#1481 A New Voice of Dissent on the Supreme Court (Ketanji Brown Jackson) (Transcript)

Air Date 4/6/2022

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[00:00:00] JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: Welcome to this episode of the award-winning Best of the Left Podcast in which we'll take a look at the nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, what her confirmation would mean for representation on the court, and what the hearing tells us about the state of our politics. Spoiler alert, it is not great.

Clips today are from the David Pakman Show, Amicus, the Bradcast, Boom! Lawyered, Democracy Now!, and In The Thick, with additional members-only clips from Democracy Now!, and The Brian Lehrer Show.

By Any Measure, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is Qualified - David Pakman Show - Air Date 3-24-22

[00:00:35] DAVID PAKMAN - HOST, DAVID PAKMAN SHOW: , I think it's important to take an objective, look at, uh, how qualified judge Jackson is and by any, any, any. Any objective measure, judge Katon, G brown Jackson.

Or would be one of the most qualified Supreme court justices in recent history. And this is not going by a vague ideology based opinions or anything subjective. Merely looking at the facts of her experience. It is hard to find a more qualified Supreme court justice recently. Now I know many of you as we get into this are going to say, but hold on a second, David, if Amy Coney Barrett can be on the.

If Kavanaugh can be on the court, why is this even a conversation? And of course you would be completely correct to frame it in those terms, but because it is worth actually thinking about the experience of a potential Supreme court justice, we're going to look at it. And there's a very good chart out, which looks at the RESA, the current justices and compares judge Jackson's experience.

And what you find when you look at it is that she checked. More boxes then do any of the justices currently on the court? Uh, when you look at, um, whether she went to an Ivy league law school, which I don't think is the, the standard by which we should evaluate qualifications, but one of the things that many say's well, where, where was the legal education?

All of the justices currently on the court, other than Barrett went to an Ivy league law school. And so to judge. When you look at which justices were clerks on the Supreme court, Clarence Thomas Alito and Sotomayor were not the other, uh, uh, justices on the court were. And judge Jackson was a Supreme court clerk.

Great. In terms of who was a public defender, none of them, none of them judge Jackson actually brings unique experience or would bring unique experience to the court by virtue of having been a public defender, none of the nine current justices did that. Um, only justice Brier who would be replaced by judge Jackson was on a sentencing commission and indeed judge brown Jackson was on a sentencing commission, only judge Sotomayor of the justices.

Currently on the court was a district judge. Judge Jackson has that experience in her background as well. Uh, and currently all justices, other than Elena Kagan, we're a judges on courts of appeals. And indeed judge Jackson was a judge on the court of appeals. Now I S so, so the objective case is as, or more qualified.

Then any of the justices currently on the court. Now, I think there's one interesting thing to talk about here. Um, you and I might look at the experience of judge Jackson and say, wow, that's, that's amazing. And it's actually fascinating that public defender experience. And sentencing commission experience and district judge experience.

That's unique. That's a unique level of experience. Nobody on the court right now has had experience in those three areas. But there's a liability that comes with that, which we learned about yesterday during the. And it is that it provides a significant amount of fodder for which she can be attacked.

Well, why did you do this specific sentence in this case? Or why did you rule in this particular way? Why did you defend this particular client, even though lawyers defend clients? That's what they do. And the analogy here would be imagined that I ran for. You and I might say, well, you know, what's, what's great is I have over 10 years of talking about so many different issues, you can just kind of look up and see what my thoughts are, but the truth is that if you did.

Uh, political colonoscopy or, you know, a political body cavity search. And you went through everything I've ever said on the show, you know, hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of hours, you would, without a doubt, be able to find things that don't represent. Number one, the, the, what I would call the best of my show that might be opinions which have changed because either my opinions have changed or there's different information that has now come out, which has led me to have to revise opinions.

So without a doubt, if I were to run for some. Although I see it as a positive thing that I have this long track record of people being able to see the evolution of my views, you would be able to troll that and find things to take out of context or isolate that I, without a doubt, would make me look bad.

It would make me look bad and along the same way, although you, and I might say, wow, public defender experience and sentencing commission experience and district judge experience. That's unbelievable what we see. Yesterday during the first day of questions asked to judge Jackson and what we are already seeing today during the second day of questions, which is underway right now is we are at, as we are recording today's show is that it also can serve as.

Uh, sort of catalyst or as a basis to focus in extraordinarily narrowly, uh, on particular decisions and take them out of context and, and whatever else. One other thing, um, there was a lot of, uh, concern yesterday from Republican senators about sentences given by judge Jackson on what? Now I want to be clear.

Some people call it child porn. I don't think that's the right word. Because pornography is almost always legal and involving consenting adults and is a business to some degree to just put child on that and to pretend it what we're talking about with. Child exploitation, right? I mean, we're not talking about filmmakers when we talk about people producing or, or whatever, the, these images, but for what they call child porn, which I don't think is the right term for it.

They talked a lot about her departures from. The maximum penalties as sort of a liability, but the truth is the people doing that. Like for example, Republican Senator Josh Hawley, he has previously supported many judicial candidates, uh, that departed from the maximum sentencing numerous time. So they focused in on that, uh, but significant hypocrisy there.

So that's the qualifications net.

Anita Hill on the Supreme Court’s Future Part 1 - Amicus With Dahlia Lithwick - Air Date 3-12-22

[00:07:14] DAHLIA LITHWICK - HOST, AMICUS WITH DAHLIA LITHWICK: It's such a great segue to my question about this nomination, which is. It ticks every box you just mentioned in terms of equality and in terms of justice and in terms of moving forward in progress. I mean, this is by any metric, an extraordinary moment, and yet it's already bogging down in, I just think incredibly fatuous conversation about Joe Biden and affirmative action and quote unquote lesser black women, and all of the ways that judge Jackson, who.

We just keep saying the same thing over again, has every single qualification that John Roberts had plus years on the bench and still, it's not enough. And I guess I wonder what you see when you look at the discourse around this nomination and around this really singular nominee, what parts of it do you feel are heartening and bolstering and moving us forward and what parts feel like they are just dumb vestigial conversations that I cannot still believe we're having an America in 2022

[00:08:33] ANITA HILL: Well, you know, you raised so many good points, but let me just start with this idea that Joe Biden announced, I will select a black woman for the Supreme court. And there was this hue and cry about, oh, this is affirmative action or preferential treatment or reverse discrimination. I mean, that's part of the rhetoric right now, right?

Any effort to achieve equality or full representation or justice is distorted to become something evil or bad. In fact, I think Joe Biden was saying out loud what other presidents were thinking, but keeping to themselves because we knew they were gonna nominate a white man, or we knew they were going to nominate a white woman.

So why not just say it out loud and get to the point of what we really need in this country, especially on the judiciary. And that is that we need better representation. You know, people think about this nomination and they think, well, you know, she'll probably be a liberal and what's it matter if they're still talking about a court that is overwhelmingly conservative in terms of votes, but there's more to judging than The specific outcome in a case, and the Supreme court has an opportunity to really articulate to the public, the reasoning behind these outcomes, what the thinking is that goes into these conclusions and to articulate in many of their opinions, what the impact of their decisions are. And I think the public wants that they also, whether it's in an, a majority opinion or a dissent, they want to know how the judges got to the decisions and how it's going to impact people.

