The late, brilliant Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a progressive sociologist, was among the most important voices on the War on Poverty while serving in the Johnson and Nixon administrations. When critical issues facing African Americans became too politicized, and the rhetoric too extreme on both sides, Moynihan famously wrote: "The time may have come when the issue of race could benefit from a period of 'benign neglect.' The subject has been too much talked about. The forum has been too much taken over to hysterics, paranoids, and boodlers on all sides. We need a period in which Negro progress continues and racial rhetoric fades."
That sentiment could be applied to the current public discourse -- which is actually little more than a screeching monologue -- on sexual assault. James Taranto wrote a piece in the Wall Street Journal decrying contempt for the rights of the accused in the military, and he was viciously and personally attacked by the kinds of "hysterics, paranoids and boodlers" Moynihan was talking about. Unlike the racial rhetoric Moynihan was trying to calm, the shrill voices in this debate are coming from just one side, and their rhetoric is both disgraceful and unpersuasive.