Kavanaugh, Sex, and Alcohol

There’s an argument raging in the US at the moment over whether Brett Kavanaugh lied in front of the Senate Committee when he said he’d never “blacked out” from drinking. While Kavanaugh openly admitted to drinking lots of beer, he maintained he’d never blacked out in the sense he can’t remember a thing about what he might have done. The media, egged on by Democrats, are wheeling out articles saying this can’t be true, and that heavy drinking inevitably results in blackouts even if you’re unaware you had one.

It’s best to assume the Democrat-media alliance is just saying whatever suits its cause at this point, but reading some of the commentary it sounds like teenage boys discussing sex, i.e. they don’t really know what they’re on about. Anyone who’s been around drinkers, of has drunk heavily themselves, know it affects people differently, and different drinks affect the same person differently. I have an Irish mate who would start fighting if he drank brandy; Bundaberg rum seems to have a similar effect on many Queenslanders. Some people get very aggressive and nasty when drunk, others soppy and affectionate. Some go quiet, others can’t shut up. I know a French lady who, when she’s had a few too many, insists on speaking English, a language she doesn’t know.

Now I reckon I’ve drunk as much if not more than Brett Kavanaugh, thanks to my hanging out with Russians and living on Sakhalin Island for four years. True, he’s probably drunk a lot more beer than I have but I’ve been on vodka and whisky binges at various parties which I’m surprised I survived. When I drink to excess I start to babble nonsense, not that anyone who knows me will notice the difference. But at some point my stomach really, really starts to hurt and I need to throw up, which I often do by sticking my fingers down my throat. Then the pain subsides and, if it’s a really big night, I keep drinking. I recall one night in a club in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk when a Russian I didn’t like challenged me to a drinking competition, glass for glass, and he was buying. I’m not sure who won, but I stayed in the game by running to the toilet and puking up after each glass. Yeah, I wasn’t at my most classy back then.

The point is, despite how much I’ve drunk, I’ve never blacked out or lost my memory. Eventually my stomach can’t handle any more drink and I have to stop, but I can always walk (if a little unsteadily) and find my way home, and although my memory is a bit fuzzy over who said what I always remember the basics. There is no chance I could drink so much I’d not remember sexually assaulting someone, and if I drank to my capacity I’d not even be able to mount such an assault. It’s therefore a complete falsehood to say Brett Kavanaugh’s heavy beer-drinking in college would lead to blackouts. Sure he might pass out once he’s in bed, but that’s not the same thing. Nobody assaults anyone while passed out. And while some people might experience blackouts, not everyone does.

Other than the obvious politically-driven malicious smear, what this reveals is America’s puritanical attitude to alcohol consumption. The drinking age in the US is 21, an age at which most are finishing college. Some American college campuses are situated in dry counties, meaning the students have to sneak booze into their dorm rooms as if they’re 15 years old and living in a boarding school. By contrast, British students are expected to get smashed at university, and if excessive drinking in college was a barrier to holding high office in your fifties then candidates would be thin on the ground. Actually, we’d probably be left only with Theresa May who I reckon would have made far better politician had she spent her student days getting wrecked down at the Union bar. Now Barack Obama is known to have smoked weed and snorted cocaine in college, and nobody said anything. This is mostly explained by the fact that the media would have glossed over Saint Obama sacrificing small children in his dorm room, but it’s also indicative that in America the chattering classes consider taking drugs less sinful than drinking. Weed is slowly being legalised across the US, and discussions on legalising drugs are a permanent feature among Americans who lean towards libertarianism. But when was the last time someone proposed lowering the drinking age? In fact, New York raised the drinking age from 19 to 21 in 1985.

