell of a privileged position to be able to take. Because we live in a relatively safe and secure country we can afford to make these intellectually ridiculous and morally bankrupt arguments. If you lived in a country under the rule of a despot then it's probably something you'd care quite deeply about.
But the thing with the Kavanaugh appointment is that it does directly impact on New Zealanders' lives. Think of the message it sends.
One of Kavanaugh's accusers came forward and bravely testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee. She said one of the worst things she recalled from the evening where the alleged sexual assault took place was the laughter of the men who were present. Days after her testimony the President of the United States ridiculed her testimony and made her a punchline to a series of comments at one of his Nuremberg-lite rallies.
What we are saying, and what gets heard all around the world where coverage is shown, is that to come forward with sexual assault allegations means you will be mocked. That powerful men in powerful positions will not give you any credibility, they will ridicule you and make you a laughing stock using their immense platforms.
And then many in society will turn around and ask why women don't come forward with these sorts of allegations earlier.
This whole sorry saga just shows that lying does not disqualify you from positions of power, positions where your unimpeachable honesty is an integral part of the role. Lying doesn't matter if you have the backing of authority figures.
It all just reinforces to sexual assault victims that to come forward against men in positions of authority means they'll be vilified and ridiculed. When they should be heard and believed.
What story are we telling the girls of New Zealand? What example are we setting the boys of New Zealand?
To those who say that these were accusations of sexual impropriety that were never proven and we are innocent until proven guilty, you are correct. But this was not a trial, it was a job interview.
And if you were hiring someone for a job and you had several matching accusations of sexual assault would you hire that person? If the industry association of that person's vocation spoke out and said that they were not appropriate for the role they were interviewing for, would you hire them?
If by hiring this person you sent a message to the world that you didn't care if he was or wasn't a rapist and a liar, would you still hire them? And how would you explain it to your children?
David Cormack has worked for the Labour and Green Parties and interned for Bill English while studying.