One of the incidental features of the unedifying spectacle of Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court is the opportunity it provides for reflecting on the state of conservative discourse around sexual ethics.
Here it is interesting to consider the career of Mark Judge, the Washington-based journalist and author who’s accused of being Kavanaugh’s accomplice in an alleged sexual assault at a high school party over three decades ago. Judge exemplifies the all-but-universal shift in priorities among the conservative movement from religious opposition to the perceived decline of public morals — and the enshrinement of this decline in our law — to a more ad-hoc reactionary position. Judge is the author of, among other books, two memoirs about his own admittedly misspent youth. His journalism has tended to focus on popular culture, his views on masculinity, and high-toned apologia on behalf of sexual desire, which he considers a core element of Catholic moral theology. He has also worked as a videographer, allegedly filming young models wearing bikinis and cheerleader uniforms.
Judge has written in praise of, among other things, George W. Bush patting our former first lady on her buttocks, and has suggested that Barack Obama is effeminate because he has referred in speeches to trying not to displease his wife. Judge’s writings about sex are full of disclaimers like “There’s never any excuse to rape” and insinuations that “women who dress like prostitutes are sending out signals.”