What the Kavanaugh debacle also reveals is America’s rather puritanical attitude towards sex. There’s something about sex which a lot of Americans find rather icky; the flip side of this is the degenerates who go on and on about sex and flaunt their sexual practices openly with the intention of shocking everyone else. Both would seem rather odd to a Frenchman or Italian, and even the more reserved Brits find Americans’ obsession with the sexual proclivities of their leaders a bit strange. It’s hard to imagine the Monica Lewinsky scandal happening in Europe, at least not to the point where the entire country is clutching its collective pearls over a blow-job. That’s not to excuse Clinton’s behaviour towards an intern, but it’s significant that it was allegations of sexual misconduct which landed him in trouble.

It’s unlikely that a senior figure in European politics would find himself clobbered by accusations that he drank too much in college and made a clumsy attempt to get a girl’s clothes off in high-school. But in the US, the combination of alcohol and sex resonates in a way which turns the middle classes into puritans, who then pass moral judgement. This is why the attacks on Kavanaugh have been so effective.

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25 thoughts on “Kavanaugh, Sex, and Alcohol

  1. One thing to keep in mind is that all the hysteria about Kav’s drinking is completely disingenuous. It’s really not another 1920s style temperance crusade, it has one purpose and one purpose only – to defeat this Supreme Court nomination. Once that’s resolved, one way or another, all the feigned horror at college-age drinking will disappear.

  2. If these are the new rules, can’t we feign similar outrage against Jean-Claude Juncker and force him to never be able to serve in public office again?

  3. I never black out or forget anything embarrassing that I did while drunk.
    On the contrary, that always seems to be the stuff I remember in technicolour, 4K detail. #lambrinidaze

  4. The definition of “blackout” seems slippery and open to misuse. There is the “Type 1” blackout where essentially you fall asleep fairly suddenly and/or in less than appropriate circumstances and the “Type 2” blackout where you were conscious enough to speak and carry out complex actions but later have no memory of that at all.
    In my heavier drinking youth I certainly experienced the Type 1 falling asleep blackout but I believe never the Type 2. I’ve never forgotten things that logically must have happened – like how I got home – or been told by other people about significant events I don’t remember by the next day.
    Of course I can’t prove a negative, but I am certainly not lying now – even if subsequent proof emerges that I did indeed have a type 2 blackout – and if Kavanaugh’s experience is similar to mine then he isn’t lying either.

  5. I’m hoping that the middle classes are not outraged, that it is only our wealthy, government, academia and media nouveau riche “Elites” who are faux outraged for political reasons only.

  6. This is only about a Conservative majority on the bench and the fear that abortion rights will be impacted or reversed. That is it, full stop. This whole theatre you’re seeing is complete bulllshit.

  7. Americans went from sexual restraint to lasciviousness without ever stopping at sensual. Nothing beautiful about American sexuality. Charm-Free Zone. In America, if you bankrupt a company, steal $100 million and shift the costs to the taxpayer, you’ll make the cover of Time Magazine, but if you wrote a few love letters to a former secretary they drag you to the stake.

    The future of America is androgyny anyway. #MeToo

  8. I have my doubts as to ordinary Americans being up in arms about this stuff. After all the Kennedys didn’t suffer from worse and better sources allegations, neither did Clinton, the “access holywood” tape didn’t stop Trump, nor does Stormy Daniel’s appear to have dented his popularity.
    If there were a substantive objection to Kavenaugh we’d be hearing about it. Since the only actual objection is that he’s Republican, they’re just throwing any shit they can lay their hands on and hoping some sticks. They do run the risk of being perceived as liars if the stories fall apart, and as stupid when they pretend to be shocked at teenagers drinking.

  9. I’d need a great deal of convincing there is such a thing as a “Type 2 blackout” Never experienced one myself. Although many’s the time, retrospectively I wished I could have.
    Which is rather the point.
    Going on the evidence of these lying eyes, the people who’ve told me ” I don’t remember nuffin’ mate, I was that pissed” are always referring to events that they’d rather not have happened. And they never seem to have had memory lapses when it comes to something can be boasted about. Like they can remember, to the pint, how many they quaffed. But not vomiting the final four all over the back floor of your car.

