This year has witnessed a plethora of disturbing comments by influential mainstream writers, feminists, progressives, and others manifesting hostility to due process and college men accused of sexual assault. Which do you think is the most egregious?
1. Amanda Childress, sexual assault awareness program coordinator at Dartmouth College, declared that campus policies aren’t going far enough to protect students. She asked, “Why could we not expel a student based on an allegation?” Dartmouth defended Childress’s comment, noting that she “was asking a question—a provocative one—meant to generate dialogue around complex issues….”
2. Ms. Magazine quoted Caroline Heldman, a professor at Occidental College, on suits filed by men for alleged violations of their due process rights in connection with sexual assault claims: “These lawsuits are an incredible display of entitlement, the same entitlement that drove them to rape.”
3. California’s new “affirmative consent” law requires “affirmative” consent at each step of a sexual encounter on its college campuses. The co-author of the bill in the state assembly, Bonnie Lowenthal (D-Long Beach), was asked how an innocent person is supposed to prove consent. She said, “Your guess is as good as mine.”
4. Senator Claire McCaskill circulated an extensive survey about sexual assault to 350 college and university presidents. The survey classified persons who make accusations of sexual misconduct as “victims,” and in one place called persons merely accused of sexual misconduct “offenders.” Then on page 14, it contained this query: “Below is a list of policies and procedures that may discourage victims from disclosing and reporting assaults at some schools…. 1. Disclosure of offender’s rights in the adjudication process….” The implication: It is somehow improper to ensure that students accused of serious sexual offenses are aware of their rights.
5. A jury acquitted former Dartmouth student Parker Gilbert of raping a female student at the school in a “he said/she said” dispute. A juror told a reporter: “[The woman’s] story of how the night played out, the evidence wasn’t there to support that.” And: “There is tons and tons of evidence that just doesn’t add up.” But WISE, an organization that seeks to empower victims of domestic and sexual violence, issued a formal statement: “Today’s decision in the Dartmouth rape trial of Parker Gilbert is devastating and there is no doubt that it sends a terrible message to survivors of sexual assault.”
6. Duke University Dean of Students Sue Wasiolek was asked what would happen if two students got drunk to the point of incapacity and then had sex. “Assuming it is a male and female, it is the responsibility in the case of the male to gain consent before proceeding with sex,“ said Wasiolek.
7. Jessica Valenti mocked the efforts of the three mothers who started Families Advocating for Campus Equality (FACE), which seeks to raise awareness about the injustices faced by presumptively innocent college students accused of sexual misconduct. Each of the three FACE founders has been touched directly by campus rape injustice: their sons were ensnared by it. Valenti wrote: “Alternative name for this group: Not My Nigel.” Of course, “Not My Nigel” is radical-feminist shorthand to suggest that women who defend their male loved ones accused of rape or similar acts are defending rapists.
8. Ezra Klein evinced satisfaction that possibly innocent young men will be expelled for rapes they didn’t commit: “Critics worry that colleges will fill with cases in which campus boards convict young men (and, occasionally, young women) of sexual assault for genuinely ambiguous situations. Sadly, that’s necessary for the law’s success. It’s those cases — particularly the ones that feel genuinely unclear and maybe even unfair, the ones that become lore in frats and cautionary tales that fathers e-mail to their sons — that will convince men that they better Be Pretty D–n Sure.”
9. Elisabeth Dee—Stanford class of 2016 and one of the organizers of the “Carry that Weight” demonstration in which students were urged to carry a pillow or mattress around for a day to symbolize the burden placed upon survivors of sexual assault—called on the school to reduce the burden of proof required to find someone guilty of sexual assault (even though Stanford already uses the lowest legally permissible, “preponderance of the evidence”). Dee said that Stanford should not be focusing on “defending the perpetrator, because essentially burden of proof is a defense of the perpetrator.”
10. Laura Dunn, executive director of SurvJustice, on why some colleges have pushed back against lowering the standard of proof for sexual assault cases to make it easier to hold young men accused of sexual assault: “To put it bluntly, I think it’s arrogance and ingrained male privilege….”
11. Julia Horowitz, a journalist at University of Virginia’s school newspaper, wrote that while the Rolling Stone “gang rape” story may be false, “from where I sit in Charlottesville, to let fact checking define the narrative would be a huge mistake.”
12. Zerlina Maxwell wrote: “Ultimately, the costs of wrongly disbelieving a survivor far outweigh the costs of calling someone a rapist.”
13. Jessica Valenti debated Wendy McElroy at Brown University. A live-blog shows that when a questioner suggested that the conversation had become unnecessarily adversarial, with some people supporting the accuser and others supporting the accused, Valenti responded, “… in the society we live in now, we need to side with the survivors. That might not be a fair and equal thing, but that’s how I think it has to be.”
14. Sabrina Rubin Erdely, recounting the alleged gang rape of “Jackie” at a University of Virginia frat house in Rolling Stone magazine: “‘Grab its motherfucking leg,’ she heard a voice say. And that’s when Jackie knew she was going to be raped. She remembers every moment of the next three hours of agony, during which, she says, seven men took turns raping her, while two more – her date, Drew, and another man – gave instruction and encouragement.” And: “For men, skepticism is a form of self-protection…. For much of their lives, they’ve looked forward to the hedonistic fun of college, bearing every expectation of booze and no-strings sex. A rape heralds the uncomfortable idea that all that harmless mayhem may not be so harmless after all. Easier, then, to assume the girl is lying, even though studies indicate that false rape reports account for, at most, eight percent of reports.” (The managing editor of Rolling Stone later apologized for the story, noting with almost other-worldly understatement: “… there now appear to be discrepancies in Jackie’s account.”)