In College Sexual Assault Cases, False Accusers No Longer Deserve Guaranteed Anonymity

"You better be telling the truth, or this is coming right back at you..."

“You better be telling the truth, or this is coming right back at you…”

Especially now that the Obama administration has demanded that colleges strip away the basic rights of students accused of rape, the practice of not releasing a false accuser’s name to the media must end.

The compelled switch to a “predominance of the evidence” standard in such cases has led to too many false charges, too many wrongly punished male students, and too many scarred lives. High profile national leaders like Hillary Clinton are undeterred in supporting this power play by feminists, and university officials apparently don’t have sufficient regard for fairness or even basic logic: the Department of Education threatened their income stream, so if a few male students get railroaded out of school and haunted for a lifetime with the stigma of being a rapist, the college leaders consider it a necessary sacrifice to the greater good.

It is only one case, but if the facts of the University of Michigan’s persecution of student Drew Sterrett are as they appear to be, this is signature significance: one incident this irrational  proves that campus sexual assault  hysteria has turned into a genuine, bona fide witch hunt, with the metaphor appropriate for once. There must be accountability, and the Obama Administration, the schools, their administrators, irresponsible leaders like Clinton, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Rep. Jared Polis, and, yes, sorry, false accusers must share it.

Sterrett was forced to leave the University of Michigan in 2012 during his sophomore year, after a female’s student’s accusation of forced sexual intercourse was upheld under circumstances that would have made a kangaroo court, with real kangaroos, an improvement. He sued the university in federal court, arguing that  his 14th Amendment rights to due process had been violated. The only possible response to his claim, once one reads the account published in Slate, is “Ya think?” It is disturbing that anyone should have to sue to get such treatment recognized as outrageous. Apparently no one at the University of Michigan who has power possesses any ethical twitches whatsoever, while nobody with a passing knowledge of right and wrong has any power.

From Emily Yoffe: Continue reading

The “Rolling Stone” UVA Gang Rape Botch

Student protest against campus rape at UVA. And if the rape didn't happen? Take a cue from the "hands up!" crowd: keep protesting. The news media won't notice.

Student protest against campus rape at UVA. And if the rape didn’t happen? Take a cue from the “Hands up!” crowd: keep protesting! The news media won’t notice.

Hardly making it to the headlines (except where I live) is the latest example of 1) irresponsible journalism and 2) the results of the Obama administration threatening colleges with sanctions of they don’t presume every male student accused of sexual assault is guilty.

On Nov. 19, Rolling Stone published a sensational report—sensational, mind you—by reporter Sabrina Rubin Erdely, telling the tale of a vicious  gang rape at the  Phi Kappa Psi fraternity at the University of Virginia. The victim and the source of the story, a young woman called “Jackie,” said that in 2012 she was forced into a room in the fraternity  and raped by seven men, as her date and another man  cheered her assailants on.

In response to the uproar triggered by the story, the university, which was loathe to be a target of investigations and sanctions by the Obama administration if they did not act with appropriate haste and severity,  suspended all the campus fraternities until January as the media went into a feeding frenzy. Meanwhile, the alleged crime is under investigation by local police. [UPDATE: Here is a call to suspend the UVA President Teresa A. Sullivan:  “Her decision was arbitrary, rash and wrong. Even Delta House got some semblance of a trial in the movie, ‘Animal House.'” I do not disagree.]

Several journalists diplomatically raised questions about the account, especially the fact that the story was often phrased in terms that left  no hint that these were allegations only. In an environment where the party in control of the White House maintains that any hesitation to regard a rape accusation as inherently reliable is proof of a “war on women,” one unnamed woman’s  unconfirmed accusation presented as truth by a female reporter was sufficient to trigger adverse consequences for male UVA students with remarkably little reflection: this was unfair, an example of punishing all the horses because someone said that one of them left the barn.

It should be no surprise that the other shoe has dropped. Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: A Sexual Assault By The President?

"Kiss me, you saucy wench!"

“Kiss me, you saucy wench!”

I owe blogger Ann Althouse big time for this:  What an alert and accomplished troublemaker she is!