And I'm really excited that judge Jackson has said that she thinks about how. The law impacts people because the public needs to know that now, you know, confidence in the Supreme court has been declining since 1991. And we need something that can restore that. I think we have that in a judge Jackson. Uh, we have it in a Sotomayor we have it in Elena Kagan.

We have that in many ways that possibility of getting people to understand that this court is about them and their lives. So I, I, I'm just very grateful for this moment because it is an opportunity for us to have an open discussion about the direction that this court is taking in a country that is.

Increasingly diverse where the perspectives of people who are here and will be affected by the law need more and more to be represented. They can't be presumed to be what they were a hundred years ago. And we have the chance maybe not to get the court there right now, but to start the conversation about where we, as a people think the court should be,

[00:12:10] DAHLIA LITHWICK - HOST, AMICUS WITH DAHLIA LITHWICK: And I want you to weigh in on this because this is something that really, I do feel like you carry this in all your thinking about the courts and the law, which is there's a.

Uh, really not very smart take, which is, um, oh, Democrats are mad at the court. They don't like the outcomes. That's why they talk about packing the court. That's why they talk about the shadow docket and legitimacy. And that it's really important for Progressive's to tear down the legitimacy of the court because they just don't like the results.

And you are the antithesis of, even that cartoon about somebody who thinks about the court. You have, I don't think any interest in the court losing legitimacy. I don't think you have any interest in having a court that, uh, decides the 2024 election and only four people abide by it. I mean, I think.

you are Firmly in the camp that it is in everyone's interest to have a legitimate court. And I think that that is such a knife edge to be on to both have descriptive critiques of how the court is deciding cases right now. And at the same time, be 100% in the tank for a court that the public can abide by and exceed to its legitimacy.

And I just want to give you a second to talk about it because. When I think of people who could have for very long time, just flung their arms up and said, you know what? Yeah, the court sucks. I'm going to be a dentist. Like you're on that list. Maybe not a dentist, but certainly not to continue working in this lane of thinking about law and justice.

And so I guess I want to give you an opportunity to respond to this critique that is, you're just trying to trash the court because you don't like the outcomes. That is not what you are talking about.

[00:14:06] ANITA HILL: Well, it absolutely isn't It's not what I'm talking about. And maybe it's because, you know, I'm a, uh, teacher Maybe that's so much part of my profession. I critique my students all the time and it's not because I want them to fail it's because I want them to flourish. And so that is why I critique the core and I see the direction that it's headed in the public esteem. And I realized that if we cannot have confidence in the court, we can't have confidence in the law.

That doesn't mean that the law needs to stay the same or the way it's enforced is appropriate. But it does mean that there has to be something that people can count on to having integrity, to being true, to reflecting the public interest. And for me, that is the law. I mean, politicians rotate as presidents rotate, but the Supreme core is established the way it is to provide some kind of anchor.

So for example, you know, when it comes to my confidence in the court, I am not naive. I know that the court has made some colossally, bad decisions that have impacted my life. I mean, I don't have to go back to Plessy versus Ferguson when they said separate, but equal is completely fine in this country.

But you know, that's one place where we all, I think most of the me people can agree. That was a wrong decision by the court. So I know that the court can make mistakes. It's not flawless, but in the end, I believe that the court and the legal system is in the best position to provide the kind of integrity and the kind of structure that can move us toward a greater country, a greater society, and can influence all of our systems in that same direction.

Legal journalist Mark Joseph Stern on SCOTUS, corruption, gerrymandering - The Bradcast - Air Date 3-30-22

[00:16:17] BRAD FRIEDMAN - HOST, THE BRADCAST: Let's start with this dumbest news first, uh, to warm up. Susan Collins told the Times she's going to support judge Ketanji brown Jackson. Now that she met with her a second time and has been reassured according to Collins that K B J would not be.

Bending the law to meet a personal preference. That's nice. Uh, but given much of the news regarding the court of late, I guess not bending the law to meet a personal preference is only a requirement for justices appointed by democratic presidents.


[00:16:50] JOSEPH STERN: I could not have put it better myself. Um, this is rhetoric that is so entrenched in our political and cultural discussions of the Supreme court and yet, so utterly detached from the reality of the current court where, uh, conservative justices will simply impose.

Extra textual requirements on various civil rights laws and voting rights laws to ensure that Democrats always lose and Republicans always win where conservatives will rewrite or overthrow precedent without any good reason or justification, simply because it does not match their own political and ideological beliefs.

The liberals, meanwhile, are. The tiny minority of this court screaming can't we just apply the text and the law, but you know what, if this is what Susan Collins taught to say to herself in the world to lend her vote to KB J I suppose I can

[00:17:45] BRAD FRIEDMAN - HOST, THE BRADCAST: live with it. Wow. We're going to have to, uh, and we'll see if she's the only Republican who is.

Voting in favor of her, which would be remarkable in and of itself. I want to talk about, uh, what may have been revealed by last weeks, as I said, indescribably stupid confirmation hearings in the Senate judiciary committee for judge Jackson in a moment, but stepping back, what should we take away? From the idea that, you know, there is only one Republican member now willing to vote for an otherwise uncontroversial, incredibly well-qualified nominee to the court.

I mean, it's simply because she was nominated by a democratic president, a president.

[00:18:23] JOSEPH STERN: Well, I think it is very clear now that, um, Republicans Just begin from the position that democratic presidents have no authority and no right to appoint Supreme court justices or to appoint lower court judges. This is following a long-standing pattern in the Senate of Republicans, almost uniformly or all uniformly voting against, uh, nominees to the lower courts, including many who are super qualified and uncontroversial.

Uh, sometimes Because they seem to be racist and sexist or homophobic voting against a lesbian nominee quite recently, for instance, just because she happens to be gay. Um, and often because they have settled on this argument that, uh, as we discussed earlier, you know, democratic appointees break the law, bend the law Republicans apply the law.

I would like to believe that this is a temporary phase in American history. You know, we have actually kind of swung back and forth between closed confirmation votes and big overwhelming lopsided confirmation votes. But I fear that this is how it will be forever more that basically, uh, every member of the democratic party will support a democratic president's nominee every Republican, but one or two will oppose them.

And we all have to pay outsized the attention to a total mediocrity like Susan Collins, who was elected with like 10,000 votes and should not matter at


[00:19:52] BRAD FRIEDMAN - HOST, THE BRADCAST: Uh, you know, to me, this suggests that the days are over when any nominatee to the high court will be approved. If the, uh, president of the United States does not have.

Also have partisan control of the U S Senate. At least if that president happens to be a Democrat, but is there any reason to doubt Mark Joseph stern at this point that if Republicans gain control of the U S Senate in this year's midterm elections and any seat opens on the high court over the subsequent two years, for any reason that Republicans.

will Prevent Joe Biden from being able to fill that seat with.


[00:20:32] JOSEPH STERN: I have no

doubts. Um, and I have been saying this for a while and I would actually go further and say, I don't think the Senate will confirm any of Biden's lower court nominees, including his appeals court nominees. I think that as soon as Republicans take back the Senate, if they take back the Senate, they will put a near total blockade on Biden's nominees.

And that will be the end of his judicial legacies. I just hope that voters who care about having functioning reasonable courts are paying attention to what Republican senators are saying and doing right now, because it is a very bad omen for Biden's ability to fill vacant seats. Uh, if-and-when Mitch McConnell ever retakes control.

