Tuesday, September 30, 2014

When it comes to campus rape, Jezebel's Callie Beusman spins more than the Tasmanian Devil

Callie Beusman has another of those vapid Jezebel/Salon-type Chicken Little "the sky is falling -- rape is rampant on campus!" pieces. See here.  It's all so tiresome.

Beusman bemoans the fact that few students found responsible for campus sexual assault are expelled. She clucks that refusing to expel students found responsible for sexual assault evinces a "depraved indifference" to "victims." You read that right -- "depraved indifference." Moreover, "if someone has been sexually assaulted, seeing their assailant on campus often makes them feel deeply unsafe."

Beusman doesn't mention the "depraved indifference" shown by colleges to the due process rights of young men accused of sex offenses.

In fact, Beusman ignores a host of critical facts. Given the pitifully low standard of proof that colleges employ in adjudicating sex offenses (preponderance of the evidence) and the absence of other critical procedural safeguards, many administrators who are charged with punishing sexual assault are reluctant to impose the potentially life-altering punishment of expulsion. If you want to have severe penalties, Ms. Beusman, and if you want those penalties to be enforced, you gotta give the accused meaningful due process and a higher standard of proof.

Let's pause to mention something here that isn't mentioned enough. The geniuses at the Department of Education have mandated that incredibly low "preponderance" standard for sex offenses because it mirrors the standard used in civil litigation for Title IX offenses. What the Department of Education forgot is that in civil cases, the defendant is afforded all manner of evidentiary protections that colleges routinely deny young men accused of sex offenses. In civil cases, defendants are permitted to vigorously depose prior to trial, and vigorously cross-examine during trial, the accuser and any other pertinent witnesses. They are also permitted to engage in all manner of discovery besides depositions, including proffering requests for admissions, requests for production of documents, and interrogatories. And in civil cases, if the plaintiff fails to respond to proper discovery requests, she is sanctioned by the court, up to and including dismissal of her case and requiring her to pay the other side's attorney's fees. None of that is available in kangaroo campus sex proceedings.

Beusman also ignores the fact that most college students are commuters and that a significant percentage of alleged college sexual assaults occur off-campus. Expelling a student will not in any sense prevent him from frequenting the same off-campus hang-outs where the alleged rape certainly might have occurred. If you want victims to feel safe, Ms. Beusman, urge them to go to the police instead of resorting to the alternate justice system of campus. Anything short of that is "depraved indifference" to their well-being.

Then Beusman writes: "Contrary to what some conservative pundits might argue, campus rape isn't the result of poor communication or some drunken misunderstanding . . . ."

When Beusman talks about "conservative pundits," most people probably assume she's talking about folks who insist that young women shouldn't dress provocatively because, hey, boys will be boys, and if the women get raped, they deserved it.

Of course that's not who Beusman is talking about. She's actually referring to writers who bemoan the de rigueur hostility to due process on campus when it comes to young men and sex accusations.

Stupid me. Until I paid attention to feminist-speak, I always thought that defenders of due process were "liberals." But now that I've been properly indoctrinated, I realize that anyone who dares to defend the due process rights of young men accused of sex offenses is, in fact, a "conservative pundit," which is feminist-speak for "misogynist" and "rape apologist."

When Beusman says that "conservative pundits" talk about campus rape as being "the result of poor communication or some drunken misunderstanding," that's typical straw man stuff from gender warriors who write for outlets like Jezebel. The fact is, people who bemoan the hostility to due process when it comes to college men accused of sex offenses (Beusman's "conservative pundits") do not want rape to be excused because of "poor communication and some drunken misunderstanding." What "conservative pundits" are actually saying is that such circumstances often make it impossible to know whether rape occurred in the first place -- and that it would be unjust to assume it did if there is not sufficient clarity. See? That's a big difference, but one that is almost certainly lost on anyone at Jezebel.

And by the way, contrary to Beusman's "conservative pundits" label, this isn't some "conservative" or "men's rights" argument. No less an authority than feminist Brett Sokolow has explained that in many cases of mutually drunk college sex, the male is unfairly slapped with sexual assault charges. That's not my opinion, that's the opinion of the person who has done more to advance rape victims' rights on campus than anyone alive, including anyone at Jezebel. Sokolow also said that in the drunken "hook up" culture, the evidence is often too murky to warrant charging and punishing the male accused of sexual misconduct, but that's exactly what too many schools are doing. He said that "in a lot of these cases, the campus is holding the male accountable in spite of the evidence – or the lack thereof – because they think they are supposed to, and that doing so is what OCR wants." And in "case-after-case . . . sincere victims believe something has happened to them that evidence shows absolutely did not . . .." And: "We see complainants who genuinely believe they have been assaulted, despite overwhelming proof that it did not happen."

But, hey, why let the facts get in the way of a good victim fetish. That's what rape advocacy has become. Due process be damned.