If one wants to puzzle through how Democrats can simultaneously trumpet a “War on Women” while generating standard bearers like San Diego mayor Bob Filner (now up to 9 identified sexual harassment victims, and counting; the latest appears to be Marilyn Monroe), Anthony Weiner, and of course, ex-President Bill Clinton (recall Juanita Broadrick?) , one need only to examine the schizophrenic values being nurtured in our great liberal arts universities, with the encouragement of the values–challenged Obama administration.
In May, universities received an ominous letter from Departments of Justice and Education announcing new guidelines regarding “sexual harassment” on college campuses. The new standards prohibit “any unwelcome conduct of sexual nature” and include “verbal” conduct, meaning free speech is now officially suspect…and no longer free. (But if you have been following the news lately, you know that in Barack Obama’s America, free speech is just a trading chip for “higher priorities.”)
The new standards apply to every college receiving federal funding. According to Greg Lukianoff, president of FIRE, the government mandates would allow a student to be charged with harassment if he asks another student out on a date and the target of his attentions deems that request “offensive.” Telling a sex joke could support a sexual harassment charge, as would using the word “fuck” in the presence of a female who resented it. FIRE points out that many presentations, debates, and expressions on campuses can now be censored as sexual harassment, citing campus performances of “The Vagina Monologues,” debates about sexual morality, and pro-con discussions on gay marriage as potential offenses. Lukianoff, protesting that DOJ and DOE have now established speech codes that violate the First Amendment and completely ignore decades of legal precedent,says he is appalled at the attack on “free speech on campus from our own government.”
Appalled, yes, but certainly not surprised. The grip of political correctness is grasping for the throat of Free Speech in the Obama years, as the news media sits complacent and inert. FIRE is among those with the courage and determination to fight this blatant abuse of government power, but that does not diminish the seriousness of a Federal government that pays its election IOU’s to women’s rights groups by sacrificing free speech on campus.
But it’s worse even than that, for the modus operandi of this federal government, adopting the proclivities of its leader, is to speak loudly and carry a wet noodle. Just as the President is fond of making demands, ultimatums and condemnations, drawing lines and telling us to “make no mistake” about where he stands, and then following up with no tangible or meaningful action whatsoever, thus does his government fail to protect women’s bodies while trying to control what they hear. The 2011 federal Title IX investigation into Yale’s mind-blowing tolerance of rape on campus (it is referred to there as “non-consensual sex”) concluded with a voluntary resolution that allowed Old Eli to avoid any disciplinary action for creating a “hostile sexual environment,” and this time we don’t mean allowing dirty limericks.
“Yale has formally found sufficient evidence against six perpetrators of “nonconsensual sex” so far in 2013. Of these six perpetrators, only one was suspended, and only for one year. One is on “probation” (until he rapes again?), and four received “written reprimands.” To summarize: five out of these six “nonconsensual sex”-havers will graduate with a slap on the wrist (and an Ivy League diploma) or stay on campus, and the sixth can come back in a year. Hey: most of them were encouraged to seek counseling. That’s thoughtful. ‘It’s really irresponsible [for Yale] to let known perpetrators of rape stay on campus alongside the survivor and alongside other students who could potentially be victimized in the future,’ said Hannah Slater (’13 YSPH ’14). ‘They’re not making the campus a safer place.’
“This is why the Department of Education needs to actually enforce federal laws, [Alexandra Brodsky (’12 LAW ’16), one of the 16 students and alumni who filed a Title IX complaint against Yale] told us, citing a Change.org petition that might hopefully pressure the government into doing so. “Yale has gotten away with these exact same abuses in the past — the OCR let it off without a public non-compliance finding, despite evidence of many violations — why wouldn’t it continue in the same manner?”
Ah, yes, Change.org. Someday soon I will post about this brilliant but cynical innovation by the White House, encouraging toothless and wholly futile petitions to protest government wrongdoing as a ploy to create the comforting illusion that the government gives a damn. (There’s a Change.org petition about Justin Carter, too.) Meanwhile, Bill Clinton’s alma mater (and don’t think that’s a coincidence) has pushed the Sixties cant that “if it involves sex, it can’t be bad” to its absurd absolute: universities are teaching their students that actual rape is less of an offense to women than questioning whether health insurance should pay for birth control measures.
Pointer: Alexander Cheezem