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You can’t judge a man’s character on his high school actions

We shouldn't let the way he was at 17 reflect on his character now.

Proponents

Context

“I do not understand why the loutish, drunken behaviour of a 17-year-old high school boy has anything to tell us about the character of a 53-year-old judge”, wrote Rod Dreher in The American Conservative.

The Argument

Teenagers are hormonal, impulsive, and irrational. Their brains are still not yet fully developed. They make decisions that they would not necessarily make as adults. Therefore, how can we hold a 53-year-old culpable for a choice he made as a teenager? It does not mean he would be a bad Supreme Court judge now. Nor does it disqualify him for the job.

Counter arguments

Sexual assault falls outside the boundaries of normal youthful behaviour. Ford’s allegations assert that he deliberately pinned her to the bed and covered her mouth to prevent her screaming while he attempted to remove her clothes. This is not normal teenage behaviour. It shows that he knew he did not have consent. Her attempts to scream showed that she was in an extremely uncomfortable situation and his attempts to stifle them were calculated and evil. Also, where do you draw the line. The second set of allegations of sexual misconduct, made by Deborah Ramirez, refer to an incident when he was studying at Yale University. Surely nobody would argue that this incident should be overlooked because he was still in the throes of youth?[1]

Premises

Teenagers behave impulsively. Their brains are not fully developed and as a result they are more susceptible to impulses. As a result, Brett Kavanaugh’s actions when he was 17 cannot be used to determine his ability to serve as a Supreme Court judge.

Rejecting the premises

Even for a teenager, his behaviour was extreme.

References

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/sep/24/brett-kavanaugh-second-allegation-sexual-misconduct-deborah-ramirez

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This page was last edited on Thursday, 27 Sep 2018 at 21:03 UTC