Optimism and Decency: Progressive Kryptonite
It’s been a tough couple of weeks for the campus rape narrative. Two prominent tales of forcible rape disseminated by actress Lena Dunham and Rolling Stone Magazine appear to be falling apart faster than a Yugo. And no one is sadder than an American left that has invested a considerable amount of effort to convince the public our so-called institutions of higher learning are hotbeds of sexual assault.
As is so often the case with the progressive agenda, the “lie repeated often enough it becomes the truth” is the essential element in promoting that assertion. In this case it is the assertion that a whopping one-in-five women are sexually assaulted on college campuses. That statistic comes courtesy of a Campus Assault Study conducted from 2005 through 2007 for the Justice Department’s National Institute of Justice.
What constitutes such assault? According to the Department of Health and Human Services, sexual assault is defined as “verbal, visual, or anything that forces a person to join in unwanted sexual contact or attention.” Note that this is the definition of assault, as opposed to harassment or merely annoying behavior. No doubt such latitude comports with the hypersensitivity of the times, and the growing belief by legions of clueless students that the right “not to be offended” not only exists, but trumps such “silly anachronisms” as the First Amendment.
In fact on many campuses it actually does. As the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s (FIRE) Greg Lukianoff documented, "an appalling 62 percent of institutions surveyed maintain policies that restrict a substantial amount of speech protected under the First Amendment.“
Lukianoff wrote that in 2012. In a 2013 Wall Street Journal column, he revealed the Justice Department and Department of Education got in on the act – and upped the unconstitutional ante. In a letter they sent to the University of Montana, one they contended should be a "blueprint for colleges and universities throughout the country,” both entities revealed their utter contempt for the rule of law. First, they rejected the notion that sexual harassment must be “objectively offensive.” They further insisted that colleges have “an obligation to respond to student-on-student harassment” even if it occurs off campus, and in some cases should take “disciplinary action against the harasser,” even “prior to the completion of the Title IX and Title IV investigation/resolution” (Italic mine). Lukianoff succinctly explains the implications behind that appalling reality. “Students can be punished before they are found guilty of harassment,” he writes.
None of it matters to the cry rape crowd. Nor apparently does it matter the aforementioned survey managed to determine nearly 20 percent of women were being sexually assaulted nationwide based on surveying a grand total of two unnamed public universities. Yet leave it to the left-leaning Politifact, which decided that truther Van Jones reassertion of that stat Sunday on ABC's This Week couldn’t be rated as true or false, to deliver the unintentionally hilarious statement revealing the utter fraud being perpetrated here. They explain that “a major reason why advocates believe sexual assaults are underreported [is because] women may not realize they were assaulted.”
Columnist Heather Mac Donald also adds some perspective to the mix. If the one-in-five stat were accurate, it is “astronomically higher than anything seen in America’s most violent cities (in Detroit, for example, there were 36.8 rapes per 100,000 inhabitants in 2009, a rate of 0.037 percent),” she writes. Mac Donald also reveals how the government arrives at its figures. “They are generated by a variety of clever techniques, but the most important is this: The survey-taker, rather than the female respondent, decides whether the latter has been raped or not,” she reveals. “When you ask the girls directly whether they view themselves as victims of rape, the answer overwhelmingly comes in: No.”
Unfortunately, as Americans are currently learning with regard to race relations, facts mean nothing to an American left determined to advance its agenda by any means necessary. And as Lukianoff so deftly explains, guilty until proven innocent is an integral part of that agenda.
Enter Lena Dunham and the Rolling Stone. Dunham’s rape assertion was contained in her new book, Not That Kind of Girl, in which she states a Republican named “Barry” raped her at Oberlin college. Unfortunately for Dunham, Breitbart news took her allegations seriously and conducted month-long investigation. To make a long story short, they shredded her entire story, explaining that “no amount of digging could verify even a single detail of Dunham’s rape claim.”
In the course of the article detailing that investigation, they revealed Dunham’s determination to accept no responsibility for anything that might have occurred. She admits to drinking and taking cocaine the night she allegedly hooked up, and even though she asserts Barry “jams” his finger into her vagina – after she dropped her pants to pee in a parking lot – she still took him back to her place and had sex. When did she determine she’d been raped? “Dunham then recounts that, after telling friends and co-workers about the night, she is told in no uncertain terms that Barry raped her,” Breitbart explains.
Even more unfortunately for Dunham, there is a Barry who attended Oberlin while she was there. And since she didn’t use a pseudonym when making her assertions (which she did regarding other people described in her book), there may be solid grounds for a libel suit here. She further undermines her own accusations against Barry, beginning one of the two passages describing the incident with a self-incriminating statement. "I’m an unreliable narrator,“ she writes. As a result, "Barry” has set up a legal fund in anticipation of litigation. Attorneys for both sides have been in contact since Oct. 6.
