In Defense of George Will
On the liberal left, there are certain topics that are closed to debate. Global warming is one of them, and anyone who dares question the validity of doomsday statistics regarding carbon emissions or greenhouse gases or the overall temperature of the earth (which, by the way, has gone down over the last 15 years), is bullied and ostracized and called names like "troglodyte", "wing-bat", and "climate change denier".
Rape culture orthodoxy on college campuses is the latest issue that the left has deemed off-limits for discussion. Like global warming, any attempt to examine or question statistics of sexual assault on campus (which are all compiled by leftist progressives), what constitutes sexual assault (also defined by the left), and the amount of evidence needed to bring assault charges (decided by the left again), is met with vicious attacks from women’s groups, Democratic politicians, and the progressive media at large.
George Will is the latest writer to be lambasted for blasphemy. His June 6th Washington Post piece “Colleges become the victims of progressivism” dared to question the left’s narrative on sexual assault on campus, suggesting that the ever-expanding definition of “sexual assault” (dozens of colleges now consider any sexual contact between two adults under the influence of alcohol sexual assault) is causing victims to -- surprise, surprise! -- proliferate. He also stated that progressives have incentivized pulling the “sexual assault card,” if you will, and that they have created a certain privileged status associated with doing so:
Colleges and universities are being educated by Washington and are finding the experience excruciating. They are learning that when they say campus victimizations are ubiquitous (“micro-aggressions,” often not discernible to the untutored eye, are everywhere), and that when they make victimhood a coveted status that confers privileges, victims proliferate.
Will also questioned the numbers being put about by Joe Biden and the Department of Justice -- that one in five women on American college campuses are the victims of sexual assault:
The administration’s crucial and contradictory statistics are validated the usual way, by official repetition; Joe Biden has been heard from. The statistics are: One in five women is sexually assaulted while in college, and only 12 percent of assaults are reported. Simple arithmetic demonstrates that if the 12 percent reporting rate is correct, the 20 percent assault rate is preposterous. Mark Perry of the American Enterprise Institute notes, for example, that in the four years 2009 to 2012 there were 98 reported sexual assaults at Ohio State. That would be 12 percent of 817 total out of a female student population of approximately 28,000, for a sexual assault rate of approximately 2.9 percent — too high but nowhere near 20 percent.
(Interestingly, the “one in five women is sexually assaulted while in college” statistic is based on one -- count it, one! -- study conducted in 2007. The polling sample of this study? A random survey of students from a whopping two schools.)
Like wolves, the tolerance-and-compassion left went for Will’s jugular. The progressive women’s activist group Ultraviolet started a petition, which supposedly garnered close to 100,000 signatures, to have Will fired from the Post. Four Democratic senators wrote a scathing letter to the Post, claiming Will and the Post “trivialize the scourge of sexual assaults” on college campuses, and have “shown a fundamental disrespect to survivors,” among other criticisms.
In addition, the usual Obama sycophant media outlets blasted Will, one of which was the propagandistic, tabloidesque Huffington Post; curiously, because the Huffpost was recently forced to correct an erroneous attack on National Review writer A.J. Delgado (who also dared question sexual assaults on campus), the Huffpost tactfully took shots at Will via Arial Koren, Senior Class President of the University of Pennsylvania, who penned an emotional account of her own rape survival, stating that Will denied “the validity of the again-and-again proven-accurate statistic that 1 in 5 college women will be assaulted at school.”
When Koren says “again-and-again,” I assume she is referring to the single 2007 study of two schools?
Many readers on the Huffpost’s comment board called Will a variety of obscenities, suggested that he himself should be raped, and even claimed that the Wapo has devolved into a right-wing propaganda machine on par with FOX News (if you can believe that). To their credit, the Wapo unofficially responded by publishing a piece headlined “One way to end violence against women? Married dads,” which outlined the benefits of women not sleeping around, infuriating the women’s activist group Ultraviolet.
Will, of course, is not the only writer to exercise his 1st Amendment rights and question the left’s sexual assault narrative. As mentioned above, National Review writer A.J. Delgado has written several sensitive and articulate pieces about the topic, not only backing her points with well researched facts, but also keeping a respectful, objective tone as to not disrespect the true victims who’ve faced the brutality of sexual assault. Still, facts and compassion aside, the progressive media bullied her like they did Will, twisting her words, taking her quotes out of context, and in the case of the Huffpost (which was forced to run a correction on their attack), simply putting words in Delgado’s mouth that she never spoke.
No one is questioning that sexual assault in college (or anywhere, for that matter) is despicable, that victims’ stories must be reported and heard, and that perpetrators of sexual assaults should be punished accordingly. What must be questioned, however, is the left’s version of such assaults, their severity and frequency. If Ultraviolet, the Huffpost, and Democratic senators truly want to end sexual assault -- and not merely use it to shift power to progressives and to continue to spin the “War on Women”-- they would have an honest and open discussion about the following:
1. “Sexual assault” is too broad a term to be used on campus. Currently, the term encompasses everything from rape (forced oral, vaginal, and anal penetration), to unwanted sexual touching (feeling a person’s backside while slow dancing at a party), to the failure to give consent (technically, according to many college codes of conduct, hooking up with a person while under the influence of alcohol is not true “consent”). All of these are covered under the blanket of “sexual assault,” though they are very, very different. The fogginess of the term “sexual assault” is no accident. It has been made intentionally vague by the left, so as to allow the left to spin and apply the term any way they see fit. This is dangerous to everybody involved. It trivializes true rape, and opens the door for all manner of misunderstandings. If the left truly cared, they would push to have “sexual assault” specified, categorizing it perhaps as “rape,” “unwanted groping,” or “consent while intoxicated.” This would save a lot of communication problems, and is much more effective than having students sign forms before having sex, which, amazingly enough, has been proposed by liberal law makers.
2. More research needs to be done to measure the true extent of sexual assault in college. One study, surveying two schools, is not enough evidence to state that sexual assault is an “epidemic” which affects one in five women (notice it’s women, and not persons.) This research needs to be done on a nonpartisan basis, by multiple, reputable research organizations.
3. The idea that those accused of sexual assault (basically men), are innocent until proven guilty. The Department of Justice, under Attorney General Eric Holder, has put pressure on American universities to implement something known as “preponderance of evidence,” which basically means that those accused of sexual assault (men), are guilty until proven innocent. In the past, for a person (usually a woman) to accuse another person (usually a man) of sexual assault, they needed to show significant proof that it occurred -- a standard of about 75 percent certainty. The Obama administration is now strongarming colleges to lower that standard of proof to 50.1 percent, which is basically her word versus his, with no burden of proof on her side. Again, this is dangerous, as it is vague and can ruin the lives and reputations of those falsely accused.
The left seems to think that they have successfully sprayed their territory, and that to question their perspective on events is to condone rape or blame the victim. In essence, they’ve successfully politicized rape. This is despicable, but it feeds nicely into their claim that conservatives have a war on women. On one hand, they can control behavior and speech codes on college campuses, indoctrinating youth with progressive agendas and all manner of P.C. rubbish in the process, and on the other hand, they can vilify anyone who dares question their conclusions, the way they’ve attempted to vilify George Will.
But this is America -- not China, not Cuba, not the old Soviet Union. There is something called the 1st Amendment, and despite the left’s attempts to silence anyone who disagrees with them, the discussion will remain open.