Rape, Accusations, and the Destruction of Individual Rights

On November 22, 2012, troops of the Congolese army descended upon the village of Minova. They were angry, exhausted, and had just lost an encounter with rebel fighters. The Guardian describes what happened next:

Their retreat was haphazard and chaotic. The soldiers were embarrassed, angry, upset and out of control; their commanders had disappeared and the battalion and regiment structures had disintegrated.

When they arrived in Minova they were drunk, hungry and violent. The locals suffered two nightmarish days of looting, rape and murder before the army restored some discipline among its troops.

Hundreds of women were raped. It is impossible to accurately state the number of cases as victims often fail to come forward, fearing that their communities and even their husbands will reject them, but hospital director Dr Ghislain Kassongo said he dealt with well over 100 women with rape-related injuries after the army rampage.

As best as observers can figure, about one out of every four women in the Congo has suffered a rape, as both government soldiers and rebels use rape as a weapon of terror. The Times of India describes the carnage as follows: Against the State: An ... Rockwell Jr., Llewelly... Best Price: $5.02 Buy New $5.52 (as of 11:35 EST - Details)

The Congolese soldiers march through the night, but not towards battle. In the dark, they are hunting for women who have fled their homes in Minova to hide in the bushes. The women know that if they are seen, they will be raped and maybe killed. The army has been ordered to retreat to the town, in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Its young soldiers, 2,000 of them, fire gunshots in the air. The commander gives an order. “Go and rape women,” he says. The soldiers obey.

“It’s true that we raped here. We found women because they can’t escape. You see her, you catch her, you take her away and you have your way with her,” says one soldier later. “Sometimes you kill her. When you finish raping then you kill her child. When we rape, we feel free.”

Why do I begin with this passage that describes unthinkable brutality that soldiers inflict upon women? It is because President Obama, the U.S. Department of Education and almost all of the American media, along with college officials, want us to embrace the false notion that women on U.S. college and university campuses are raped at the same rate as women in the Congo and that the experiences are identical. To put it another way, Barack Obama wants us to believe that the campus is one of the most dangerous places for women in the entire world and certainly in the United States. Suicide Pact: The Radi... Napolitano, Andrew P. Best Price: $0.25 Buy New $2.84 (as of 04:15 EST - Details)

In a speech last September calling attention to his administration’s initiatives to deal with what the president claims is a serious problem, Barack Obama declared: “An estimated one in five women has been sexually assaulted during her college years—one in five.” Others (including the president of the university where I teach) have used a one-in-four standard when making public statements, thus saying the rate of forcible rape on college campuses equals that of the Congo.

College campuses today tend to be hotbeds of this-and-that radicalism, but there have been no louder voices than those of the feminists, and especially the “anti-rape” advocates, and they have been able to partner not only with the government, but also the media. About the time Obama was equating American higher education institutions with the actions of drunken and brutal soldiers in Africa, Time Magazine was trumpeting the same thing in a cover story:

The college town of Missoula, Montana, saw at least 80 reported rapes over three years, earning it the name “America’s Rape Capital.” But the nickname has it wrong. Missoula isn’t special; it is fairly average

Practically overnight, Missoula went from being the home of one of the nation’s most respected public universities to a place where young women were victimized in horrible, violent attacks—or, as news Progressivism: A Prime... James Ostrowski Best Price: $8.99 Buy New $10.95 (as of 08:30 EST - Details) coverage began describing it, “America’s rape capital.”

The nickname, however, has it wrong. Calling Missoula the rape capital is as misleading as it is ugly. The University of Montana isn’t a bizarre sexual-assault outlier in higher education. Instead, it is fairly average. The truth is, for young women, particularly those who are 18 or 19 years old, just beginning their college experience, America’s campuses are hazardous places. Recent research shows that 1 in 5 women is the victim of an attempted or completed sexual assault during college.

In reading Time or listening to other journalists, activists, and college officials, one would think that women are being attacked on campus, dragged off into the bushes, and raped. That is not the case, however. The so-called rape epidemic in higher education comes about in social situations and in the aftermath of parties where there is likely to be a lot of alcohol consumption. But, as Emily Yoffe points out in her thoughtful piece on the current hysteria, there also are the new dormitory arrangements in which men and women life on the same floors.

