Monday, September 26, 2016

'Will the Left Survive the Millennials?'

By LIONEL SHRIVER
NEW YORK TIMES
SEPT. 23, 2016
Midway through my opening address for the Brisbane Writers Festival earlier this month, Yassmin Abdel-Magied, a Sudanese-born Australian engineer and 25-year-old memoirist, walked out. Her indignant comments about the event might have sunk into obscurity, along with my speech, had they not been republished by The Guardian. Twenty minutes in, this audience member apparently turned to her mother: “ ‘Mama, I can’t sit here,’ I said, the corners of my mouth dragging downwards. ‘I cannot legitimize this.’ ” She continued: “The faces around me blurred. As my heels thudded against the grey plastic of the flooring, harmonizing with the beat of the adrenaline pumping through my veins, my mind was blank save for one question. ‘How is this happening?’ ”

I’m asking the same thing.

Briefly, my address maintained that fiction writers should be allowed to write fiction — thus should not let concerns about “cultural appropriation” constrain our creation of characters from different backgrounds than our own. I defended fiction as a vital vehicle for empathy. If we have permission to write only about our own personal experience, there is no fiction, but only memoir. Honestly, my thesis seemed so self-evident that I’d worried the speech would be bland.

Nope — not in the topsy-turvy universe of identity politics. The festival immediately disavowed the address, though the organizers had approved the thrust of the talk in advance. A “Right of Reply” session was hastily organized. When, days later, The Guardian ran the speech, social media went ballistic. Mainstream articles followed suit. I plan on printing out The New Republic’s “Lionel Shriver Shouldn’t Write About Minorities” and taping it above my desk as a chiding reminder.

Viewing the world and the self through the prism of advantaged and disadvantaged groups, the identity-politics movement — in which behavior like huffing out of speeches and stirring up online mobs is par for the course — is an assertion of generational power. Among millennials and those coming of age behind them, the race is on to see who can be more righteous and aggrieved — who can replace the boring old civil rights generation with a spikier brand.

When I was growing up in the ’60s and early ’70s, conservatives were the enforcers of conformity. It was the right that was suspicious, sniffing out Communists and scrutinizing public figures for signs of sedition.

Now the role of oppressor has passed to the left. In Australia, where I spoke, Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act makes it unlawful to do or say anything likely to “offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate,” providing alarming latitude in the restriction of free speech. It is Australia’s conservatives arguing for the amendment of this law.

As a lifelong Democratic voter, I’m dismayed by the radical left’s ever-growing list of dos and don’ts — by its impulse to control, to instill self-censorship as well as to promote real censorship, and to deploy sensitivity as an excuse to be brutally insensitive to any perceived enemy. There are many people who see these frenzies about cultural appropriation, trigger warnings, micro-aggressions and safe spaces as overtly crazy. The shrill tyranny of the left helps to push them toward Donald Trump.

Ironically, only fellow liberals will be cowed by terror of being branded a racist (a pejorative lobbed at me in recent days — one that, however groundless, tends to stick). But there’s still such a thing as a real bigot, and a real misogynist. In obsessing over micro-aggressions like the sin of uttering the commonplace Americanism “you guys” to mean “you all,” activists persecute fellow travelers who already care about equal rights.

Moreover, people who would hamper free speech always assume that they’re designing a world in which only their enemies will have to shut up. But free speech is fragile. Left-wing activists are just as dependent on permission to speak their minds as their detractors.

In an era of weaponized sensitivity, participation in public discourse is growing so perilous, so fraught with the danger of being caught out for using the wrong word or failing to uphold the latest orthodoxy in relation to disability, sexual orientation, economic class, race or ethnicity, that many are apt to bow out. Perhaps intimidating their elders into silence is the intention of the identity-politics cabal — and maybe my generation should retreat to our living rooms and let the young people tear one another apart over who seemed to imply that Asians are good at math.

But do we really want every intellectual conversation to be scrupulously cleansed of any whiff of controversy? Will people, so worried about inadvertently giving offense, avoid those with different backgrounds altogether? Is that the kind of fiction we want — in which the novels of white writers all depict John Cheever’s homogeneous Connecticut suburbs of the 1950s, while the real world outside their covers becomes ever more diverse?

Ms. Abdel-Magied got the question right: How is this happening? How did the left in the West come to embrace restriction, censorship and the imposition of an orthodoxy at least as tyrannical as the anti-Communist, pro-Christian conformism I grew up with? Liberals have ominously relabeled themselves “progressives,” forsaking a noun that had its roots in “liber,” meaning free. To progress is merely to go forward, and you can go forward into a pit.

