Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Administrators and Snowflakes on Sexual Assault Policies

Wow, there were a lot of comments on my last post about Laura Kipnis's book. (Here's a bit of meta-commentary about them, for anyone interested.)

Let me start this post by saying something I'd've thought would be obvious: in attacking some of the things Kipnis says, I'm not thereby attacking all of them. I have many important disagreements with the book, both on general cultural matters and on particular conclusions she draws about cases she discusses. I think that, her protestations to the contrary notwithstanding, the book perpetuates rape culture. I think I made that case in my last post, and I plan to make it again in future ones. But that doesn't mean I think she's wrong about everything.

Several people have taken me to task for defending the Title IX status quo. I have a quick retort: I don't defend the Title IX status quo. One of the several central conclusions of Kipnis's book is that universities' reflexive legalistic instincts contribute to injustices, including injustices against people who are accused of wrongdoing. The way Kipnis tells her story, respondents are often not told what they're being accused of until investigations are complete; they're also, she says, often denied the possibility of legal representation, despite the severity of the matter under investigation. If this is true—and I suspect that it is—it is not just.

Kipnis also insinuates vaguely that these processes are used disproportionately against gay people. (Some of my anonymous commenters have also embraced this talking point.) She quips on p. 23: "Apparently no one has mentioned to [student activists] how many of the professors being caught in these widening nets are, in fact, queer—or suspected of being so, anyway." On p. 24 she admits that she has no way of knowing whether queer faculty are targeted at a disproportionate rate. But since in general, queer people tend to be targeted at a higher rate than others for most negative things, I'm very willing to believe that's happening here too.

The really frustrating thing about the book, in this context, is that Kipnis is imagining that student activists are the ones driving the university administrators to behave in this way, and that this is what they want. She describes, on p. 19, "a new generation of social activists" who, "rather than looking to revitalize the socialist or left-emancipatory traditions, are instead joining arms with campus administrators as the fast track to empowerment." (There's some speculation throughout the book, e.g. on pp. 22 and 29, that because today's students are so deeply attached to their parents, they want administrators to step in and play parenting roles as well. Infantilisation of student activists is a motif that runs wide and deep in this book.) Kipnis paints a picture of student snowflakes and power-hungry campus administrators conspiring giddily together against hapless faculty, revelling in the Title IX wonderland of their shared creation.

Based on my own experiences with student anti-rape activists, university administrators, and discussions around sexual assault policies, Kipnis's picture is deeply misleading. To the extent to which Kipnis's problem is with unfair, opaque, and generally illiberal university policies, student activists are Kipnis's natural allies. These kinds of complaints about universities—that they only care about covering their own asses, that they just want to make the problems go away with as little attention as possible, that they're more interested in maintaining a veneer of normality than they are of making fair and correct decisions—have been talking-points for student activists for years.

As Jennifer Doyle puts it in Campus Sex, Campus Security:
Victims of sexual assault, harassment and intimate partner violence are encouraged to report. A minority file complaints and try to see the process through: doing so takes material and emotional resources. Few will tell you that this process provides resolution. There is no policy adequate to these crises. Victims report because they need help; a campus receives reports because it is bound by law to do so. This asymmetry warps their interaction. (p. 33)
Universities' liability-focused approaches don't end up treating anyone humanely—neither complainants nor respondents, faculty nor students. The blunt and secretive process Kipnis describes from the faculty complainant perspective just is the flip side of institutional betrayal suffered by many complainants.

Kipnis writes at times as if what student activists want is for universities to just do something, so long as it's big and invasive, no matter how well it enacts justice or protects students. But this is far from the truth, as some of her own anecdotes demonstrate. For example, on p. 40 she ridicules a lawsuit she describes thus:
Harvard is currently being sued by a female student who said her ex-boyfriend abused her and Harvard hadn't done enough, despite interviewing her six times, the accusee three times, speaking to seventeen other witnesses, and reviewing text and email messages. The woman charges Harvard with showing "deliberate indifference" to her case.
The fact that Harvard has done a large number of things—many of them sure to be invasive and re-traumatising to the student, by the way—stands in no tension whatsoever with the allegation that they are being negligent with the case. Only someone with a very simplistic conception of what students are seeking would think it does. (Kipnis writes on p. 30 that "a campus's success in 'combatting sexual assault' is measured in increased accusations"—a strange assertion. I don't know many universities that brag about their high numbers of sexual assault accusations.) My discussions with students at UBC, where we've been having a conversation about sexual assault policies for a couple years now, have also emphasised the importance of noncarceral, survivor-centred care. (I wrote a bit about this last year.)

And even in punitive/disciplinary contexts, many of the student activists that Kipnis aligns herself against have also been emphasising the need for fairness and transparency. This is clear to me both in my personal interactions with them and in what I've read of the positions they are staking out. Here, for example, is a passage by Kathryn Pogin, a student activist well-known in both in philosophical circles and in Title IX circles:
People absolutely should have the charges in writing, with whatever complaint is filed against them. … They should be allowed to record all their interactions with any investigator or university administrator. Unfortunately, that’s never going to happen. Universities are not going to allow people to record conversations, because university Title IX processes by and large are constructed not actually to protect students or faculty or staff from discrimination or harassment. They’re designed to protect the university from legal liability. And the more you allow people to record conversations, the more you’re going to catch administrators screwing up how they handle cases. If you look at Title IX coordinators across the country, a huge number of them, their legal background is not in advocating for students, not working in sexual harassment, not working in sexual discrimination. It is protecting corporations from discrimination complaints. … So they’re all coming at this with an eye toward how to protect the university from legal claims. And in order to protect the university from a legal claim, you just have to show that they did not treat it with “deliberate indifference.” So you take some kind of action, no matter how bad the outcome is. Unless you can show that it was deliberately indifferent, it’s really hard to file a Title IX complaint. (PEN campus report, p. 61)
This Huffington Post piece from May of 2015 sounds a similar note, explicitly drawing the connection to Kipnis's procedural complaints:
The complainants said they side with Kipnis on a number of issues she raised about the Title IX procedure in her essay. For example, they don’t understand why Kipnis had to jump through hoops to find out the charges against her and couldn’t get them in writing, or why it took two weeks to inform her of the complaint. They were similarly upset that the investigators prohibited recording interviews.
“I don’t get why they’re so insistent on that, it adds protection for everybody,” the graduate student said, noting she also found errors in the notes taken by investigators.
Kipnis offered a more succinct remark about the control against transparency by investigators: “Secrecy invites abuses.”
This is not just empty rhetoric. Pogin, a Northwestern student activist, told me that during Peter Ludlow's termination procedure she noticed a procedural irregularity that, she thought, might generate a bias against Ludlow. In Kipnis's caricature, this would have been cause for activist celebration. In reality, Pogin wrote to Peter Ludlow's legal team, informing them of the worry—purely in the interests of fairness and transparency. Incidentally, I'm not just taking this on Pogin's word—I've read the email to Ludlow's lawyer.

I don't know whether that email was among the documents that Ludlow provided Kipnis about his case, but the anecdote cuts between two of her book's central themes. This story confirms the "Title IX procedures are often unfair" narrative, but it disconfirms the "snowflakes run amok" narrative. I think Kipnis was mistaken to tie them so closely together as she does. It is rhetorically effective—it combines genuine instances of injustice with a powerful cultural trope that many people are very ready to believe. But I think it's a very misleading picture.

And again, I want to emphasise, this is not purely academic. This is a misleading picture that is harming victims of sexual misconduct in universities. You don't have to think our colleges and universities are full of hapless student snowflakes manufacturing and inflating sexual assault allegations out of nothing to think Title IX has a lot of problems. Indeed, you shouldn't, because the former is both false and harmful, while the latter is true.

Note: I'm leaving this post, like my previous one, open to commenters, including anonymous ones. I know that some people who might otherwise wish to engage are put off by that kind of thing; if you have a facebook account and prefer to interact only with people putting their names behind their words, I invite you to discuss this post here if you like.


  1. You wrote that "[a single activist did one reasonable and fair-minded deed] disconfirms the "snowflakes run amok" narrative.

    Just as an exercise, do you care to rebut your own statement as if you were a professor of philosophy teaching a student about logic?

    1. I would tell them that confirmation and disconfirmation are matters of probabilistic theory, not of logic.

    2. Thanks. My mother has a land line. I know this because I saw it on a wall in her kitchen. Her land line disconfirms the "cellphones are ubiquitous" narrative.

    3. Hi Landline Offspring,

      I don't know if you're intending only to be offering a skeptical argument against my point, or whether you also mean to be defending the Kipnis picture I'm critiquing. But if the latter, the shape of your argument is pretty weird. I certainly admit that specific anecdotes, backed up by the general impressions of individuals, are of limited evidential value. But Kipnis's entire book is based on specific anecdotes, backed up by her own impressions. I've been arguing that she's wrong about many of her examples, but even if she's not, the kind of inductive skepticism you're gesturing at would, if cogent, undermine her point just as much as it does mine.

      I also want to push back against the implicit suggestion that I am relying for my point entirely on an isolated instance. I'm not. It's a dramatic instance because of how it fits into the particular case Kipnis discussed, but my case doesn't rest on it. Student activists are consistent and articulate about these issues, if you take the time to listen to them. I've been doing quite a bit of that over the past year and a half or so. Unfortunately, a lot of people base their opinions mostly on fearful, exaggerated misrepresentations of student activists. That's what I'm resisting here.

