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The latest fad in rightwing circles is insisting that Brett Kavanaugh belongs on the US Supreme Court because of Atticus Finch in Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird. You see, children, Atticus Finch was a brave small-town lawyer who defended an innocent black man, Tom Robinson, who was falsely accused of raping a white woman, the daughter of the town drunk. Atticus Finch believed in Justice, and The Law, and Facts and Evidence. But above all else, he believed in the principle that everyone is equal in court, even a black man the whole town assumed was guilty. And so, shouldn't the US Senate be like Atticus Finch and support a friendless accused man, even though everyone has already decided he's guilty?

Yes, in this analogy, Brett Kavanaugh -- the wealthy preppy who partied like an animal in high school, was a sloppy drunk in college, went to Yale Law School, helped prosecute a president, already sits on one of the most powerful courts in the land, and has been nominated to sit on the highest one -- that Brett Kavanaugh is actually a poor despised black man falsely accused of rape, and what are these accusations but yet another high tech lynching for uppity blacks who dare think for themselves?

Rich Lowry at the National Review says so, and so does Allysia Finley at the Wall Street Journal. Senator John Cornyn even mused about the astounding parallels on the floor of the Senate yesterday.

Some commentators have called this our Atticus Finch moment, recalling the famous novel To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. We all remember that Atticus Finch was a lawyer who did not believe that a mere accusation was synonymous with guilt. He represented an unpopular person who many people presumed was guilty of a heinous crime because of his race and his race alone. We could learn from Atticus Finch now, during this time when there has been such a vicious and unrelenting attack on the integrity and good name of this nominee.

It's certainly nice Republicans have found a way to finally identify with an impoverished black person who's been victimized by the legal system. Of course, it does have to be a fictional example.


Cornyn gives us the Cliffs Notes version of the argument Finley makes at WSJ. Brett Kavanaugh is a man assumed to be guilty by the powers that be -- who somehow don't hold the majority in the Senate. It's just like in the novel, where the bigoted townspeople all know Tom Robinson has to be guilty of raping Mayella Ewell because he's black, even though there's no physical evidence. Finley cites Finch's stirring but ultimately futile closing statement to drive home the point.

He concludes: "Thomas Jefferson once said that all men are created equal" but "there is a tendency in this year of grace, 1935, for certain people to use this phrase out of context, to satisfy all conditions. . . . But there is one way in this country in which all men are created equal," and that is before the law. "Our courts are the great levelers."

Oh, the magnificent equality of the law! (Which, as Anatole France reminded us, "forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets and steal loaves of bread.")

But of course, Finch knows better, as Scout, our narrator, reflects: "In the secret courts of men's hearts Atticus had no case. Tom was a dead man the minute Mayella Ewell opened her mouth and screamed."

Obviously, asks Finley, isn't that exactly like the accusations brought against poor Brett Kavanaugh?

Despite high praise from people who have known him for decades, liberals presume Judge Kavanaugh guilty on the basis of his race and sex.

Truly, being a white man appointed for consideration for the Supreme Court is perfectly analagous to Tom Robinson's predicament: No conservative can ever get a break from you bigots. Finley at least has the decency to remind us that unlike Mayella Ewell, there's no evidence Dr. Blasey fabricated her testimony, but nonetheless, since #MeToo has gotten out of control, she says, "Brett Kavanaugh was a dead man the moment Christine Ford opened her mouth."

See? Literary! Except of course Atticus Finch wasn't trying to get Tom Robinson a promotion. If Kavanaugh isn't confirmed, he won't so much get shot dead while trying to escape; he'll go back to being a judge on the DC Court of appeals. [Editrix's note: Ahem, IMPEACH.]

Over at the National Review, Lowry explains Atticus Finch's relevance for today:

Atticus Finch didn't #BelieveAllWomen. He didn't take an accusation at face value. He defended an alleged rapist, vigorously and unremittingly, making use of every opportunity provided to him by the norms of the Anglo-American system of justice. He did it despite considerable social pressure to simply believe the accuser.

See? EXACTLY the same as now.

