Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Speech that is offensive to women is punished, speech that is offensive to men is protected

Some of you will recall the widespread condemnation of the frosh-week rape chant at Saint Mary’s University. It was universally criticized as sexist and offensive -- by the school and pretty much everyone else. Not only that, all 80 frosh leaders were forced to attend "sensitivity training."

Contrast that condemnation with this: at the University of Chicago, the school gave its support to an anonymous online posting that listed the names of men who have allegedly committed acts of sexual violence against students on campus. The university wrote: “Being part of a community in which open discourse is a fundamental feature of education and research means subjecting our own ideas to scrutiny and hearing competing views — even those we sometimes find objectionable."

In the words of the Department of Education's infamous "Dear Colleague" letter, isn't labeling an innocent student a rapist something that "interferes with [his] right to receive an education free from discrimination"? There is no question that a rape lie is far more damaging than a thoughtless sexual comment directed to a woman. Yet the university would deem the latter harassment while protecting the former. The wrongly accused have been driven to suicide over rape lies, and this is protected speech on campus?

You see, puerile and insensitive speech about rape in general is punished; speech in the form of specific allegations that could destroy the reputations of specifically named men is supported, even though, by any rational measure, the latter is more potentially harmful, and more offensive, than the former.

Even the creators of the offending website that listed the men's names openly acknowledged that the list might harm innocent men. But, they said, that's just too bad. You see, there is a supposed "conflict" between protecting women's bodies and men's reputations, and you can guess which one they chose. "Society has tended towards protecting reputation. We would like to protect bodies.”

In fact, the creator of the Website has invented a false, indeed, absurd, conflict. If a student is a rapist, the only rational response is to go to the police -- not to create a libel free zone where the innocent will have their good names destroyed while the rapists will just go on raping.

Shame on the University of Chicago for condoning this horrid practice.