Monday, December 19, 2011

Women's activists pat each other on the back for closing a fraternity -- over misconduct apparently limited to one frat brother

Yet another ritualistic gender passion play was staged last week, this time at the University of Vermont, where a chapter of a fraternity was shut down indefinitely because of purportedly misogynistic conduct.  A headline on a woman's rights site blared: Success! Frat That Joked About Raping Women Closed. 

By now the story is well known: the fraternity circulated a survey among its members asking who they would like to rape. This crude and childish query was presented as yet another instance of misogynistic conduct in the hyper-masculine culture of fraternities, where such conduct not only is common but flourishes.

Except, apparently, that's not what happened. The fraternity didn't send out a survey; apparently, one new frat brother posed the offensive question to a limited fraternity audience. Not only was his action not sanctioned by the fraternity, but the person or persons to whom the survey was sent refused to answer the question and told the new member who sent it to change it immediately.

But hardly anybody cares what really happened.  The headline about a frat sending out a rape survey was all they needed to slip into full-blown victim mode. Gender activists couldn't trip over one another to see who could bray their righteous indignation the loudest.  An on-campus rally of hundreds of students protested both the fraternity -- even though the fraternity didn't sanction the survey -- and "rape culture," and an on-line petition demanding that the fraternity be shut down got more than 3,500 signatures.  All of this occurred before any investigation into the incident had been concluded.

The innocent frat brothers didn't know what hit them. "I feel like this whole entire thing came out of nowhere," former SigEp member K.C. Charles said. "It was a fraternity against the world pretty much during the worst time of the semester."

How did the National fraternity react?  Neville Chamberlain would have been proud. It caved in to the activists' screeching overreaction for the sake of political expediency. And today, women's groups are patting themselves on the back -- mission accomplished! Another triumph over misogyny! The site that launched the on-line petition touted the message that it helped send: "rape is not something to casually consider. Ever. Under any circumstances."

But that's not the only message they sent, is it?  By punishing all of the members of a fraternity for the actions of, apparently, one frat brother, they sent another message -- a message that goes like this: for purported gender offenses, it is perfectly acceptable to overreact, ignore due process, and punish innocent men for the sins of "patriarchy."

That, of course, is a "justice" grounded in misandry. 

The principal lesson from this incident, for anyone paying attention, is exactly opposite to the one most people assume was taught.