Ketanji Brown Jackson Hearing, Day Three—Celebrating Joy Amid the Nonsense - Boom! Lawyered - Air Date 3-23-22

[00:21:13] IMANI GANDY - CO-HOST, BOOM! LAWYERED: One thing that let's just move on to our third, big takeaway, which is this emerging theme about blackness, her blackness, particularly, and the ways in which she is going to wield that blackness, which sort of involves an inherent innate affinity for criminality, let's say, oh yeah.

And the ways in which that. she wields that innate affinity for criminality to mete out less lesser sentences than she should for primarily sex crimes. That's what they were accusing her of. And you brought this up before we started recording and I want to credit you with this idea. that It seems as if they are trying to set her up as a danger to white families.

And I think we've seen blackness over the year, just blackness, writ large over the year, being used as a danger to white families, right? You don't want your F your kids in these public schools being taught that slavery was bad, or that your children have ancestors and they should feel ashamed of them.

Or that white privilege is a thing. And they need to think about that or are babies racist. I mean, all of this Panic around race and the way we talk about it to kids and the way we're whitewashing and revising history. So as not to make white kids feel bad about history, it seems to me it's like blackness is coming for your family.

And now we are going to have blackness on the Supreme court, not the kind of blackness we like not the Clarence Thomas blackness, but this scary black lady who for years now has been allowing child predators To roam the streets. Yeah. That's this feeling that I got and whether it was Ted Cruz talking about racist babies or talking about her time at Georgetown day and the culturally responsive teaching practices that they have there.

And I think it's important to differentiate between. Critical race theory, CRT and culturally responsive teaching CRT, which is what goes on at Georgetown day. That's what talking about privilege is It's not critical race theory, but they've managed to molt to conflate the two. And so now anything that deals with race, anything that deals with anything that is not heterosexual, cisgender and white and male is suddenly critical race theory.

And it's all wrapped up in this black woman that we're now going to put on the bench


first of all, let's just applaud everything that Imani said because yes. And I was thinking, you know, as a journalist, who's covered one of these things. One of the things I was realizing last night is another thing that is historic about this moment is this is the first time.

Ever that we have had back-to-back Supreme court nominees who are mothers. And I just want to think and reflect a moment on the very radically different ways conservatives approached that. Can you imagine what would have happened had. Democratic senators come after judge Amy Coney Barrett with just a modicum of criticism at her record with her children in her room, in the room.

Yes. The way that they did for the last two days for judge Jackson, with her daughter there. It wouldn't have happened during Amy Coney. Barrett's hearing the fact that she was a mother was one of her top credentials from conservatives. And even when they were being nice to judge Jackson, did they really bring this up?

No. No. So that's where my head was going with, like what is going on because so much of that soft on crime stuff for, you know, folks who haven't been in this space for a long time, that feels like very regressive eighties, nineties, like the Democrats are in with. It's just,

[00:25:09] IMANI GANDY - CO-HOST, BOOM! LAWYERED: it's, it's the panic that proceeded the, the crime bill

[00:25:12] JESSICA MASON PIEKLO - CO-HOST, BOOM! LAWYERED: Exactly. Exactly. And so it was just wrapped up in all of that criminalizing blackness at the time. And now it's being trotted out as you know, social progress is a threat to white families. And I really think that that is the nugget there. At least what was landing for me because as a woman, as a mother, I can't think.

of Anything more exciting for me right now than to have judge Jackson be justice Jackson for Owen and olive. Like they're thrilled about this right now. And the idea that that's not a moment that has been celebrated in this domination space, the way it was revered in Amy Coney Barrett is just. I had a word on it and

[00:25:59] IMANI GANDY - CO-HOST, BOOM! LAWYERED: And I appreciate the word.

And it's an astute observation, the ways in which they were trying to paint her as a threat to white families, it's a very astute observation.

[00:26:07] JESSICA MASON PIEKLO - CO-HOST, BOOM! LAWYERED: Josh Holly basically made it, said that it made it sound that if you know, you put a judge Jackson on the bench, then every pedophile in the country will walk free.

You know, Tom Cotton made it sound like as soon as she's confirmed, we're releasing everyone from Gitmo

[00:26:20] IMANI GANDY - CO-HOST, BOOM! LAWYERED: At that it doesn't even make any sense because it's not like that's in her power as a justice. Right. That's just, that's just bizarre.

You Are My Harbinger of Hope Sen. Cory Booker Defends Ketanji Brown Jackson Amid GOP Attacks Part 1 - Democracy Now! - Air Date 3-24-22

[00:26:29] SEN. CORY BOOKER: As Langston Hughes wrote:

O, let America be America again—

The land that never has been yet—

And yet must be—the land where every one is free. …

O, yes,

I say it plain,

America never was America to me,

But I swear this oath—

America will be!

That is the story of how you got to this desk, you and I and everyone here, generations of folk who came here and said, “America, I’m Irish. You may say, ‘No Irish or dogs need apply,’ but I’m going to show this country that I can be free here. I can make this country love me as much as I love it.” Chinese Americans, first — forced into near slave labor building our railroads, connecting our country, saw the ugliest of America, but they were going to build their home here and say, “America, you may not love me yet, but I’m going to make this nation live up to its promise and hope.” LGBTQ Americans from Stonewall, women to Seneca, hidden figures who didn’t even get their play until some Hollywood movie finally talked about them and how they were critical for us defying gravity — all of these people loved America.

And so, you faced insults here that were shocking to me — well, actually not shocking. But you are here because of that kind of love, and nobody is taking this away from me. So, you’ve got five more folk to go through, five more of us. And then you can sit back and let us have all the debates. And I’m going to tell you, it’s going to be a well-charted Senate floor, because it’s not going to stop. They’re going to accuse you of this and that. Heck, in honor of your — the person who shares your birthday, you might be called a communist. But don’t worry, my sister. Don’t worry. God has got you. And how do I know that? Because you’re here. And I know what it’s taken for you to sit in that seat.

Harriet Tubman is one of my heroes, because the more I read about this person, the more — I mean, she was viciously beaten. Her whole life, she used to fall into spells. Cracked skull. She faced starvation, chased by dogs. And when she got to freedom, what did she do? Did she rest? No, she went back, again and again and again. The sky was full of stars. But she found one that was a harbinger of hope for better days, not just for her and those people that were enslaved but a harbinger of hope for this country. And she never gave up on America. She fought in the — led troops in the Civil War. She was involved in the suffrage movement. And as I came back from my run, after being near assaulted by someone on the street, I thought about her and how she looked up. She kept looking up. No matter what they did to her, she never stopped looking up. And that star, it was a harbinger of hope.

Today you’re my star. You are my harbinger of hope. This country is getting better and better and better. And when that final vote happens and you ascend onto the — onto the highest court in the land, I’m going to rejoice. And I’m going to tell you right now, the greatest country in the world, the United States of America, will be better because of you. Thank you.

Anita Hill on the Supreme Court’s Future Part 2 - Amicus With Dahlia Lithwick - Air Date 3-12-22

[00:30:44] DAHLIA LITHWICK - HOST, AMICUS WITH DAHLIA LITHWICK: I think I want to ask you another version of the question I asked you about how sometimes women are relegated to having feelings. And this version is I'm a little bit mindful of the fact that we're about to have assuming that judge Jackson is confirmed a court in which we have for the first time in history, let's stipulate for women.