      P. S. This isn't the central point, but since you invited me into professor mode: your mother's landline doesn't disconfirm the ubiquity of cell phones any more than a red robin disconfirms the blackness of ravens. Does your mother only have a landline? I.e., she doesn't (also) have a cell phone? That would disconfirm cell phone ubiquity. The presence of some additional phone is confirmationally irrelevant. Make sure you specify exactly which evidence you're considering.

    4. Jonathan wrote: Student activists are consistent and articulate about these issues, if you take the time to listen to them. I've been doing quite a bit of that over the past year and a half or so.

      Idealistic Me: Good on you if you support and reinforce such behaviors in the next generation.

      Cynical me: Especially (for two examples) at Berkeley (heckler veto) and Northwestern (Title IX inquisition). Especially articulate, them. Or how about tweets!? I think we may agree that no one is at their articulate best when limited to a 140 characters.

      It is indeed "[Unfortunate that], a lot of people [will] base their opinions mostly on fearful, exaggerated [[behavior]] of student activists."

      One very serious and awful feedback is that by their unfair and anti-intellectual tactics, student activist mobs (either in person or on social media) are alienating many influential faculty from participating. I do realize that much of the violent mob is not students. But the students and the faculty need to stand together with the administration to disavow the heckler veto, either violent or simply loud.

      As an example and case in point: ruminate on how Laura Kipnis became such a vocal "opponent"? Do you think it might be because students in IL were not as consistent and articulate as (apparently) they are in BC?

      Call me a nostalgic old professor, but in the old days, we revered subversive leadership of this sort:


      Good point about red and black birds. Now apply it to my original criticism. You make my points for me.

    5. No—I don't perceive a big difference between UBC students and Northwestern students in this respect. Indeed, the examples I cited in the post were examples of Northwestern students—in the HuffPo piece, it was the exact same students that Kipnis was complaining about. What I'm saying is that Kipnis is misrepresenting them, their goals, and their interests.

    6. Well, this will be my last contribution, I think. The tenor of this blog is off-putting. It is exactly the sort of rhetoric that turns away reasonable professors like me from participating any more. It seems the search for truth is taking the back seat to the desire to be seen as righteous.

      Genuinely I wish you well and feel you are doing a good thing by writing a philosophy blog, but for me, this is not the sort of on-line conversation I would like to participate in.

      I asked you, and more importantly implicitly asked the readers, to ruminate on how Laura Kipnis became such a vocal "opponent"? Do you think it might be because students in IL ... organized a MARCH against HER because she wrote an article advocating for a viewpoint different than that of her University's administration? And then one or more of them filed a Title IX charge against HER for that same article?

      Both of those actions are analogous to the jerks that throw rocks at police from the back rows of a peaceful and (U.S.) constitutionally protected protest, because hey escalate what could have been a reasoned disagreement into an attack on reason itself.

      Under these circumstances, I think Kipnis' characterization of the students, almost WHATEVER it might be, is reasonable. Because she is writing words and publishing them, about IDEAS.

    7. If you think that because she's been protested and complained about, and because she's writing about "ideas" (?) anything she says automatically counts as reasonable, I guess there's not a lot of common ground here.

      I was offering an argument as to why I think what she says is wrong. If you think that because of her victimhood status, that's off the table, then yeah, there's not much I'm going to be able to say.

      As for the tenor being off-putting: sorry you feel that way! Some people are put off by vaguely aggressive and insulting anonymous comments; other people are put off by authors explaining reasoning they disagree with. To each their own

  2. Wrong again! How long will you tilt at this windmill?

    1. Hi Anonymous, welcome back. Thanks for your comment. Which part of my post did you think I was wrong about?

    2. When and where does Kipnis use the term "snowflake" to describe anyone?

    3. Because I didn't attribute the use of that word to Kipnis, it's not a relevant question in this context. I did say that Kipnis is reacting to the widespread 'snowflake' trope, which I think is obviously correct.

      But to answer your irrelevant question, she uses it in this Guardian interview.

      Getting back to the topic of this thread: which part of my post did you think I was wrong about?

    4. Before I depart, I feel the need to point out that your response here is off-putting (to me anyway). Anonymous 5/2 11:40 ask you about Kipnis and "snowflake." You disingenuously reply "it's not a relevant question in this context."

      Why disingenuous? Let's go back to the title and the first sentence, of your post:

      title: Administrators and Snowflakes on Sexual Assault Policies

      first sentence: Wow, there were a lot of comments on my last post about Laura Kipnis's book.

      Carry on without me.

    5. Hi other Anonymous, sorry my response didn't feel good to you. I didn't really understand your explanation as to why. I don't see that the sentence you quote has anything even slightly to do with whether I said that Kipnis uses the word "snowflake".

      If you decide to come back, feel free to let me know what you meant.

  3. What a copout. It's a cheap rhetorical move unworthy of a serious philosopher, which you are emphatically not.

    1. Hi Anonymous, thanks for your input. Which thing did you think was a cheap rhetorical move? Was it when I said it didn't matter, for the accuracy of my post, where Kipnis used the word "snowflake", since I hadn't said anything about where she used that word? Or was it a different rhetorical move you had in mind?

      I'm sure you'll agree that it's helpful to be precise in our criticisms of one another's philosophical ideas.

    2. "Thanks for your input." "I'm sure you'll agree." Are you really such a prissy little humorless creature, or is this just your ponderous attempt to be condescending?

    3. Oh, was there a joke in those comments? If so, I didn't get it. Maybe your humour is just lost on me. Sometimes such subtleties don't translate too well over text.

      Sorry if I misattributed views to you. I had thought that, since you seemed interested in rhetoric and philosophical norms, and since you seemed to be engaged in a project of criticizing my piece, you'd agree that precision was helpful. But if that assumption was incorrect, I apologize.

      Maybe it'd help if you explained what your aims are, such that explaining what you mean doesn't matter. That way I won't have to make assumptions and risk being wrong.

    4. Man oh man. How did you ever get an academic job?

    5. It was mostly based on my research outputs, with some attention given to teaching competence.

      How did you get to be an anonymous commenter?

    6. "Research outputs"? Is that what they call bullshit these days? My anonymous commentary costs nothing, but you are sucking at Canada's teat for whatever pittance they pay you for these "research outputs."

    7. Oh, have you read some of my articles, chapters, and books? I'd be curious to hear your thoughts if you have any to share. My new monograph will be out in a month or two.

    8. Do people still write monographs? Have you written any tracts also? Any treatises maybe? Disquisitions? Phillipics?



    9. Oh, sorry—I assumed you knew how philosophical research works.

      A monograph is a kind of academic book. It can be a little bit tricky to articulate just what the difference between a monograph and another kind of book is, but basically, an extended scholarly investigation into a particular subject matter, either by a single author or by a collective team of authors.

      The main other kinds of academic books are textbooks and edited collections. Textbooks, like monographs, are typically an extended treatment, written in a single authorial voice, but they don't usually try to develop original ideas; they're more there to introduce previous work for students.

      Edited volumes are very different in structure. (Though as books, they all look pretty similar on the shelf!) Instead of an author, an edited volume has, well, an editor. The editor works with a bunch of different authors or author teams, who each contribute part of the book—typically a chapter. Edited volumes vary in size and scope a lot, but they usually have a fairly specific topic, and maybe between 10–40 chapters, probably each written by a different author/team. I recently had my own first edited volume published—check out the Routledge Handbook of Epistemic Contextualism if you like. Editing is a lot of work, but it's a good way to shape the discipline.

      OK! So now that we have introduced the various kinds of academic books, we're ready to come back to your question: do people still write monographs? The answer is yes! My second one will be out next month. (I actually got my revised proofs just today.) People publish monographs a lot. I went to the APA Pacific last month—that's a big conference where lots of philosophers come from various places to meet together—and there were hundreds, probably thousands, of monographs being advertised there. I even bought a dozen or so myself! I know I probably won't have time to read them all, but I just can't help myself. A good monograph is a very tempting thing.

      Anyway, now you know about monographs. Have a good night!

    10. Oh man, this is so hilarious. It's like I've got you on a string. You can't not respond. Every single time you take the bait, wasting god knows how much of your clearly limited mental energy on these tedious exercises in humorless pedantry. It must be nice having a spousal sinecure. If you only realized what a self-parody you were making of yourself--but that would require some capacity for insight. Anyway, it's been fun toying with you, snowflake.

    11. I am indeed spending some of my time and mental energy replying to you. Here's why I don't think I'm wasting it:

      1. By engaging with the criticisms that come up, and testing to see whether there is more thought behind them, I demonstrate—both to myself and to the broader world—that the arguments in my posts are unanswered. I give serious critiques of a book, and people like you offer brief statements of what at first sound a bit like objections, but which immediately dissolve under the most cursory examination. When I reply to your arguments, and you reply by insulting my unrelated scholarship, you demonstrate that you have nothing serious to say in defence of Kipnis. It is useful for people to see that.

      2. A lot of people don't understand the heat that gets generated for people who speak out against rape culture. Whether or not there are also any arguments that are any good being offered against me, it is a remarkable fact how much personal animus in generated—much, but not all, of it by you personally, Anonymous. It is good for people to be aware of the cultural toxicity you are a part of.

