Thursday, January 22, 2015

New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand should resign for branding a college student a rapist without due process

The New York senator explained why she invited Columbia student Emma Sulkowicz -- who carries a mattress around campus because she claims she was raped -- to the State of the Union Address. She said she did it to show solidarity with a student who “carries her mattress everywhere she goes to symbolize the burden she carries every single day as long as her rapist is still on campus.”

Read that again: "her rapist."

There's just one problem with the senator's accusation: the accused student has never been charged with rape and was cleared of rape by his university's internal grievance process, even with its absurd "preponderance of the evidence" standard.

Gillibrand should have explained all this in her piece, and at the very least, she should have put the word "alleged" before the word "rapist." But Gillibrand didn't think any of that was necessary -- she decided to believe the performance artist who claims she was raped, fairness and due process be damned.

The accused student's name in this case is publicly known -- his school newspaper outed him -- so we are left with this: a United States senator has declared that a very specific individual is guilty of rape without bothering with that due process or fairness silliness.

While it would be perfectly understandable for Sulkowicz's mother, friends, and roommate to speak out on her behalf, Senator Gillibrand is supposed to represent all the people of her state, including college men who are accused of rape. Has Gillibrand met the accused student? Has she heard his side of the story?

Gillibrand's comment is especially jarring given that, among people who write about these issues, it is no longer socially acceptable outside radical feminist circles to assume college men are guilty of rape based on an accusation. Even liberal thinkers are finally publicly denouncing the sad trend of the past two decades to assume male guilt in such circumstances.

The senator's declaration  -- in all its Star Chamber ramifications -- might be libelous, and it should be condemned by all persons of good will. In addition, the internet outlet that published this piece should apologize and retract it.

Prof. KC Johnson, who helped bring justice to wrongly accused Duke lacrosse players, wrote: ". . . the idea that someone making laws for all of us could actually believe that a person can be guilty solely on the basis of an accusation is a chilling thought."

Gillibrand needs to resign immediately. She's not fit to serve in the United States Senate.