That's extraordinary. Uh, and for the first time in history, three women who will persistently be writing descents. And, uh, they will be, I imagine in the, in the voice of what we get from Elena Kagan, you know, absolute funeral, Uh, in Barnovich on voting rights, uh, on Sonia, Sonia said in my or absolute fury on police misconduct, absolute fury on race discrimination and judge Jackson, who I actually think probably is going to be a more temperate writer, at least initially, but again, writing from a place of sadness, loss, anger, frustration, and it feels to me as though, I guess I wanted to hear your thoughts on what it means that we are going to have this in some sense, historic court, uh, with real, at least close to gender parody and that there is a.

Depressing fear. I have that the women are going to be relegated to the land of feelings, ball, descent, upset and fury again. And I just wonder as somebody who thinks about race and gender, the way you do what it signals that we are going to have three justices dissenting, all of whom are women.

[00:32:25] ANITA HILL: I think it's important.

I think the cents are important because they can become future majority positions. But I hear exactly what you're saying, but part of what is coming through in your commentary about women is this presumption that when men write their opinions, that there it's all about logic, it's not about their feelings.

It's just, you know, it's rational thinking that's leading them. There, there is nothing. And any of these opinions that I have read by Sotomayor or Kagan or Ruth Bader Ginsburg to me that says, oh, these are all about, you know, that touchy, feely women kind of think they are clear. Brilliant thinkers. And I think they, justice Jackson will be the same.

They're not going to all think alike, which is also wonderful, but they are going to be saddled with this label of being emotional. When in fact all of them are being emotional. The men are too. They're just pretending that somehow that there is no emotion behind what they're saying. So I think that's just a prejudice that we have, and we need to understand that their actions are based on their feelings, just like any judge his actions are.

And there's nothing wrong with that, but would be better is if they were transparent and told the truth about it. And I think a women are more willing and able to tell the truth about where they're coming from. And I think that people respect. They're not trying to hide from those feelings and convince people that, oh, it's all about my brain because they can admit that these decisions will change lives.

And we ought to have a court full of judges and justices who understand.

[00:34:35] DAHLIA LITHWICK - HOST, AMICUS WITH DAHLIA LITHWICK: So, first of all, I need a thank you. I've never enjoyed being checked and corrected more than that is just such an important it's really, really an important corrective that, you know, when women write from a place of anger, it's seen as emotional, when justice Alito writes from a place of anger or justice Gorsuch, we see that as reasoned in principle and you're quite right.

That's completely my bed to even begin to dip into that kind of thing.

[00:35:06] ANITA HILL: I think it's

still bad. I think you're reflecting was, uh, will be the assessment of those opinions. And it seemed, you know, it's seen as something that's a negative when in fact it is important, it's important. And maybe we were more honest about it.

The public would have more confidence in the. Because that's what they care about.

[00:35:30] DAHLIA LITHWICK - HOST, AMICUS WITH DAHLIA LITHWICK: Right. And I think that's why in a deep way, when Ruth Bader Ginsburg became the notorious RBG, in a sense, it was when she allowed herself principally in descent, I think to really reflect, I am deeply dismayed, this is ridiculous, you know, skim, milk, marriage, whatever it is that she was doing and saying, uh, that suddenly didn't sound dispassionate and logical.

And as though she had come from the planet Vulcan, right, she really let herself inhabit her own experience and her own feelings. And I think you're right, that there's some virtue to that transparency and that the public really falls in love with that. I mean, when the public hears justice, so to my are just.

Absolutely wringing her hands because things are going askew and we're moving backwards in our view, it doesn't just resonate because it's quote unquote emotion. It resonates because we see that these are real people, really dredging from their own experience. And that's the transparency you're describing

[00:36:41] ANITA HILL: well and justice.

So to you are, is a perfect example of dealing with dissonance. If you will. I mean, she is a former prosecutor. But she is also very clear that she wants the criminal justice system to be responsible. She's not, you know, let's prosecute at all costs. She wants fairness in the criminal justice system as a prosecutor, she realizes that the system is only as good as it is fair and balanced.

And so I think it's really important for us to really value the fact that she is dealing not only from her perspective as a prosecutor, but she is addressing the issues as a person who is a member of the bar and who is seeking justice across the board.


when we turn to. You're buckling in and expecting from Katon G brown Jackson's upcoming confirmation hearings.

And I want to hear what you're seeing in the ether and what you're thinking about, but I think I want to frame my question this way. She, when, uh, president Biden tapped her, talked about standing on the shoulders of Constance baker, Motley, I know you have spoken about, um, Constance baker Motley yourself recently, and that you think about that legacy.

And one of the things that I wish you would give us a moment of your thoughts on is this notion that. She had to recuse because she was biased, right. Because there's a built in bias to being a black woman. That means that you cannot sit and judge fairly. And I think, you know, we've seen it in other contexts, you know, we've seen, uh, litigants try to get, uh, gay judges to recuse right.

In, in, in LGBTQ rights cases. Give me your thoughts on this question of judicial objectivity and the conversation around race and gender and that no matter what you achieve in the world, you're always biased because of who you are.

[00:39:07] ANITA HILL: Well, the presumption is that, you know, because of your skin color or because of your biology, your anatomy, there is a built in bias.

And the even worse part of that presumption is that if you're a white male, then you don't have any of those biases that whiteness and, and male genitalia, uh, really is just a reflection of your lack of bias. And of course in that presumption is some built-in prejudice. And so we need to understand that they stander that we are applying to objectivity does.

Exist in reality that there are not people who come in with no perceptions, no bias, no differences in their thinking. But the question is, have you actually assessed your own bias and understand that? In fact, you bring a perspective and understand how that perspective can be valuable in some instances, and other instances can actually be harmful to the judicial process, but if we allow white male judges to just presume their objectivity, then we are not getting the best judge as because the best judge as will be constantly questioning their objectivity and testing it.

Unfortunately, women of color women generally. And I would say even black male judges or men of color have had their objectivity question throughout their lives. And so to not recognize that objectivity it's not owned only by white males, then that the standards that we assume are not real standards.

And what we should be looking for is for people to understand what their biases are, what their prejudice are, and being able to put them aside in ways that allows them to think very clearly about what the law is, as well as to think about what the outcomes will be and what the impact will be. All of those things are very difficult.

All of that juggling isn't difficult, but it's important. And it's something that we should be welcoming. And that's why we want judges. Have that ability. That's why I was talking about Sonia Sotomayor because yes, she brings in her background as a prosecutor, but she's not stuck with that perspective.

She's able to understand other perspectives, the perspective of the accused as well as the prosecutors in cases,

ITT Sound Off Saving the Supreme Court - In The Thick - Air Date 3-25-22

[00:42:01] MARIA HINOJOSA - CO-HOST, IN THE THICK: The issue of white supremacy, which we're seeing kind of like the masks are off. Here you go. And we're seeing it in full. On our last topic, which is a Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme court nominee Katon, G brown Jackson. Judge Jackson is one of the most qualified Supreme court nominees ever say that again.

She really is. I know she's the most qualified ever. She's worked at every level of the federal courts. I mean, she's the first Supreme court nominee who is a public defender. She was confirmed by the Senate three times in the past. Hi, Senator Lindsey Graham himself. But the hearings this week, which wrapped on Thursday, became an opportunity for Republican Senate.