Mind you, there's one or two little details that spoil the parallels the Right wants to draw here, and that's not even including the fact that, unlike Steve Martin, Brett Kavanaugh was not born a poor black child. Though that's a big one. The other slightly significant difference is that much though Republicans want to believe Christine Blasey Ford is but a pawn of demonic Dems who coached her to make up her story, she's no Mayella Ewell. Not being a fictional character sort of interferes with the analogy.

And let's be clear, Harper Lee wasn't writing a novel about victims of sexual assault. This was a novel about racial injustice, and, as Malcolm Gladwell points out in this excellent 2009 essay, it advances a particularly midcentury myth about racial injustice: Atticus Finch is no civil rights reformer but a liberal reformer who believes blacks don't so much need rights as they need to wait for whites to simply become better people who see them as human.

And Mayella Ewell is less a fully realized character than a type. And a seriously problematic type at that. She's constructed as poor white trash of the trashiest sort. The Ewells are all contemptible, an insult to genteel middle-class Southern mores, as Gladwell notes:

Robinson is the churchgoer, the "good Negro." Mayella, by contrast, comes from the town's lowest breed of poor whites. "Every town the size of Maycomb had families like the Ewells," Scout tells us. "No truant officers could keep their numerous offspring in school; no public health officer could free them from congenital defects, various worms, and the diseases indigenous to filthy surroundings." [...] The Ewells are trash. When the defense insinuates that Mayella is the victim of incest at the hands of her father, it is not to make her a sympathetic figure. It is, in the eugenicist spirit of the times, to impugn her credibility.

And of course, it's made plain Mayella had plotted -- saving pennies for a year to send her siblings off to get ice cream! -- in hopes of luring Tom Robinson into the house where she could take advantage of him, as a trashy trashy lady would. The false rape charge is a contingent strategy after Mayella's father caught her trying to have sex with Robinson. Finch's entire defense is built, says Gladwell, on a simple strategy aimed at the good respectable white men of the jury:

Finch wants his white, male jurors to do the right thing. But as a good Jim Crow liberal he dare not challenge the foundations of their privilege. Instead, Finch does what lawyers for black men did in those days. He encourages them to swap one of their prejudices for another.

Gee, the parallels to Christine Blasey Ford's allegations just don't hold up that well, do they? Except, perhaps, in the construction of a fictitious world where women really shouldn't be believed, because after all, they're simply out to disguise their own slutty desires.

Gosh, what noble folks these Republicans are.

Their version of Atticus Finch would tell Scout the real secret of justice: "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view. Especially if he's a Yale man. He's better than you. That's just how it is, Scout."

[WaPo / WSJ (paywalled? Try the Twitter linky) / National Review / Slate / New Yorker]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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OOH BOY HOWDY, The Federalist is on fire this week! Just this morning we told you about the hilarious Federalist column where one neo-Nazi's mom and dad are Democrats, ipso facto QED NEO-NAZIS ARE THE REAL LIBERALS, FUCKERS! Is America's dumbest woman whose name doesn't rhyme with Cara Snailin' over there being a total fuckin' Mollie Hemingway right now? Sadly, she blocked us on Twitter, so how could we possibly know? The answer is WE DON'T CARE.

But now we have a gem of the Federalist genre, an article written by a whiny-ass gay quisling conservative, who would like to chew on his blankie and whine about how much harder it is out there for a conservative than it is for a gay person. This is a subject we happen to have some knowledge about, because we are super gay! And we know a lot about conservatives, both firsthand -- being subjected to them every single one of our almost four decades of life -- and also from covering extremist right-wing Christians for a very long time. Particularly the kind that tell young, impressionable, vulnerable gay kids that they need to pray away the gay if they want Jesus to exercise some self control and refrain from sending them to a fiery hell for all eternity.

We clicked on the article with high hopes. See if you can spot why:

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pic via Glamour Shots, we mean this dude's old website

The House Education and Workforce Committee was all set to have a hearing today all about the horrors that a higher minimum wage would wreak on the economy. Horrors like rich people being slightly less rich. Horrors like business owners claiming they will have to fire people and charge $15 for a McChicken if forced to pay workers a living wage, which they won't actually do because no one will buy a $15 McChicken and they would go out of business if they tried that, and they already don't hire more people than the bare minimum they can get away with. Horrors like poor people not being "motivated" to work harder and get better jobs that do not pay them an amount no human being could possibly live on.

