Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.
Thursday, April 19, 2018

Look, the Great Campus Rape Crisis was mainly hype all along. What Vice President Joe Biden described as an epidemic of sexual violence sweeping American college campuses in 2011 was vastly overstated. If people actually believed that 20 percent of college girls ended up being raped or sexually assaulted—as activists claimed—then they’d quit sending their daughters.

Instead, what’s happened on too many campuses has been a kind of psychosexual panic akin to the “recovered memory” episodes of the 1980s—such as the infamous McMartin preschool trial in Los Angeles, and the fantastic allegations of orgiastic rape and murder in Olympia, Washington described in Lawrence Wright’s terrific book Remembering Satan.

This is in no way to minimize rape, a vile crime deserving heavy prison time. Nor even boorish drunken carousing often winked at by college authorities even as Title IX administrators on the same campuses conduct Star Chamber sex investigations against students accorded none of the due process rights guaranteed in the US Constitution.

It’s not a criminal matter, you see. Merely one’s educational and professional future that can be at stake.

Somebody changes her mind after a one-night-stand and a young man may as well pack up and go home. That, or prepare himself for months in virtual exile, banned from anywhere on campus frequented by the “survivor” of this misbegotten tryst, while being interrogated by an administrator serving as one-size-fits-all investigator, prosecutor, judge and jury.

There is no right to remain silent. Refusal to testify against oneself can result in expulsion. No cross-examining one’s accuser, either. It’s thought too traumatic. Anything an accused student does say can be used against him at a criminal trial.

The standard of guilt is the “preponderance of evidence,” i.e. 51 percent. Were they alone together in his dorm room? OK, then he raped her.

I’m sorry, that does not sound like America.

If you think that’s too strong, check out the excellent series of investigative articles by The Atlantic’s Emily Yoffe. A careful, even scholarly reporter, Yoffe describes an upside-down world where the weaker the evidence of sexual transgression in too many instances, the stronger the finding of guilt.

Indeed, things on campus had gotten so out of hand that Trump administration Education Secretary Betsy De Vos has even taken time out from her busy schedule of attacking public schools to promise badly needed reforms to the Obama-mandated Title IX system.  Groups of law professors at Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania, as well as the American Association of Trial Lawyers and the American Association of University Professors broadly support her.

Campus activists are certain to put up a fight. If nothing else, quite a few jobs could be at stake. Harvard University, for example, now has 55 Title IX investigators—full time sex sleuths, most of them.

“Who Gets to Define Campus Rape?” ask Miriam Gleckman-Krut and Nicole Bedera, University of Michigan “campus sexual violence researchers” in a recent New York Times op ed.  Definitely not judges and juries. “College tribunals,” we’re reminded “are not criminal courts.” Also, false rape accusations are perishingly rare—a truism among academic feminists that Yoffe shows to be based upon fallacious evidence.

In real life, of course, both men and women lie all the time, and sex is one of the topics they lie about most often. Ask any divorce lawyer.

But the real heart of the matter comes when Gleckman-Krut and Bedera insist that bad witnesses are the best witnesses: “[T]rauma can make survivors seem disorganized to campus administrators who are untrained.”

To Emily Yoffe, this is the intellectual heart of the matter. Based upon a highly influential, but highly unscientific paper called “The Neurobiology of Sexual Assault,” Title IX investigators have been taught that trauma wrecks memory, so that the more confused a victim’s story, the truer it’s apt to be.

Brain scientists Yoffe interviewed say otherwise, as does common experience. Terrible events too often can’t be forgotten. Intoxication, however, definitely makes for shaky recall. Meanwhile, as in “recovered memory” episodes of yore, overzealous inquisitors can persuade people of damn near anything.

Yoffe writes that her own reporting doesn’t “typically describe campuses filled with sociopathic predators. They mostly paint a picture of students, many of them freshmen, who begin a late-night consensual sexual encounter, well lubricated by alcohol, and end up with divergent views of what happened.”

 In short, basic Animal House stuff—more John Belushi than, well, Donald Trump. The Michigan team does patronizingly concede “that being accused of sexual assault hurts. And there are things that we can and should do to help accused students — namely, providing them with psychological counsel. But accused men’s pain does not excuse rape, and men shouldn’t be the ones defining it.”

Look, nothing excuses rape. Nowhere, never. But they can keep their psychological counseling. It’s legal counsel accused students need.

Let judges and juries do the defining.  

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2017 The National Memo

5 Responses to Rape Is A Vile Crime, But The ‘Epidemic’ Of Campus Sexual Violence Is Exaggerated

  1. Gene Lyons reflects what I would call an obsession with a quantitative approach to the problem of rape, a characteristic that has become a hallmark of Western culture. Were he a woman, would he be as cavalier about rape—OK, he does admit that rape is inexcusable, but I’m not convinced he has the ability to grasp the full nature of the trauma any woman has to endure per force of the very vile act of rape. His verbal gyrations just drown out the “rape is inexcusable” part.

    How many rapes would Gene consider to qualify as “epidemic”—a dozen, 20, 50? From the vantage point of what I would consider a decent male human being, “ONE” is an epidemic!! Does Gene and men like him have to be physically and psychologically altered to understand the full dimension of rape?

    We of course don’t want to merrily accuse men of rape without evidence, as so many black men in the past have been lynched simply on the basis of hearsay, or purportedly whistling at a white woman, as was the case with young Emmet Till, brutally murdered in Money, Miss. just for whistling according to accusation by a woman who later in life recanted her charge. Where were the Gene Lyons’s in those cases? Trump had gotten off easy for his rape charge simply because he was privileged, and the victim was too hesitant to come forward, as most women are conditioned to do, due to society being blase about rape in general.

    In short, Gene is taking the happy-go-lucky I’m a male approach to the issue of rape. The profuse use of clever word gymnastics is impressive on the surface but betrays the enslavement of the Eurocentric experience to the notion of quantity, with quality and essence of any assault relegated to the back of the bus.

    • So let me get this straight: only Eurocentric white men should be lynched? It’s precisely this kind of self-contradictory nonsense that’s creating Young Republicans by the thousands on college campuses everywhere.

      • Gene, are you really that dense? Why don’t you address my central thesis of your quantitative analysis of rape. Clearly you subscribe to the myopic view that we humans are to be categorized according to place of provenance and skin color. This cultural norm which has evolved among the “Africans” who migrated into Europe, which among other things has adopted this perverse and pernicious habit of viewing humanity as distinct disparate units is strong with you. And not only the racialist aspect, but you have a equally dismal attitude regarding women’s issues.
        What possessed you to think that I support lynching white men? If you can’t think clearly on any issue in a mature and “human” manner, then you shouldn’t be writing any articles—Period! Otherwise, you’re a gross and crass distraction.

        In the future, if you wish to respond to me at least try to reorient your racialist thinking—better yet, toss it out the window!!

        • I didn’t bring up race, numbnuts. You did. Is that plain enough for you? The issue is whether persons accused of the vile crime of rape get due process.

      • And on another note, Gene. In the future, try being more to the point without showing off word dexterity. Show some heart and soul, as I aspire to, by learning to understand the bigger picture, how and why we have to talk about the issue of rape, and what to do to inform young boys and girls how to learn to respect one another—especially boys need to learn this.
        Rape is an age-old and world-wide problem, Gene. It isn’t just an issue on campus. Race and the uneven application of justice based on skin color is a world-wide issue as well. Rather than focus on the “What”, Gene, learn to ask “Why” and explore the history and the context of the symptoms we all are already aware of.

Leave a reply