Tuesday, April 26, 2011

'If it's a crime report it . . . What are these statistics that get thrown at us constantly?'

I wave the white flag. I admit defeat. I can't possibly write about all the news pertinent to this blog. Keeping up with the false rape claims is sufficiently difficult, even with two of us doing it, but working through the op-ed pieces on sexual assault is impossible. Worse, the op-eds are painful to read. One inane op-ed cascades upon the next until they collapse upon one another to form a sort of Rorschach inkblot of bright-lined, unmistakable man-hatred.

But as I clawed my way through the horse dung of op-eds this morning, I came across a piece that was at once so lucid, so perceptive, and so true, it made it all worthwhile. 


First, let me give you a taste of the horse dung.

Awful Caitlin Flanagan (you might remember her from this article we wrote) wants to shutter all frat houses for the protection of women. Flanagan reminisces about her college days and, in words dripping with misandry, recalls seeing the fraternity houses for the first time:  "They are built of the same Jeffersonian architecture as the rest of the campus. At once august and moldering, they seemed sinister, to stand for male power at its most malevolent and institutionally condoned."  Flanagan's piece is not an op-ed. It's pathology in news ink, with a massive circulation.

Or how about Drew Terhune, who gushes: "Sexual violence . . . is much more than an interpersonal crime. It's socially motivated . . . ."  Sigh. Um, that's correct, Drew. But not for the reasons you think. The vast majority of rape is related to poverty and -- brace yourself, Drew -- fatherlessness. See here.  Sorry, Drew, if that doesn't fit with what I presume is your narrative of white-lacrosse-jocks-as-rapists.

Shashwat Samdura wrote that "[s]exual assault needs more attention on college campuses." Right. So do lightning strikes.

Then there's this article, which quotes college administrators who brag about how their internal (higher) numbers of sexual assault are more reflective of reality than the Clery Act numbers. According to the school's internal numbers, 112 women reported being sexually assaulted in 2009, out of a campus of more than 20,000 women. Hmm. Let's see. Over four years that works out to 448 reports, which is about 2.2 percent of all college women reporting they were sexually assaulted during college. Correct me if I'm wrong, but that's still a far cry from 25%, isn't it? 

Isn't it?

But then I came across law professor Ann Althouse's take on the Flanagan article, referenced above. You need to read the whole thing, but I'll highlight one part. 

Prof. Althouse quotes it: "A 2007 National Institute of Justice study found that about one in five women are victims of sexual assault in college; almost all of those incidents go unreported." 

That's too much for Prof. Althouse.  Read her next paragraph slowly, and then read it again. It is spot-on and brilliant:

"How did they find it if it was unreported? Much of life is ugly but not criminal. If it's a crime report it. If it's not a crime, what was it? What are these statistics that get thrown at us constantly? I've been seeing them since 1988 when 'I Never Called It Rape: The Ms. Report on Recognizing, Fighting, and Surviving Date and Acquaintance Rape' was published. Over the years, college women have learned to call it rape, but why haven't they learned to report it, if it is rape or some other crime? You can chose to think of something bad that happened as a crime but are you willing to hold your opinion up to the judgment of officials who have the obligation to treat the accused man fairly? Almost all of those incidents go unreported. Exactly why?"

The second to the last sentence is as true as anything we've ever seen on this subject: "You can chose to think of something bad that happened as a crime but are you willing to hold your opinion up to the judgment of officials who have the obligation to treat the accused man fairly?"

You need to read the entire piece: see here.