Protecting freedom of speech involves protecting the voices of people with whom you may violently disagree. In my youth, liberals would defend the right of neo-Nazis to march down Main Street. I cannot imagine anyone on the left making that case today.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Man banished from college due to woman's claim of incapacitated sex--even though the school said there was no evidence of incapacity

A male student at the University of Michigan was accused of sexual assault by a female student who claimed that when they had sex, she was too intoxicated to consent.

A university investigator interviewed 23 witnesses and concluded that "there is no evidence of the complainant's outward signs of incapacitation that the respondent would have observed prior to initiating the sexual activity."

End of case--based on that finding of fact, there is no evidence to find the male student responsible for sexual assault. She reasonably appeared to him to have capacity, so her claim must be rejected. The accused cannot be expected to read his sex partner's inner thoughts--if she agrees to have sex and her outward manifestations reasonably suggest she has capacity, he's not guilty of sexual assault. Period.

The woman appealed. And somehow, the administrative appeal board overturned the investigator's findings and found the man had violated the sexual conduct code. In late June, he signed a resolution agreement agreeing to leave U-M.

He's changed his mind, and he's suing now. So is she. He's alleging that his due process rights have been violated. The same old-same old.

This case is not difficult. It doesn't present unique issues, nor does it raise matters worthy of any debate whatsoever. What the University of Michigan did here was grossly unjust to the male student, and its unconscionable decision appears to have been motivated by the accused's gender. All persons of goodwill should outraged--and alumni at U-M ought to demand justice for the young man.

End of story.

Colleges are nuthouses

More evidence: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/439999/vanderbilt-share-and-ask-pronouns-when-making-introductions-even-familiar-colleagues

Thursday, September 22, 2016

We are not allowed to offer support for our friends who've been accused of sexual assault

When it comes to sexual assault accusations, our moral superiors in the sexual grievance cartel tell us we must assume guilt based on an accusation, but that it is okay to automatically take the side of an accuser, even if we know absolutely nothing about the case or the parties involved.

We are not allowed to automatically support people accused of sexual assault, even if we know them and can vouch for their characters. Here's an example of the latter: http://sportsday.dallasnews.com/college-sports/collegesports/2016/09/21/baylor-qb-seth-russell-clarifies-previous-comments-regarding-ex-teammate-awaiting-trial 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Feminists want to get rid of statutes of limitations for rape

Gloria Allred supports the sexual grievance industry's efforts to end the statute of limitations in California for rape. Her rationale underscores the injustice in this effort. Allred writes:
Those who represent defendants often oppose eliminating the statutes of limitations. The theory goes that the fairness of a trial is compromised by the passage of time, so prosecutors shouldn’t sit on evidence of a crime and wait to charge a person once memories have faded, documents have been thrown out and alibis get hard to prove. This is why other criminal charges — with rare exception — have time limits, they argue, and rape and sexual assault should not be treated differently.

Rape and sexual assault are different, however. Other crimes are much more likely to be reported quickly, but we know that victims of sexual violence often take years to come forward because they may feel ashamed, mistakenly blame themselves for what happened or fear they will not be believed. Police and prosecutors aren’t holding onto evidence; they haven’t been informed that there was a crime.

For constitutional reasons, the Justice for Victims Act would not be retroactive; it can’t re-open the door to criminal courts that statutes of limitations already have slammed shut. But it will help victims of rape and sexual assault in the future.

If Gov. Brown signs this bill into law, statutes of limitations no longer will be a sexual predator’s best friend and a victim’s worst enemy.
Statutes of limitations aren't designed to protect the guilty--though sometimes they do--they are designed to protect the innocent, the wrongly accused. Allred doesn't even bother to say how the wrongly accused should be protected against old claims they can't possibly defend against. By refusing to acknowledge that the wrongly accused are deserving of any such protections whatsoever, Allred underscores the injustice of the position she advocates.

If someone is accused today of committing rape 20, 30, or 40 years ago, there is no realistic way he will be able to defend against it. I can think of few things more frightening. It is almost certain he will not be able to establish an alibi. All witnesses, all documents showing, for example, he was somewhere else when the alleged crime occurred, will have been lost to the mists of time.

None of that is a concern to Allred or her ilk. All that matters is that it will be easier for women to get convictions many years after the rape.

