Friday, June 20, 2014

Occidental College professor ratchets up the hostility to college men accused of sex offenses

"Welcome to Caroline Heldman's Facebook page! She is a professor of politics, Occidental College." And here is a snapshot from that Facebook page today:

Heldman was recently quoted in a Ms. Magazine blog entry about the spate of lawsuits filed by men who claim their colleges denied them their due process rights in connection with sexual assault claims. She said this: "These lawsuits are an incredible display of entitlement, the same entitlement that drove them to rape." Read her full comments in that blog entry for yourself. We read them to indicate that she believes the young men's civil actions are frivolous.

There is no indication in the referenced sites that Heldman has information about the actual evidence pertinent to any of the specific cases she has prejudged. If she does, she did not share it. That doesn't stop her from convicting young men she's never met in the court of last resort -- the radical feminist blogosphere -- based on nothing more than her righteous ipse dixit.

I wrote about Heldman's comments in this blog earlier this week. I had hoped that Heldman would come forward and explain that her comments were taken out of context.

Alas, on her Facebook page yesterday, Heldman posted a link to the blog post that quoted her, and it only confirmed my concerns. It points out that campus predators are rarely brought to justice, and that now "they" (the campus predators) are suing. Heldman assumes the young men suing are guilty. Don't take my word for it -- I do not want to be unfair to Heldman -- read it yourself.

Heldman's pronouncements sweep over the rights of the presumptively innocent like a high-speed rail, and she doesn't for an instant consider even the possibility that some their claims might have validity. It is one thing to assert that rape is too common and that too many rapists get away with it. All persons of good will should agree with that. It is quite another to suggest, as Heldman does, that the young men who've filed suit are guilty as a class merely because too many rapists in general get away with it. Most unsettling is her dismissive tone that paints all of the young plaintiffs with the same broad brush, reduces them to vile caricature, and treats their cases as fungible, the facts be damned. I know nothing about Heldman aside from the quotes on the internet sites I've referenced, but it is unfathomable that a professor of politics at an American college could be so terribly unschooled in, or so terribly hostile to, notions of fairness that are foundational to our traditions of justice. Just as all persons of good will should be outraged when anyone is raped, Heldman's morally grotesque rush to judgment should be widely censured.

We note in passing that the nation's leading authority on the subject of campus rape justice, Brett Sokolow of NCHERM (who, incidentally, has done more to advance the cause of eradicating rape on campus than anyone) says there is a problem for young men on campus. He says that in "a lot" of cases, schools are holding young men "accountable in spite of the evidence – or the lack thereof – because they think they are supposed to . . . ." And that in "case-after-case . . . sincere victims believe something has happened to them that evidence shows absolutely did not . . .." And: "We see complainants who genuinely believe they have been assaulted, despite overwhelming proof that it did not happen." We've written a lot about Mr. Sokolow's views lately.

Professor  Heldman's comments are appalling. She owes the presumptively innocent young men she has unjustly prejudged, and the entire Occidental College community, a sincere apology.