Laughter Isn't Always the Best Medicene

     Homer described laughter as "the celestial joy of the gods after their daily banquet." Darwin said of laughter, "It seems primarily to be the expression of mere joy or happiness. We clearly see this in children at play who are almost incessantly laughing."  More recently, Freud thought it's a "cathartic" response to emotional tension.  Readers Digest had a column titled: Laughter Is the Best Medicine.

     I don't think any of those definitions apply to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, especially Laughter is the Best Medicine.  It's the opposite, a sign civility has been lost.  Dr. Blasey Fold told us the laughter of her attackers left an indelible mark that remained in her "hippocampus" all her life--a lesson for the nation in neurology.  Why would someone laugh in front of their victim in such a circumstance?  What comes to my mind is the sense of power and superiority they received--an insidious, invasive form of laughter, not with someone, but "at" them.  It establishes there was also the quest for power and entitlement. 

     What would have happened if Kavanaugh said, "it was a stupid adolescent act on my part that I'll forever regret and ask Dr. Ford to forgive me knowing full well it means I may never now serve on the Supreme Court."  That is to say if he had taken responsibility like an adult, rather than staying forever a boy.  It wasn't even a possibility, his only response was denial.  The culture we live in allows no other.  It would have changed history, far beyond anything he'll ever do on the Supreme Court or anyplace else.

     It isn't only him who never grew up, it's a whole lot of other people as well, giving him cover.  I saw clips from psychologists talking about the need for men to cry, so at least he wouldn't get nailed for that one, but not about taking full responsibility for their acts.  Innocent until proven guilty, or until you can't get away with it.  Where are the grown-ups?

     Just as telling was Kavanaugh's "presentation."  He was clearly not someone used to having his authority questioned.  A judge, a man who has presided in a courtroom for hundreds of hours determining the veracity of testimony, became a feckless, angry, pitiful victim who's only defense was being wrongly accused.  Reports surfaced that Trump himself coached him to be more arrogant and belligerent, like himself. His manifesto, confirmed again and again: make up a lie, stick with it, and blame everybody else. It appears Kavanaugh took that advice.  He was hardly the slippery eel in his earlier Fox News interview. 

     Rather than look at his own experience, and his own temperament, he took his cue from his boss and tried to emulate him, mistakenly seeing it as the winning formula. He was less credible than a college professor who never appeared in court before, let alone in front of the US Senate and the nation.  Isn't that also what adolescents do?  Put on a mask that somebody else provides, unable to find the maturity in themselves to admit the truth and be themselves, they take it from others and pretend to be men. 

     If the same neurological rules apply to him as to her, he's going to suffer just as much from his day in the Senate as she has through the years.  Who's laughing now?  Clarence Thomas also chose the course of denial.  Perhaps it's no accident he became one of the least distinguished judges in the history of the court.  If only you know your own disgrace, it's hard to make yourself known to those around you. Unlike Dr. Blasey Ford, they'll probably die with their secret.

    Goons and delinquents attract other goons and delinquents, as every high school student knows.  It's pretty much the signature of the Trump administration.  A club for goons who's only concern is their own status and power.  Brett Kavanaugh's moral compass is forever challenged by his own ambition.  That's reason enough to disqualify him.     


Views: 218

Comment by Ron Powell on September 30, 2018 at 1:54pm

"Brett Kavanaugh's moral compass is forever challenged by his own ambition.  That's reason enough to disqualify him."


Comment by Jonathan Wolfman on September 30, 2018 at 1:57pm

Like most everything else Laughter comes in varieties;  Cavanaugh's was what is called Derisive Laughter.

Comment by Rodney Roe on October 1, 2018 at 2:41am

I once watched a neighbor kid laugh as he threw a baby bird onto a roof, repeatedly laughing as it fell to the ground until it no longer struggled. The laughter Catherine Blasey heard was that kind of laughter, that of a tormented of his helpless victim. The outbursts by Kavanaugh at the hearing was the petulant anger of a spoiled, arrogant child not getting its way.

This is an interesting look at the various meanings of laughter. Thanks.

by the way, I and other kids were horrified at the cruelty of Richard. He probably grew up to be an abusive adult.