To show who they really are from Senator Ted Cruz, tying judge Jackson to critical race theory, debates to Lindsey Graham asking about her religion and attacking her for her work on behalf of Guantanamo bay detainees 20 years ago. I mean, there were so many racist dog whistles happening. As women, it was just like also just taking us down as women.

So our producer, Lisa Salinas spoke to Megan Hatcher Mays, who's director of democracy policy at the organization in divisible and talking about Republican's questioning in this hearing. So let's take a look. The reason

[00:43:21] UNKNOWN: that they're focusing on these attacks is because they don't actually have anything substantive to complete about when it comes to judge Jackson and her record.

He's an incredible lawyer. She's been a great judge. She's highly, highly qualified to be a Supreme court justice, and they just don't have anything to actually attack her on. So they're just sort of making stuff up and they're yelling very loudly and wrongly to make it seem like they've got something important to save and then they really don't have anything.

So this is all kind of just. Performance, you know, Republicans are playing ahead of the midterm elections and ahead of the 20, 24 Republican primary. There's obviously a lot of interest in that room among the Republican senators to run for president ultimately. And that's what

[00:44:02] MARIA HINOJOSA - CO-HOST, IN THE THICK: this is really about. Yeah.

That's pretty much, I think that would be the, you know, I mean,

[00:44:07] JULIO RICARDO VARELA - CO-HOST, IN THE THICK: can I just say Ted Cruz cuff all of them. I mean, Josh Hawley, Lindsey Graham, but Ted Cruz was particularly. Annoying. And, you know, you know, the theory, you know, Sheila, my wife and I were talking about this judge Jackson and Ted Cruz were classmates at Harvard law school.

And I think, you know, there's a part of me. That's like he or she is looking at this guy going, I have to deal with you again, you know, after law school, because it's so clear that her poise and her demeanor. And her grace was on display.

[00:44:42] MARIA HINOJOSA - CO-HOST, IN THE THICK: Maria also just a difference between what happened drain justice Cavanaugh's then confirmation hearings and, and judge Jackson, you know, that nomination of Kavanaugh is, you know, it was very triggering for me.

It's one of the things that helped me to understand that I had in fact, been raped when I was 16. So it really is like a very big moment in my life. And remember, Judge Kavanaugh yelling back, barking back.

[00:45:09] JULIO RICARDO VARELA - CO-HOST, IN THE THICK: It was like, man, anger, male rage.

[00:45:11] MARIA HINOJOSA - CO-HOST, IN THE THICK: It was male rage, you know, privileged little boy. What are you saying to me?

Rage. And you compare that to what we've been witnessing night and day, night and day, but also how many of us with. Uh, women who are not white in particular have had to put on that face of just like,

[00:45:29] JULIO RICARDO VARELA - CO-HOST, IN THE THICK: oh, I I've hung with you in plenty of places. And I've seen your face in those situations.

[00:45:35] MARIA HINOJOSA - CO-HOST, IN THE THICK: Right. Great point.

And you know what? We we've had to perfect that face because it has allowed us to make it through meetings without losing our shit, to be honest. And one thing for sure. Black women, brown women, immigrant women, Muslim women, and women in general, right. Have just been watching these confirmation hearings.

And it is just such a prime example of misogyny of white supremacy of the patriarchy. And you know what, you know what this reminds me of 1991, watching the taking down of Anita. Yeah. A black woman who was brilliant, smart, super, highly educated. And I remember just like, holy shit, look at they're doing to this black woman.

You know, also, I guess I just want to uplift a moment with her daughter. Right. Which was really beautiful. The photograph of Katon G brown Jackson, just looking onto our, so there's a lot of feelings. Yeah.

[00:46:32] JULIO RICARDO VARELA - CO-HOST, IN THE THICK: There were powerful moments. Right. And I want to play this clip. This one really hit home with me for a lot of reasons.

One being that Petachi brown Jackson. Went to the same school that I did, you know, I was class of 90. She was class of 92. So she was in the same place. I was at Harvard for a couple of years. No kidding. So there was this moment where Senator Alex, buddy, Joe, who went to MIT, asked her about what advice she would give to youth of color.

What would

[00:47:03] MARIA HINOJOSA - CO-HOST, IN THE THICK: you say judge Jackson, to all those young Americans, the most diverse. Generation in our nation's history. What do you say to some of them who may doubt that they can one day achieve the same great Heights

[00:47:18] JUDGE KETANJI BROWN JACKSON: that you have? Thank you, Senator. Um, I will tell them what, uh, an anonymous person said to me once I was walking through.

Uh, Harvard yard. My freshman year, as I mentioned, I went to a public school and I didn't know anything about Harvard until, um, my debate coach. Took me there to enter a speech competition and I've thought this is a great university. It was basically one of the only ones I'd seen. And I said, maybe I'll apply when I'm a senior, but I get there.

And whoa. So different. I'm from Miami, Florida. Boston is very cold. Um, it was rough. It was different from anything I'd known. There were lots of. Students there who were, um, prep, school kids like my husband, um, who knew all about, knew all about Harvard. And that was not, not me. And I think the first semester I was really homesick, I was really questioning.

Um, do I belong here? Can I. Can I make it in this environment. And I was walking through the yard in the evening and a black woman I did not know, was passing me on the sidewalk. And she looked at me and I guess she knew how I was feeling. And she leaned over as we crossed and said, persevere.

I would tell them to pursue.

[00:49:14] JULIO RICARDO VARELA - CO-HOST, IN THE THICK: That one hit home with me. And I want to hear what you think.

[00:49:17] MARIA HINOJOSA - CO-HOST, IN THE THICK: Yeah, no, I just love the fact that we got a chance to S you know, again, really hear her heart and see her in all of her self with all of these emotions and to take the time to talk about that story and hold it together and not lose it, because we could tell that she was so much in the moment and just the solidary.

That we need, right. For, you know, a black companera to walk by her and just say it whisper in her ear. Persevere don't give up is just a really beautiful moment. It also shows the kind of, you know, what it is to be a black woman in these spaces that you're, I mean, you know, I wrote a lot about this. It's the imposter syndrome where you're just walking around, like, what the hell am I doing here?

And it's all like, well, you're supposed to be.

[00:50:04] JULIO RICARDO VARELA - CO-HOST, IN THE THICK: Take up the space. Yeah. And you're going to be a Supreme court, justice come hell or high water and don't remove the joy. And I just wanted to acknowledge that clip because, you know, I don't share the same experience as a black woman, but as a Puerto Rican.

Dude who went into that space at Harvard yard, probably walking around the same places that judge Jackson was walking around, asking those very same questions. It really hits home in how we have to crack these spaces. And even by cracking the spaces, you still have to deal with white supremacy, bullshit.

And that's America right now, and her grace and professionalism and who she was as an undergrad to where she is now. That's character. That doesn't go away

You Are My Harbinger of Hope Sen. Cory Booker Defends Ketanji Brown Jackson Amid GOP Attacks Part 2 - Democracy Now! - Air Date 3-24-22

[00:50:48] AMY GOODMAN - HOST, DEMOCRACY NOW!: For more, we’re joined by two guests. Dahlia Lithwick is Slate.com senior editor, senior legal correspondent. Her new piece is headlined “Cory Booker Aside, Democrats Stranded Ketanji Brown Jackson.” And in Boulder, Colorado, we’re joined by Imani Gandy, senior editor of law and policy for Rewire News Group, where she covers law and courts and co-hosts the podcast Boom! She’s been live-tweeting the past three days of Judge Jackson’s confirmation hearing.

