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By David Futrelle
Watching Christine Blasey Ford testify this morning — and following the ongoing conversations about it on Twitter — was rough.
I was struck again and again by the stark contrast between her real, raw, and utterly compelling testimony and the childish belligerence of the Republican senators who decided that the best way to “investigate” her allegations wasn’t to actually investigate them but rather to subject her to this grotesque ordeal — all while playing the victims themselves.
Meanwhile, Kavanaugh’s supporters online have been devoting their energy to picking at the small details of her account and trying — seriously — to use her fear of flying against her.
The most striking thing about the right-wing response to Ford has been the complete and utter lack of empathy of her critics. I’ve collected together some of the worst examples I’ve been able to find. (And big thanks to those who offered suggestions on this Twitter thread.)
One of the most gut-wrenching moments in Ford’s testimony came when she told the committee about how painful it had been for her during the alleged assualt when she heard Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge openly laughing at her.
This is how some of her critics responded.
Dem Senator: ENOUGH TOUGH QUESTIONS, TELL US HOW THE MEAN BOYS LAUGHED AT YOU!
— Stefan Molyneux (@StefanMolyneux) September 27, 2018
Now I've never witnessed a rape first-hand, but I can't think of any movie rapes in which the rapist was managing to both hold a woman down to rape her and maintain uproarious laughter.
— /r/The_Donald (@thedonaldreddit) September 27, 2018
The GOP’s prosecutorial stuntwoman Rachel Mitchel tried to use Ford’s fear of flying against her. Others, including the President’s Number One Son, picked up the “argument” and ran with it.
I’m no psychology professor but it does seem weird to me that someone could have a selective fear of flying.
Can’t do it to testify but for vacation, well it’s not a problem at all.
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) September 27, 2018
I have difficulty buying that a person afraid of flying willingly gets on a plane to fly all over the globe for pleasure.
— Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) September 27, 2018
Really? Because people who suffer from fear of flying actually manage to get on planes all the time. It’s never easy for them, but it is often easier when they are going somewhere where they can recharge with friends and family — rather than when they are travelling out of necessity because of some stressful obligation
I don’t suffer from fear of flying per se, but I’m agoraphobic. As I noted on Twitter in response to Don Jr.’s post, my agorapobia restricts my life terribly; it’s bad enough that it’s hurt my career and fucked up friendships and relationships. But I can’t simply opt out of the outer world, nor do I want to, and so I force myself to get out. When I do, it’s generally for one of two reasons — because I have to get out (to see a doctor, to fulfill some work-related obligation, that sort of thing ) or because I want to spend time with people I care about. It’s always stressful, but at least in the latter case I’m getting out because I want to, not because I have to.
So, yes, people with phobias are often able to push through these phobias, at least temporarily, not only to do things they have to do but also to do things that are, yes, pleasurable to them. To attack Ford for doing this — for trying to live a normal life despite her fears — betrays a severe lack of empathy, to say the least.
Some right-winger media personalities went even lower, attacking sexual assault survivors and others who were emotionally affected by Ford’s testimony.
I'm laughing https://t.co/zv6EpjpFQp
— Kurt Schlichter (@KurtSchlichter) September 27, 2018
This lovely fellow attacked Ford for feeling drained after hours of testifying about an alleged sexual assault that left her fearing for her life.
"I'm a little slower, my mind is a little tired." —the woman whose decades-old allegations seek to ruin a federal judge with a hitherto unquestioned record of integrity #KavanaughHearings
— Michael "Beto" Knowles (@michaeljknowles) September 27, 2018
Some of the most extravagantly unempathetic responses to Ford’s testimony came from the Republican senators presiding over this travesty. Probably the worst offender in this regard was South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham.
Watch @LindseyGrahamSC sink to an all new low as he claims Dr. Ford has not proven anything, he still supports Kavanaugh, he claims this is all Dem strategy and then he threatens Democrats: “If this is the new norm, you better watch out for your nominees.” #KavanaughHearings pic.twitter.com/grNze9MTcI
— Amee KavaNOPE Vanderpool (@girlsreallyrule) September 27, 2018
Immediately after this little performance by Graham, he encountered a woman who told him she was a rape survivor. His response?
A woman just told @LindseyGrahamSC she was raped. He said, as he headed into an elevator, "I'm sorry. Tell the cops."
— Emma Dumain (@Emma_Dumain) September 27, 2018
This was confirmed by NBC’s Kasie Hunt, who was there, and who offered a slight correction to the quote.
The exact quote was “I’m so sorry…you needed to go to the cops.” https://t.co/mx9jsvsOwH
— Kasie Hunt (@kasie) September 27, 2018
Yet another less-than-shining moment for Graham,
Sen. Lindsey Graham, who can’t even remember Julie Swetnick’s name, blames her for being gang raped by multiple men and ultimately laughs at her “crazy” allegation. pic.twitter.com/WMJN1uDsqO
— Bobby Lewis (@revrrlewis) September 27, 2018
But Graham really topped himself with this tantrum.
— Fox News (@FoxNews) September 27, 2018
The most surreal moment in all of this? One prominent right-wing media personality actually did let a little bit of empathy into his tiny Grinchlike heart — and of all people it was Chris Wallace of Fox “News.” I know. Chris Fucking Wallace.
Fox News' CHRIS WALLACE says in wake of Kavanaugh allegations "two of my daughters have told me stories that I have never heard before about things that happened in high school & hadn't told their parents… I don't this we can disregard Ford and the seriousness of this." pic.twitter.com/5lKaTDo9Cy
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 27, 2018
Seriously, who would have thought that the one moment of humanity we’ve seen today on the right has come from Chris Wallace? We are definitely in the weirdest timeline.
UPDATE: I replaced one of the Lindsay Graham videos with another even more belligerent one.