Tuesday, March 3, 2015

University of Wisconsin panel discussion: men accused of rape should not be innocent until proven guilty

The anti-due process voices on campus aren't bothering to sugarcoat their message anymore. At Berkeley last week, students protested the very notion that their classmates accused of rape should be treated fairly. At Ohio University the week before, angry protesters called due process for college men accused of rape "bullshit." At Penn, angry law students objected to the very idea that 16 of their law professors would go to bat for fair procedures in sexual assault cases.

Last night, anti-due process voices dominated a panel discussion on campus rape at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. According to The College Fix:
A woman who identified herself as a teaching assistant stood up and said she did not feel that the notion of innocent until proven guilty should apply to rape cases because it only helps protect the rights of the accused instead of the victim.

Only one of the panel members spoke out in disagreement with this statement. Klingele, the law professor, said that because she was a legal scholar, she had to disagree with this premise.
One student said she was "horrified" to discover that her accused rapist had due process rights. The rights that troubled her included the right to a hearing and the right to have a written summary of allegations from the accuser. She also decried the fact that "he was not required to speak in his defense."

According to one account, a purported rape victim said UW's policy is designed to protect the rights of the perpetrator. I am fairly certain this is not UW's policy -- a university's policy should be to protect the rights of the presumptively innocent (since they may be factually innocent) but we know that colleges aren't doing that. See here and here.

The impulse to eradicate sexual violence is a noble one, but sadly, the rhetoric employed by modern feminists in pursuit of that goal is animated by a disturbing hostility to the due process rights of the presumptively innocent. This is anything but a "liberal" or a "progressive" position. It is, in fact, a chilling echo of the lynch mobs that gathered at the hanging trees of the old American South for whom due process was a luxury society could not afford when it came to black men accused of rape.

Anyone who believes that the war on rape can't be waged without dispensing with fairness for the accused is woefully unschooled in concepts that are foundational to our traditions of justice, concepts that pre-date even Magna Carta. We don't require fairness in tribunals to protect rapists but to protect the innocent, and Blackstone's Formulation is a cornerstone of a civilized people. Dispensing with fairness for the accused not only hurts the innocent, it undermines trust in the system, which hurts rape victims.

Yet, last night at a major university, supposedly educated people openly disagreed with a notion that until recently seemed beyond debate -- innocent until proven guilty. At least they disagreed with it when it comes to one class of citizens accused of one type of offense. The discourse borders on pathology.

We are sometimes told that "not all feminists are like that." If that is so, where are the sane and rational voices of feminism to condemn this Star Chamber mentality? All persons of good will need to stand up and declare "enough is enough."