      3. I'm a social person, and enjoy talking to people.

      That's why I continue to engage. I don't know why you continue to engage. Given your professed disdain for me, I'm honestly a bit puzzled about why you care so much what I think or say. Oh well. Anyway, it's a beautiful sunny day in Vancouver. I hope it's whatever kind of weather you like where you are too. Enjoy!

    12. Anonymous Sense5/06/2017 03:14:00 AM

      1. Jonathan,

      It makes sense, since it's such a vulnerable subject, that there's 'heat' and 'toxicity'. I haven't experienced, or witnesses, toxicity about 'rape culture', though I don't speak out against it - and I have seen plenty of trolling, often by embittered conservative men.

      I don't speak out against rape culture because I have mixed feelings about the concept. Even RAINN, the national network that works with and on behalf of survivors of sexual abuse, cautions that it's not a productive term to use. One would think they would know? I worry it's a narrative construction used to excuse a lot of confirmation bias.

      Could we live in a rape culture? Perhaps. Should we say we live in a murder culture? Because the United States does have a murder rate shockingly high compared to the rest of the developed world - though we should not exaggerate this, because the odds of being a murder victim are still very low, and change depending on one's age, gender, race, and zip code. One could make a case - look at the football players who commit murder - maybe "rape culture" is a sign of the fact we have a culture that validates aggression more generally - rape, guns, violence, violence by police, and games like football, video games with gratuitous violence, and a brutal foreign policy to which everyone turns a blind eye.

      But is it right to call those things the *cause* of "murder culture"? Or could they be the *effect*? Or could there be some other driver? Hell, it could turn out that the use of lead paint introduced enough literal "toxicity" into people's brains that it created a contagious pathology of behavioral "toxicity" and trauma.

      And even if we confirmed these things, like football, are all the instantiation of a "murder culture", what do we do because of that? Do we try to ban football? Is that likely to work, or anger people, and backfire? Do we run around officiously shaming everyone who plays or watches football, announcing that we would never do such a barbaric thing? If someone is seen wearing an Eagles jersey, do we report them to a university authority for their perpetuation of 'murder culture'? And couldn't becoming hyper vigilant and zealous about that be unfair, be counter-productive, *and* potentially be a way of finding an outlet for one's own aggressive impulses?

    13. Anonymous Sense5/06/2017 03:18:00 AM

      2.Beyond that, yes, that anon is being a d*ck, but it's one side of the coin, and you've received fawning posts with no substance as well (you'll make a great dean someday!). So it's admirable of you to respond.

      Returning to the idea, though, that it's good for us to be aware of the cultural toxicity coming from that poster, that is impossibly innocent. You do have a boyish face, so I'm reluctant to ascribe to you any low motives, and you're engaging with tremendous tact on a difficult subject people are often afraid to wade into.

      But the reason people are afraid to wade into it, I think, is largely because of the toxicity coming from the camp maligned by conservatives as "social justice warriors." For the last few years, virtually all of the power at universities has belonged to people advocating for things like this now regrettable Title IX mess.

      Political "correctness", better termed righteousness, enthusiasm, or zeal, has had the power to silence people (sometimes racist people - again, witch hunts occur when there are some witches; when McCarthy hung up his uniform, there may have been some communists in Congress), to shame them, to expel them, to get people fired, to ban speakers, to humiliate and embarrass professors, and to make certain topics, conversations and questions off limits.

      The only reason this one's happening is because Laura Kipnis was brave enough to disobey the bureaucracy. Now her book's being well-received in the mainstream media, by feminists. Just not feminist academics.

      I don't also want to blame the victim-perpetrator, because students upset about micro aggressions, though guilty of being overzealous, don't deserve to be gaslit or dismissed entirely - they're responding, like Title IX people were, to actual power discrepancies, but some are real and some are imagined or exaggerated. We shouldn't lose sight of that context.

      But it's disingenuous to suggest the toxicity is coming at your camp, and not from it. Look at the Hypatia stuff. I mean, at some point, you know, have you no self-awareness or perspective at all?

    14. There's a lot here I'd like to reply to. I think I may write a new post on rape culture sometime soon. I'm traveling at the moment, so it may be a little while.

      Very briefly: I like Amanda Marcotte's discussion of the term "rape culture". More to come.

  4. Love the way anonymous is too much of a wuss to post under his or her name.

    1. Love the way Kuaikuai is so totally your name.

    2. Binary gender assumption Kuaikuai?

  5. Anonymous Sense5/06/2017 01:18:00 AM

    I'm glad there's some attempt at fairness on the part of student activists, or some of them. But are we really willing to call this a "no-fault" problem? It does seem like a little bit of a cop-out.

    Do we blame the federal government, and the OCR for their 'Dear Colleague' letter? Who was putting pressure on OCR to do this? Does it matter that the entire system, and its ideological framework, have been designed by activists, and are full of bogus activist talking points, like '1 in 4'? The people who generated the worldview responsible for this mess - in response to what they take to be the worldview of everyone else (rape culture) - are now doing the 'Don't blame us' act. And if you're not blameful - I'm surprised, actually, by the reasonableness emerging on this - then that seems like a profound demonstration of exactly how miscommunications can happen and metastasize at a social level, and at the level of the interpersonal. Which is sort of Kipnis' point.

    And why exactly are students running to their university bureaucracy anyway? I was floored by something I saw in that documentary, 'The Hunting Ground', where a student said, 'What happened to me is awful; what the university did was worse.' That suggests either that what happened to her wasn't that bad, if bureaucratic procedures topped it, or that bureaucracy is so inhuman and inept that it can perpetrate something akin to, or worse than, rape. Which would mean that accused men have had that experience in the hands of administrators, too.

    But even the idea that a bunch of administrators who trained at weekend seminars would be equipped to handle or adjudicate the most intimate aspects of young people's lives (which, in fact, they might have been, if they weren't imprisoned by rigid rules and ideology) is very naive. If women think that 'male privilege' means finding people in authority to always be on one's side, interested, or caring at all, that's a serious misreading.

    You're getting like, Barney Fife, Inspector Clouseau types handling this - or, yes, hate to invoke a different stereotype - grudge feminists.

    They have no ability to fairly investigate, no training to do so, to handle competing claims, to question in a sensitive way. And it's actually IMPOSSIBLE for the outcomes to be fair, when the accused aren't informed of the evidence against them, or even the specific accusations being made.

    And there are some ideologically driven feminists involved in this. It struck me, about the 'moral panic' designation, that two famous, recent moral panics were marked by a dynamic where a supposed victim was coached into imagining victimhood. In the case of the Satanic child abuse panic around daycares in the 80s, the mistake was in failing to realize that children would play along or acquiesce to any line of questioning, from 'And then they chanted 'The light of sin is eternal' and slaughtered a goat?' to 'And then the aliens came down in the ship and abducted you?'. It was in fact the adults projecting and installing their fears and negative fantasies in 3 and 4 year old kids.

    In the case of the "recovered memory" panic in the late 80's and 90's, it was therapists who believed in repressed memory who were coaching patients who felt some distress or pain into remember-imagining trauma and abuse that had not actually existed. Elizabeth Loftus is the go-to on this.

    And many of the stories in this round involve someone - sometimes drunk and without memory - speaking to a counselor who advises and "helps" by showing women how to interpret their mixed feelings as "assault", "harassment", or "rape."

    1. You're never going to get a truly honest, thoughtful response from the blogger on this, but I admire you trying.

    2. JJI and his wife, along with countless others in the field, are culpable for an extreme injustice done to a major philosopher. Deep down, they know it. But they can never publicly admit it. Which is why we're getting these empty, passive-aggressive little shots at the margins of Kipnis's book. I challenge--I outright dare--Itchy to write a blog post fully rebutting Kipnis's claims about the Ludlow case. He never will. He doesn't have the guts. But he will, predictably, post some evasive, condescending reply cooking up some excuse for why he can't or won't.

    3. I quote from his post here: "I have many important disagreements with [Kipnis's] book, both on general cultural matters and on particular conclusions she draws about cases she discusses." You'll note that he is only blogging about the "general cultural matters," hoping that his comments on those topics will give cover for those (like himself) who have taken positions on the "cases she discusses" that they would prefer now not to restate publicly or rehash at length.

    4. Anonymous Sense: I don't call this a "no-fault" problem at all. I absolutely hold people responsible for the difficulties we all seem to be agreeing about. I don't think that it should fall upon student activists.

      This shouldn't need mentioning, but just in case, I'll be explicit: the primary fault for sexual harassment and assault belongs to the harassers and the assaulters. If not for them, none of this mess would be happening.

      But I do also lay a lot of blame on the administrators—many of which, I agree, are doing jobs they're incompetent for. But since I also disagree with the suggestion that they should just leave those jobs undone (see e.g. this op-ed), the only remaining option, and what I would like to see, is for them to take their responsibilities towards all university community members much more seriously. I have been outspoken at my own university on this matter.

      As for institutional betrayal—the idea that engaging with administrators in certain disappointing ways when seeking help—I do take it pretty seriously. I have spoken with enough people who know first-hand to take their word for it. Maybe that's something you and I are just going to disagree about. But I'd encourage you to read some of Jennifer Freyd's work on the topic, if you haven't already, before dismissing it altogether.

