Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

Hansen: New standards battling old events


September 26, 2018

Who do you know who is the same person now as he or she was in high school?

No one?

I think that’s the usual answer.

Most of us remember things we did as teenagers — our minds clogged with hormones, rebellion, desperation for acceptance by peers and careening emotions — that we now regret.

Especially when they hurt other people. Dumb and dangerous pranks and stunts, group shunning, bullying, and yes, being too forward in sexual advances.

We grow up to be different people. We put bad adolescent memories behind us, perpetrator and victim alike.

When baby-boomers and Gen Xers were teenagers, things that we now recoil from were tolerated and sometimes even condoned. That only gave encouragement to teenage urges that we now try to curb.

This is why I am mystified that a Supreme Court nominee could be denied a seat on our highest court because of a sexual assault he might have committed in high school — something that a few years ago would have been overlooked and forgotten by all involved.

After high school, the nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, went to Yale, where he graduated cum laude, then excelled in law school and went on to a distinguished legal career.

His apparent victim, Christine Blasey Ford, went on to prominence academically in psychology, but if she is a sexual assault victim — and there is plenty of reason to believe she is — she has not been able to put it behind her.

The alleged assault apparently occurred about 35 years ago. He was 17. She was 15.

She was apparently at a party hosted by a fellow student at Kavanaugh’s boys’ school.

If her story is right, all had been drinking — the boys more than the girls.

Kavanaugh and another boy allegedly got Blasey Ford alone in a room, turned up the music to drown out her protests, and assaulted her.

If her account is true, the assault was cruel and she had reason to fear for her life, even if it did stop short of rape.

Kavanaugh claims to have no memory of the incident. It is certainly not something he would be proud of even immediately after the alleged attack.

So, 35 years later, after both have enjoyed top-echelon careers, it seems both are long past the time when they should have moved on from that incident, even if deep regrets linger.

A teacher I once worked with said the adolescent mind is programmed for error. Mine was, and I’m sure most people would conclude the same about their own teenage brains.

Kavanaugh will in all likelihood be named to the Supreme Court, anyway, but I wonder why we are expected to apply new standards of adult behavior to kids of a different era.

Steve Hansen writes about our life and times from his perspective of a retired Tucumcari journalist. Contact him at:

[email protected]


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