Friday, August 28, 2015

Ohio University student Rachel Baker plans to retweet the names of the presumptively innocent accused of sexual harassment

Ohio University student Rachel Baker plans to retweet the full name of anyone accused of sexual harassment on the Twitter account she runs, @SpeakUpOU, and she doesn't seem to care if the report is a lie or mistaken. Baker explained why she would do such a thing with a non-sequitur: "I trust the people who would be sending these things because it’s an important issue."

Even assuming arguendo that Baker's intentions are noble, all of the noble intentions in the world can’t whitewash her appalling hostility to the rights of the presumptively innocent. This effort needs to be condemned by all persons of goodwill.

According to The Post, Baker "has no problem using the accused’s full name on her account, as she said she thinks it’s more important that people know that harassment is happening than whether or not it hurts someone’s reputation." Read this gem of an explanation: “Considering the fact that we live in a society where a man can be accused of raping a woman and, whether he did it or not, can be found not guilty and go on to get a sports scholarship, putting it out there probably won’t ruin their life,” Baker said. Baker then reduces men, as a class, to vile caricature by noting she believes one of the biggest problems is “toxic masculinity” and the social constructs that tell men to “be in control and have power” at all times and tell women to accept it. See here.

Baker has opened herself up to claims of libel if she is posting, without discrimination, claims that might be false. Her faith in her classmates claiming to be victims is woefully misplaced. This is a fact: of all the sexual assault claims where we are able to say, one way or the other, that they are true or false, a mind-boggling percentage are false. Accusations of sexual misconduct are often either mistaken or are fabrications, and that's not just my opinion. Feminist Brett Sokolow, the leader of the campus sexual grievance industry who has done more to shape colleges' sexual misconduct policies than anyone in America, last year wrote that he sees "case-after-case" where "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." And brace yourself: Mr. Sokolow suggested mental health issues play an important factor in these false accusations. Apparently, Rachel Baker would post, without hesitation, the spurious claims Mr. Sokolow referenced, including the full names of the victims (the victims being the falsely accused men).

Baker doesn't seem to appreciate that a hell of a lot of college women are--to be charitable--confused when it comes to the meaning of consent. A new Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation survey reveals that almost half of college women think that when a woman gives a guy a "nod in agreement," that isn't enough for consent. Only 51 percent--the barest of majorities--think "a nod in agreement" indicates consent. That is mind-boggling. Presumably, Rachel Baker would post, without hesitation, the claims of women who feel they were assaulted after giving a nod in agreement, including the names of the victims of these unjust claims. Even the National Institute of Justice has said that when it comes to rape surveys, some people don't give accurate survey answers, but it also noted the possibility that men and women may have different perceptions of the same incident.

Rachel Baker's brand of tyranny is nothing new, we've seen it many times. A group of current and former University of Chicago students created an anonymous Tumblr blog called the "Hyde Park List" listing the names of six male students and alumni who allegedly have perpetrated "gender-based violence" against other students. For 17 years, the University of Maryland famously sanctioned a Clothesline Project where alleged rape survivors were permitted to publicly display shirts with the full names of men they accused of rape written on them. There was no discussion about even the possibility that some of the men named might have been innocent. The university stopped the practice not out of respect for the men named but only because it realized the practice subjected it to liability. And there was the infamous Brown bathroom wall "rape list." Feminist icon Germaine Greer (who, by the way, once said this on a television broadcast: "Any woman of taste would have a boy for a lover rather than a man.") called for an online rapists' register "because we know the courts can't get it right."

The rhetoric employed to justify the modern-day vigilantism in these efforts rarely varies. It is a chilling echo of the lynch mobs gathered at the hanging trees of the old American South, without the lynching. Like the lynch mobs of old, these efforts are animated by a chilling hostility to the due process rights of the presumptively innocent. People with presumably noble intentions are waging the war on sexual violence with the memes of the hangman, as much as they would angrily deny it. The motivating impulse of the lynch mob was that the system could not adequately respond to rape by black men. As one writer put it, lynchings “are extraordinary measures demanded by extraordinary occasions.” Underlying the defense of lynchings was the assumption that rape accusers were “victims” just because they said so. The hangman and his sympathizers had no doubts about the guilt of the men and boys hanged –“their guilt was clear in every instance,” clucked one writer. Another explained: “. . . the utmost care is taken to identify the criminal and only when his identity is beyond question is the execution ordered.” And: “As the most careful precautions are taken against this result it is not a likely thing lest the wrong man is executed.” Due process wasn’t just unnecessary to the fair administration of justice when rape was alleged, it was a hindrance to the fair administration of justice. The criminal justice system was “incapable” of meting out the punishment that was needed, a punishment that spared the victims of “negro” atrocities the humiliation of testifying in courts.

In his State of the Union Address of 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt condemned the hanging of blacks by vigilantes. He quoted a religious leader of the day: “‘The mob which lynches a negro charged with rape will in a little while lynch a white man suspected of crime. Every Christian patriot in America needs to lift up his voice in loud and eternal protest against the mob spirit that is threatening the integrity of this Republic.'”

Sadly, more than 100 years later, Teddy Roosevelt was right. The “mob spirit” is alive and well, and it isn’t targeting just black men (although black men still seem to be on the receiving end of the modern-day mob spirit more than anyone -- see here and here). It has wrapped itself in the mantle of political correctness and gussied itself up with PhD’s in Women’s Studies programs, and it uses broad brushes to attack "masculinity," something even RAINN said was wholly inappropriate.

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Ohio University is the same school where angry students made it clear they don't care for due process when Prof. KC Johnson spoke there. It was also the school where a very public sex act led to unjust charges of rape. College students are notorious for bowing to peer pressure and marching in lockstep with their moral superiors, the campus anti-rape crusaders, but that school seems to be in special need of help.

In any event, the time is long overdue for all persons of goodwill to condemn efforts like Rachel Baker's twitter account.

In case you missed this important post yesterday: the "rape culture" crowd strikes again.