Saturday, December 21, 2013

Spamming Occidental College: the progressive conniption

Progressives are having a bona fide conniption over the Reddit Men's Righters who spammed Occidental College's anonymous rape reporting system with fake "rape" claims (from what we can tell, they were not really false rape claims, just snarky comments about the injustice of anonymous reporting). The righteous indignation from feminists is deafening. The spam attack, they tell us, is typical men's rights hysteria, the result of an undeservedly privileged class being stripped of its power.

The men's righters were out to prove that it’s too easy to abuse the college’s anonymous reporting system. We disagreed with the men's righters and said we weren't much concerned about the anonymous reporting system, but the more we read the progressive take on the incident, the more we wonder if we blew the call -- maybe we should be concerned..

The progressives dismissed any notion that the on-line system would pose a threat of false rape claims to innocent young men. Theoretically, fine. But we need to look at the track record of the folks giving us such assurances.  Do these progressives have a track record of concern for the rights of the wrongly accused? In fact, when it comes to sex claims, the feminist left has an unfortunate history of dismissing the interests of the presumptively innocent in the name of outing and punishing rapists, and of ridiculing anyone who dares to speak for the wrongly accused. A few prominent examples:

▲For 17 years, the University of Maryland Clothesline Project allowed purported rape survivors to publicly display shirts with the full names of men they accused of rape written on them. Jennifer Pollitt-Hill, the executive director of the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault, said a sexual assault survivor "can feel empowered by naming the perpetrator . . . ." Many of the women who scrawled names on shirts felt the justice system -- both the courts and the university judicial board -- was too lenient on perpetrators. "Victims feel like these things silence them," Pollitt-Hill said, "and there's no justice . . . ." The public discourse on this issue focused almost exclusively on the value to rape victims of writing names on shirts. Absent was an acknowledgment of even the possibility that there might have been more than one side to the story for at least some of the alleged rape claims. The university-sanctioned practice of branding presumptively innocent men "rapists" without the pretense of due process was only stopped when the school realized that the practice subjected it to civil liability.

▲Women in a feminist art class at the University of Maryland once plastered the campus with fliers last week listing the names of virtually every male student under the heading, "NOTICE: THESE MEN ARE POTENTIAL RAPISTS." The women also set up large posters containing all of the names on the grassy mall at the center of the campus. The project angered some men on campus. Several advocates of the signs, however, declared that the men's anger was the point. "I think it's admirable that men in this school have been saying the word 'rape' and are being angry at the same time," said Jessica True, 23, a freshman from Takoma Park.

▲A group at Oberlin College once posted signs identifying its first "rapist of the month" -- a male freshman -- despite the fact that the targeted youth had not been charged with any crime and was mortified by the signs because, he explained, he was not even sexually active. A female freshman told a reporter that she knew the male and didn't feel he did anything wrong, "but there's a part of me that is questioning him" because of the signs. The New York office of the Legal Defense and Education Fund of the National Organization for Women declined to comment on the issue.

▲Once at Brown University, a ''rape list'' scrawled on the wall of a library women's room named some 30 ''men who have sexually assaulted me or a woman I know.'' Some women were not happy that university janitors continually erased the names. One woman told a reporter that erasing the names reinforces the idea that ''women are to blame for their rapes. . . . I think the writing on the wall was these women's way of taking control, of taking action and saying what they needed to say.''

▲Some years ago, zealous victim's advocates insisted that women must have the unilateral right to define rape in whatever manner they see fit, regardless of the harm to the person accused. This attitude was manifested in Catherine Comins' quote: "To use the word ['rape'] carefully would be to be careful for the sake of the violator, and the survivors don't care a hoot about him.'" What Comins didn't bother to consider was the harm to innocent people when the word "rape" is not used carefully.

▲Katie J.M. Baker, who claims she is someone who "writes and thinks about rape culture all day" defended the injustices created by the Steubenville Internet vigilantes to battle sexual assault. "Sure," Baker writes," internet vigilantism has some serious drawbacks — [one anonymous vigilante] has 'outed' numerous Steubenville residents whom they believe are involved with the case and deserve to be punished, and we currently have no way of knowing if many of their accusations are true — but . . . ." The "but" is chilling. To Baker, the injustice of outing possibly innocent people is worth it (to her, at least -- certainly not to the innocent who are outed) because it has focused the attention of many people on the rape atrocity in Steubenville.

▲In Columbus, Ohio, a Web site was set up to give rape victims a forum to post information about their alleged attackers. Flyers were passed out that said "Expose your rapist" and directed people to a Web site where they could list details about their attacker, including their names. The local prosecuting attorney gave this effort his quasi-imprimatur.

▲Feminist icon Germaine Greer is on record advocating something similar: "Speaking at the Cheltenham Literature Festival she said yesterday: 'I wish there were an online rapists' register and that it was kept up to date, because we know the courts can't get it right. When I say that to people, they get so scared, and say 'Oh you can't. What about privacy? Years ago I knew we would never get convictions in a court of law for date rape, so I suggested women kept an online dossier, so if a woman had a date with a guy and he did something to her, or frightened her, and she asked him to stop and he didn't, then instead of going to the police she should put him online. Other women could check this dossier, look up a guy and see that he has form. Then she can say no, or if she does go, goes knowing it's a high risk strategy.'"

Back to the spamming incident. To prove how downright evil men's righters are, Think Progress goes on to cite the incident where men's rights activists supposedly harassed an innocent woman last October, after a different woman, an Ohio University student, was photographed receiving oral sex in public and later filed a report saying she was assaulted.

What Think Progress doesn't tell us is that the young man accused of assault likely was falsely accused in that incident. The question in that case was whether the woman was too drunk to consent, and here's what the prosecutor said:  “A reasonable person would think that she was not intoxicated beyond the ability to consent.” He added: “Being able to walk down the hallway carrying her own burrito and into the apartment, she was able and not being escorted. It didn’t appear to us or the grand jury that she was not able to give consent.”

Think Progress doesn't tell us any of that. And while it talked about the poor woman unfairly harassed, it forgot to mention that the young man involved in the sex act was unjustly physically assaulted after the incident.

Yep. The more we read, the more we wonder if we blew the call on the Occidental College incident. I know one thing: we should take the progressives' assurances that the innocent won't suffer with a huge grain of salt.