School Ties: What Happens at Georgetown Prep Should [NOT] Stay at Georgetown Prep


The standoff between Professor Christine Blasey Ford over her assertions that Judge Brett Kavanaugh attempted to rape her at a party when both were teenagers (she at about 15, he at 17) has reached a fever pitch, with a scheduled hearing originally set for this Monday but, now, perhaps some time later next week. Before the Senate Judiciary Committee is an uncertain certainty. The media has been flooded with why the hearing should not occur until after a routine background check is undertaken by the FBI before Ford testifies. When Professor Anita Hill asserted allegations against then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas in 1991, two U.S. Senators, Grassley (R-Ia.) and Hatch (R-Utah), now sitting on the present Judiciary Committee, sat on the same committee back in 1991. Back then, they asserted -- as confirmed on video from the committee’s hearings -- that the FBI was requested and undertook an immediate background investigation into Hill’s allegations, which was completed in a couple of days. Now in 2018, both Senators have declared that there is no time to have the FBI undertake a similar background investigation. This is despite no clear timeline to vote on a candidate for the high court by the Senate. Recall that the Senate waited eight months to fill Scalia’s seat after his death. Equally important, Professor Ford --despite threats made against her, having to move out of her home, and social media barbs and attacks against she and her family -- has called for the FBI to investigate, again before she is called upon to testify. Kavanaugh has remained silent, and Trump has said the FBI does not do this kind of investigation. Logic says that if one were not in any way involved in an occurrence, they would concur in anything, even an FBI background check, undertaken to prove innocence.

The public should not need wonder the catalyst for the unwavering views by those opposing an FBI background check into Ford’s claims before she testifies. It is pure politics painted with opaqueness, since maybe it will disclose she is 100% accurate in her memories! This is perhaps made clearer by viewing the 1992 movie School Ties in relation to a statement Kavanaugh made at a 2015 speech at Catholic University’s Columbus School of Law.

During that lecture, he said, “What happens at Georgetown Prep stays at Georgetown Prep”. Kavanaugh attended this private school.

For those of us without the means to attend a Georgetown-style prep school, let’s look at the storyline in School Ties for an understanding of how Hollywood portrays students attending these schools. Brendan Fraser plays David Greene, a working-class Jewish teenager from Scranton, Pennsylvania in the 1950s. David receives a football scholarship to St. Matthews, an exclusive Massachusetts prep school, for his senior year. His teammates include Charlie Dillon (Matt Damon), coming from a prestigious, well-off family with his eyes on Harvard. David discovers an anti-Semitic atmosphere, so he suppresses his identity but rises nonetheless as the school’s football hero. Charlie’s “girl” is even attracted to David, and they go out before she finds out he is Jewish.

Later in the film, the boys are taking an important history exam when David and fellow teammate Rip Van Pelt observe Charlie using crib notes. After class, the teacher finds the notes on the floor, but is unable to identify the culprit, so he leaves it up to the class to identify the cheater with a threat of everyone failing the exam. David confronts Charlie and threatens to turn him in if he does not confess. Just when David is about to turn Charlie in, Charlie accuses David of being the cheater. Despite a couple in the class believing David, the majority of the class blames him due to anti-Semitic prejudice. Despite his innocence, David turns himself into the headmaster. Unbeknownst to David, Rip Van Pelt had also gone to the headmaster separately but to finger Charlie as the real culprit. Charlie gets expelled, with his hopes of getting into Harvard up in the air. The movie closes with Charlie leaving in what looks like his parents’ limo, saying that years later everyone will have forgotten about the cheating episode while David will still be a Jew. David, walking away, responds, “And you’ll still be a prick.”

Getting back to Kavanaugh’s comment about “what goes on at Georgetown Prep.” We have Professor Ford’s allegation. Instead of the St. Matthews boys, we have the Georgetown Prep boys at the party where the alleged assault is said to have occurred. We know about Mark Judge, one of Kavanaugh’s school buddies that refuses to testify to the Senate judiciary committee; he says he has no recollection of Ford’s allegations. Later in life, Judge wrote a book about being a drunkard during his school days. Unlike in School Ties with Charlie accusing David of cheating to protect himself, we have Judge, and certainly Kavanaugh, with Kavanaugh (sans objection from Judge) saying he was never even at the party when the alleged incident took place. But in the movie, we see Rip Van Pelt coming forward to exculpate David. With Ford, we have as yet to see another come forward to substantiate her story, or at least verify that Kavanaugh was physically present at this party.

The FBI is to serve the role of Van Pelt, but Trump, Grassley, Hatch, and all the Republican men on the committee want to hear from Ford without the FBI doing what it is always called upon to do when vetting Supreme Court candidates. This must raise more than an occasional eyebrow, particularly when Grassley said his committee is a proper forum to do the investigation. However, at 11pm on Wednesday, Grassley’s chief staffer for nominations, Mike Davis, said he interviewed Kavanaugh and tweeted he was “unfazed and determined. We will confirm Kavanaugh.” (Note: this tweet was subsequently taken down). Not quite the independent investigation the FBI would provide, huh?

Adding fuel to this fire, instead of 1950s anti-Semitism, we have a couple white men from an age where women are ignored with claims of sexual harassment and assault.

Kavanaugh’s 2015 statement about Georgetown Prep is said to have been a joke. Is it really? We know that where there’s smoke, there’s fire. In all likelihood, it was a statement that reflected reality with the boys at Georgetown Prep of keeping their goings-on to themselves, even if it took lying to conform to this prep school creed. Watching School Ties is the most accessible way to understand that a Supreme Court nominee like Kavanaugh may just be hiding something that only the FBI can uncover, which would disqualify a nominee for a lifetime appointment. Maybe, just maybe, we need our Van Pelt and now. Unlike Charlie’s sentiment at the movie’s conclusion saying that everyone will forget about the cheating incident, with all that’s at stake, including his opinions on women, presidential powers and other potential false statements already given under oath, none of us can ever forget the distinct possibility that Kavanaugh may have attempted the rape of Professor Ford.