Comment by Ben Sen on October 1, 2018 at 8:55am

Yes, Rodney, I knew some of those.  Some of the biggest jerks I knew came from wealth and privilege.  Those often who were less fortunate were often the most respectful and decent.

Comment by J.P. Hart on October 1, 2018 at 9:02am

Henry Kissinger would be a good Supreme Justice. Multi-lingual. Understated. Wiser than Bart what's who when where how'd we get B.Caravan Judge Kavanaugh. We are lucky Alexander Haig is not a candidate.
thanks for your essay Ben Sen
(God Bless the Child!)

Comment by moki ikom on October 1, 2018 at 10:32am

"Brett Kavanaugh's moral compass is forever challenged by his own ambition. "

Challenged?  Must we assume his compass is a moral one?  Assuming it or any other compass could survive intact and impregnable as a victim of its owner's addiction to, abuse of ethanol.  Must we assume each is guided by a compass of moral standards, much less by a compass that is no better and sometimes worse than being effectively broken. 

Comment by Rodney Roe on October 1, 2018 at 11:31am

Moral is a tricky word.  Meaning one in the Merriam-Webster dictionary is: "concerned with the principles of right and wrong behavior and the goodness or badness of human character."  How good and bad are defined determine the moral compass.

That despicable hired killer in "No Country for Old Men" had one rule for his behavior, do what you promise to do.  In his case that meant killing someone he had promised to kill without any question of the character of the victim.  In his eyes he was a very moral person.

Is Kavanaugh's moral compass similarly barren?  Is Mark Judge's moral, never rat out a fraternity brother? 

Our legal system is based on a moral foundation of fairness, and that requires a dedication to seeing all sides of a grievance.  I'm not sure that Brett Kavanaugh can do that.  In fact, I'm sure that he can't.

Comment by moki ikom on October 1, 2018 at 12:47pm

I graduated out of a southern baptist university about the same time i could first vote in federal elections, after the beginning of watergate revelations but prior to Nixon's landslide victory credited to the then 'silent majority'.  I wasn't baptist, nor even had a religious preference other than to be left alone on the matter.  I had next to zero adult guidance when it came to higher education someplace beyond high school which explains how and why my first year of 'college' was fourth class year in a military academy.  Like most every fourth classman at the beginning of official cadet indoctrination in their summer of humiliation, exhaustion and attrition, there was an informal, unofficial indoctrination about which some of us fourthclassboys had not even a whisper of existence.  It involved sex and alcohol.  Not in the sense that sex or alcohol were obviously being indulged in in the barracks or on the reservation, though including such interrogatory as one being braced up, back against a barrack's wall with one's fellow mates by a second classman staring into our fixed eyes asking us if we seventeen and eighteen year olds were virgins, berating us for our naivety, bragging about their own conquests, their previous weekend's excursions in life beyond the reservation, fantasizing aloud of future alcohol fueled adventures among civilians, especially womanhood.  After that 'freshman' year and onto the baptist campus as a pre-med it was becoming clear to me that the culture of alcohol was what a lot of the university's fraternities and at least one sorority were centered upon even at this church institution of "higher learning".  Like at the academy, the culture's core revealed to be fundamentally an elitist, legacy brat and legacy brat worshipper phenomenon.  Ones' being born into, growing up in, and one's never rising beyond the lower economic rungs of this society, assures that one experiences first hand the horrors that can emanate from family and friends abuse of alcohol.  As well it is in this society, it is probably that none of us reaches our teenage years before we see with our own eyes human tragedy due to alcohol abuse.

Comment by marshall bjohnson on October 1, 2018 at 1:30pm
Comment by Ben Sen on October 1, 2018 at 1:47pm

Thanks for the comments.  It's nice to see the site is still running and some of the "old timers" are still here.  I've now seen some posts defending Kavanaugh on the grounds that so many Democrats have been charged with similar things.  It makes utterly no sense to me, regardless of party.  The wrongs of the one do not justify the wrongs of the other. Otherwise, there can be no justice and no personal sense of responsibility.  It's another example of the "Sibling Society" run amuck.  At the risk of repeating myself: Where are the grown-ups"


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