I want to get response from both of you, beginning with Imani, about these — the three days, what stood out for you, and how Judge Brown Jackson was treated. Imani?

[00:51:29] IMANI GANDY: I think it stood out for me that she describes herself as a patriot. I think that that was one of the key moments for me, the way she described herself as a patriot, the way she described herself as believing in this country, as believing in the Constitution and what this country can be. I think given the way that she was treated by Republican senators and given the struggle that she has had to endure — and I’m sure the racism and the misogyny and the downplaying of her intellect that she has had to endure — to get to where she is, is remarkable. And the fact that she’s had to endure all of that and remain this hopeful about the dream of this country, I think, is remarkable.

As for Senators Cruz, Hawley, Cotton, Blackburn, their behavior was shameful, was absolutely shameful. And I don’t even want to give any of the discussion about child sex abuse materials any more credence than it needs to be, because none of it made any sense. As was said multiple times, her sentencing when it comes to those types of cases were in line with 70% of judges. Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz voted for innumerable Trump-nominated judges who sentenced people convicted for having child sex abuse materials to similar sentences that Judge Jackson did. So this was just, it seemed to me, white men trying to flex their power over a Black woman, knowing that she could not respond in the way that, for example, Brett Kavanaugh responded in his hearings. I think that just highlights the ways in which Black women are treated differently than white men, and Black women are not given as much grace as white men are in this country.

[00:53:07] AMY GOODMAN - HOST, DEMOCRACY NOW!: And, Dahlia, you —

[00:53:08] NERMEEN SHAIKH: And, Dahlia Lithwick, could you — go ahead, Amy.

[00:53:10] AMY GOODMAN - HOST, DEMOCRACY NOW!: No, go ahead, Nermeen.

[00:53:12] NERMEEN SHAIKH: Dahlia, you wrote in your recent piece, “Cory Booker Aside, Democrats Stranded Ketanji Brown Jackson.” So could you talk about the attacks on her, the way that she was questioned, and the Democrats’ response?

[00:53:29] DAHLIA LITHWICK: I mean, I think Imani nails it. It’s shocking that something that started as a kind toxic Reddit trial balloon last week by Senator Hawley, you know, who floated late on Thursday night this ridiculously and completely unsupported idea that the attack on Judge Jackson was going to be predicated on the fact that our children are unsafe because of her sentencing decisions, in a tiny cluster — seven — child pornography cases, that went, in under a week, from a crackpot idea that was debunked in the National Review online, debunked across the spectrum, debunked by former judges — Republican judges, in some cases — who said, as you just heard, she was well in line with what the sentencing guidelines require and what other judges do — and in a week, it turned into something that Ted Cruz joyfully lapped up, Marsha Blackburn, Tom Cotton, Lindsey Graham. And watching this misinformation go from an addled idea that everyone on the committee, all the Republicans, distanced themselves from last week, and they embraced. By the time we got to the end of yesterday, 10 Republican senators had signed a letter wanting to see confidential presentencing reports that are sealed, so they could personally assess whether Judge Jackson was endangering our children. That’s how January 6 happened. That’s how claims about stolen elections happened. We don’t debunk these completely pernicious lies, and in the span of a week all of them wrap themselves in this shoddy, shoddy cloak that Judge Jackson is somehow soft on, or even enabling of, child sex predators. It was appalling.

What It Means to See Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson This Close to the Supreme Court Part 1 - The Brian Lehrer Show - Air Date 3-26-22

[00:55:40] BRIAN LEHRER - HOST, THE BRIAN LEHRER SHOW: So the invitations on the table for you out of all of that, first of all, whatever this historic nomination means to you given the history open mic 212 433 WNYC Second, do you, can you. Love America when it doesn't seem to love you like Ketanji Brown Jackson and Cory Booker seem to in those last couple of clips.

And do you have that knowing look between you and others, knowing what you know that outsiders may not? 212 433 WNYC or tweet brianlehrer we'll start in Michael with Michael calling from Ann Arbor, Michigan Michael you're on WNYC Thank you so much for calling.

[00:56:26] CALLER MICHAEL FROM ANN ARBOUR: Hi, how are you? Um, yeah. Good to, good to speak with you.

I listened to the show all the time. Um, so yeah, I'm actually pursuing a PhD in biomedical research and, um, so I'm, uh, I'm, uh, attending the university of Michigan as I've, you know, as I've gone through this trajectory, I've always been, uh, one of the few black people, um, as, as scientists, but at the same time, I always encounter, um, other black people that are also, um, working in the.

service Uh, capacities and we always have these exchanges, uh, where they express, um, uh, pride to see me there. And I want, and I also want to convey to them that, um, uh, you know, I'm, I feel, I feel really fortunate to be in this position. Um, but, and that's, I want to, uh, give back and succeed as a way to, um, as a way to represent, uh, properly if that makes sense.

But, but, but the situation that Cory Booker and I watched the hearings as well, the situation that Cory Booker, uh, uh, mentioned as he was talking to Ketanji brown Jackson, uh, it totally resonated with me. So,

[00:57:35] BRIAN LEHRER - HOST, THE BRIAN LEHRER SHOW: Michael, thank you. Thank you for that story. Thanks for starting us off

Rita in Brooklyn. You're on WNYC

[00:57:43] CALLER RITA FROM BROOKLYN: Good morning, Brian. I'm a long time listener. and First time caller. Thank you for your service. As a first generation black American,

I am

compelled to love this country. It is the country that gave my parents the opportunity to work hard and put three children through college and see them excel And they would not have had that opportunity in any other country in the world. It's unfortunate that as a black person, we have to continually prove to America that we love it, but America is a part of who I am. And I will always love this country because it's the only place in the world where if you are willing to work hard and you're willing to ignore insult, you can.

still get To your highest potential.

[00:58:38] BRIAN LEHRER - HOST, THE BRIAN LEHRER SHOW: That's an interesting pairing if you're willing to work hard and if you're willing to ignore insult, ignore, insult what a thing to have to be central.

[00:58:50] CALLER RITA FROM BROOKLYN: Yep. Yes. Thank you. That's all I wanted to say

[00:58:55] BRIAN LEHRER - HOST, THE BRIAN LEHRER SHOW: Okay. Thank you very much. Thank you so much

Janine in Springfield, Virginia. You're on WNYC Hi Janine.

[00:59:03] CALLER JANINE FROM VIRGINIA: Hey Brian, thank you for this conversation. Um, I needed it today. Uh, I really did. Um, After what I saw at the Oscars last night and seeing




next segment by the way, but go ahead.

[00:59:19] CALLER JANINE FROM VIRGINIA: Uh, I should have called on that.

Um, but seeing Cory Booker stand up for judge Jackson, a black man standing up in the face of, I mean, Tom cotton, cotton, those and Cruz and grit, how they slaughtered her character. And she had to sit there with no emotion where all of us, my father is 80 is 89 and we watched it together and we wanted to, we wanted to beat the living daylights out of those white men.

And we were proud of her for sitting there, but we felt her pain and we were screaming at the TV. And when Cory Booker came on and, and, and I'm someone who's grounded in joy And he came on and gave a sermon. It just gave all of us the strength to remember who we are because in this country, my ancestors blood is in the soil of the south.

