Wednesday, February 11, 2015

"I believe Emma Sulkowicz" -- because her story is so full of holes

The Columbia Spectator ran another of those "Why I believe Emma Sulkowicz" stories, this one titled, appropriately enough, "Why I believe Emma Sulkowicz." Emma Sulkowicz is the mattress-toting, self-proclaimed rape victim at Columbia University whose narrative has lately come under attack. This latest defense of Sulkowicz is typical: difficult to read because the rationale is weird and childish.

The author is anonymous, and she claims that she, too, was raped by a male student at Columbia, and that like Emma Sulkowicz, she had friendly Facebook messages with her rapist after the alleged attack. She also admits that there is no evidence for her own alleged assault, and that not even her friends believed her. And all this somehow leads her to believe Emma Sulkowicz.

If you are looking for logic in her argument, you will be looking forever. What can I say about a defense that doesn't even bother to defend?

As for the anonymous writer's alleged rape, it is well to remember that Sulkowicz's anti-rape crusade started off anonymously, and that "Jackie" in the infamous Rolling Stone non-rape at the University of Virginia was a pseudonym -- you see, in the loopy world of campus sexual assault politics, the "perfect victim" is someone whose claim is beyond any sort of scrutiny whatsoever. When people dare to challenge the putative victim's narrative with silly things like discrepancies and competing claims of innocence, that's not a valid attempt to get at the truth, that's "rape culture."

Too many college students are sympathetic to these sorts of other-worldly arguments -- we all know that college students generally march in lockstep to the PC group-think of their moral superiors, the campus anti-rape activists. I am happy to see a lot of comments under this story that reject the group-think in Emma Sulkowicz's case. Maybe the students are saying "enough!"

I left a comment under the story:
You have failed to make a case for why you believe Emma Sulkowicz -- other than the fact that she has made a rape accusation. While the strange behavior of rape accusers is not always conclusive evidence that they weren't raped, you've flipped that meme on its head: you seem to be saying that because she behaved in ways generally deemed contrary to the way rape victims behave, that means she WAS raped. For you, the accusation is its own conviction, and you are not interested in hearing any evidence that casts doubt on it. In fact, you insist such evidence actually strengthens the case for declaring her a "survivor."

First, to assert that any and every kind of after-the-fact behavior supposedly is evidence of rape is absurd on its face and a grotesque distortion of the post-traumatic stress disorder that afflicts some rape victims. To my knowledge, Sulkowicz has never been diagnosed with any such disorder. Second, the evidence that Sulkowicz reached out to her alleged rapist may not be conclusive that she's a liar, but it does support Mr. Nungesser's side of the story, despite all your twisting and pounding. Third, the argument is a red herring to hide its premise: always believe women when they cry rape, no matter how unbelievable their claims or how inconsistent with "rape" was their behavior. To accept this premise is to make every accusation its own conviction -- truth, justice, and due process be damned.

Perhaps Sulkowicz was raped, and perhaps she suffers from a post-traumatic stress disorder that was never diagnosed . . . . I don't know whether she was raped, and neither do you. You can't convict Paul Nungesser based on what happened to you.

I do know this: Sulkowicz's claims should not go unchallenged by the news media. There are two sides to every rape claim, and your defense of her isn't changing anyone's mind.