[guest post by JVW]
Picture this scenario: You are a software salesperson for a medium-sized firm. You spend your day contacting potential customers, both via cold calls and for follow-ups to previous conversations. It’s hard work and your success rate is fairly low (the salesman’s lament is that you hear “no” ten, twenty, even thirty times for every “yes”), but you make enough sales to be considered a moderate success.
One day you are at work and you are asked into a closed meeting. There you are confronted by the VP of human resources, the associate director of manufacturing, one of the senior programmers, and a marketing assistant. They announce to you that they are the company’s disciplinary panel and that you are under investigation because a customer with whom you wrote a contract back in November 2012 now claims that you offered them a kickback and that you wrote the contract in a way that runs afoul of the law.
“Wait a minute,” you say to them, “if you are alleging that I broke laws then I want a lawyer present.”
“This is not a legal proceeding;” the VP for HR replies, “this is an informal hearing in which we are only establishing whether or not you are subject to internal sanctions.”
You are read the allegations against you as reported by the customer, but you are denied a copy of the written accusations and your accuser is allowed to – even encouraged to – leave the room during your “testimony.” You are required to address these allegations immediately on the spot without any time to prepare a defense. No one on the disciplinary panel has a legal background and no one has experience in software sales or writing contracts. There is no hard evidence of your alleged wrong doing in terms of saved email or phone messages. Still, based upon your demeanor and your testimony and the importance of the customer, the panel judges that you are very likely to have committed the acts of which you are accused, so your employment is summarily terminated and you are escorted out of the building.
Does that sound far-fetched? This is apparently roughly analogous to the situation faced by an unnamed male Swarthmore College student who was subject to campus disciplinary proceedings based upon a rape that was alleged to have occurred 19 months earlier. This case has been covered by Powerline, with some original reporting coming from a conservative Swarthmore publication earlier in April with a follow-up a couple of months later. The ending is similar to the scenario I posited below: the student is never charged with a rape, yet Swarthmore deems that he is worthy of expulsion based upon what certainly appears to be a superficial investigation carried out by a panel with no particular expertise in this area.
This is the end result of a campaign waged by campus feminist activists. Unhappy that the vaunted sexual liberation of American youth oftentimes has deleterious consequences, they have determined that there exists today a “rape culture” on campus that is almost exclusively the fault of young male students and the overall patriarchal campus culture. They draw upon the figure from a study of two universities to conclude that one in five college women is subjected to unwanted sexual contact at some point during her undergraduate years. The study in this case defined “sexual contact” as “forced touching of a sexual nature (forced kissing, touching of private parts, grabbing, fondling, rubbing up against you in a sexual way, even if it is over your clothes).” Unsurprisingly, the most aggressive voices among highly politicized feminists have changed that statistic into one in five women being raped in college.
So it comes as no surprise that the Obama Administration — which depends heavily on young single women delivering votes for him, his agenda, and his preferred candidates — would make addressing campus sexual assaults a priority item. The Department of Education, invoking Title IX, is threatening federal intervention against any institution they judge to be unsuitably aggressive in investigating and punishing reported sexual assaults. More ominously, the administration is coercing universities into creating the same sort of kangaroo courts, devoid of due process and staffed by administrators with zero legal training, similar to the one that expelled the Swarthmore student.
Certainly there is no shortage of loutish college boys who seek to use alcohol and peer pressure to entice naive college girls into pushing past the boundaries of their modesty, just as there is no shortage of mindless floozies who believe that drunken sexual promiscuity is a sign of maturity and advances the cause of feminism. Contrary to the clichés that abound among college administrators, our colleges and universities are not populated solely with mature and sophisticated adults, but also with plenty of overgrown adolescents who are no more capable of handling adult freedoms at age 19 than they were at age 15. Any attempt to change a campus culture (and, let’s face it, a youth culture) which fosters regrettable and sometimes even criminal sexual hookups needs to focus on a variety of factors including the easy availability of alcohol and drugs, the loosening of sexual mores in our society, and the lack of rules and supervision prevalent in today’s college environment. Designating young women as perpetual victims always teetering on the verge of being force-fed liquor and raped by uncontrollable college brutes will only further polarize debate, sometimes along rather unpredictable lines. Since she is far more eloquent than I, let me allow Christina Hoff Sommers to have the final word on what she terms the “rape culture hysteria”:
Molestation and rape are horrific crimes that warrant serious attention and vigorous response. Panics breed chaos and mob justice. They claim innocent victims, undermine social trust, and teach us to doubt the evidence of our own experience.
E.M. Forster said it best in A Passage to India, referring to a panic among “good citizens” following a highly dubious accusation of rape: “Pity, wrath, and heroism filled them, but the power of putting two and two together was annihilated.”