It may go down in history as the most notorious ‘he said – she said’ of all time, not to mention the most divisive. The nation was gripped by the compelling story of a vulnerable teenaged girl, at a drunken gathering, being led into a bedroom, thrown down on the bed, and having her mouth covered when she tried to scream. The nation was equally gripped, and either convinced or disgusted by, the accused’s complete and absolute denial that he was the culprit.
Of course, we’re talking about Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, and Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
So who was telling the truth?
What if we told you that there is a reasonable, maybe even likely, scenario in which they were both telling the truth? How is this even possible? Let us explain.
The primary players in this drama were Dr. Blasey Ford (the assault victim), Brett Kavanaugh (the alleged assailant), and Ford’s and Kavanaugh’s friend, Mark Judge, all three said to be present in the room the night that Ford was assaulted. A fourth, lesser-known player in the drama is a book that Mark Judge wrote 15 years later, in 1997. This book, Wasted: Confessions of a Gen X Drunk, while fictionalized, based the names of characters on Judge’s actual childhood friends. This author believes that it’s quite possible that Dr. Blasey Ford read her friend Mark Judge’s book, in the process forming a memory of Brett Kavanaugh as the assailant, even though nobody else puts him at the scene, because it is in fact a false memory.
This is how we get to a scenario in which Dr. Ford was in fact assaulted, she genuinely believes that Kavanaugh was the assailant because she remembers it was him, and yet Kavanaugh was in fact not the assailant.
Anyone who listened to Dr. Ford’s testimony will remember that she was extremely confident that she remembers very clearly that it was Brett Kavanaugh on top of her that day, with his hand over her mouth.
Let’s leave that for a moment, and focus on Mark Judge. By most accounts, Judge, in his written testimony, says that he never saw Kavanaugh behave in the way described by Dr. Ford. Given that she has identified Judge as the other boy in the room – the one who jumped on top of her assailant when her assailant was on top of her – the only way that Judge could not be lying is if the assailant was not Kavanaugh. To add to this, Judge has been remarkably tight-lipped about what did happen that evening, while not denying that he was there, nor naming who was the third person.
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In Judge’s book he describes other contemporary drinkers, giving them fictionalized names based on the names of his actual friends. Not necessarily based on their actual exploits, but based on the names of his friends at the time. Those friends included Brett Kavanaugh; one of Judge’s characters is named Bart O’Kavanaugh.
“Do you know Bart O’Kavanaugh?”
“Yeah. He’s around here somewhere.”
“I heard he puked in someone’s car the other night.”
“Yeah. He passed out on his way back from a party.”
To our knowledge, nobody has asked Dr. Ford if she has read Wasted in the intervening years, and yet it’s entirely possible, if not likely, that she did. Why wouldn’t she have read her friend’s book?
And it is not difficult to imagine the collision of Dr. Ford’s actual memories from so long ago with the description of Bart/Brett, and for a new memory to form. “Ohmygod! It was Brett!”
False memories are a real thing. False memories can be implanted by a third party (“Hey, remember when we did that thing?”), or by oneself coming to believe that something is true even though it isn’t. The False Memory Syndrome Foundation explains that false memories can “seem to be continuous or seem to be recalled after a time of being forgotten or not thought about,” adding that “the only way to distinguish between true and false memories is by external corroboration.”
Corroboration which, to date, does not exist.
This scenario is the only one that is able to take everything that everybody has said, and fit it into one seamless narrative. That Dr. Ford was in fact attacked that night. That Mark Judge was there, but that it was with someone else, not Brett Kavanaugh. In this scenario, Judge’s being discomfited at seeing Ford at the Safeway still makes sense. Judge saying that he has never seen Brett Kavanaugh act that way, yet Judge being at the scene of the assault makes sense. Dr. Ford coming to believe that it was Kavanaugh, after reading Judge’s book, makes sense. Kavanaugh’s undeniably emotional, adamant denial of his being there makes sense. This scenario makes it all make sense.
Of course, so far as we know, nobody has asked Dr. Ford if she has read Mark Judge’s book, nor asked her when she came to be certain that it was Kavanaugh.
But we sure wish that they would.
You can read more about False Memory Syndrome at FMS Foundation’s website here: http://www.fmsfonline.org/