This seems like a “gotcha!” and it is certainly that. It is more, however, and raises both illuminating and difficult issues. Here is the video of Obama’s encounter while voting in Chicago today:

Here is Althouse:

“I thought only “yes” means yes: Did Obama get true, verbalized consent from that woman before he kissed her?  No. He did not…Obama orders her to kiss him: “You’re gonna kiss me. Give him something to talk about. Now, he’s really jealous.” As you see in the video, he makes that declarative statement and immediately grabs her and kisses and hugs her. Why is that acceptable? He’s using her in an effort to regain dignity and to humiliate the man who humiliated him. It might all be dismissed as play humiliation and play counter-humiliation. But the woman’s body was used as an object of that play, a means of communication between men.”

When I ran an all-female staff for a mostly rich old guy association, I gave a standing order that no staffer would submit to a kiss from a member, no matter how “playful” and no matter how high-ranking the man was. There can be no consent in such situations, and a man saying “You’re going to kiss me” and doing it a) without free and open consent and 2) under the duress and the compulsion of superior power (Gee, do you think the President of the United States automatically carries that with him? Not sure? Ask Bill Clinton.) has engaged in textbook sexual assault and battery. This conduct, which has been the subject of a major initiative by the Democrat feminist base this year, counts encounters just like the one in the video as the kind of campus sexual assault that gives them the “one in five women are victims” narrative to stoke this skirmish in the “war on women.” So your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz—and I suggest you reflect a while before you answer—is this:

Is what Obama did in the video ethical, in the sense that it was responsible, respectful, fair, acknowledging autonomy, not an abuse of power or position, and most of all, meeting the strict standard of male-female interaction that is being aggressively and pugnaciously advanced by his feminist supporters?

Continue reading

Ethics Heroes: 28 Harvard Law Professors

Campus sex is returning to the '50's....the 1850s.

Campus sex is returning to the ’50’s….the 1850s.

In 2011, the Obama Administration threatened universities with a loss of funding if they did not adopt a new “preponderance of the evidence” standard in evaluating alleged student sexual assault and sexual harassment. This was, few doubt, a sop thrown to the combative feminists among the Democratic base, those who detect a culture-wide “war on women” and who seek to cast co-eds as imperiled naifs even as the proclaim themselves the equals of men. Within three years this really bad idea has metastasized into the Campus Sexual Assault Witch Hunt Ethics Train Wreck, which would be getting more media attention but for the fact that the world is falling apart in chunks. Among its weirder effects is the proliferation of new “yes means yes” regulations, effectively taking all spontaneity, romance and fun out of sex, all in the service of dubious and cynically employed campus rape statistics. Take this, for example:

“Consider the sexual consent policy of California’s Claremont McKenna College, shared almost verbatim with other schools such as Occidental College in Los Angeles. Paragraphs long, consisting of multiple sections and subsections, and embedded within an even wordier 44-page document on harassment and sexual misconduct, Claremont’s sexual consent rules resemble nothing so much as a multilawyer-drafted contract for the sale and delivery of widgets, complete with definitions, the obligations of “all” (as opposed to “both”) parties, and the preconditions for default. “Effective consent consists of an affirmative, conscious decision by each participant to engage in mutually agreed upon (and the conditions of) sexual activity,” the authorities declare awkwardly. The policy goes on to elaborate at great length upon each of the “essential elements of Consent”—“Informed and reciprocal,” “Freely and actively given,” “Mutually understandable,” “Not indefinite,” “Not unlimited.” “All parties must demonstrate a clear and mutual understanding of the nature and scope of the act to which they are consenting”—think: signing a mortgage—“and a willingness to do the same thing, at the same time, in the same way,” declare Claremont’s sex bureaucrats.”

Cheers, then, are due to 28 Harvard Law professors, who authored and signed a letter protesting Harvard University’s capitulation to the Obama Administration’s blackmail and urging the University to reject the new standards:

Some highlights: Continue reading

The Campus Sexual Assault Witch Hunt Ethics Train Wreck, Complicated By The Fact That The Witches Are Real

"Wait...are you raping me, or am I raping you?"

“Wait…are you raping me, or am I raping you?”

There is no question that there are sexual predators on college campuses, or that some colleges let them get away with raps on the knuckles for sexual assault or worse. There is also little question, though various parties and activists deny it, that what constitutes genuine sexual assault and even rape has been so thoroughly politicized and muddled by irresponsible rhetoric, dubious statistics and cynical political maneuvering that addressing the problem of actual campus sexual assault is becoming impossible without harming, indeed destroying, the innocent in some cases.