One case involved two students at the University of Michigan who lived on the same floor. Yoffe recounts how a female student (called CB) climbed into bed with one of the males, Drew Sterrett:

They talked quietly, started kissing, and then things escalated, as they often do when two teenagers are in bed together. When it became clear they were going to have intercourse, CB asked Sterrett about a The Lone Gladio Sibel D. Edmonds Best Price: $2.36 Buy New $15.49 (as of 03:55 EST - Details) condom, and he retrieved one from a drawer. Their sex became so loud and went on for so long that Sterrett’s roommate, unable to sleep in the upper bunk, sent Sterrett a Facebook message around 3 a.m.: “Dude, you and [CB] are being abnoxtiously [sic] loud and inconsiderate, so expect to pay back in full tomorrow …”

Both Sterrett and CB agreed to keep the tryst quiet and there were no more such incidents the rest of the school year, but the two seemingly remained friends. That summer, however, CB’s mother found her daughter’s diary and was shocked by some things that she read, and she prevailed upon CB to have Sterrett charged with rape. Michigan officials conducted what only can be seen as a kangaroo court, complete with a report that claimed Sterrett’s roommate had slept through the entire thing and, thus, could not be in a situation to claim that the sex was consensual. Sterrett was kicked out of Michigan and now has not been able to enroll elsewhere because the university has branded him a “rapist.”

Yoffe’s account provides an excellent window into the kind of Alice-in-Wonderland atmosphere that the Obama administration has demanded be created on the college campus. Beginning with the “Dear Colleague” letter sent in 2011 from the Office for Civil Rights of the DOE to all colleges and universities receiving any form of federal assistance (which means almost all higher educations institutions), the government mandated that institutions employ procedures in complaints about sexual assault that essentially did away with any due process for the accused. Any college or university that failed to meet the new “standards” stood to lose its federal money.

For example, Tufts University in Massachusetts faced the wrath of the OCR after the university determined that a female student had falsely accused a male student of rape. Yoffe describes what happened next: Real Dissent: A Libert... Thomas E. Woods Jr. Best Price: $8.48 Buy New $7.93 (as of 03:10 EST - Details)

Being investigated by OCR for a Title IX violation places a college on a growing federal list of shame, now 88 schools long. Even more disastrous is standing up to OCR. The agency has the power to pull a school’s federal funding, essentially putting a school out of business—ask Tufts University if they’re willing to use it. A female Tufts student had accused a former boyfriend of rape, and after he was cleared (and the female student sanctioned for misleading campus authorities in the course of their investigation), she brought a Title IX complaint against the school. OCR’s mandate was to look at Tufts’ procedural deficiencies, not the finding in the case, and it criticized Tufts at length. The university agreed to make all the OCR’s recommended changes: to improve its protections for accusers and speed up its resolution process, among other things. The school also agreed to give a monetary settlement to the female student. But Tufts balked at signing off on OCR’s finding that the school was a Title IX violator. It issued a statement saying the school “could not, in good faith, allow our community to believe that we are not in compliance with such an important law.” In response, OCR told Tufts it would pull the university’s federal funds, a threat, the Boston Globe wrote, that was “so catastrophic that it virtually required Tufts to reach some understanding with the government.” It took only a few days for Tufts to cave.

Understand that Tufts University is not a bastion of conservatism. Its leadership previously had tried to bar Christian student groups from campus because the groups were “discriminatory” in their theological beliefs. Instead, we have seen a government power play in action; the government sets the rules, the government interprets the rules, and the government makes the determination it wants versus a determination based on what actually happened.

While she does not use the “government in the bedroom” phrase, nonetheless Yoffe describes a situation in which government truly does try to establish itself in every sexual encounter on the campus. Yoffe writes:

To punish the alleged perpetrators of sexual violence, colleges have put in place systems that are heavy-handed and unfair. Efforts to prevent sexual violence from occurring are unfortunately no more Roku Streaming Stick (... Best Price: $38.99 Buy New $69.95 (as of 03:25 EST - Details) enlightened. College students today are increasingly treated as a special sexual caste, who unlike their peers out in the working world can’t be relied upon to have sex without convoluted regulations that treat lovemaking as if it were a contract negotiation. Often, they are governed by a regimen called “affirmative consent,” an attempt by legislators and administrators to remove all ambiguity from sex.