    5. Monograph Enquirer: I thought you'd left? Did you decide to stick around after all?

      I may have some things to say about the Ludlow case, but it's not my place to say too much. As you've probably heard (I'm guessing—but sometimes I underestimate your ignorance, so I apologize if I'm doing so again), people close to the case say that Kipnis misrepresents important details about it. But as those details are a private matter, it wouldn't be right for me to disclose them. That said, I do think I have some useful things to say about the case, even independently if issues that would require violations of privacy. Stay tuned.

    6. Evasion. Deflection. Distraction. Kipnis distorts, but I can't tell you how. It's private, but people in the know say so. To say more (i.e., to prove my point) would be inappropriate. This is really just laughable.

    7. Anonymous Sense5/06/2017 04:58:00 PM

      So the initial problem is the existence of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape. Agreed.

      I would say the secondary blame lies on the construction of a system which attempts to solve those problems, ones which may not be solvable. (My instinct, before the talk about rape culture and enforcement became ascendant, was always to think of rape and murder as things that were done by a small minority of people. That there are some psychopaths, and some people who commit premeditated crimes, and some "heat of the moment" felons, but that "pre-crime"-ing them isn't really feasible, and, as RAINN says, they're crimes caused by a small percentage of the community who make conscious decisions.) Because the system is constructed to create false positives, which I've tried to articulate. Due process exists to minimize those - and interestingly, it's actually one of the Puritan ministers who oversaw witch trials who wrote that it's better for a guilty person to free than an innocent person to hang.

      And tertiary blame lies on the administrators enforcing this system, by threat of loss of federal funding, and fear of being the "rape school."

      Also, if I didn't share it already, here's a perfect case from Reason.com, http://reason.com/blog/2017/02/27/interview-student-expelled-for-rape-even , where the person expelled was not a harasser or an assaulter, by his own or his girlfriend's testimony, but was ideologically one in the opinion of a third party, who reported them to the university.

      So it's not a no-fault problem, it's the fault of people who do commit harassment and assault, and the fault of bureaucrats who make mistakes, but the design and ideology of the system have *nothing* to do with it? You're going to have a hard time convincing people out of your circle of that.

    8. Here's an even more egregious case--and more evidence for Kipnis's claim of the latent homophobia of Title IX processes:


      I urge all to read the judge's scathing opinion.

    9. Anonymous Sense5/06/2017 05:30:00 PM

      Other Anon,

      I understand why you're upset. I think appealing to private knowledge isn't *entirely* unfair, since there's a concern for keeping personal details private. It could be a dodge on Jonathan's part, but we really can't know at this point.

      I understand your anger about Ludlow. If I remember the book right, without checking, he wasn't found guilty of anything by the administration? Or of one thing? But they then fired him anyway?

      What I found interesting about the statement from the Northwestern philosophy heads was that they made no mention of Ludlow, or their confidence in the accusations that had been made against him, or that they stood by the justness of their decision to fire him. They *only* said they felt one of the women involved had been misrepresented.

      Without saying how - but it seemed like their concern was to protect her professional reputation when there was information in the book that could be seen (I didn't see it this way, because I have a relatively higher margin of error for human folly and dysfunction - and I thought she came off well) as embarrassing to her. Bouncing between two lovers, maybe?

      That struck me as odd, and made me wonder if one of the motivations for this is partly to let women feel like they can engage in sexual activity without concern about suffering reputational damage, either for being "slutty" or for using sex to get ahead. I don't know many men who slut-shame - it's mostly women who do that - so I suspect those anxieties are more active in female minds than male.

      And it did occur to me- and because I'm not a bureaucratic enforcer, I offer this delicately as something within the realm of human possibility and motive, not something I would be eager to investigate or indict on - that perhaps NW wanted to get rid of Ludlow for other reasons, maybe because they disapproved of his sexual decision-making, even if it went close to the line but didn't cross it. Again, not libeling here, just saying that if we are taking a full account of potential conscious or unconscious motives, in the spirit of philosophy, it's one scenario to consider and discount. But not outside what happens in academic politics. Were that the case, it would be quite despicable and exploitative.

    10. Anonymous Sense5/06/2017 06:23:00 PM

      Other anon, for the sake of investigatory/moral/intellectual responsibility, someone should really be compiling a list of all the Title IX cases where lawsuits have been brought, or where administrators seem to have gotten it very, very wrong.

    11. Anonymous Sense: The problem, as Kipnis points out in her book, is that the whole process is shrouded in secrecy--not to protect accuser and accused ultimately, but to protect the inquisitors, who do not want their violations of due process widely known. The only database of relevant lawsuits that I know of is this one:


    12. Oops, posted this on the wrong thread, below. Reposted here:

      The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education also maintains a database related to Title IX lawsuits that raise first amendment issues (as you might imagine, they were very involved in the attempt by the NU graduate students to silence Kipnis):


    13. I find this to be a completely bizarre speculation about the motives underlying the Lackey/Goldberg statement. If I knew, or felt like I knew, that one of my students was having their private life misrepresented to tremendous public attention, I'd speak up to try to correct the record.

      Going up a few comments, AS attributed this thought to me: "it's the fault of people who do commit harassment and assault, and the fault of bureaucrats who make mistakes, but the design and ideology of the system have *nothing* to do with it? You're going to have a hard time convincing people out of your circle of that."

      I cannot understand why you would think I think the design and ideology of the system have nothing to do with it. I thought I was pretty clear upthread: I think the tendency of universities to think of themselves like corporations, emphasizing shallow PR and, above all, avoiding every legal liability they can get out of, have a *lot* to do with the problems.

    14. Anonymous Sense5/08/2017 08:25:00 PM

      Just saw this one. The point is that it's the design and ideology of advocates, activists, and feminists which have contributed to and informed the system: exaggerated and false statistics and ideas about rape, about how we should treat accusers, and about how we should treat the accused. Those fungi found rich soil in the moral vacuity and self-interest of the neoliberal university.

      What would you do if you felt like one of your students was having their private life misrepresented from having been accused? Would you speak up and try to correct the record then?

    15. Anonymous Sense's private communications have informed me that you have not approved his follow-up comments here. I've read them. They're not inflammatory or combative or injurious. One wonders, then, why.

    16. The person who has written under the name “Anonymous Sense” demonstrated to me in their previous comments that their interest is in being insulting, rather than in having a productive conversation. I see no reason to use my blog as a platform for such comments, or to use my time and energy reading and thinking about them. One recent comment offered an apology (along with more insults and aggressiveness), but it does not make me think they’ll behave any better in future comments.

      The short answer to the question, why do I not approve their comments, is that I don’t want to engage with them or their comments. Sorry if you or they think that’s rude. Norms of politeness are pretty different when dealing with anonymous commenters than with people with faces and names.

  6. Anonymous Sense5/06/2017 01:44:00 AM

    Btw the 'preponderance of evidence' standard means if there's a 51% likelihood an offense occurred, the person is responsible. That's lower than "beyond a reasonable doubt."

    One conservative commentator pointed out that in a "he said, she said" scenario, that means the accuser's story has to be deemed only one percent more likely than the accused's. And the scales are tipped by all sorts of other aspects of the process to make that likely to be the case.

    Applying the 51 percent standard - that of a civil courtroom - could be ok - because these basically are civil proceedings, where the damage done by being 'found responsible', or falsely confessing, can be very high - damage to one's reputation and future prospects, at the least, but you're also expelling someone who may have already put tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars into tuition. Except that none of the other protections of a civil courtroom - due process, the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty, right to cross-examine, access to evidence, an attorney - are present.

    Our political culture has been so polarized that I feel gross agreeing with conservatives. But "kangaroo court" is an apt description.

    And I understand all this occurs against the belief that the outcomes of rape investigations are never fair to women. The idea that, like, there's a major backlog of rape kits all over the country, and that frequently male police have a worldliness turned into cynicism, and will tend to dismiss rape claims by women, and often have nothing to offer women who are frightened by the behavior of men (and, to be fair, they do encounter women who make false or exaggerated claims) - all that is a major problem.

    And in choosing to focus on a philosophy professor at her institution, Kipnis picked an uphill battle because your discipline seems, more than others, to have a problem with harassment and sexism. The idea that John Searle made it into his 80's at Berkeley while being so gross is astounding. (At the same time, not to diminish his *institutional* power, and power in the field - can an 80-something man meaningfully harass you if you can walk backwards and blindfolded faster than he can forward? Is he spry?)

    So it's dispiriting that we hear about schools - often Christian universities, or protecting athletes - that are still getting it wrong in the old, cruel way, without even trying to learn the new one.

    1. Interesting side note: Kipnis said at a talk in Vancouver this week that she thinks people are jumping to conclusions about Searle, too, raising the possibility that all of his accusers are lying. Her tendency to defend famous professors accused of sexual misconduct runs deep.

    2. Bullshit. I was there. She said no such thing.

    3. Anonymous Sense5/06/2017 05:18:00 PM

      1. Not sure how to reconcile these two conflicting claims, unless we end up with public video of her talk.

      One odd ideological bug Kipnis pointed out, in a talk at UT-something (I can find a link) was that there's research showing that teaching sexual assault prevention can reduce rates of victimization by like 40 percent. But because the ideological priority is to "teach men not to rape" (as if almost all know already not to; don't we teach people not to murder and steal and lie, too?), that training is verboten. What that means is that you have a system where you would sooner have the ranks of victims 40 percent higher than it otherwise would be in order to stubbornly prove a point. That seems, in fact, quite sick. We would rather have more women be victims than betray a pillar of the social project?

