One of the more ridiculous moments in the hearings to vet Judge Barrett was the contrived indignation expressed by Senator Hirono and Senator Cory Booker when the nominee used the term “sexual preference.” The Democrats had nothing valid to complain about regarding the judge—attacking her religion had proven unpopular and ugly in her previous confirmation hearings—so this was the best they could do: political correctness and dubious language taboos.
It wasn’t just them, of course: Patty Murray, the third-ranking Democrat in the Senate, tweeted: “Judge Barrett using this phrase is shameful and offensive—and it tells us exactly what we need to know about how she views the LGBTQIA+ community.” Yes, that’s certainly fair: the unplanned and innocent use of term that has been unofficially designated as “offensive” by activists tells Democrats “all they need to know.” This was the signature significance moment that saw Webster’s dictionary prove beyond a shadow of a doubt its unethical bias and lack of integrity when the company reacted to the Hirono-Booker vapours by changing the online definition of “sexual preference” to match the new GoodSpeak.
Honestly, why aren’t people embarrassed to be supporting a party and its allies that behave like this? But I digress.
As pointed out in the related Ethics Alarms article, inconveniently for Hirono, two of her Democratic colleagues on the Judiciary Committee and her party’s Presidential nominee, Joe Biden, had also recently used that phrase that “tells us exactly what we need to know” about them, which is—what exactly? That they missed a memo from the Language Police High Command? I’m confused.
So was National Review writer John McCormack, who relates his exchange with the Hawaiian Senator on the topic:
McCormack: Senator, last week at the hearing you mentioned that you thought it was “offensive and outdated” when Amy Barrett used the [term] “sexual preference.” It turns out that Joe Biden said it in May. Ruth Bader Ginsburg said it in 2017. Some of your colleagues on the Judiciary Committee said it maybe in 2010, 2012. Do you stand by that criticism?
Mazie Hirono: Well, of course.
McCormack:: Do you think Joe Biden should apologize for saying that in May?
Hirono: Well, look, it’s a lesson learned for all of us. But when you’re going on the Supreme Court and you’ve been a judge, as one of my judge friends said, you should know what these words mean.
McCormack:: Should Joe Biden apologize, too, like Amy Coney Barrett did?
Hirono: Joe Biden is not up for the Supreme Court.
McCormack:: He’s up for the presidency. So, he shouldn’t apologize?
Hirono: People will decide.
McCormack:: You don’t want to call on him to apologize?
Hirono: Oh, stop it. The world is in flames.
Her performance here is the apotheosis of public servant incompetence. She answers “of course” to the question of whether she stands by her flagrant double standard without feeling the need to explain why it was acceptable for Justice Ginsburg to say “sexual preference” three years ago but now it is a sign of bigotry. She can’t defend the double standard, so she just ignores it. When did that memo go out since 2017, Senator? She doesn’t know, yet she’s still smug about her political correctness edict.
The Senator’s next sentence is a masterpiece of unconvincing obfuscation and deflection:
- “Well, look, it’s a lesson learned for all of us.”
What “lesson?” That unscrupulous politicians can instantly make up language taboos as “gotchas” when they want to smear a distinguished professional?
- “ As one of my judge friends said”
—and who would that be? Appealing to authority is a logical fallacy; appealing to a secret authority is dishonesty.”
- “—you should know what these words mean.”
The words “sexual preference” mean “one prefers a particular sexual activity, activities, or sex partners over others.” That is accurate whether sexual orientation is a choice or not. Hirono isn’t talking about meaning, she’s talking about codes that apparently are changed in secret.
Then the daffy Senator asserts that Supreme Court Justices ought to be held to higher standards than Presidents. In fact, whether sexual orientation is a choice or a compulsion is almost certainly without significance constitutionally, and a Justice’s belief one way or the other is unlikely to affect a SCOTUS decision—and there is no such case in the offing anyway.
Hirono said, in a public hearing, that the phrase “sexual preference” was offensive, period, not just for judges, and yet she refuses to apply that new rule to anyone except Republican nominees for the Supreme Court,while also refusing to give a credible reason for the double standard.
Pressed on the issue (good for McCormack), she first resorts to a cowardly dodge, “People will decide.” Oh no you don’t, Senator: you made a very clear statement regarding what you feel is an offensive phrase if Judge Barrett utters it. Are you willing to say that applies to everyone including your colleagues, Joe Biden, and the sainted RBG, or do you admit that this was cheap shot? Well?
“Oh, stop it. The world is in flames.”
And there it is, the unmistakable call of the Hawaiian Idiot.
Translations: 1. “Stop trying to make me make sense.” 2. “Look! The Aurora Borealis!” 3. I get a free pass on a stupid comment and my massive hypocrisy because I don’t like what’s happening and stuff.”
I considered whether “The world is in flames” is yet another rationalization, but this is just a variation on 31. The Troublesome Luxury: “Ethics is a luxury we can’t afford right now”
Is being an idiot necessarily unethical? It is unethical if the idiot poses as someone who is capable of doing an important job adequately, and Senators who are idiots can do a lot of damage. Hirono is evidently the most dangerous sort of idiot, one who labors under the delusion that she isn’t one. Since the evidence of her idiocy is copious and well documented, Hawaii’s voters were obligated not to elect her, yet they did. That was irresponsible and incompetent.
As the exchange with the National Review’s reporter demonstrates, Senator Hirono is a walking, talking, human ethics train wreck.