It must be a good question to ask of nominees for the federal bench, since Hawaiian* Senator Mazie Hirono is a lawyer, and she should know how to ask a simple question. If there was any doubt, it received the official seal of approval of Dahlia Lithwick, graduate of Stanford Law School, and sycophant of Judge Alex Kozinski until she revealed that she was a victim of stare rape.
Sen. Hirono actually came up with two questions, taking upon herself the weight of female angst and fear, tears and pain.
Since you became a legal adult, have you ever made unwanted requests for sexual favors or committed any verbal or physical harassment or assault of a sexual nature?
Have you ever faced discipline or entered into a settlement related to this kind of conduct?
No, they’re not actually two questions, and they would evoke a stentorian “sustained” if tried in court after an objection. But this isn’t court. The second question is pure show, as the answers would already be in the questionnaire completed in advance of a hearing, to the extent the question is comprehensible.
But the first question? It’s not just silly, but reflects a depth of absurdity that would be obvious to any rational lawyer. Naturally, Lithwick thinks it’s “crucial.”
What Hirono is trying to do, and what everyone on the Senate Judiciary Committee should be striving to do, is simple but vitally important: If, as we learned last month, there is virtually no off-ramp for lifetime-appointed judges who behave in inappropriate ways toward women, serious scrutiny on the front end becomes even more crucial.
The problem is that it’s anything but “serious scrutiny.” The little parts of the compound question relate to “harassment,” which has devolved from a legal word into a meaningless epithet defined only by the feelings of discomfort by the “victim” at any time, then or later. No person can answer the question of what someone else may feel about something you said or did years, decades earlier, in light of the current trend of manufacturing sexual victimhood to be a due-paid member of a girl-gang.
Ask any women with whom the nominee ever interacted at any time whether they felt some unpleasantness, now called “harassment,” at any word or deed ever done at any time in the past. Only they could know, and even if they say no today, they can always claim otherwise tomorrow.
The core of the question, however, nails the trap: have you ever made unwanted requests for sexual favors? Of course. That’s how you find out whether someone is interested in sexual engagement. And if the answer is no, not at the moment, or any variation shy of “wanted,” the answer is obviously false. Is there any married man whose wife didn’t want to have sex, who never heard the “not now, I have a headache” classic excuse?
Even when someone responded affirmatively to a request, that doesn’t make it wanted. Maybe they acquiesced. Maybe they were afraid to say no. Maybe they failed to give any indication that it was unwanted, but can fall back on the laundry list of excuses for why their lie was forgivable and completely understandable, but the man was told otherwise.
So these are stupid questions? Of course they are, stupid and unanswerable. But that doesn’t mean a United States senator and her lackey doesn’t believe in their symbolic virtue.
Mazie Hirono has no illusions that her sequence of two questions will topple any nominee. That isn’t the point. She is laying down a moral marker, putting the nominees, and her colleagues, and the country on notice that the only way to change the culture of harassment, including on the federal bench, is by asking the questions, getting on-the-record answers, and making it clear that this will not be swept back under the carpet.
As a legal commentator, one might suspect Lithwick to end her post with a strong conclusion. So what does “laying down a moral marker” mean? LIthwick is incapable of expressing a cogent point using actual words, but then, there is no cogent point to be made. She’s putting the nominees “on notice”? On notice of what, that the Senator from Hawaii is a legal idiot incapable of asking a proper question?
It would be completely understandable that Mazie Hirono would use her position on the Senate Judiciary Committee to put on a show for the intellectually challenged by very weepy women who want someone to express their weakness in Washington. Pandering to unduly passionate is nothing new. And it’s understandable that her teammate in tears would pretend these questions weren’t ridiculous, even support her even if the best she could come up with is the meaningless “moral marker.”
But if you are a nominee, how do you respond to a question like this without appearing like a rapist to the ignorant or getting caught in a perjury trap by saying “no” when the obvious answer is “of course, every person has.”
*Following the false “incoming ballistic missiles” error in Hawaii, it was explained that “Hawaiian” was offensively used to describe people who lived in the State of Hawaii, as it referred to indigenous natives. Instead, the politically correct reference is to call Hawaiians “residents of Hawaii.”