“The statute of limitations is there for a reason,” said Natasha Minsker, director of the ACLU of California Center for Advocacy and Policy “When a case is prosecuted literally decades after the event, it becomes much more ... difficult to prove that you are wrongfully accused." See here.

The longer an accuser waits to bring a charge from the date it allegedly occurred, the more difficult it is to fairly defend against it. The horror stories of the repressed memories witch hunts are examples of what can occur. In rape cases, there is a national trend to lengthen or eliminate statutes of limitations entirely. This is a concern to the criminal defense bar, the ACLU, and many others. We write about it from time to time -- see e.g.: http://falserapesociety.blogspot.com/2011/12/assholez-who-despise-falsely-accused.html;  http://falserapesociety.blogspot.com/2008/07/alarming-trend-states-extend-statutes.html; http://www.cotwa.info/2011/12/feminist-legal-scholar-explains-need.html.

It is painful to see that so many in the progressive camp have become so terribly hostile to due process and basic notions of fairness. They've hitched their wagons to group identity politics and don't think that defendants accused of crimes involving a penis are entitled to any protections. I can't think of any other issue where self-professing liberals are happy to see due process rolled back for a particular group. For what other crime have liberals applauded eliminating statutes of limitations? A friend of mine recently said that he didn't leave the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party left him. Thank goodness for the ACLU and the defense bar, but the rest of the party seems to have forgotten how they once revered fundamental notions of justice.

Geraldo Rivera says sexual assault and harassment accusers deserve the 'presumption of credibility'

Geraldo Rivera--best known for a disastrous publicity stunt that involved opening gangster Al Capone's vault that was supposed to contain untold riches but that only contained a few empty bottles--has declared he was wrong for supporting ex-Fox News head Roger Ailes, recently accused of sexual harassment by ex-Fox News female personalities.

Rivera now says: "Like victims of sexual assault, those alleging harassment deserve the presumption of credibility.”

Rivera is suggesting that men accused of sexual assault or harassment and who deny the allegations lodged against them should be presumed to have lied.  After all, both parties can't have the presumption of credibility, can they?

The idiocy speaks for itself.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

'Do we really think our universities are full of sexual attackers?'

Great article--original found here: http://ottawacitizen.com/opinion/columnists/sibley-do-we-really-think-our-universities-are-full-of-sexual-attackers
Students attending Carleton University this fall, women and men, will likely find themselves subject to propaganda aimed at convincing them the campus is rife with sexual predators.

Over the last few months a cadre of academics, outreach workers, student and union association members, and sexual assault survivors has been insisting that the university administration admit the campus is pervaded by a “rape culture.” They want that label included in policies the university is preparing as it tries to conform to the Ontario Liberal government’s diktats on sexual violence.

The province requires that, by the end of the year, Ontario universities and colleges establish policies to comply with Bill 132, the Sexual Violence and Workplace Harassment Action Plan. The intent, supposedly, is to end sexual violence and harassment in educational institutions.

The concept, which has it roots in 1970s feminist ideology, was deployed by the government in a report on sexual violence entitled “It’s Never OK” that called for an end to “rape culture on campuses.” Rape culture was defined as one in which “dominant ideas, social practices, media images and societal institutions implicitly or explicitly condone sexual assault by normalizing or trivializing male sexual violence and by blaming survivors for their own abuse.”

Nobody can deny the widespread sexual exploitation of women in our society. Think of all the magazine ads, Internet sites and TV shows that display women as objects for male pleasure. Nor is there a lack of examples where the justice system has failed women by effectively tolerating or excusing male sexual violence.


But is it reasonable – and responsible – to claim the “culture” at Carleton University is dominated by ideas, practices, imagery and institutional arrangements that condone sexual assault, trivialize sexual violence or blame the victim?

I have no special purchase on how women on campus perceive their circumstances. Some may well feel themselves under constant threat. But individual feelings, or even individual experience, don’t necessarily reflect collective reality.

Carleton’s safety department received 58 sexual assault reports in the nine years between 2007 and 2015. With three exceptions, they all fit the Criminal Code definition of level one sexual assaults; that is, assaults where the “sexual integrity” of the victim is violated whether through bodily contact or unwanted words or gestures of a sexual nature.

There were only two reports – one in 2010 and one in 2012 – of level two sexual assaults, in which the threat of bodily harm was involved.

