January 29, 2018 § 43 Comments
When a man and a woman meet privately they often come away giving different accounts, to the rest of us, of what happened in the encounter.
When this sort of “he said, she said” situation arises the important thing is to believe the man, not the woman; at least according to recent critics of Christendom College who favor a gossip-based approach to justice over an evidence-based approach.
January 28, 2018 § 79 Comments
Consider two college classmates, Bob and Fred. For a time they seemed to be friends; later they stopped being friendly.
Fred talks to a professor about his falling out with Bob. Fred claims that a year and a half prior Fred had driven Bob out into the Shenandoah wilderness to go hiking. He says that the two had disagreed about how far into the wilderness they were going to hike, and that when Fred insisted that they go no further the larger and stronger Bob attacked him, beat him up, and forced him to go all the way to Old Rag. Then Fred drove the two of them back to campus and said nothing about the incident for a year and a half.
The professor (correctly) tells Fred that if this story is true he was a victim of criminal assault and battery.
Bob denies that he ever threatened (criminal assault) or hit (criminal battery) Fred, and says that Fred was the one insisting that they go on a longer hike.
As an administrator at this small college with a very small campus and very limited resources, you have to decide what to do. Fred already has a psychiatrist/counselor, and in the course of investigating one of the things you do is ask Fred if you can talk to his counselor. The college is far too small, maybe a few dozen classrooms in total, to enforce a regime of strict separation every time two students don’t get along and accuse each other of wrongdoing.
Knowing all this Fred’s parents continue to send him back to the college, where his alleged attacker also continues to attend, because apparently they themselves don’t think he is in any danger. Bob is subjected to special scrutiny; is reprimanded and punished in a few cases where there is evidence of obnoxious behavior toward Fred.
Seven years later a flock of shrieking harpies descend, demanding justice for Fred’s victimization to “assault and battery,” carefully avoiding the inconveniently truthful word “alleged.” The form of justice they demand is to insist that the college must “take accusations seriously” — that is, the college must treat (some) gossip and rumor as if it were true for the purpose of making administrative decisions.
It is at this point that you, gentle reader, have to decide what sort of society you really want to live in: a civilization where public justice is carried out based on evidence available to third parties, third parties who out of necessity have to make authoritative decisions about what to do; or a banana republic in which public justice is carried out based on unverifiable gossip. It is indeed a weakness of evidence based justice that some people get away with wrongdoing; though of course this is also true, to an even greater extent, in a gossip-based system.
Be careful what you decide; because the most common refrain some time after saying “what could it hurt?” is “how were we supposed to know?” You are setting up your own daughters to fall victim to a future transsexual/non-cis gossip system of justice; since natural, surgically unaltered women are not at the top of the liberal victim hierarchy.
 The gossip and rumor which must be treated as authoritatively true are the gossip and rumor that the harpies favor. Other gossip and rumor is to be discounted. The criteria for accepting some gossip and rejecting other gossip is ambiguous, but definitely does not involve evidence.
January 19, 2018 § 133 Comments
Apparently an attention starved Catholic mommy blogger wrote a hit piece against Christendom College. I won’t link to the two part article itself because I’m not interested in driving traffic to trolls; but what follows is easily verifiable. As usual with hubbubs like this I have a few specific things to point out, and no intention of addressing everything that everyone is saying on the subject.
The central ‘stage setting’ incident in part one of the hit piece took place in 2009. Apparently a young female student drove herself (she was the driver with the car keys) and her boyfriend away from the college, past the local town with its hundreds of businesses and thousands of residences, deep into the Shenandoah mountains, to an isolated location in a national park. A year and a half later she was talking about it with a professor and claimed she now realized that she was raped, in a classic “he said she said, long after the fact” scenario.
I find this story perfectly plausible. It is also manifestly unverifiable.
By all accounts the college did everything it could do in as professional, compassionate, and (nontrivially) legal a manner as anyone could reasonably expect. The young man was investigated and punished for actually verifiable behaviors on campus, etc — the details (putative and otherwise), again, are available elsewhere so there is no need to rehash them here.