  10. The sort of blackout drunkenness they’re talking about (i.e. walking and talking normallyish but with no memory the next day, not just passed out in the corner) is entirely possible, and I’ve been there – but it’s very hard to do on beer alone, unless you have the stomach of an elephant. Plus it requires years if not decades to build your tolerance to the point where your body and brain can function at high levels of intoxication. No college age student is going to be doing it unless they started drinking very heavily at 5 years old.

    I’m guessing Ford’s testimony wasn’t convincing, so time for the new smear.

  11. As Ltw says, I’ve never known anyone to be blackout drunk on beer. I have been blackout drunk on jagermeister plus red bull, however, as have many other people I know. And this isn’t “passed out” this is not recalling anything from ~10pm despite videos and stories of me being around until 2am.

    However, more importantly, just because he may have been blackout drunk, as have I, does not mean either of us committed gang rape.

  12. Drink lowers inhibitions.

    If you’re a nasty person, then drink will show you as you really are. Fighting, flirting, gossiping, etc happen because that’s what we might really want when sober. Drink doesn’t make us violent, flirty or gossipy, but it does release the shackles we usually have.

    Most people don’t want to rape anyone sober, so they have no fear they will do so while drunk.

    Kavanaugh will be an analytic person. He won’t forget what he’s doing when drinking, because that would mean the drink changed what type of person he is. And drink doesn’t do that.

  13. Drink doesn’t make us violent, flirty or gossipy, but it does release the shackles we usually have.

    Yes, quite. It’s why British and Scandinavians change their behaviour completely while drunk, whereas you can’t really tell if an Italian is drunk.

  14. The other politician who is teetotal is Donald Trump.

    If only that May mistake could be half as good as he is.

  15. Can’t tell an Italian is drunk? those bastards singing badly outside my apt at 2 am last week in Lucca better had have been.

  16. I’ve never had a type 2 blackout myself but I’ve played in sports teams with guys who laid claim to such phenomena. However, it appears Kavanaugh has gone to the next level by getting so drunk that it caused someone else to forget where they were, what date it was and how they got home. That must’ve been some heady ol’ moonshine.

  17. @Bloke in Lower Hutt – that’s a serious case of passive drinking he caused right there…

  18. JerryC is right – “all the hysteria about Kav’s drinking is completely disingenuous.” It’s true that a lot of Americans are weirdly puritan about sex and booze, but it’s precisely those Americans who are on Kavanaugh’s side. The people clutching their pearls about his drinking are exactly those who think the drinking age ought to be lowered, for instance. (I bet you can find someone who’s taken both positions in public.)

    (Although, I just tried to find someone who’s made such an ass of themselves, and instead I found both the NYT and the Washington Post arguing in favour of retaining the drinking age. So maybe liberals aren’t as relaxed about alcohol as I thought.)

  19. I’ve never had a type 2 blackout myself but I’ve played in sports teams with guys who laid claim to such phenomena. However, it appears Kavanaugh has gone to the next level by getting so drunk that it caused someone else to forget where they were, what date it was and how they got home. That must’ve been some heady ol’ moonshine.

    Clearly he was so drunk that the alcohol fumes in his breath caused Ford to black out.

  20. I’ve only ever blacked out twice from drinking and both times it was from mixing 50/50 jack daniels and coke, drink a third then fill with beer and keep going. Really weird coming back and realising I’ve been talking to people for a couple hours and have no recollection of it. After it happened twice i stopped doing it. Not a fan of not having control.

    Never happened from just drinking spirits, never from just drinking beer, only from mixing spirits and beer in the same glass.

    I’ve never met anyone else who has admitted going into a fugue state like that, mostly people just get pissed enough that they can’t function. I doubt its all that common.

  21. For Democrats, doesn’t really matter what Kavanaugh has or has not done.

    Democrats publicly stated they would vote against anyone Trump nominated for SCOTUS.

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