Which brings us to Rolling Stone. The leftist publication has now apologized profusely for running “A Rape on Campus” by Sabrina Rubin Erdely, detailing a 2012, seven-man gang rape of “Jackie” at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house at the University of Virginia. Once again, detail after detail of Jackie’s account has been shredded, with several of the inconsistencies in her story detailed here.
But in its “note to readers” apology, Rolling Stone reveals the abhorrent level of journalistic malpractice in which it was willing to engage to advance the left’s “campus as rape central” agenda. “Because of the sensitive nature of Jackie’s story,” reads the note, “we decided to honor her request not to contact the man who she claimed orchestrated the attack on her, nor any of the men who she claimed participated in the attack for fear of retaliation against her.”
That reality is bad enough. Yet it was compounded by a lie, courtesy of Sean Woods, who edited the story. "We did not talk to (the alleged rapists). We could not reach them,“ he said in an interview.
The notion that a national publication with considerable resources couldn’t track down students in a specific fraternity, at a specific college, during a specific point in time is preposterous. Yet note how neatly the lack of due diligence aligns itself with the Obama administration’s assertion guilt can be presumed "prior to the completion of the Title IX and Title IV investigation/resolution.” Even more preposterously, Rolling Stone promises it will “continue to investigate the events of that evening” – an assertion that violates the basic tenet of responsible journalism, as in an investigation should precede the publishing of damning allegations, not follow them.
Unfortunately allegations were more than enough for UVA President Teresa A. Sullivan, who suspended all campus fraternities until Jan. 9. Some of the UVA faculty are unsatisfied with that punishment, and are seeking an extension of the ban through August. “Many of us feel it would just not be tolerable to open up the spring semester with the fraternities on the same terms,” English professor Alison Booth told Bloomberg News Dec. 3, adding that she told a faculty meeting the day before that the “whole culture is sick.”
What's genuinely sick is the progressive agenda. It is best exemplified by Sophie Hess, who identifies herself as WOBC radio’s station manager, with whom Breitbart spoke as part of an effort to verify Dunham’s claims that Barry worked there on a radio show called “Real Talk with Jimbo.” (They couldn’t find any show with that title after an extensive search). When Breitbart insisted they were looking for the truth behind Dunham’s allegations, Hess became defensive. “What you’re looking for could create a conflict of interest on campus regarding sexual assault,” she said.
Then came the kicker. "Asking whether or not a victim is telling the truth is irrelevant,“ she insisted. "It’s just not important if they are telling the truth.”
From the racialized mayhem in Ferguson and beyond, to the sexualized mayhem ostensibly rampant on our college campuses, the nation is witness to a common theme: the truth is “not important” if it creates a “conflict of interest” with the progressive agenda. Fortunately, it is an agenda increasingly defined by its desperation, and the plethora of lies and unfounded allegations it needs to sustain the all-important narrative necessary for its survival. The racial component of that narrative was dealt yet another blow Sunday when Eric Garner’s widow, Esaw Snipes, insisted the death of her husband wasn’t “a black-and-white thing,” seriously undercutting the efforts of racial arsonists like Al Sharpton, Eric Holder and President Barack Obama who insists racism and bias remain “deeply rooted” in American society.
Baloney. It remains deeply rooted in a progressive agenda on the verge of complete collapse. Americans are growing increasingly disgusted by an ideology that is constantly dividing them by race, gender, class, etc., even as they’re being told they’re “stupid,” “bigoted,” “misogynistic,” “nativist,” “homophobic,” or “bitter clingers” if they don’t agree with it. They’re sick to death of seeing their liberties incrementally trampled “for their own good” to serve an ideology that needs to undermine the fundamental decency of millions upon millions of Americans in order to thrive.
And thankfully, most Americans are wising up because the contemptible overreach that forms the heart of progressive ideology can no longer be disguised, even by the media lapdogs who make a mockery of journalistic integrity in pursuit of it. As the revelations detailed here reveal, their desperation is also readily apparent.
That is why I remain optimistic, my fellow Americans. And make no mistake: optimism is to progressivism what Kryptonite is to Superman.
UPDATE: shortly after I submitted this piece, Dunham’s publisher, Random House, issued the following statement to TheWrap: "The name ‘Barry’ referenced in the book is a pseudonym. Random House, on our own behalf and on behalf of our author, regrets the confusion.“ It gets better: "Random House, on our own behalf and on behalf of our author, regrets the confusion that has led attorney Aaron Minc to post on GoFundMe on behalf of his client, whose first name is Barry. We are offering to pay the fees Mr. Minc has billed his client to date. Our offer will allow Mr. Minc and his client to donate all of the crowd-funding raised to not-for-profit organizations assisting survivors of rape and sexual assault.”
Free speech law teacher Eugene Volokh needs exactly one word to sum up this revelation. “Appalling,” he writes in the Washington Post, further noting that Barry’s libel case “becomes much easier.” And the bankruptcy of the progressive agenda becomes ever more apparent.
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