The federal government has so far not mandated affirmative consent as a national standard, but states have been enthusiastically embracing the idea. Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York, recently enacted an affirmative consent standard for all State University of New York schools, calling the statistics on sexual assault “breathtaking.” California just became the first state to write the practice into law for all public and private colleges. The precise rules vary from place to place, but the point is to systematize the progression of a sexual encounter. Consent can’t be presumed—even between members of an established couple. It must be affirmatively given—for each and every sexual encounter and for every sex act.

At Ohio State University, two young people who want to engage in sexual congress might be well advised to first consult with the philosophy department and the law school. The university’s consent guidelines state, in part: “Consent is a knowing and voluntary verbal or non-verbal agreement between both parties to participate in each and every sexual act.” “Effective consent can be given by words or actions so long as the words or actions create a mutual understanding between both parties regarding the conditions of the sexual activity—ask, ‘do both of us understand and agree regarding the who, what, where, when, why, and how this sexual activity will take place?’” “Regardless of past experiences with other partners or your current partner, consent must be obtained. Consent can never be assumed, even in the context of a relationship.”

Yet, here is the problem that not even Yoffe seems to understand, as insightful as she has been in this article: She is arguing in favor of individual rights, but the Progressive ideology that governs both campus policies and the policies imposed by the federal government is inimical to individual rights. The procedures, she argues correctly, are unfair to young men but the perpetrators of these campus policies already are aware of the unfairness, and they clearly don’t care.

In a recent article on the infamous University of Virginia gang-rape hoax, I quote activist Zerlina Maxell, who argues that (1) women rarely, if ever, make false accusations of rape, and (2) if they do, it doesn’t matter, since whatever ordeal a falsely-accused man endures is nothing to the harm a female accuser who is not believed experiences. My sense is that Maxwell mirrors the views of most campus anti-rape activists and, more important, her words reflect the views of both the Obama administration and campus policymakers. Likewise, Libby Nelson and other feminist writers are now attacking the Washington Post for helping to uncover the fact that the “Jackie” story at the University of Virginia was yet another campus hoax.

When we argue from a position of individual rights, as Yoffe has done (and done so quite ably, I believe), we might as well be arguing in Esperanto, as the people who perpetrate these all-males-are-rapists policies believe that individual rights are anathema to the creation of what they see as a “good society.” In that regard, they are in the same company with the Progressives of a century ago, from Woodrow Wilson to neoconservatives like William Kristol to, well, Zerlina Maxwell. Progressives have believed – consistently, I would add – that an emphasis upon individual rights is an appeal to social decadence and has no place in building a society dedicated to a Progressive view of “greatness.”

This is not a situation of rights-minded people appealing to the fair-mindedness of other colleagues. This is a situation in which people who believe strongly in those natural rights of the individual and as enshrined in documents like the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution are trying to appeal to people who believe that the State and only the State grants rights, and that so-called group rights or collective rights must always prevail against the decadent rights of individuals. Indeed, a co-sponsor of a bill to codify into federal law the “rape” standards given by the Obama administration, Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, told the Washington Post: “I don’t think we are anywhere near a tipping point where the people accused of this are somehow being treated unfairly.” That her bill would institutionalize kangaroo courts is of no concern to McCaskill; young men are being accused of rape, so they must be guilty, and any attempt to defend themselves is seen as nothing more than a further admission of guilt and the undermining of a more important agenda. And this is a federal lawmaker who has taken an oath to “protect and defend the Constitution.” Amazon.com $50 Gift Ca... Best Price: null Buy New $50.00 (as of 11:05 EST - Details)

We are looking at hardcore collectivism disguised as policies that supposedly enable young women who have been “violated” to gain some semblance of justice, with “justice” being the outcome in which a politically-favored group is able to run roughshod over any rights an individual and procure a “truth” that is at odds with reality. But it is not just the fact that the campus groups are attempting to impose an Alice-in-Wonderland system of justice; no, they also adopt language of victimization that is obscene when one compares their experiences with those women in places like the Congo who have experienced unspeakable atrocities.