      It is possible Searle is innocent, we don't know. That's why due process exists. And maligning her with some "tendency" that "runs deep" seems unfair, given the climate to which she's responding. Is it ever possible that an accused person is innocent, in your view? How/when would that happen?

      I think, too, of a deep-running tendency in the culture to believe the absolute worst, like in the Rolling Stone story. The mantra is that women *never* lie, even in part, or by accident, and that we always believe the victim. The case at UVA was not just untrue but luridly false, confirming all the worst fear/fantasies in the culture, and there was no responsible investigation that might have discovered that fact. And my memory is less confident on this, but I believe the reporter may have said or written at some point that she was looking to write a story about campus sexual assault, but *most of the stories she heard of* were about two drunken students having an encounter go awry. She took to the UVA story because it was more compelling, and seemed to better illustrate what was supposedly actually going on.

      Why did no one smell bullsh*t? The story was so extreme as to be a kind of pornography of rape, of female innocent and male animality. It reminded me of the hoax by Wilkomirski in the early 90's, during the recovered memory panic, when he wrote about seeing rats emerge from the belly of a dead woman, and all kinds of other twisted fabulist stuff. How many more credulous people have believed stories like the UVA one?

    4. Anonymous Sense5/06/2017 05:19:00 PM

      2. We might ask, too, not just if it's possible to commit rape and not know it, which you and Thomas approached with the benefit of philosophical training - but also if it's possible to believe one has been harassed or assaulted when that was not actually the case. That seems worth asking and answering, if you want to convince me.

      I would suggest that in your framework it isn't possible, because rape and assault are defined and punished in a novel and untried way. Previously there was understood to be an objective, mediating standard - something still the law in other countries, like Germany, where a "strong no" is required. That does miss the "soft no" or the freeze-reaction silence that some victims have experienced. But it doesn't seem fair that a man might, say, flip a woman over to change positions, without asking, thinking it's "sexy", or something he saw in a pornographic movie, and then have her express no complaint, or resistance, or objection, and retreat into shock, only to later call that rape.

      A "yes means yes!" standard, independent of the Title IX problems, may be a better one. It may *work* as an objective standard. I don't know. It was never really discussed in the public square meaningfully. It did, in fact, what it's upset about - introduced something new without asking for permission. And again, it returns to the idea of legislating tactful, polite, communicative sex, 'Excuse me, would you like to change positions?' That may be ideal, but I'm uncomfortable with the idea of legislating en masse the details of how people are to make love. And although ignorance is not an excuse, it feels a bit like these rules changed the speed limit while people were on the road and had passed the sign.

    5. The real problem here, Anonymous Sense, as Kipnis shows in her book, is that there is no real-time consent any more since it is subject to retroactive retraction at whim. See the Brandeis case linked above. Often, these subsequent retractions happen because of relationships gone awry, which Title IX is then summoned in to adjudicate. This is a slippery slope to due process disaster, as so many prominent cases (e.g., Ludlow's) have plainly shown.

    6. It is certainly possible for accusations to be false—the Rolling Stone case looks very much like such an one. I agree, there were serious journalistic failures there. People should have looked into it further.

      It is also certainly possible to believe falsely that one has been assaulted. It is possible to make mistakes in any direction. I know no one who thinks otherwise. A fair investigation into a sexual assault allegation must consider all possibilities and figure out what's most likely. That's not an easy thing to do, which is why there are difficult questions in this domain.

      As for my report of what Kipnis said, my anonymous commentator lacks credibility. It is interesting to me that they feel like it's important to deny that she said people are jumping to conclusions, and highlighted the possibility that his accusers are all lying. I don't believe for a second that my anonymous commenter was there, but if they were, they'd know that yes, the session was being recorded. No doubt one will have the chance to check for ourself in due course. The moment in question came up in the Q&A. (Kipnis also defended Geoff Marcy, saying that he merely touched people in ways that made them uncomfortable, but that this wasn't harassment.)

      As for the idea that it's fine to initiate sex acts without knowing whether one's partner is OK with them, I couldn't disagree more strongly.

    7. I am sure Prof. Ichikawa will issue another "September Statement" clearing up everything.

    8. Anonymous Sense5/06/2017 05:53:00 PM

      I understand that last graph, but I would also say that that's a new norm, and it goes against how many people have traditionally navigated their sex lives. Consent can be withdrawn, but it's also not micromanaged. One might introduce a change of position, confirmed by eye contact, or try a new technique, and the reasonable understanding was that a person could express pleasure or displeasure, or ask their partner to stop, or even become angry, but then later continue. A woman joked to me that back a decade ago, as college students, we were all sexually assaulting each other all the time. That's a bit of a dark joke, but it's also true that it was on no one's mind, in a sexual encounter, that their partner couldn't communicate as an equal, or that the man wasn't receptive to communication. This was thought to be true in the majority of sexual encounters. Was that naive? Possibly. But I think the 'paranoia' hypothesis is important, if it predisposes people to immediately interpret some unexpected element of surprise, mid drunken-hook-up, as "rape" or "sexual assault", and not something to which you could simply say "no, I don't like that" or "stop", or "let's do this instead", or turn around, or whatever. The insistence on verbalizing every aspect of sexual intimacy seems very complex psychologically.

      And I would say this goes back to a question I raised elsewhere as to whether sexual norms and laws should "privilege" traumatized, fearful, diffident women, or privilege the assumption that we are responsible for having a healthy sexual habitus, communication ability, and so on.

      There are literally stories, too, like "We were drunk and I said 'choke me daddy' so he was choking me and I liked it, but then he gave me a slap and it was horrible and it was rape." That seems odd, and suggests that women are feeling cultural pressure to enter sexual situations they're not comfortable in with men they don't feel like they can talk to. "Hook-up culture", whose prevalence was mythologized but greatly exaggerated.

      By the older standard I'm describing, the idea that, say, you might be performing an act on a partner, touch a different part of their body, or vary the act without asking, they would stay silent, or even outwardly express pleasure, but privately wish you would get it over with and stop, then later accuse you of rape, would be deeply unfair to the accused, because none of us are mind-readers, though fulfilling sex can tempt us with the possibility that we are.

      The new norm seems to be suggesting that everyone who doesn't have stop-motion "Mother, may I?" sex risks later being told they had committed rape or assault.

    9. Anonymous Sense5/06/2017 06:00:00 PM

      Jonathan, your admission that accusations can be false, and that one can wrongly believe they suffered harassment or assault - that seems to go against the ideology behind all of this - which establishes that we should prioritize the psychological comfort of the accuser, and that the accused is not allowed to "cross-examine" the accuser directly. It provides a kind of insulation against the exposure of false or ambiguous claims. The proceedings also prevent the possibility of mediation, or clarification. It goes against all the statistics about how women don't lie about rape, about how only two percent of accusations are proven false, and about how we should above all believe the victim. I agree with you on all of it, but you're certainly welcome to retract that and offer a different "final answer", since it concedes quite a bit of ground on this issue.

      I would suggest, too, that if accusers lie, it's not always a general lie - the lie might be an exaggeration or distortion or misrepresentation, or there might be some details lied about for reasons of delicacy or embarrassment. But something like "due process" exists to muddle through all that.

      And I don't know Anon's credibility - if you factor out the anger, which isn't unjustified given the intensity of this topic, and the stakes, I don't know what was said. I'll be glad to be linked to a recording of the talk and questions on YouTube.

      And I don't know Geoff Marcy's case, but I think it's complicated if Kipnis subjectively differs on what harassment is, because it suggests that in the absence of an objective standard, having a more subjective one, where women have sole ownership of the umpire's seat above the tennis court to judge whether a shot was on or over the line, you're never going to get fairness, because the exact same behavior can be received differently by different subjects.

    10. You can read about Geoff Marcy here. It also highlights some of the difficulties of the Title IX procedure from the complainants' perspectives. I agree that Kipnis is working with a narrower conception of harassment than I am, but I think your suggestion that my alternative is "a more subjective standard, where women have sole ownership of the umpire's seat above the tennis court to judge whether a shot was on or over the line" is a completely ridiculous caricature.

  7. Anonymous Sense5/06/2017 05:41:00 PM

    Other anon, though I don't share your desire to prick at Jonathan with animosity, on that issue of retroactive reinterpretation of an experience that at the time was not subjectively perceived as assaultive, you're right. And as I said elsewhere, that's something this has in common with other moral panics.

    Also, here's a recent story - again from outside the liberal media circuits - where the claims from men are that women lied, in one case when there was video of someone saying about an ex-boyfriend, after their breakup, when he texted her asking for support for a depressive episode, how she wanted to "f*ck up his reputation", which was barred from inclusion as evidence, and another where the accused actually committed suicide from the humiliation and trauma of the proceedings (rapists get what they deserve! He knew what he was!), still a third who claimed a woman kicked him in the testicles when he refused sex, then accused him of rape. That man *attempted* suicide. If he was lying, that's an awfully audacious counter-suit.


