Empathy advocate fails to show it for Kavanaugh

A recent commentary in your newspaper declared that the world needs empathy now more than ever (“Empathy: we need it now more than ever,” Nov. 21). The author, Lynne Agress, argues, persuasively, that understanding people whose opinions may differ from ours makes us better people. I support that position wholeheartedly. Unfortunately, it is disappointing that Ms. Agress failed to practice the empathy she promotes by her examples criticizing Supreme Court Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch and praising Sen. Cory Booker.

She argued that then-Supreme Court nominee Kavanaugh showed no empathy when he failed to shake the hand of a Parkland school parent. If she had been even remotely empathetic and tried to understand Judge Kavanaugh, as she challenges her readers, she would realize that he had no way of knowing that this stranger who approached him was a Parkland parent. In fact, being empathetic, Ms. Agress would have understood that Mr. Kavanaugh, interrupted continuously throughout the hearings by people who cursed and condemned him, might have been a bit leery about a person rushing toward him at a time when he needed a break from the confusion.

And apparently the author believes that Justice Gorsuch should not apply the law fairly and blindly as is required of a judge. Instead, she apparently believes that judges should rule on cases emotionally rather than judiciously and as the law was written. If she practiced empathy, she would not condemn his decision since she has no way of knowing his heart.

And let’s not elevate Senator Booker to sainthood just yet with his work in Newark, N.J. Perhaps he chose to begin his political career in Newark out of empathy but it is also possible that he choose Newark as a great launching pad for his political ambitions with his ultimate sight on the White House.

I am offended by being lectured to by an individual about the need to be empathetic while she herself refuses to demonstrate the empathy she demands of others.

John W. Egan, Hunt Valley

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