When I was in graduate school at Auburn University in the late 1990s, my wife and I had a friend from Sierra Leone, which then was in the throes of social and political upheaval. Rebel groups would kidnap women, hold them as sex slaves, force them to cook and care for the guerrillas, and then often would kill them. Our friend’s sister had been taken and it was a long time before our friend was to know her sister’s fate. She knew and we knew what this poor woman was enduring, and we also knew her chances for survival were almost zero, and, indeed, the rebels murdered her after putting her through ordeals that we don’t even want to imagine.

Some women survived, just as many women in the Congo have survived torture and rape, and we justifiably call them survivors. However, the language adopted by the Obama administration and campus groups calls any woman who makes a claim of rape or sexual assault a “survivor,” but we are talking often about young women who have what seem to be consensual sexual relations only to decide afterward that they have been raped or assaulted.

Yes, there are real-live survivors on the college campus, and I described in this article the rape experience one of them suffered. However, I do not equate the experience my friend had with a rapist to the “ordeal” of CB at the University of Michigan. Unfortunately, the administrative leadership at Michigan and the Obama administration has equated those two very different experiences with one another.

Like so much else that is wrong in the USA, the current atmosphere on college campuses is toxic, and that atmosphere is exactly what the Progressives have set out to create. They trumpet “studies” with terribly-flawed methodologies such as the “definitive” 2008 “study” from the National Institute of Justice as being justification for policies that openly strip individuals of their rights and proclaim guilt because of whom is being accused.

If there is one error in Yoffe’s piece, it is that she sees the present situation as being an “overcorrection” of a previous situation in which women were not taken seriously, at least in some situations, when they claimed to have been raped. The “overcorrection,” she argues, has now resulted in males being treated unfairly.

I agree with some of what she says and understand how women have been treated. For that matter, many of the women raped in the Congo are abandoned by their husbands and family for “bringing shame” upon the family, something that only takes a tragic situation and makes it even worse for those women who truly are survivors.

Women on college campuses never have faced what women in the Congo are facing, yet their rhetoric is such that one would think that every day mass rapes are occurring at every college and university. Furthermore, this is not a situation in which facts matter; the Obama administration’s policies – which colleges and universities pretty much accepted enthusiastically – are based upon the bogus “one in four or five” claim that is laughable on its face.

College administrators and certainly the advocacy groups could care less whether or not their policies are fair or unfair to male students. Male students are the enemy in the eyes of the mavens of higher education, and if males are falsely accused or denied due process or dragged through Alice-in-Wonderland kangaroo courts, then all the better. As Caroline Heldman, an associate professor of politics at Occidental College and co-founder of End Rape on Campus, has declared about male students suing colleges for allegedly denying them due process, “These lawsuits are an incredible display of entitlement, the same entitlement that drove them to rape.” Likewise, Emily Shugerman of Ms. Magazine writes:

One in five college women are sexually assaulted, and only 12 percent of college rape survivors will report their rape to the police. And yet, some men accused of such assaults are playing the victim.

People like Yoffe want to believe that most college administrators and others involved with sexual assault issues on campus (and especially Department of Education officials) at least want to be fair-minded in these situations. In truth, the administrators and allies have no intention of being fair or actually are trying to find out what happened when a complaint is made. The administrators at Tufts tried to be fair and the Obama administration threatened to destroy the whole university. We are dealing with people who play for keeps, and if they have to bring down the whole damned house, that is what they will do. They are not people of good will; they are people bent on remaking our society and forcing others to bend to their will.

As I wrote in a previous article, colleges and universities encourage reckless sexual behavior through their condom handouts, their hosting “sex workers” shows, holding “Sex Week” activities, and having males and females living on the same floor with each other. Yes, they invite sex and then people associated with these policies are shocked, SHOCKED when students actually engage in lots and lots of sex.

This is not accidental, nor is it due to stupidity. Modern higher education in so many ways has been about the destruction of civilized norms from relationships to law. The current Alice-in-Wonderland atmosphere that the Obama administration has created and colleges eagerly have embraced reflects a much larger universe than just higher education. By using false “facts” and by rigging the system through sheer power plays, these people are going after the very foundations of law just as the Soviets did nearly a century ago, and already we know those unhappy results. Writes Yoffe: The legal filings in the cases brought by young men accused of sexual violence often begin like a script for a college sex farce but end with the protagonist finding himself in a Soviet-style show trial.”

And that is exactly what modern Progressives want: show trials. Their language may be couched in terms that reflect due process and fairness, but their motives are much darker and only lead to tragedy.

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