Wednesday, January 6, 2016

My favorite quote of 2015: "If we use proof in rape cases, we fall into the patterns of rape deniers.”

Emma Sulkowicz with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.)
Last April, Emma "Mattress Girl" Sulkowicz addressed a group of Brown University students during the so-called Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The speech was live-tweeted by students in attendance, and the live-tweets included what the National Review called "alarming, Jezebel-worthy taglines" like this one: "If we use proof in rape cases, we fall into the patterns of rape deniers.”

Read it again, because it sums up the sexual grievance industry's view of how rape claims ought to be handled. It is reminiscent of a quote by Julia Horowitz, a journalist at University of Virginia’s school newspaper, who wrote that "to let fact checking define the [sexual assault] narrative would be a huge mistake.” (You remember the University of Virginia, don't you? "Jackie"? Rolling Stone? Yeah, you remember.) It's the same impulse that prompted Ohio University students to declare due process for the accused as "bullshit." And that prompted Amanda Childress, Sexual Assault Awareness Program coordinator at Dartmouth College, to ask "why could we not expel a student based on an allegation" of sexual assault?" And that prompted Stanford sexual assault activist Elisabeth Dee to declare that "essentially burden of proof is a defense of the perpetrator.” And that prompted students at Berkeley to protest due process for men accused of sexual assault. And that prompts prominent feminist writers to brand anyone who calls for due process in rape proceedings rape apologists and victim blamers. I could go on and on, as regular readers know.

If you follow Emma Sulkowicz's advice and treat every accusation as a bona fide rape, what do end up with? You end up with the alleged college rape "epidemic"--it's not difficult to find women who will claim they've been sexually assaulted after decades of being fed misinformation about what constitutes "consent," and in a culture where, as the leader of the sexual grievance industry has said, colleges see "case-after-case" of accusers getting it wrong and many of them have "mental health" issues.

But on closer examination, it's not much of an "epidemic."  When the claims are actually tested against competing evidence proffered by the accused, a very significant percentage of them turn out to be false or very doubtful. Every high profile rape claim starts out the same way--with the vast majority of people believing the accuser because they've only heard the accuser's side of the story. But eventually the evidence is examined objectively, and virtually every one of those claims falls apart. There's only one way to "prove" the college rape epidemic when it comes to "he said-she said" rape claims--do what Emma Sulkowicz suggests, and what "The Hunting Ground" actually did--ignore the evidence that supports the "he said" side of the story. Or do what colleges are doing and treat even very doubtful claims as actual sexual assaults.

And that's where we are: we have a college rape "epidemic" that was manufactured out of whole cloth and that every fair-minded person knows simply doesn't exist.