Friday, March 22, 2013

Self-proclaimed liberals cheer rolling back due process rights, but only for one class of citizens

We have long been perplexed by self-proclaimed progressives who cheer on the Dept. of Education's mandate to roll back the due process rights of one class of our citizens -- male students on campus (the "Dear Colleague" letter's mandate is ostensibly gender neutral, but it openly admits that the draconian changes it set in motion were to benefit women who are sexually abused by college men).  It is difficult to recall an instance in our recent history where self-proclaimed progressives favored anything along these lines. The problem is that reducing the standard of proof enhances the possibility of getting it wrong and punishing an innocent student.  This is almost always a concern to progressives, but not in this case.

Prof. KC Johnson, the blogging guru of the Duke lacrosse non-rape case, provides an illustration that is chillingly apt.  He describes how New York Times' reporter Richard Pérez-Peña "gushed over" a student sexual assault advocate named Dana Bolger at Amherst. Bolger's "activism" includes bemoaning the "impossibly high" standard of proof for men accused of sex offenses in criminal proceedings and applauding the Dept. of Education's mandate to roll back the due process rights of men on campus by lowering the standard of proof to a mere preponderance of the evidence (50.001%). Prof. Johnson asks, rhetorically, if the Times would ever tout an activist who sought to roll back the due process rights of other groups:
Though he gushed over her status as an activist, Pérez-Peña couldn't find space to describe what sorts of things Bolger has actually demanded in her activism. He needn't have looked too far: in a "Room for Debate" item the Times published a few days ago, Bolger proclaimed that "the criminal justice process," with its excessively lengthy pre-trial proceedings, "revictimizes rape survivors," in part because "the standard of proof is impossibly high." By contrast, "the college disciplinary system offers survivors a shorter process and quicker remedy," and accused students can be judged "based on a preponderance of evidence standard."  
Imagine the Times--in a straight news article, no less--soothingly presenting an "activist" who backed military tribunals for suspected terrorists on the grounds that there's a need for "a shorter process and quicker remedy"; or because, in the criminal justice system, "the standard of proof is impossibly high." But when the subject is a figure whose goal is to make campus convictions easier, Pérez-Peña didn't even see fit to mention Bolger's extraordinary attack on a basic principle of American due process.

Bulls-eye. This is not liberalism; it is a manifestation of fealty to group identity politics. We are witnessing a chilling kind of political correctness that cheers when due process rights are rolled back -- but only when it comes to young men on campus.

That is sick beyond measure.