At Stanford, women are rallying for a more stringent process and harsher punishment after student Leah Francis protested in an e-mail to the campus that she had been “forcibly raped” by a fellow student and he was permitted to graduate. Of course, Stanford didn’t find the she had been raped: her assailant was found guilty of sexual assault. The loose use of “rape” to describe sexual assault for political purposes is one of the reasons universities seem incapable of finding a satisfactory balance in handling such cases. At the risk of getting ahead of the post, I would say this: if it is alleged to be rape, then turn the matter over to the police and the justice system. Schools are not allowed to use internal procedures to investigate and punish murder; it makes no sense to permit them to do so with the serious crime of rape. The fact that the standards of proof and the requirements of due process are less stringent in a campus procedure is what simultaneously leads to inadequate sanctions for the guilty and railroading of the innocent. The solution to this problem has always been available: treat allegations of campus rape like any other kind of rape.

Unfortunately, colleges are often in thrall to the political agendas of feminists and their allies, so “rape” can mean many things, as can “sexual assault.” In the casual, morality-free sexual atmosphere now not merely tolerated but nurtured on college campuses, lines of consent are blurred, and missteps are inevitable. At the same time, the permissive sexual environment is a playground for predators, exploiters and manipulators. How are the genuinely culpable sexual assailants to be distinguished from the clumsy, the confused, the misled, or the drunk and overly aroused? Continue reading

Case Study In Conservative Media Bias: The Department of Education’s “Dear Colleague Letter”

corporal-punishment

Ethics Alarms devotes a great amount of commentary to the mainstream media’s left-leaning bias—as it should. The major news media sources in the U.S. have become untrustworthy, too often serve as willing tools of government, specifically Democratic Party-controlled government, policy, which is exactly the opposite of the role they are ethically obligated to play. The right-biased news organizations are just as biased but far less numerous or powerful, and have the unique disadvantage of being generally regarded as biased and unreliable because the mainstream media tells us so with great regularity.

Misleading news reporting is still misleading, however, and a recent example is the conservative news media’s characterization of the January letter that went out from the Department of Education and the Justice Department to school districts around the country regarding discriminatory class discipline. The letter (FULL TEXT here) describes various types of common discrimination, but the part of it that the conservative media has focused upon is its discussion of “disparate impact.” The letter says… Continue reading

“Progressive” Values On The Campus: Rape, Tolerated; Free Speech, Not So Much

Now does it make sense to you, Juanita?

Juanita Broadrick: Now does it make sense to you, Juanita?

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. Continue reading

Comment of the day: “It Has Come To This”

JC comments in response to “It Has Come to This,” the recent  post about a school suspending a student for the non-bullying, non-threatening, non-defamatory content she wrote to friends on her personal Facebook page in the privacy of her own home. JC apologetically calls it a rant; I don’t think it is. He is providing useful context for the school’s abuse of its power, and illuminates how we got to this unfortunate place, where parents abdicate to the schools, and the schools open the door for government intrusion into our homes and families.

“…Do schools have a legitimate concern? After Columbine, Red Lake, etc. I can understand why schools would be concerned about online postings discussing murder. Often the shooting is mentioned before hand in an online post. How to prevent this school shootings? School officials think that paying attention to students online activities (whether at school or at home) is the answer. There is a world of difference between the student saying I wish teacher X was dead and saying I am going to bring three guns to school and here is the plan on how I am going to carry out my attack. School officials seem to view that difference as a fine line that they would rather be on the safe side of.

“Rant warning. Just so you know.” Continue reading

It Has Come to This

…Well, your kids, anyway. But you’re next.

Rundlett Middle School has suspended  a 13-year-old Concord, New Hampshire girl for posting on her Facebook page that she wished Osama bin Laden had killed her math teacher.  Many of the stories published about the incident close with the statement,  “School officials say they can’t comment on the case because of privacy concerns.” While I suppose I should be relieved that they are still concerned about some privacy issues,  their respect for privacy generally leaves a lot to be desired.  So does their respect for basic constitutional rights…but they aren’t the only ones.

The post was stupid, and so what? The teacher was not placed in any jeopardy (Osama is dead, no matter what the school might have heard); no student was bullied (not that this would justify the long arm of the government reaching into the child’s bedroom either); nobody was defamed.    Kimberly Dellisola, the girl’s mother, has told the press the punishment was “too harsh.” Would somebody please tell Kimberly that the school has no business punishing her child at all? That’s Kimberly’s job, or at least was, until schools decided to take over policing what children do, write and say in their own homes. Continue reading