    And certainly the case at Columbia begs more inquiry. The behavior of the accuser was quite contradictory, and while it might make sense to say she was just so caught off guard by the rape that she continued to text and flirt with the man involved for weeks, and have sex with him again, unable to process her feelings, it also seems like it deserves a careful analysis that doesn't impose a knee-jerk ideological interpretation. And again, there was a conference in that case with another of the man's lovers, when they realized retroactively that their experiences should be re-interpreted or correctly interpreted as rape.

    1. The Title IX system has failed everyone, period. This is a very strong overview of why:


    2. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education also maintains a database related to Title IX lawsuits that raise first amendment issues (as you might imagine, they were very involved in the attempt by the NU graduate students to silence Kipnis):


  8. Anonymous Sense: By the way, this is the philosophical genius we're arguing with here. It hardly seems worth the trouble.


    1. Anonymous Sense5/06/2017 07:17:00 PM

      Other anon,

      Again, I don't think personal digs are really productive.

      I did just follow the link and then find this, though, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lAbtqYj3oMQ , with the unfortunate title, "{Spam?} Cuum on her face longer and harder"

      I think it's fair to nod to context, and not leap to conclusions, or reductive ideologically motivated readings. But I am a bit puzzled that someone with Jonathan's moral sense about the boundaries of sexual propriety and harassment would so casually include, as if a joke, the title of a spam email, which he reads aloud, which mentions so degrading and misogynistic a sexual act, often considered a fetish which is meant to exert power over, even humiliate women.

      And I do find it odd that the logic of the system Jonathan's worldview has contributed to, and defended, which he now blames on "harassers" and "administrators", would actually bring about, if a student saw this, felt uncomfortable, and complained, a Title IX investigation of exactly the kind he is now lately realizing might be misguided. Would it be unreasonable for a student to surmise that Jonathan might condone such a barbaric practice, or to feel unsafe in his charge? Kipnis relates a case of a graduate student being summoned for laughing "too long" in a game of Cards Against Humanity at the phrase "juicy Girl Scout." Is Jonathan's humor and forthrightness here any less offensive, any less triggering? Perhaps he has had female students whose sexual abusers perpetrated that very act. I am not quite sure what to do. I have taken a screenshot of the offending video, should Jonathan shrewdly take it down. Should I report it to his employers, in the interest of the greater good?

    2. Anonymous Sense5/06/2017 07:50:00 PM

      I have of course gone too far in even informing Jonathan of the charge of which he is guilty. It would have been more fair and more responsible of me to send the offending clip directly to the Title IX office at his university, where they would be obligated by law to investigate. They would not necessarily be able to inform him of the details of the offense, but might ask him invasive questions about his sexual practices, whether he has heard of something called a "facial", and whether he considers the act ideologically appropriate. If he did not remember the video he has continually kept online, he might still slowly come to recognize the offense to which they were referring. Of course his protestations of innocence, depending on the guidebook his administrators are using, might be taken as a sign of guilt. And he really should not know anything about the person who submitted the video, or precisely why they are upset by it. It is then incumbent on him to demonstrate his innocence, even as universities are pressured to increase their reports of assault and harassment in order to show compliance with the law, and might be inclined to find him guilty based on the preponderance of evidence standard. Perhaps Jonathan could tell us why it was not 1 percent more likely than not that his video betrayed a perverse mind, and his maintaining of it on a public YouTube portal, for anyone to stumble upon, was not the most deplorable kind of irresponsibility. Perhaps he could tell us why he does not deserve to lose his job, and why he is not a threat to students in his classroom, or to any women he might advise.

    3. Anonymous Sense5/06/2017 07:52:00 PM

      And Jonathan might have the benefit of knowing in advance, were we to extend it to him, that the proceedings described by Kipnis in her book have been described by Paul Bloom, a professor of *psychology* at Yale (we certainly can't complicate our logic with *that* can of worms), as "Kafka-esque." Who doesn't love Kafka?

    4. I should say that, while I find Itchy insufferably self-righteous on these matters, I would emphatically *not* wish such an outcome on him, in any circumstances. I am also certain (ironically enough) that if such an injustice were somehow to occur, Laura Kipnis would be happy to publicize and deplore it. (By the way, I don't believe UBC is subjuct to Title IX, but presumably they have some similar tribunal, though their trigger fingers might not be as, shall we say, itchy.)

    5. Anonymous Sense5/06/2017 08:30:00 PM

      I am not advocating for that, myself. Because I'm not a moral hack. But I thought by demonstrating how Jonathan himself might experience the hot seat, he would realize just how happy he has been to turn up its temperature. And I think the fundamental hypocrisy of his argumentation should be evident now, and the impossibility of the standard that has been held up. The goal has been to create a class of people who preen and posture as impossibly innocent while directing their own vindictive and competitive and foolish impulses at other people, no more or less human and fallible, who become the complementary class of the impossibly guilty.

      Everyone involved has the redeeming grain of knowing that one core impulse has been to address the real problems of rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment, and to protect and prevent victims.

      But the rest, they should have to realize, has been shameful, irresponsible, foolish, and unjust, and they should feel enough shame or guilt about that to introspect deeply, to cut the crap, and to cooperate and collaborate in restoring some semblance of justice, order, and sobriety.

    6. Anonymous Sense5/06/2017 08:36:00 PM

      People have, in fact, had their careers or lives ruined - the student athlete now working at a GNC; the accused student whose father alleges in a civil suit that the proceedings had a direct causal relationship to his suicide. We don't know if that accused student was guilty or innocent, but it seems quite possible he was innocent, and that means that all the innocent twee academics and bumbling administrators and ideologically motivated utopianists have actual blood on their hands. This is quite serious. The moral toll is not only on the genuine victims of sexual abuse.

    7. I hear you, Anonymous Sense. By the way, I found the YouTube video you mentioned -- the "c**m in her face" video. I wasn't sure what to make of it myself, so I showed it to my girlfriend. She said she found it very triggering, that it was the quintessence (her words) of "rape culture." But she also was kind of turned on by it because (frankly) she thinks Itchy is cute. (She's a sucker for pseudo-philosophers with green hair.)

    8. Anonymous Sense: You are very eloquent. I was impressed by this: "The goal has been to create a class of people who preen and posture as impossibly innocent while directing their own vindictive and competitive and foolish impulses at other people, no more or less human and fallible, who become the complementary class of the impossibly guilty." I hate to say it, but that's Itchy in a nutshell.

    9. Anonymous Sense5/07/2017 01:00:00 AM

      Glad you appreciate. But your personal attacks on "Itchy" don't help anything, and I don't want to be associated with them in any way. Your story about your girlfriend sounds quite fake.

    10. Ah well, much of me is fake. But perhaps not as much as Itchy is fake.

    11. I think he is *this* fake:


    12. I'm not really sure what the point of any of this is supposed to be.

      Can I imagine that someone might be offended by some things I've posted to the internet? Yes. Should that suffice for any sort of harassment investigation? No. Have I ever said otherwise? No. So no hypocrisy charge seems relevant.

      Can I imagine that some university's sexual harassment office might get overzealous about a case like this? I guess so. Am I very worried about it? No, or else I wouldn't have material like that online under my name.

      And for what it's worth, I'm pretty sure that you're wrong that, even if my university had a Title IX office, they'd be obliged to investigate me on the basis of your sending in a video clip. If you were a student making a sexual harssment complaint against me, they'd need to investigate it. But an anonymous tip? Not at all.

      I feel like you think I'm in favour of unfair procedures and so deserve to have a taste of my own medicine or something. I have no idea why you think that's my view. I think I disagree with you about whether certain examples represented unfair procedures, but I have been pretty clear, for example in the body of this very post, that I agree that unfair procedures are a serious problem.

      I do not recognize the picture you are describing of moral innocents.

    13. Anonymous Sense5/08/2017 08:29:00 PM

      Perhaps you don't *have to* worry about it because you're part of the pitchfork brigade, and no one would ever suspect you of impropriety or misconduct, given your sterling record on sexual justice issues?

      As I've said elsewhere, anonymous tips and third-party characterizations have, in the U.S., been investigated, and have been used to expel people.

      I think you are not taking responsibility for endorsing the deeply flawed worldview which distorts the reality of sex and rape and didn't notice that depriving the accused of due process might be unfair until after a long tally of unfairnesses and injustices (including one young man's suicide) had accumulated.

    14. Anonymous Sense5/08/2017 08:37:00 PM


      There's a case where a tenure-track professor was fired because she had used profanity a handful of times in class and shared a "Blurred Lines" parody video called, funny enough, "Defined Lines." Who drew those lines? Where are they? Who decides?

      Who doesn't say "fuck", for fuck's sake? Who didn't see the "Blurred Lines" video, when it was tremendously popular in the entire United States? Or the parody?

  9. I think Anonymous Sense's point about your hypocrisy is that you are reading out, with evident relish, a grossly misogynistic text that sexually degrades women and thus participates in what you so loosely call "rape culture." Meanwhile, you moralistically lecture a feminist, Laura Kipnis, about her offenses. Personally, I agree with him.

    By the way, Title IX offices do investigate third-party complaints, leading to injustices such as this one:


    1. The relevant passage of Anonymous Sense's first post on this topic, above:

      "I am a bit puzzled that someone with Jonathan's moral sense about the boundaries of sexual propriety and harassment would so casually include, as if a joke, the title of a spam email, which he reads aloud, which mentions so degrading and misogynistic a sexual act, often considered a fetish which is meant to exert power over, even humiliate women."