That's why I lived in New York. Now I have to be in Virginia and I feel the weight of their blood, but that's an investment. That's an investment for me to be free and to live with. joy And no white person or any person, but particularly those white and specifically those white men who know our history, they know what they're doing.

They are very skilled in white perversity and in extending white dominance to keep money in their pocket, to keep us small and to keep us in service, black people because it serves this system that feeds. their pockets To see Cory Booker and all of the black folks who are in politics, doing their thing and to support one another.

It helps with, with the police violence. It helps with the microaggressions. It helps with all of the racism that we have to deal with.

[01:01:27] BRIAN LEHRER - HOST, THE BRIAN LEHRER SHOW: And like the earlier calls Go ahead

[01:01:32] CALLER A: It helps.

[01:01:32] CALLER JANINE FROM VIRGINIA: It helps. It's like a, it's like an oxygen boost. It's a B12 boost to continue on because you know what? This is not the only country that where a black person can thrive. I have a lot of friends who have left America and moved to Ghana. Who've moved to France, who've moved to England.

Who've moved to Canada. Who've moved to the Barbados, to other countries and are thriving. Who've moved to central America. So, no, this is not the only black country where a black person can thrive, but this is a place where those of us who are stubborn to say, you know what? My ancestors invested in this soil.

And I refuse in my lifetime to let anybody take what we've earned away from. us So that, that is a nuance that I feel. And I just, I appreciate you giving me the chance to say, to say that when we come uplift one, another, particularly a black man for a black woman in that


[01:02:32] BRIAN LEHRER - HOST, THE BRIAN LEHRER SHOW: and it sounds like a little more complicated relationship for you to loving this country.

than we heard from some of the previous callers or the way that Booker or judge Jackson put it.

[01:02:44] CALLER JANINE FROM VIRGINIA: Yeah, it is. Cause you know, Part of me wants I would love to move to Ghana where there's all black people, you know, and then, but, but as we will talk about in your next session there, you know, when you have all black people, there's still going to be, there's still going to be strife and conflict and how we deal with it.

But specifically for me, it's like my ancestors did not work for free for what, 401 years in order for me to give up On their investment. I, I'm not, I'm not college educated, I'm an artist. I, I don't have hoity-toity degrees, but I grew up in an area where I was the only black kid in my whole school and they, and not only, and I had to deal with with that.

And I love the fact that we're living in a time where Black kids are growing up in their power, where we are building a, multi-generational a multiethnic, a all-identity community for the future. That's grounded in love and joy. So I have to be, do my part to invest in that. So thank you, Brian.

[01:03:58] BRIAN LEHRER - HOST, THE BRIAN LEHRER SHOW: And thank you.

And thanks to all of you who called on this. segment

Summary 4-5-22

[01:04:01] JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: We've just heard clips today, starting with David Pakman laying out Judge Jackson's qualifications. Amicus spoke with Anita Hill about representation on and the legitimacy of the Supreme Court. The Bradcast discussed to the double standard Republicans you use to judge Democratic judicial nominee. Boom! Lawyered to describe the way the confirmation hearing questions by the GOP framed Judge Jackson as being a danger to white people. Democracy Now! discussed the unsupported conspiratorial attacks during the hearing. Amicus continued their talk with Anita Hill with a discussion on the dynamic of three women writing dissenting opinions from the court. And In The Thick highlighted Judge Jackson's grace under fire, and the moment when her humanity was able to shine through.

That's what everyone heard, but members also heard bonus clips from Democracy Now! Playing Senator Cory Booker speech during the hearing, and The Brian Lehrer Show hosted a discussion about loving America in spite of anti-Black oppression.

To hear that and have all of our bonus contents delivered seamlessly into your new mambers-only podcast feed that you'll receive, sign up to support the show at bestoftheleft.com/support or request a financial hardship membership, because we don't make a lack of funds a barrier to hearing more information. Every request is granted. No questions asked.

And now, we'll hear from you.

Response to Maria on puberty blockers - Sophia from Texas

[01:05:25] VOICEMAILER: SOPHIA FROM TEXAS: Hi, my name is Sophia in Texas. I am also a transgender woman. And I wanted to respond to Maria.

I mean, thank you, Jay, first, for explaining about the puberty blockers.

I also want to let Maria know that puberty blockers used to be used, or are still being used, in cisgender children who have a precocious development in order to ensure that this children are enjoying their lives. as children, and not going through puberty on an early age.

So we've known, for a very long time, that puberty blockers have been very safe for cisgender children.

But now people are upset about the use of puberty blockers on transgender kids. And it come to show you that it's nothing but a way to erase the trans community.

As a trans woman who is 45 years old right now, I would have benefited tremendously if puberty blockers-- which, by the way were being used in the early eighties-- were given to me. But at the time, that treatment wasn't available for trans kids.

Sorry. I am upset. I think, like you said, people are repeating the same tropes from the right instead of doing their own research.

Thank you, Jay. Thank you for doing everything that you're doing, and thank you for standing up for the trans community. Looking forward every week for your podcast. Bye.

Final comments on motivated reasoning, wild guesses and edge cases

[01:06:56] JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: Thanks to all those who called into the voicemail line or wrote in their messages to be played as VoicedMails. If you'd like to leave a comment or question of your own to be played on the show, you can record a message at 202-999-3991, or write me a message to [email protected].

Also, I'm putting out a general call for recommendations from you, the listeners, of interesting stuff that you have been hearing or seeing. Interpret that however you like. Podcast episodes, online videos, documentaries, whatever -- I want to know about it. If you're a member of the show and you're on our Discord community, you can add your own recommendations there and see what other people have been suggesting as well. But for everyone else, please feel free to tweet at us or email me with all your recommendation.

Now. Thanks to Sophia for her message. A quick update on that conversation is that I have continued speaking with Maria, who we heard from in the last episode, just a little bit by email, and it's been perfectly cordial. I don't bring this up to beat up on a listener just because we disagree.

But I did find some of what Maria sent me to be, I think, illuminating as a sort of case study in motivated reasoning. And in essence, motivated reasoning is the way we trick ourselves into thinking an argument is stronger than it is because we want it to be.

And it really seems like that was on display with a podcast that Maria sent me. She sent over a podcast hosted by two psychologists. And I listened to a couple of episodes of it; it gives me a very "when all you have is a hammer" sort of vibe in that as psychologists, they seem to always think that everything, including being trans, is just in people's heads. Which on one hand it's sort of is, right? I mean, everything is in our heads. Our entire perception of the world is just in our heads. But there's an interplay between the real world and what's in our heads that they don't seem to be addressing very often. For instance, I sometimes experienced seasonal depression, but that feeling tends to go away if I eat really good French fries. And I'll admit that that's all in my head. But those external factors, like the seasons and the quality of the French fries and the dipping sauces that are available, make a real impact too.

So anyway, Maria sent over this podcast episode in which these psychologists seem so dead set on making gender dysphoria something that exists only in people's heads, that they ended up running down a list of wild-ass guesses about what it could be instead of, you know, the, the consensus understanding that we have today. And so that then, you know, maybe it's just that these people are gay and they're confusing their sexual attraction with their gender. Maybe it's just that they're afraid of puberty; they have puberty phobia, she called it, and this has nothing to do with gender identity; it's just a huge fear of growing up. And they brought up one case where a person thought that they wanted to transition before they fell in love. And then after falling in love decided that they didn't want to transition. So they sort of intimate that there's this healing power of love that can make gender dysphoria go away.

