Columnist Nicole Brodeur's inbox has turned into a battleground since she wrote an item supporting Christine Blasey Ford's accusations against Brett Kavanaugh.
“Nicole Brodeur is a child rapist,” someone named GustavM wrote the other day in the comments section of this news site. “I saw her molesting little boys 10 years ago.”
That ham-handed swipe was intended to make me feel the way Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh apparently does: Accused of something I couldn’t have possibly done.
I get it. But then consider this, GustavM: In your scenario, you witnessed something heinous and didn’t do anything about it.
This is the awful, angry world of blame and speculation we live in, ever since Christine Blasey Ford came forward two weeks ago to say that, at a party in 1982, Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed, put his hand over her mouth and tried to remove her clothes. The highest court in the land has turned into a circus and, closer to home, my inbox has become a battleground.
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The mail I received after I wrote a column stating my belief in Ford’s testimony showed that people are looking at the Kavanaugh case through a lens that magnifies the divide not only between left and right, but men and women. One sees clearly what the other refuses to acknowledge, or value.
In all, I received 88 emails (not even counting the 923 comments on the story itself). Of those, 42, almost half, came from men who disagreed with what I wrote. Ford was lying, being paid off by the Democrats. Kavanaugh was being railroaded. There wasn’t enough evidence.
“Words matter and so does the rule of law,” wrote a man named Steve. “As a republic and democratic society, one is still innocent until proven guilty, not the other way around. Aren’t we lucky.”
Only 12 men agreed with the column. They believed Ford or said they knew men like Kavanaugh — or maybe were reevaluating their own histories with new insight.
“I was riveted to yesterday’s testimonies,” wrote a man named Tony, “and as a white privileged male know there are so many places to shelter from facing my own biases and truth.”
And there was this, from a reader named Jack: “Another opportunity for White Males like me to develop and demonstrate real respect for women like you. It seems we get this opportunity every couple of decades. I hope we don’t waste it this time.”
Twenty-one women agreed with the column, saying that Ford’s testimony was disturbingly familiar, as was Kavanaugh’s. The rage at being stopped in his tracks. The disrespect to his questioners. The drinking. The drinking. The drinking.
“I don’t know whether Judge Kavanaugh assaulted Dr. Blasey Ford,” wrote a former high-school teacher named Diane. “But I do know that the yearbook illustrates that Kavanaugh is of the time and place in which the alleged crime happened, was a part of a party culture that celebrated excessive drinking and demeaning attitudes toward young women.”
Just two women disagreed with me. They had their reasons: Ford is a relative of someone recently fired from the FBI, one speculated. Her psychology background made her a master of the polygraph test, the other said.
“A source has commented that one can beat the test,” wrote a reader named Phyllis. “One example is by putting a pin in a shoe.”
Several readers compared the Kavanaugh case with that of the Duke University lacrosse team. In 2006, several members of the team were accused of rape and racial abuse by a woman named Crystal Magnum, who was hired to strip at an off-campus party. She later recanted.
In a 2016 ESPN documentary about the case called “Fantastic Lies,” Daniel Okrent of The New York Times called the case and the chaos around it “a journalistic tragedy,” fed by the 24-hour news cycle.
We’re seeing that again, with President Donald Trump playing sideshow clown. At a Tuesday rally in Mississippi, he mocked Ford’s testimony — a heartless act that sent a chuckle through his white male base but will surely hurt any Republican hoping to swing middle-of-the-road female voters in the upcoming midterms.
The rest of the people who wrote to me were clearly torn between what Ford said and the lack of evidence. That was addressed by a reader and retired Naval Criminal Investigative Service agent named Robert. He believed Ford’s testimony, but he wondered if it could be connected to “False Memory Syndrome,” in which a memory of an event can develop without a real basis in fact.
“I have come to my own conclusion that they are both telling the truth as they believe it,” he said. “Who knows for sure. Not you, not me and we most likely will never know what, if anything happened.”
One commenter pointed out that when former Seattle Mayor Ed Murray was alleged to have molested young men — including a cousin — I wrote “We will never know what happened all those years ago, and who is telling the truth.”
In that case, as in this one, I choose to believe the victim who, in the process of stepping forward, has been victimized again.
As always, sprinkled within the emails were some choice names and suggestions for me. Bias training. A refresher course in civics. A return to waiting tables. In hell.
“Great story about a slut who says she had over fifty sex partners before college,” wrote a man named Ed. “Your (sic) a true liberal Ahole.”
A man named Spencer wrote that he was “Praying for you and any men in your life that you respect and admire.”
Save your prayers, Spencer, for the men in Washington, D.C., who are headed for their own Judgment Day on Nov. 6. That’s when those of us who could only watch the Kavanaugh case with anger, sadness, disbelief and disgust finally get our chance to speak.
Levels of anger being what they are — especially with women — it’s impossible to say which way the midterms will go.
Trust me, though: It will be anything but pretty.
CORRECTION: This article was corrected at 11:25 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 5. An earlier version misidentified the commenter referenced in the opening sentence.