      And, as I say, you read it aloud with clear delight--look at how happy you are saying "Cum on her face harder and stronger." It's really quite stunning--especially the disrespect you show to sexual assault survivors. I'm sure many of them will be disillusioned, having thought you a reliable ally.

    2. If, after all of this exchange, you still can't tell the difference between talk of sexual matters and talk of sexual assault, then the world is in an even sorrier and scarier condition than I'd thought.

      In case it needs spelling out: the satirical video linked is sexually explicit, but has nothing connection whatsoever to sexual assault. I'm frankly horrified that so many people misunderstand he difference.

      For a moment I thought that an open and frank exchange on these topics might be possible. I am sad to see that all you are interested in personal attacks. (Et tu, Anonymous Sense?)

    3. You willfully misunderstand. No one is accusing you of sexual assault. We are accusing you of gleefully celebrating sexual assault. You of course have the right to do so. Whether you should is another matter.

    4. Anonymous Sense5/07/2017 05:55:00 PM


      You can "Et tu" me, but then you're not reading with the care one would hope for on a subject with such high stakes. I specifically said to Anon that I don't want to be associated with personal attacks in any way. I have made no attack on you - I'm only holding your behavior under the lens (remember, Kipnis calls it "paranoid" and part of a "moral panic") that has been applied to others. I don't *mean* any of those descriptions of your video, I'm parroting a particular mindset and way of hunting for fault and offering cynical or fearful or group-protective interpretations. More in a minute.

  10. You also mock gay people. Shameful!


  11. Anonymous Sense5/07/2017 06:03:00 PM

    I'm not personally attacking you, I'm demonstrating what those attacks look and sound like. Anon is just jeering at you, and I'm disappointed he's the only person reading who thinks I have a point.

    If we were really so reliably and coolly competent at differentiating between talk of sexual matters and sexual harassment, between a pass and a pest, between rape and assault and drunken miscommunication, the entire climate which occassioned Kipnis to write her book wouldn't exist. A climate which took an essay as a - what - assault? Harassment? Or *ideological crime*?

    Title IX administrators have actually literally used the phrase - I've heard it - "intent doesn't matter." So if I claim to be traumatized by your YouTube "jokes", or interpret them in a hurtful or demeaning way, it's my interpretation of victimhood that rules the roost. There are stories like this - I can put together a list - professors being investigated for jokes, or for broaching subjects in class, or making statements students do not like. It has been a climate of insecurity, surveillance, paranoia, and shaming, shameful conformity.

    The idea that we can differentiate between different kinds of speech and act reasonably, too, I mean holy sh*t brother. The momentum has been to redefine sexual assault in order to efface those differebtiations. So anything from an unwanted kiss from a study partner with a crush to forcible rape could be categorized as "sexual assault."

    And you claim not to recognize that picture of moral innocents, yet you claim innocence when confronted with exactly the same reasoning that had found people guilty, or at least, worthy of being intimidated by a Kafkaesque or inquisitorial bureaucracy. This whole time you've been full of cautious reservations about the system, but just not shared them? Or you just didn't notice the pitfalls in advance?

    I'm sure many people interrogated by the system would love to have the rights I've given you here - to know the evidence and accusations against them, to have a right to speak to their accuser, and to have their self defense heard and recognized by truly reasonable people, rather than paranoid ideologues or people just following orders.

    You say you don't recognize the picture of moral innocents described here. That's good, because it means you don't think you are one. But you place all of the blame on administrators, none on the activists or academics who have designed and enabled and enforced the system, peddled alarmist statistics, anticipated no problems, and had no qualms about due process or the system until after the fact.

    If you think my rhetorical enactment of inquisitorialness here is "horrifying", or a "personal attack" - imagine this - imagine, without due process, being accused of rape, or sexual assault, or sexual harassment or misconduct, then being figuratively blindfolded, gagged, and having both hands tied behind your back. And then convince us, when the system is stacked in my favor as the accuser, that my interpretation or version of events isn't even only 1 percent more likely than yours. Remember that the administrator mediating this may have been trained to take your protestations of innocence (you're horrified at the misinterpretation) as a sign of guilt, and has been taught "Intent doesn't matter". And remember that the OCR has given incredibly vague instructions on all of this, but that the consequence for failure to comply is loss of huge amounts of funding.

    1. Kipnis doesn’t provide this information in her book, but the complaint against her essay wasn’t that it made anybody feel traumatized—it was that it provided harmful and inaccurate information about an individual who had brought forward a complaint against Ludlow. According to the complaint, her inaccurate public description of these private details constituted unlawful restitution. So when you write this: “A climate which took an essay as a - what - assault? Harassment? Or *ideological crime*?”, I feel like you’re either not paying attention, or you don’t care about describing things accurately. Either way, you're wasting my time.

      I agree that intent is not necessary for sexual harassment. Intent isn’t necessary for murder, either. But in neither case does it mean that “it's the complainant’s interpretation of victimhood that rules the roost”. I am amazed that you think otherwise.

      As for my satirical email reading, I’ll just repeat myself. It has nothing whatsoever to do with sexual assault.

      Nothing, whatsoever, to do with sexual assault.

      You accurately described a spectrum of assault from an unwanted kiss to a forceable rape. Nothing described in the video you are discussing falls on that spectrum. It is not part of the scenario described that anything is done non-consensually. Confusing sex with sexual assault is one of my central complaints in Kipnis's book. You are guilty of it too.

    2. Anonymous Sense5/08/2017 03:31:00 PM

      1. Perhaps Kipnis did not know the particular details of the complaint against her because she did not know the particular details of the complaint against her? Because that's one of the denials of due process people have found so - in the words of Paul Bloom, certainly a less perceptive mind than either of us here, "Kafkaesque"? About which a couple dozen Harvard Law professors (what do they know against a philosophy professor at UNC-Wheresboro who signs a letter without reading it?) expressed serious concerns, etc. Anyone else reading can decide which of us has paid less attention, which has more concern for accurate description.

      Intent in fact is necessary for murder. It's called "mens rea", you can Google it pretty easily. Because "murder" is a label we assign, with a set of qualifiers, when one person is responsible for another's loss of life. We also have terms like "voluntary manslaughter", "involuntary manslaughter", which precisely depend on proving *intent*. I am amazed that you don't know this. And amazed that you can't see how the Title IX system, which you have already agreed has major problems - works to stack the deck against anyone accused.

      I am a little concerned, Jonathan, about the rest. No one is saying your email reading is sexual assault. It could be considered sexual harassment by creation of a hostile environment, though. What exactly are you satirizing? Do you think the instantiation of centuries of patriarchal oppression upon a woman's face is... something to laugh about? Couldn't seeing you have such a sporting go at the description cause a nervous student - say, one with PTSD or anxiety - to be psychologically destabilized? Couldn't you provide a trigger warning before splashing so gleefully in? Would it be wrong for a viewer to surmise that you might do or enjoy such an abominable thing?

    3. Anonymous Sense5/08/2017 03:33:00 PM

      2. I'd also suggest that when someone indicates your online activity could be construed as sexual harassment, saying it has nothing to do with sexual assault seems a bit odd. Is that on your mind? If someone accuses you of stealing, you will startle them by crying out, "I've never killed anyone!" Tell-tale heart, etc?

      You have no complaints "in" Kipnis' book. Unless there's one in there you reported? You mean, I think, that you have complaints "with" Kipnis's book.

      Very interesting that you've thought a bit about the details of the supposedly "satirical" spam email reading. I'm glad that women consent to being degraded in your imagination, but that's not really information you need to share with us.

      You are, again, confusing sexual harassment with sexual assault. And don't you think that's all sort of likely to happen, when there's an umbrella term for such a broad spectrum? Imagine if we called everything from murder to a shove to a hard, kind of friendly, kind of aggressive pat on the back to a too-firm handshake "assault", and went around calling out "assault" culture and demanding investigation? Wouldn't you consider that sort of odd? Alarmist? And isn't it sort of unjust or inaccurate to then say anything who kills a person or really, really crushes that hand, is guilty of "physical misconduct"? Wouldn't that be providing the cover of euphemism for grave things, and the weight of great seriousness for trivial things, and diluting the entire label? I'd imagine that would be of great benefit to murderers.

      I don't really know what else to say to you at this point. Your language is careless, your reasoning is bad, you haven't replied compellingly to anything I've said, your arguments are easily picked apart. Double down again?

      You already agreed that the system is failing and unfair. You don't think that the worldview which installed it bears any blame, and I don't think anyone will ever convince you away from your blamelessness with that adorable face, Mommy's darling boy. You've agreed false accusations do happen, and that a person can wrongly believe themselves to have been harassed or assaulted or raped. You might concede, though, that something like a "moral panic" is an apt description, and that "paranoid" and "zealous" describe the screws I've put on you here for the sake of demonstration, even as they've been put on so many others. And although I can't match your philosophical acumen or training in logic, it seems like if you acknowledged an atmosphere of moral panic and paranoia and zealotry, some other things would follow.

    4. RE: Kipnis: No, she's being disingenuous in pretending not to know the nature of the complaints against her. This was made clear at many points (including, again, the Huffpo piece I linked).

      RE: Murder: You're wrong. Intent to kill is not a necessary condition for murder. Mens rea is required, yes, but there are many ways this can be established without intending to murder or to kill. Reckless indifference, for example.