At least one of the individuals cited in the article series claims, in the combox, that the blogger’s citation is a tendentious misrepresentation of what was said in the interview. So the veracity and fairness of the article is publicly disputed by one of its own sources. But even if we grant the entire factual situation as reported, the articles are a complete hash of emotive nonsense. The young woman who claims she was raped explains, as paraphrased by the blogger using her as clickbait:
But several former and current students say the school’s sheltered, highly structured campus culture actually facilitates sexual assault …
She says that the rules against romantic public displays of affection were so restrictive, it drove couples off campus.
So the central point of the article (its very title is “Are Women Safe in Christendom’s Bubble?”) seems to be that the College does such a great job enforcing decent behavior on campus that this forces students to go off campus to drink, engage in sexual debauchery, etc. Horrors! Christendom is so well-governed that it is virtually impossible, certainly in comparison to most colleges, to sexually assault women on campus!
And apparently in this specific case the mere proximity of the campus was so oppressive that it was necessary for the alleged victim herself – again she was the driver – to motor, not just a few miles into the nearby town, but to far off in the isolated Virginia mountain wilderness. How else to fully escape the aura of moralistic oppression at Christendom and make possible the campus rapeyness that everyone in the Current Year has come to expect?
The logic doesn’t get any better as the lengthy articles progress. The young woman’s father complains that students are punished for being drunk on campus but are not punished for “being a rapist” on campus:
“I always find it interesting they always try to punish students for drinking off campus, if you come back to campus drunk,” [the father] said. “I say, if you rape off campus, when you come back to campus, you’re still a rapist.”
In case the category error isn’t obvious, consider a different situation — streaking, say. Nobody would fault the college for punishing a student caught running around naked on campus. Everyone with any modicum of sanity would fault the college for punishing Student A with no evidence other than that Student B unverifiably claims to have seen Student A streaking deep in the Shenandoah wilderness after she drove him there. (“But women very rarely lie about streaking” come emotion-laden shrieks from the Estrogenic Cloud).
A commenter suggested that the risk men bear of being falsely accused of sexual assault or rape is analogous the risk that women bear of getting pregnant: that this somehow balances things out (which is the important thing). The obvious difference is that a man can be falsely accused of rape even if he did nothing wrong at all; whereas pregnancy only comes about in a very specific, concrete, well understood way. No woman needs to adopt the (at this point well vindicated) Pence rule to refrain from sexual intercourse and avoid pregnancy. But any man who doesn’t follow the Pence rule is taking on the risk of being falsely accused of sexual harassment or worse.
The question of actual evidence and its relation to “victim blaming” gets to the heart of the matter. If this young man in fact legitimately raped this young woman, as demonstrated by actual solid evidence, by all means punish him in the harshest manner as a rapist. There is no statute of limitations on rape, and nobody is responsible for an act of rape itself except the rapist.
But punishment in this case – indeed public rendering of the truth at all – is not (as reported at least) possible, because there isn’t any evidence. The only people who actually know what actually happened are the two people who were there at the time: he said, she said.
A more pertinent question then is, who is responsible for there not being any evidence? Who put us in this situation? Was it Christendom College with its overbearing and oppressive institutional success, when compared to pretty much all colleges everywhere, in keeping rapeyness and even consensual debauchery off campus; or was it someone else?
The most proximate person responsible for the impossibility of determining the truth in an objective, public way is the person in the literal driver seat who chose to drive the two of them, alone, deep into the Virginia wilderness. And in close proximity to that person – perhaps carrying the greater responsibility, because responsibility comes along with age, wisdom, and authority – are parents who give driver’s licenses to young women and send them off to college hundreds of miles distant without any inkling that a seventeen year old driving deep into the wilderness with a random boyfriend is every bit as imprudent as a ten year old getting into a car with a stranger offering candy.
Close behind are trolling mommy bloggers who write self-serving hit pieces against an obviously well managed Catholic college precisely because of that college’s undeniable success, versus all of its peers, in keeping rape at the status of an off campus problem rather than an on campus problem.