Alas, as Politico reports, it was not to be, as committee members discovered their big witness for the hearing, San Diego State University economist Joseph Sabia (pictured above in a Glamour Shot from his archived website), was kind of a wacko.

Sabia, as it turns out, once had a blog called "No Shades Of Gray," in which he wrote many columns of an extremely homophobic and sexist persuasion. In one of these columns, in 2002, Sabia was very mad about one man's lawsuit against several fast food giants for contributing to his health and obesity problems by failing to disclose the nutritional information of the food they sold. In retrospect, I think most people are now on board with these chains being required to post calorie counts and other nutritional information, but in 2002, Sabia was convinced that requiring them to do this would be an assault on freedom for all Americans everywhere. His response to this was to try and attempt a Jonathan Swift posture and suggest taxing gay sex, which he claimed leads to "disastrous health consequences."

Because sure, that's the same thing, basically.


In gay sex, we have an activity that is clearly leading to disastrous health consequences. What rational person would engage in this sort of activity? There is only one solution - let's tax it.

"Come on, Sabia," you say, "how are you going to enforce these taxes? Are you going to send government officials to peep into everyone's bedroom?"

Eventually. But first we have to mount the assault on Big Gay (no, I am not talking about Rosie O'Donnell). We can tax gay nightclubs, websites, personal ads, sexual paraphernalia, and so forth. Talk about a sin tax!!! We can cripple gay-related industries and get them right where we want them. All gay clubs will have to feature huge, flashing warning signs like "CAUTION: Entering this nightclub may increase your chance of contracting STDs and dying."

Big Gay clearly lures people into trying their "product" without discussing the risks to mind, body, and soul. The average Joe on the street does not understand all of the possible bad outcomes. I can almost hear him now:

"They said '100 percent hotties.' I thought that meant it was fun. I thought gay sex was OK…Now I have all these diseases. Big Gay has wrecked my life."

In the immoral words of Warren G, "Regulators!! Mount up!"

EXTREME SHUDDER.

In another 2002 article, classily titled "College Girls: Unpaid Whores," Sabia laments that feminists have led college girls to stop trying to be like the Holy Virgin Mary and instead to aspire to be more like that hussy Ally McBeal.

No, really.

As women have strayed from the church, they have replaced what is holy with what is temporally pleasing. For Catholics, the model woman is Mary, the virgin Mother of God. She is beloved by the faithful for her unflappable devotion to and trust in God, her nurturing of the Son of Man, and her deep love for all humanity.

Today's college girl looks to Ally McBeal, the trollops of Sex in the City, and the floozies on Friends to set their moral compasses.

The sad truth is that college girls are so desperate to find love that they are willing to degrade themselves to get it. But true love can only be understood in the context of the Word of God. Any other notion of "love" is secular and, by definition, limited and finite.

Not only that, but instead of going to college to find a husband, they have boyfriends. Boyfriends they have S-E-X with. And sometimes, not even that. Sometimes they have sex with people just because they want to have sex with people, and not even in exchange for Valentine's Day cards or money!


Additionally, other sex-based relationships have become commonplace. In recent years, a new and disturbing arrangement known as "friends with benefits" has emerged. In this arrangement, men are not even forced to perform the normal duties of boyfriends, i.e. flowers, Valentine's Day cards, rides to the abortion clinic, etc. Instead, girls consider these guys "just friends" whom they happen to screw every now and again. No strings, no attachments, no dinners. Just sex when they feel like it.

This type of arrangement is the next logical step in the direction that young women have drifted in the last few decades. These women have become unpaid whores. At least prostitutes made a buck off of their trade. These women just give it away.

How cute! He was like the ur-incel, basically.

Anyway, following the discovery of the posts, the House Education and Workforce Committee's GOP communications director Kelley McNabb told Politico that "members were uncomfortable moving forward on the hearing." A more optimistic person might think this was a step forward, that maybe those committee members actually thought it was bad to suggest that being gay means being a disease-ridden monster or that college girls are whores, but it's probably more to avoid embarrassment than anything else. Guess they'll have to start from scratch and find a crappy economist who will tell them what they want to hear about the minimum wage but who doesn't have an embarrassing Geocities blog in their past. Good luck with that!

[Politico]

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