As we move into a new year, we thought we would do well to look back at what might just be the most inane, jaw-dropping -- indeed, downright other-worldly -- letter defending injustice we've seen in a long time. It's a letter written by Tom Bale, a Brown University alumni defending unfair campus disciplinary procedures at Brown University.
Professor KC Johnson "urge[d] Brown to pass along Bale’s letter to the family of every incoming male student, to provide a taste of the Alice-in-Wonderland process that their sons will encounter over the following four years." We offer no further comment of our own on it because there aren't enough synonyms for "despicable" in the English language.
Some context: In November, Brown University's student newspaper, the Daily Herald, published a thoughtful piece by Hunter Fast, who had some perceptive comments about the William McCormick case; specifically, about "the damage that [a school's] profit motives can inflict on the cause of criminal justice." Fast wrote: "When allegations of rape were brought to the University administration against McCormick in 2006, administrators summarily expelled him from campus without anything resembling due process. According to McCormick . . . . the University deferred to its profit motive because the alleged victim's father is an influential University donor." Fast added: "Unfortunately, because the case was taken up by the University — an arbiter with an obvious conflict of interest — justice may never be possible in this case in any real sense."
But the following week, Mr. Bale posited the following defense of the school's handling of the McCormick case:
"To the Editor:
"Hunter Fast '12, in his opinion column related to the alleged William McCormick sexual assault incident at Brown ("It can't happen here," Nov. 11), forgets an important issue that supports the University's management of the unfortunate incident: Women have always been at an extreme disadvantage when faced with sexual aggression. What is rape all about? It is the physical coercion of a man seeking sexual domination over a woman. It is one of the historical tragedies in the history of mankind that has never been resolved. As such there is no level playing field in sexual relationships. Women who have been raped have to deal with a male-dominated and biased justice system, a male-dominated and biased police force, and yes, even a male-dominated and biased student body that at one time included McCormick.
"The University is to be applauded for its attempt to level this playing field. It has chosen not to expose the female student to the inequality of the justice system. The message to all males is: 'You need to check your behavior carefully before you enter into a relationship with a woman. There will be no due process if you are accused of rape. The woman's version of what happened will always be accepted over the man's account.'
"If a male student knew that was the policy hopefully this would serve as a check on sexually aggressive behavior. McCormick might have backed away from this relationship, knowing the consequences he might face. He might well have remained a part of the student body, and everyone would be wiser.
Tom Bale '63"