I've been blogging about the hostility to the rights of the presumptively innocent accused of sexual assault--especially college men--for a long time. When I started, there were essentially no other outlets doing this on a regular basis, and we received notes from wrongly accused young men telling us that our blog was influential in their decisions not to take their own lives. That didn't stop some of this blog's many detractors from calling for us to be brutally raped--you know, to teach us a lesson and all. Now, there are a lot of people writing about the issue, including some prominent law professors, so to the extent this blog was ever necessary (our detractors say it wasn't), it's less so now. Some health issues have caused me to rethink the time I devote to this endeavor, and this will be COTWA's last post, at least for awhile.
This is the way public policy is made. A committed and well-financed lobby almost always prevails over the will of the people on issues that are not among the general public's chief concerns. For example, a poll shows that over 90 percent of likely voters believe that law enforcement, not colleges and universities, should be responsible for investigating and prosecuting allegations of sexual assault on campus--the proposed Safe Campus Act would make that general consensus the law. The problem is that the only people who are very interested in this issue--a well-funded, loose coalition aptly called the sexual grievance industry--feels strongly that the Safe Campus Act should be defeated. The sexual grievance industry almost surely will get its way, as it always does.
The unvarnished truth is that the profiteers of the sexual grievance industry dominate the public discourse on the issue of college sexual assault and dictate public policy about it. These folks have no compunction about making up statistics to "prove" an imaginary college rape epidemic. The only people who bother doing "research" into the issue have a vested financial or professional interest in fomenting a college rape crisis. When one of their own happens to stray from the preferred narrative, he becomes a pariah--at least according to people whose own studies prove to be wholly invalid. The sexual grievance industry doesn't want to end the "epidemic." Its constituents just want to keep their jobs. And those of us who know they're wrong keep fighting the same battles, keep saying the same things, keep holding out hopes that always fade. We've not figured out a way to defeat an enemy supported by a massive lobby that's extremely well-funded by tax and tuition dollars.
When it comes to accusations of sexual assault, we are stranded in an age where everything is upside down. College men don't know, and, sadly, don't care, that they are smack in the middle of a witch hunt and that they are the witches. Truth be told, it's rather difficult to fight a battle when the people you're trying to protect go ahead and surrender.
The sexual grievance industry keeps taking away due process rights to solve the rape "epidemic" but--mirabile dictu!--none of the "solutions" ever work. When it becomes obvious that the "solutions" are wholly ineffective, the rights that were taken away are never restored--the sexual grievance industry just looks for new "solutions" that are always more onerous than the last ones. If we were really waging a war on rape, we'd fire every ineffective general who keeps coming up with cockamamie "solutions" that don't work. But since it's a made-up war against a made-up enemy, the solutions don't need to work and, in fact, can't work.
The woman likely to be our next president thinks every rape accuser deserves to be believed, which requires us to disbelieve the the men they accuse. A United States senator has no hesitation labeling a presumptively innocent man a "rapist" based on an accusation. Amanda Childress, Sexual Assault Awareness Program coordinator at Dartmouth College, asked: "Why could we not expel a student based on an allegation?" Even the gender zealots know these attitudes are not "fair," but "that's how . . . it has to be." Keeping an open mind about a rape claim is "rape apology." Calling for due process in college rape proceedings is "misogyny," "rape culture" and "victim blaming." Citing evidence to refute the made-up rape epidemic is also "misogyny." The sexual grievance industry has everyone believing that it's proper to assume guilt in cases where the facts are not known based on other, wholly unrelated cases. The overarching assumption is that rape is rampant and that women don't lie about rape, and neither assumption is true. The one-in-five stat is wrong (see here and here), and false rape claims are more common than claims that can be definitively classified as rape. Feminist Brett Sokolow, the undisputed 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 [sic] . . . believe something has happened to them" even though "overwhelming proof" shows it did not. Mr. Sokolow suggested mental health issues may play an important factor in these wrongful accusations. Researchers from the sexual grievance industry treat as valid every unchallenged assertion of sexual assault on college rape surveys, even though when the evidence as to specific claims is actually examined, more than half of such claims can't be classified as valid or invalid.
The lies have disastrous consequences. They foment rape hysteria, which leads otherwise decent people to think witch hunts are acceptable. In this climate, even people who acknowledge that some men are wrongly accused think its proper to sacrifice innocent men as collateral damage to fight the phony war on rape. A U.S. congressman said he believed it is better to punish the innocent than to allow the guilty to go free (he quickly retracted that statement). An overwhelming majority of college women think it's better that innocent young men be punished for offenses they didn't commit than to allow a guilty man to go free. Student editors "would rather see someone falsely accused than see someone avoid coming forward." Colleges are likened to ISIS--which beheads, crucifies, systematically rapes, and burns people alive--because of the made-up rape epidemic. Gender zealots wage the war on sexual assault using the memes of the hangman in the Old South--due process isn’t merely deemed to be unnecessary to the fair administration of justice on campus, due process is deemed to be a hindrance to the fair administration of justice. Down the rabbit hole we tumble.
Worse, the lies give the sexual grievance industry ammunition to call for drastic laws and policies that chip away at the rights of the presumptively innocent accused of sexual assault. These include VAWA, Federal Rule of Evidence 413, and the "Dear Colleague" letter.
Even one sexual assault in college is too many. Sexual assault is a thorny issue that should not be ignored even though it is not an epidemic. We need to educate our young people about consent (amazingly, almost half of all college women think a nod in agreement does not constitute consent) and about the "regret asymmetry" that separates the genders.
Sexual assault should not be dealt with by fomenting a public outcry based on hysteria and lies. Innocence Project guru Mark A Godsey has warned that "the risk of wrongful conviction is the highest when there’s public outcry. Most of the exonerations and wrongful convictions have occurred in rape cases." These are not easy issues, and they require a very delicate balance--it's the balance that is missing from the public discourse. Every civilized society must strive to eradicate heinous criminality by punishing offenders, but it also must insure that the innocent aren't punished with them. The latter concern typically is absent from the public discourse. We have attempted here, in some small way, to inject that concern into the public discourse. Now it's up to you carry the message.