Saturday, September 23, 2017

Caroline Kitchener: How Campus Sexual Assault Became So Politicized

Not pretty, if true:
   The answer is likely—and unsurprisingly—political. After a devastating 2010 midterm election, Democrats in Congress looked to Senator Michael Bennet’s campaign in Colorado—one of the few bright spots for their party in 2010—as a model. Bennet had relied heavily on identity politics, rallying women, minorities, and millennials. And he had triumphed.
   In the lead up to the 2012 presidential election, Obama campaigned hard on a variety of social issues, including gay rights and support for Planned Parenthood. Some conservatives argue that, politically, it made sense for Obama to position himself as a champion for college victims of sexual assault. “Obama and the Democrats played into this narrative of standing up to campus patriarchy and a conservative view of sex,” The Campus Rape Frenzy’s Johnson said. “The narrative that campuses, which typically are the most gender-progressive institutions in society, were actually indifferent to these rapist animals in their midst was absurd. But there was enough evidence that you could wrap your arms around it.”
   As Obama moved to make college sexual assault one of his administration’s signature causes, Republicans began associating him with the issue.
   Ugh. At the time, I didn't blame Obama for any of this insanity. There's a decent chance I was wrong about that.
   On a more substantial note: I'm not entirely convinced that the preponderance of evidence standard is an unreasonable one in such cases. I'm more concerned about the acceptance of other insane ideas that seem to come from feminism--e.g. the idea that it is plausible that A and B might have a sexual relationship over a long period of time, but that A might only come to realize, after they break up, that one of the first times they had sex was non-consensual. In the sweep of human history, every damn think you can imagine has probably happened at least a couple of times...but without some really substantial and unusual evidence, no one should give credibility to such a story. I'm just not sure how much of the prevailing insanity is actually due to the lowered burden of proof. Without some genuinely extraordinary evidence, a tale like that shouldn't even be able to get anywhere close to clearing the lowered evidential bar. A's word alone, in the face of A's continued relationship with B, isn't enough--it isn't anywhere close to being enough--to meet even a mere preponderance of evidence requirement. I suspect that it's the feminist listen and believe delusion that's responsible for the problem rather than the standard of proof.
   Here's another worrisome thing in the article:
   It is unlikely that universities, unless forced, will change the Obama-era policies. The interim guidance issued Friday generally allows universities to retain the procedures they adopted after the 2011 Dear Colleague letter, and many institutions have already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on expanding bureaucracies charged with carrying out those procedures.
   And as liberal institutions, many college presidents want to avoid aligning with President Trump—particularly on an issue like sexual assault. “These are institutions which, on any gender-related questions, are well to the left of the national norms,” said Johnson, the author. “Due-process advocates are not going to stage a campus sit-in in the president’s office, but if a president does anything to create a fairer process on this issue, she could be targeted by accuser’s rights groups. If the impression is that President X is indifferent to rape, President X is probably going to be out of a job.”
(This is a really badly-organized post, but I'm too lazy to fix it...)

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