Miscellaneous Mental Musings of an Emerging Artist
Today marks exactly two months since Mollie Tibbetts disappeared, while out for a jog in her hometown of Brooklyn, Iowa. A little over a month after that, Cristhian Rivera led investigators to a cornfield southeast of the town where they found what would be identified as her remains, and he was subsequently arrested and charged with her murder.
In the weeks thereafter, Rivera’s immigration status became a political hot potato, with the nebulous reports about whether or not he was undocumented being presented as vindicating evidence for the president’s fear-mongering policies and rhetoric. This was done to such a dramatic and careless extent that Tibbetts’ stricken family had to disrupt their own grief and push back against it, stating forcefully that Mollie would never have accepted her murder being used in this way, and neither do members of her family.
Yesterday, about an hour northwest of Brooklyn in Ames, a young woman named Celia Barquin Arozamena was found dead on a golf course. She was a Spanish native, a student of Iowa State University, and a rising star golfer of significant acclaim and promise. The man who has been arrested and charged with her murder is named Collin Richards. I don’t know his immigration status, but I can assume the reason I don’t know it is because he’s a natural-born citizen, when in fact the reason I shouldn’t know it is that it’s entirely irrelevant to the case.
What is relevant in both these cases — the molten core of both murders — is that a young woman was by herself, enjoying an activity that she was good at, and for some reason a young man felt license to intrude upon her personal space and then further license to destroy her.
And this is why it’s so important that Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s story be heard right now, on the largest possible stage in front of an audience that can include the entire world. She has presented an accusation of actions forged in the same volcano that killed Mollie Tibbetts and Celia Arozamena, and then leveled that accusation at men whose lives have been carefully constructed to shield them not only from accountability, but also from simple human empathy.
You can observe this in the way Brett Kavanaugh turns his back on the father of a Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting victim and is not called upon to answer for it himself. You can observe it in the evasiveness of his answers to the Judiciary Committee, as well as in the way his path to this process has been paved over with obfuscation and procedural exception.
You can observe it in the shambling strides of Kavanaugh’s friend and conservative commentator Mark Judge, the other man named in Dr. Ford’s recollection, whose teenage years he has memorialized as a period of bacchanalia and blackout drunkenness, and whose adult life has been characterized by persistent misogyny and lengthy excuses for why men might commit rape. You can observe it in the very fact that Judge, with each of these profound personality flaws, nonetheless considers himself a substantive character witness for Kavanaugh at all.
There is a learned hesitation to connect, as I’ve just done, the allegations against Kavanaugh to the crimes committed against Tibbetts and Arozamena. It grasps wildly at every outcropping it encounters during its freefall, calling out the categories that must surely separate respectable men from common lowlife murderers, lest it turn out there is no difference between them save for the influence we have agreed to grant the former.
It should not take courage or a leap of intuition to comprehend this basic truth:
A man who may have attempted to immobilize, silence, and abuse a woman for no other reason than he had the opportunity to do so, and who has abjectly refused to reckon with the darkness in himself that led to such behavior, will be just as likely to do this to anybody to whom he feels he is superior.
And when you sit on the highest court in the nation, there are literally millions of people to whom you can easily convince yourself you are superior.