Posted by William A. Jacobson
Some privileges are permissible topics for discussion on campus and in the media.
For example, White Privilege is the obsession of some faculty and students.
George Will pointed out that there is another privilege on campuses — false or contrived claims of victim status. Will did not argue that real victims, be it of actual racism or sexual assault, share some special privilege, but rather, that there are people who contrive or encourage others to falsely create victimhood where none exists.
We see it in theories such as microaggression, where in the absence of proof of actual racism, critical race theorists find racism in routine everyday interactions where the participants do not even realize they are being “racist,” much less have any racist intent.
We see it in repeated instances of fake, self-inflicted “hate crimes” in which the victim is, in fact, the perpetrator.
We also see it in the lowering of the standards of proof and definitions of what constitutes sexual assault.
I think everyone agrees that sexual assault as used in the criminal law deserves condemnation and punishment. But colleges, under pressure from the Justice Department and supposedly feminist groups, have started using definitions of sexual assault that can reach absurd results.
When I was in college, the standard for sexual assault basically was the title of Susan Brownmiller’s book — used during Freshman orientation — Against Our Will — Men, Women and Rape. That made sense — No means No, whether expressed verbally or by conduct. Or if the victim were incapable either by reason of age or physical condition of giving consent, that also made sense. And those standards roughly equate to the criminal law’s understanding of sexual assault and rape.
Now, however, “against our will” on campus has become murky, using standards in which two completely willing participants who evidence no indication that the sexual activity is against either of their wills, will have committed a campus offense. But only men are prosecuted.
The campus movement — reflected in proposed California legislation — to require affirmative verbal statements of consent at each and every stage of sexual relations creates crimes where no crimes exist in any real sense. And those contrived crimes, in which both parties in fact willingly participated in conformity with their will at the time, allow after-the-fact claims of sexual assault months or even years after the event, sometimes after consultation with others.
Mere intoxication at a non-disabling level also may create a campus violation, as K.C. Johnson describes at Minding the Campus, If She Had Drinks, You May Be a Rapist:
The Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights has been waging a war on campus due process, ordering colleges to change their disciplinary processes to make it more likely that students accused of sexual assault will be found culpable. Many schools, however, have gone beyond the OCR’s demands in various ways, both in terms of due process changes and in terms of dramatically expanding what constitutes a sexual assault. So the chances of an innocent male being branded a rapist are growing.
Not suprisingly, we are seeing an increasing number of lawsuits by men convicted in campus tribunals of sexual assault under vague standards and loose if any burdens of proof. Kangaroo campus courts are what await men accused of sexual assault, where lives can be ruined even though no criminal charges were filed much less prosecuted.
George Will pointed some of this out. And for that wrongly was accused by propagandists of sanctioning sexual assault and rape.
Will now is experiencing the campus Shut-Up Culture, in which the statistics or standards used to make claim to a “rape culture” cannot even be subject to debate.
Except that Will is not being shut up by a college newspaper, but by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Editor’s note: Michael Gerson replaces George Will:
Starting today, Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson replaces George Will on Thursdays and Sundays….
We believe that Mr. Gerson’s commitment to “compassionate conservatism” and his roots in St. Louis will better connect with our readers, regardless of their political bent.
The change has been under consideration for several months, but a column published June 5, in which Mr. Will suggested that sexual assault victims on college campuses enjoy a privileged status, made the decision easier. The column was offensive and inaccurate; we apologize for publishing it.
We have heard from both conservative and liberal readers asking for new conservative voices. We believe Mr. Gerson’s addition to our op-ed page will be a refreshing and revitalizing change.
In coming weeks, we plan to bring more diverse voices to this page, and to connect our print readers with some of the other vibrant conversations taking place in the digital universe.
If you have any comments about the change, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call at 314-340-8382.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch didn’t need to write such a long explanation. It could have just written, “Shut up, George.”