And maybe it did in that one case. I don't know how much you can extrapolate from that though. So, you know, it's either all in a person's head or maybe there are external factors that could change how they feel like falling in love. I mean, have we even tried giving gender dysphoric kids, French fries? There's no telling what might work.

So the basic breakdown of a large portion of this podcast discussion that Maria recommended to me as, as like a thing that helped her come to the conclusions she holds, was that they were not really analyzing what the gender-affirming medical community has collectively learned over the past decades, but rather, either attempting to discredit parts of the research or simply setting aside big chunks of evidence that they don't like, not least of which is simply listening to people describe what they're feeling. And then they speculated wildly on a wide range of possibilities that could be the thing actually lurking behind gender dysphoria.

Now I've talked about my fascination with conspiratorial thinking before -- flat earthers in particular -- and I cannot help but recognize the pattern in conspiratorial thinking that maps pretty neatly onto these discussions that seek to find an answer in the answer, as long as it is not the established consensus view. The stark similarity is that they don't start from evidence first and build theories from there; they start with anecdotal evidence that might support their pet theory, but their only real theory is that the conventional wisdom is wrong. Now seen from one angle, this could look like conspiratorial flailing, but from another angle, it could just be good, healthy skepticism that's challenging the conventional wisdom to make sure it can stand up to scrutiny, right? And that's clearly how they see themselves. But here's the red flag: There's no attempt to really drill into any given theory that they're coming up and just sort of spouting off, they just list vaguely plausible ideas, rapid fire, which gives the sense -- it's particularly to their listeners, not just to themselves -- that there are so many possible theories, that it would almost be silly to be confident about any one of them.

You know, they're not trying to dislodge the established understanding of gender dysphoria with a higher quality understanding. They're trying to dislodge it with doubt based on a higher quantity of alternate theories, compared to the established, accepted theory.

But here's the problem with reality -- oh, well, it's one of the problems with reality -- is that as complicated and varied and nuanced as it is, it's still finite, at least until we can travel through the multi-verse. So reality is massively complex. And yet it is still basically just this one thing. We have the reality we have, things work the way they work, and we're specks on a speck, floating through space, trying to figure out how things work.

Unreality, though, that's intimate. There are always going to be more ways that things don't work then ways they do. Flat earthers have thought of literally hundreds or thousands of theories that could explain the earth being flat. But us globe earthers basically have just the one theory. So what are the chances that we're right and they're wrong? You know, the flat earthers have so many more theories than us. It it's like one in a thousand that we picked the right theory in the raffle, right? No, that's not how math or science works, but it is a good way to confuse people.

And this is what I thought of as I was listening to the psychologists running down their list of wild-ass guesses about how gender dysphoria might just be a fear of growing up. And to really nail that one down, I've got to say, there are at least two problems with that one. The same two people on the same podcast episode talked about how nearly 100% of patients go on puberty blocking treatment, and then continue on to cross hormone therapy as they get older. And they seem to think that there's something suspicious about that, though I'm not sure exactly why, but it seems like if a desire for puberty blockers were related to a fear of growing up, then there'd be a whole lot less than nearly 100% of those patients moving onto hormone therapy, because they would figure out, oh, I'm not trans, I'm scared of being an adult or something like that.

The other problem is that this whole conversation that we're having is in response to an interview they had done with experts who had explained that the rise in gender dysphoria in teens had correlated with a decrease in new patients who came in at higher ages, meaning that the number of gender dysphoria cases isn't really going up so much as we're just catching it earlier.

And it doesn't seem to have anything to do with if you're growing up; otherwise, there wouldn't have been all of those adult-onset gender dysphorics in the first place.

So as this conversation goes on, these psychologists are casting aside evidence that they don't like, as I said, and they are getting themselves pretty worked up about all these other possibilities that they are essentially making up or cherrypicking from edge cases.

Just in the same way, I have heard conspiracy theorists get excited about all the different questions they have and all the different tests that they think they can run to prove that the earth is flat. You know, surely not all of my questions can be sufficiently answered. Surely not all of my tests will fail.

And reading only slightly between the lines, it seemed obvious that these psychologists were making the most obvious missteps in motivated reasoning and listing all of their wildly unsupported theories while thinking how silly it would be to be convinced of just one theory when there are so many others to explore.

But you know, there's a saying in the medical community regarding diagnosis. They say, when you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras. Sure, there are going to be a range of reasons why people describe themselves as gender dysphoric. And there are even going to be some edge cases where people change their minds about transitioning for interesting reasons like having fallen in love. But those are zebras. They are real, but they are more rare than horses. If you hear hoofbeats and assume it's zebras you're hearing, you're going to be wrong more often than you're not. But what's worse is when you start intimating that may be horses aren't actually real anyways, and they're all just confused zebras. And this is what motivated reasoning does. It makes a laundry list of disjointed, logically inconsistent, wild guesses, and a few references to edge cases feel like you're on the verge of overturning the conventional wisdom. And then for the average person, who's just open-minded and looking for information, which I think probably describes Maria in this case, all that talk creates a "where there's smoke, there's fire" sort of idea. I mean, look at all these other possibilities, look at all these cases that don't fit the norm. Maybe we've got this whole thing wrong.

So I found this whole thing to be pretty ridiculous, but also sad in much the same way I see all conspiracy theories and their promoters, you know, that they're so earnest and want so much to find the true answer of how reality works. But the one thing they seem to know for certain is that the reality nearly everyone else has agreed on must be wrong. And then those who are open-minded and looking for information gets sucked in by those kinds of tactics.

And the biggest tragedy is that if we do need a major paradigm shift in our understanding of gender dysphoria, these people are not going to be the ones to figure it out, because all of their wild-ass guessing, motivated reasoning and selective attention to evidence, isn't going to get them any closer to doing the kind of a real research that could uncover the real truth, if it is out there to be found.

Meanwhile, stop gaslighting people and telling them that their gender dysphoria can be treated with counseling because maybe they're just afraid of growing up or whatever. It's paternalistic and gross.

As always, keep the comments coming in at 202-999-3991, or by emailing me to [email protected].

Thanks to everyone for listening. Thanks to Deon Clark and Erin Clayton for their research work for the show and participation in our bonus episodes. Thanks to the Monosyllabic, Transcriptionist Trio, Ben, Ken, and Scott, for their volunteer work helping put our transcripts together. Thanks to Amanda Hoffman for all of her work on our social media outlets, activism segments, graphic designing, web mastering, and bonus show co-hosting.

And thanks to those who support the show by becoming a member or purchasing gift memberships at BestoftheLeft.com/support, through our Patreon page, or from right inside the Apple Podcast app. Membership is how you get instant access to our incredibly good bonus episodes, in addition to there being extra content and no ads in all of our regular episodes, all through your regular podcast player.

So coming to from far outside the conventional wisdom of Washington, DC, my name is Jay!, and this has been the Best of the Left podcast coming to you twice weekly, thanks entirely to the members and donors to the show from BestoftheLeft.com.

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  • Jay Tomlinson
    published this page in Transcripts 2022-04-06 14:25:12 -0400
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