(Tom Toles)
Editorial cartoonist

In conservatives’ self-contradictory defense of Brett Kavanaugh’s alleged misconduct when in school (i.e. that he didn’t do anything wrong and, of course, young people misbehave), let’s look at the second half of that.

It would be more accurately stated as: “Privileged young people misbehave and get away with it without consequences, and, oh, not just when they are young.” We should not forget Kavanaugh’s smug elbow nudge to his privileged pals that “We’ve had a good saying that we’ve held firm to, to this day, … which is ‘What happens at Georgetown Prep stays at Georgetown Prep.’ That’s been a good thing for all of us.” Oh, how so very good for you! Because there are a lot of young people who are arrested and jailed at that age who don’t have the cocoon of wealth and connections and complicity to protect them and their futures from the consequences that conservatives love to lecture everybody else about.

But these special young people have futures that must be protected! And, of course, they are. And if it were just a case of some youthful indiscretions by a cossetted subset of youngsters, maybe we could be more forgiving. But the pattern extends into adulthood. Adult white-collar crime is now barely considered to be a crime at all. And for just the same sort of reasoning. Special people, you know. Privileged people. People who are above being punished. And so while our prisons overflow with the rotting dreams of the nonprivileged, white-collar criminals proceed to scam, grift and simply steal out of the hands of the less well-situated.

And no, it doesn’t end there. Where does it end? Surprise! The current destination is the U.S. Supreme Court. And we’re not just talking about one Brett Kavanaugh here. We are talking about the long-term conservative project to populate the high court with prescreened ideologues who will rule in favor of the privileged in a way that reshapes not only how things are, but even how they can be.

Protection of wealth, protection and extension of the power of wealth. Restrictions on the ability of the American government to even pass laws to protect the health, safety and environment against corporate desires to offload their hazards onto the public at large. This is an attempted rape writ large. And if you try to scream, you will be instructed “Silence! Order in the court!” and then ushered back outside into your polluted commons, or to jail.