The news was at once both stunning and not at all surprising: According to reports last Wednesday, an armed man had been arrested outside the home of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, having planned to assassinate the jurist.
A first thought upon hearing this: Good God. This can’t possibly be happening. And a moment later: Of course it’s true. Such cannot be seen as unexpected in our increasingly crazy era.
As a few details began to emerge, the news appeared no less benign. The accused, Nicholas John Roske, 26, of Simi Valley, California, is said to have traveled to the Maryland home of Kavanaugh expressly to kill the judge. He had a suitcase and backpack containing, among other items, a pistol, a knife, burglary tools and zip ties.
Again, one stands in shock, wondering how we could have gone so far wrong and what it will take to put us back on something of a rational course.
Roske was reportedly upset by the leaked draft of a Supreme Court decision that would overturn Roe vs. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court ruling that made abortion legal in all 50 states. He was also said to be unhappy about the recent spate of mass shootings.
But his ostensible rationale must be seen as immaterial. No one can think it OK to decide to kill a Supreme Court justice — or any official — for any reason. Ever. Period.
For far too many today, politics has turned into a blood sport. Even as metaphor, this is much less than ideal. But to consider it literally must be completely out of bounds.
It does not matter a whit what one thinks of Kavanaugh, of how he came to have a seat on the court, of claims of impropriety from years back, or of his political views. None of that matters in this moment.
It must be clear that we have reached a terribly dark and dangerous place when someone can seek to kill a member of the court — for whatever reason. We need, as a society, to walk back from the ledge we are on.
We need to learn to work within the system, to play by the rules, to understand that our political opponents are not the enemy. And that looking to kill someone you disagree with is never, ever the right answer, no matter the question.