The attack on Brett Kavanaugh now seems to have shifted focus to his entry in his high school yearbook. My leftist friend Xerxes writes, “Kavanaugh denies all allegations. The pages of his high school annual suggest he has a malleable memory.”
The fact that this is stated as innuendo suggests how weak this new argument is: if stated plainly, it would be pretty convoluted, and unconvincing.
As it is innuendo, I am required to assume. I must.
Kavanaugh's yearbook entry suggests, one might say, a juvenile fascination with drinking, partying, and sex. In the senate questioning, Kavanaugh gave relatively innocent interpretations of these yearbook references. Xerxes and others are apparently convinced they really mean something more salacious and scandalous.
So, if I guess the rest of the argument correctly, he was really a bad guy when he was seventeen, and he is not remembering properly now. And so, being a bad guy, he probably molested someone too.
That is hardly a provable case of anything, based on a series of pure assumptions. so irrelevant anyway. But for the sake of optics, let's look at the balance of probabilities on the yearbook entrty.
One item is the word “boof.” He asks in his entry if “Judge has boofed yet.” Under questioning, he said this meant farting. Those who doubt him say, no, it means to take drugs through your anus, or something. Urban Dictionary online includes the term, and that meaning, but lists several slang meanings. In the Washington DC area, where Kavanaugh grew up, it apparently means a woman's vagina emitting a bad smell. I can see how this might also, then, be used for male flatulence.
The seventeen-year-old Kavanaugh refers to the FFFFFFFourth of July (party?). He claims this was a reference to someone's stuttering. Those who doubt this insist there is a recognized sexual meaning to “FFFFFFF.”
Not sure what it is, and if there is such a recognized sexual meaning, it does not come up in my Google search. Must not be all that well recognized.
He refers to himself, as do several other students, as a “Renate alumnius.” Renate was a girl in a nearby school. Kavanaugh says it meant they dated or kissed. His critics insist it means they had sex.
Renate denies they even kissed. Which surely suggests the more innocent meaning. When I was in high school, there was one girl whom everyone thought a great beauty. I went with her, briefly, and among the guys, it was considered an accomplishment, a matter of permanent distinction. I was now a member of a select group. I see no reason to assume this reference was anything different. Flattering, to the girl.
What else? There's a reference to “the Devil's triangle.” Kavanaugh says this was a drinking game involving three beers. Critics insist it means something else that is insidious.
Frankly, all of these secret meanings of these words and phrases are new to me. Since they are clearly not widely known, how can we assume the students who used them knew and meant these particular references?
What was it someone said? If you keep hearing dog whistles, odds are, you are the dog.
But let's even accept that Kavanaugh and his jock friends did know just what those slang terms meant to some, and it is the same thing the critics think. That does not mean they referred to actual events; more likely using them was a schoolboy prank.
Here's what I mean. I went to a public high school. Probably much more casual about what students did in their own time than was Georgetown Prep, a private boarding school. Georgetown Prep was exclusive, expensive, and religious. Its raison d'etre, being a religious school, was character formation. And parents paid big money to send their children there; it was nobody's default option.
Even at my high school, as I bet everywhere else, the yearbook committee had a faculty advisor, who had to vet everything that went in. No school, even a public school, wants scandal, or the parents thinking their kids are getting into such things as anally taking drugs. I assume that some alert Jesuit went over all these comments, and was satisfied at the time that they had relatively innocent explanations. And the kids like Kavanaugh, who put them in, must have been ready with some innocuous meaning if questioned. They must have agreed on it all in advance among themselves, so their stories would tally.
Thus, accordingly, on the strictly literal level, this innocuous meaning was what they indeed meant, as agreed to by those actually using the terms. It is not as if a slang definition is ever authoritative.
Now, the kids might have known they also meant something else to some. That was the joke; they had gotten away with something, then. Great schoolboy gag. Lots o laughs.
But then, in the real world, which meaning do you think was more plausibly literally true? The more salacious and scandalous meaning, or the more innocuous one? If these kids were anything like the kids I knew at seventeen, it was more likely a case of talking big and doing little. Especially at some exlusive prep school, among kids expected by their parents to make it in to some highly competitive Ivy League university, and in their last year of high school.
The salacious interpretation is just not very plausible.