The issue is not primarily our conduct as teenagers - or as young adults. The issue is how and what we have learned from those experiences which invariably include transgressions. Of course, some transgressions are worse than merely “cringeworthy” but even the most heinous of these are not irredeemably shackled forever to only shame, pain, guilt, and punishment.
It’s obvious that unrepentant, unreformed liars, thieves, rapists and murderers are a threat to everyone. But under certain circumstances of “redemption” neither rape nor murder would “necessarily” disqualify someone from a successful career which might even include some degree of honor and prestige.
By this point, Bret Kavanaugh’s particulars have become secondary to much greater concerns. These include the character of any candidate for the high court as well as the process by which such “characters” are elevated - or cast down. But, even more important, are the structures of impunity which impinge upon the safety and dignity of men and woman (boys and girls) even as they cast some into the role of innocent oppressed and others into the role of callous (or callow) oppressors.
We can all worry about being upended by mistakes or habits forged in the past. We can also invest in finding (and offering) redemption — and in helping each other understand how this might work for everybody instead of only for certain individuals’ personal gains and advantages. Such an effort is indeed both so daunting and perennial as to seem overwhelming, but it is the prerequisite for fulfilling what some might call our spirituality and others, our humanity.
For Bret Kavanaugh and his confirmation to a pivotal seat on the high court, the primary issue is his character today. I don't know if Bret Stephens has children or whether they will attend an elite prep school. But all parents and all perspective parents must now be worrying about issues connected to "The Case of the Kavanaugh Boy." Unfortunately too many grown men (and women too) today still seem to be more worried about protecting miscreants from public consequences when their anxiety should really be for the hidden injuries suffered by both perpetrators and victims.