I had a college room mate who used to strip down to his BVD’s and put a traffic cone over his head. Then,using a broom as a baton, he would burst into a room where one of our other room mates was courting a date, and march around singing “Can’t get enough of those Sugar Crisp!”
He’s now a high school principal. Another of my roomies once won a bet by secretly planting a ;large pile of some form of excrement in my bed. He’s a well-respected Wall Street broker. Yet another roommate delighted in jumping out from behind doors, naked, and assaulting us with the painful move known as a “titty-twister. He a runs a construction company, and is the best father I know. And me? I spent much of my college career engineering elaborate practical jokes and capers, including an infamous scheme to steal the new sofa in the suite of some classmates, which they had stolen from an upperclassman.
Which all goes to show that much of the conduct of college kids, in the insular womb of academia, has nothing to do with the real world, and less than nothing to do with the character, judgment, taste and decorum they will need to demonstrate in their careers and family life. Furthermore, conduct that would be wholly unacceptable and even illegal off campus is hijinks and social experimentation on it. Anyone who doesn’t know that either never went to college, or had a really boring four years there.
It is in this context that the so-called Rand Paul “expose” in Gentleman’s Quarterly is so unfair, so contrived, and such atrocious and unethical journalism. GQ reporter Jason Zengerle tracked down a woman who went to college (Baylor) with Paul, who is the Republican candidate to succeed Jim Bunning as U.S. Senator from Kentucky. The woman, who refused to be identified, told a strange tale of being abducted by Paul and a friend, ordered to smoke pot, and later instructed to worship, uh, “Aqua Buddha.” Once this story circulated, Paul was bombarded with questions about whether he “kidnapped” a co-ed or “forced her to use drugs.”
Now it is being reported that the woman feels she was misrepresented, and that she always knew this was a (stupid) college prank, and was not coerced in any way. In other words, this was nothing at all, a three decade-old goof that was used by an unethical journalist to make Rand Paul look like a screwball, which is how the left-leading media wants to portray him. They don’t, you say? Then why misrepresent a college gag as something more? What relevance does the account have to do with Rand Paul’s candidacy, except as a political tactic to make him deny kidnapping and abusive treatment of women? It is not responsible, it is not honest, and it is not fair, either to Paul or Kentucky’s voters.
Paul’s old college “friend,” who originally told the story she had to know would be used to embarrass the candidate, was also unfair and unkind. If she honestly believed that Paul’s conduct in college indicated that he was dangerous or unhinged, then she would have a legitimate and ethical reason to speak up. As her subsequent statements show, however, she does not think the episode was particularly significant. That being so, she shouldn’t have handed it to someone who would misuse it, which is to say, any journalist with an agenda, or “any journalist” for short.
I am not an admirer of Rand Paul, and I think he is a strange candidate, but because of his statements about policy matters, not his conduct as a fuzzy-cheeked college kid. Paul has the right to be judged on who he is and what he says now, not what he may have done during a fraternity war or said during a drinking game. He has a right, in other words, to be found unqualified for the Senate for legitimate reasons, not prejudicial and ancient tales out of school, told by an informant who doesn’t even have the courage to be accountable for what she says.
There will be enough dirty politics among candidates between now and November. Needless to say (although apparently it does need to be said), the media should not add to it with miserable journalism like GQ’s smear of Rand Paul.