The single reported level three sexual assault – aggravated sexual assault – involved a 23-year-old woman who suffered a broken jaw and a dislocated shoulder when she was beaten unconscious and raped in a science lab in 2007.

Of course, many sexual assaults go unreported – as many as two-thirds, by some estimates. In 2015, there were nine “reported” sexual assaults. But if all the unreported incidents had also been counted, that means there may have been as many as 27 sexual assaults on a campus with 30,000 students, more than half of whom are women.

Obviously, even a single sexual assault is one too many. Nor can there be any excuse – alcohol, drugs, cultural attitudes, misinterpreted signals – for sexual violence. But in light of the numbers, reported and estimated, it is an exercise in ideological extremism to suggest Carleton University condones rape culture, tacitly or otherwise.

Nevertheless, the ideologues denounce administrators for being in denial about the “problem with campus rape,” as one pundit recently put it. The charge is intellectually fraudulent and tantamount to moral blackmail. If the administration denies the “rape culture” label, it will be accused of putting the university’s reputation ahead of student safety. If it includes the label in its sexual violence policy, well, what parent would send a child to a school that effectively admits students aren’t safe?

The “rape culture” canard insults not only every man – students, teachers and staff – with its implicit message that they are to be regarded as potential sexual predators, but also every woman who has a father, husband, brother or son on campus.

Robert Sibley, a veteran Ottawa journalist, holds a PhD in political science from Carleton University, where he occasionally lectures on political philosophy.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Film director acquitted of rape buys into "rape culture"

Film director Nate Parker, who is black, was a 19-year-old wrestler at Penn State in August 1999 he was accused of raping a white woman. Parker admitted to having sex with the woman but claimed it was consensual. The accuser was inebriated prior to the the alleged assault but a witness said she was coherent. The accuser tried to tried to trap Mr. Parker into confessing that he raped an unconscious woman in a recorded telephone confession (Mr. Parker didn't know it was being recorded). Here's what Mr. Parker said: “You were all for it, you know what I mean,” he said. “It’d, it’d be different if you were just laying there, but you weren’t. You were active, you know what I mean?” And: ". . . if . . . you’re giving me the vibe that you’re cool with it… I’m going to assume you’re fine. You know? I’m going to assume that nothing’s wrong. And that’s what I did.” After the accusation, Mr. Parker said a detective working on the case threatened him, “You wrestlers for the past 10 years have raped and battered this whole town. I’m going to get you.” Prosecutors brought charges.

In an October 2001 trial. Mr. Parker was acquitted on all charges by a jury in central Pennsylvania that was all white one except for one black juror.

Now that Mr. Parker is a prominent film director, he's found himself in the cross hairs of the sexual grievance cartel. Because he was accused of rape, they think it's a foregone conclusion that he's a rapist, acquittal be damned.

Cathy Young, for one, has stood up for Parker and decried the PC lynch mob that makes him a scapegoat.

So how does Parker himself react? Does he talk about the fact that it's unjust to assume guilt based on an accusation? Does he talk about the necessity for judging every case on its own facts? Does he talk about the critical importance of due process?

He does not. He reacts by admitting his male "privilege" and the destructive effect" that "male culture" has on our culture. He wants to "grow" from the rape criticisms being lodged against him. His interview is replete with the extremist language of "rape culture," which is both ironic and troubling because "rape culture" is the very attitude that says it's not just acceptable but, indeed, proper to assume he's a rapist based on the accusation made against him. "Rape culture" promotes the belief that to concede even the possibility that there might be another side to a "he said-she said" rape claim is misogyny and rape apology.

It doesn't matter to Mr. Parker that RAINN, itself, thinks "rape culture" is an unjust concept. "Rape is caused not by cultural factors but by the conscious decisions, of a small percentage of the community, to commit a violent crime," according to RAINN. The "unfortunate" tendency to blame "rape culture" for sexual assault, RAINN wrote, "has led to an inclination to focus on . . . traits that are common in many millions of law-abiding Americans (e.g., 'masculinity'), rather than on the subpopulation at fault: those who choose to commit rape."

Nate Parker has decided that he'd rather keep his PC credentials intact than speak out against the injustice of rushing to judgment and assuming guilt in rape cases, and that means kowtowing to the gender extremists who dominate the public discourse on all things related to sexual assault.

Because Nate Parker was a black man who was accused by a white woman, his attitude is particularly repulsive.

Nate Parker might have been wrongly accused, but he is no friend to the wrongly accused.