      RE: Satirical videos: If I were playing sexually explicit videos in my classrooms or making students watch them in my office, I think a sexual harassment complaint wouldn't be at all ridiculous. If a student googled my name and chose to play a video, then it is obvious that I am not creating a hostile environment.

      RE: Your general tone and the value of your comments: You asked elsewhere (assuming, as I generally do, that there's only one person using your name here) whether your comments strike me as gratuitous and insulting. Many of the comments appearing under "Anonymous Sense" don't, but these do. Since we're being frank with one another, my opinion is that no, these comments do not strike me as "intellectually fair or rigorous". I won't ask you to agree—I know you won't. But you asked my opinion, and there it is.

  12. Anonymous Sense5/07/2017 06:08:00 PM

    My point, ultimately, is not that I think you're in support of unfair procedures. I think you're in support of specious arguments, talking points and statistics that led to and undergird the procedures. You're right that Kipnis doesn't have a good theory of consent. But you don't, either, since you've admitted that a person can rape or assault or harass without knowing it, but also that a person can believe themselves to have been raped or assaulted or harassed and be in error.

    This all sort of feels to me like a giant snowball rolled down from the top of the mountain, gathering mass, crushing or absorbing everything in its path. Now that it's gone, we all turn to the top of the mountain, see people standing up there building ideological snow forts and snow people, and you hold up your hands in a show of innocence, whoa, don't look at us.

  13. Anonymous Sense5/07/2017 06:10:00 PM

    Or you say, you know, looking at the village destroyed, sorry, we were just trying to get that one rapist who's raping everybody. Bad aim.

  14. I will surrender the field now to Anonymous Sense, whose eloquence and command of facts vastly exceeds my own. He is in no way associated with my gibes. But he does speak for me and (you can be sure) many others in his moral outrage at the Title IX horrowshow. If he can educate you even a little bit on these matters here, Itchy, then your blog has some justification for existing.

    By the way, I have now watched all your YouTube videos, and I have to say I've never seen such a profuse anthology of shitty haircuts.

  15. Anonymous Sense5/07/2017 08:42:00 PM

    I would add that one condition in which someone might perceive themselves to have been assaulted when that was not necessarily the case is when both parties are deeply drunk and in the dark. Alcohol does induce disinhibition and impair judgment, but it can also impair memory and blur or distort perceptions of events as they are happening. I am confident enough in my knowledge of human nature and the history of alcohol consumption prior to modern science and psychology to assert that, though I can take correction - but I suspect there are abundant studies on the effect of alcohol on all of those things.

    And we don't know, because everything happens in secret, just how many cases *did* only involve mutual intoxication. And it is possible for one intoxicated person to forcibly rape another and ignore or overpower protestations. We can't lose sight of that. But it seems like quite a few do.

    There's a larger cultural climate around this, too - I saw an article somewhere, Jezebel maybe, by a young woman who wrote about her alcoholism and sexual practices, and talked about getting drunk, having sex, not remembering it, and thinking it was rape because she felt sore. Another case where, I think, a drunk man and woman went into a bathroom, were starting to have sex, other students were watching through a window to check whether it was assault...(?)

    Trying to find it - there's a more fair and honest article from 2015 here: http://jezebel.com/ask-a-former-drunk-its-time-to-talk-about-alcohol-and-1783117457

    There are also cases like this one: https://www.bustle.com/articles/165150-i-cant-remember-my-rape-and-that-shouldnt-matter - where a woman blacked out and didn't remember her rape, where it's not a phantasmal retroactively imposed nightmare.

    There's a good write-up here, this is from Amanda Hess at Slate back in 2015 - http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2015/02/drunk_sex_on_campus_universities_are_struggling_to_determine_when_intoxicated.html

    The issue is that these cases are all over the map, and treating anything that looks like it *might* be rape or assault or harassment as such is horrible.

  16. Anonymous Sense5/08/2017 12:29:00 AM

    I knew women in college who sometimes had drunk sex, at times blacking out or not remembering it. One laughed it off the next day, like 'so I guess that happened.' Was that healthy behavior? I don't know. But stereotypically one of the reasons people *become* drunk is to defray embarrassment or responsibility for choices they're tempted by. Not everyone, not always, but sometimes.

    I suspect one reason sexual assault has become such a concern, separate from its inherent trauma, is because it so triggers anxieties about female autonomy and equality between genders.

    I feel ambivalent about saying "separate from its inherent trauma", but it's worth remembering that women sexually assault and rape men, and there's no clear data on how much that happens, either, AFAIK. I've known men who have been "roofied" and woken up the next morning unsure of what occurred. Older generations used to be aware of the danger you might get "slipped a mickey", even if you were a man. Sometimes just to steal your shit, other times not. There is some data suggesting men experience being pressured or coerced into sex, at least psychologically, as much as women do.

    And that there are other kinds of trauma we don't treat as a cultural symptom, though maybe we should: the rape of men by men in prison, child sexual abuse and the production of child pornography (do we have a "culture" of that in which the majority is complicit? We actually have widespread horror and disgust and contempt, and strong enforcement, yet the pathologies still persist), physical and emotional abuse of children by their parents (is it our whole culture, for which everyone is responsible, contributing to those pathologies? And if that's true, if there's an argument for that in the literature somewhere, why isn't it a cause?). Job - I can read the book over, though - wasn't raped. There's a whole, wide, wonderful variety of ways to get PTSD in this world.

    So it's a serious trauma, but not the only one of the afflictions of life, and if the scope has been greatly exaggerated, by misleading statistics, paranoia and alarm, it seems like there could be other, underlying reasons than a deficit in sympathy for victims or a problem in policies.

  17. Anonymous Sense5/08/2017 01:01:00 AM

    Rape has been constructed as the trauma surpassing all others (IDK, can you measure that?), from which one never recovers, as a constant, pressing danger, even with someone to whom you have already consented, though the rate of forcible rape has been estimated to be 1 in 100. Still higher than it should be, but I think most women - and men, if they were in those shoes - who have anything like a healthy sexual pulse - would probably be ok with *those* odds.

    So I feel like there's some way in which performing vulnerability and victimization, and joining in the (Kipnis-calls-it-a-) "moral panic", has become a way for women and men to show solidarity with each other, and with feminism. That we’re like, or at least on the side of, rape victims. Prove you're not a rapist, prove you're anti-rape.

    Short of rape, the things being called sexual assault and harassment sometimes seem to be received by women as an insult, a mark on their honor, more than a lasting trauma or crisis, as if, if they were men in a different era, they would challenge the offender to a duel. Like transposing "The Rape of the Lock" to a college party and dimly lit dorm room. Or there’s a paralysis, because there’s no clear way to respond – you can’t sleep with a guy to get ahead, and maybe you’re already neck and neck with, or ahead of, him – but rejecting someone can backfire to, and are we really equal if he thought he could say that to me? Do I have more power because I tempted him into bad behavior? If he persuaded me? Does he have more power? If you're already in bed with him, did he just disrespect you? Is he one of *those*? Infinite loop, short circuit, steam out ears.

    One good question is why young women of prior generations were *less* insecure about their autonomy and equality, even though they possessed less of it. And less scared or angry about the problem of male sexual coercion, even if it happened more often in the past, and without censure. Better able to cope with it. Perhaps now the anxiety is that to give an inch is to lose a mile. To have some sexual relation with a slight awkwardness or indignity, to have a man make a joke or "pass" and shrug it off, or tell him off, would be to betray the general project. To show that one’s autonomy and equality are not absolute or inflexible. (Ask a man if he feels like he has absolute autonomy in his life, by the way, and, you know, link here to statue of the Laocoon group..)

    And this conflict would also continue because women admitting that they feel scared of or intimidated by men would be taboo, because it would seem to contradict the claim that women are "equal" to men because just as strong tough etc., capable of giving as good as they can get. The current seems to be resisting that by making men feel that they aren't "equal" to women because not as empathic, considerate, tactful, sensitive, polite - always making coarse jokes and dumb comments and not picking up on social nuances, never able to tell the difference between a friendly vibe or a sexual or romantic one, getting the wrong idea, and raping.

    I wonder if projecting onto men the belief that they are all rapists or potential rapists is a way of introducing moral clarity, when power is complex, or of deferring female guilt about competition and advancement. If men are all rapists anyway, you can feel ok about treating them as rivals and competitors. Though attacking their character on gendered terms is, you know, not really sporting.

    & if you normalize rape as 'one of the traumas', that does mean that some men get away with it. Some men - and women - get away with murder. Or abusing their children. It's horrible. But it's not right to make men guilty until proven innocent. To wrongly convict. Or to liberate women from self-consciousness about their behavior/reputation by transposing it onto men.

  18. Anonymous Sense5/08/2017 02:21:00 AM

    Reading the Hess story again now, the first six paragraphs, it strikes me that we're using the bodies of inexperienced, intoxicated young people as a field for discursively negotiating and determining what sexual equality is, and how it varies between the intimate, personal, relational, social, professional, public and political.

    Which would be fine, except first of all, gross. Second of all, prying. Third of all, moralistic. Fourth, cruel and unusual punishment. Fifth, frequently dishonest.

    It's like Foucault's argument about the 'repressive hypothesis' acted out in a new way. Like, you people who are all so righteous, disapproving of and traumatized by rape and assault, anxious to see them censured and stopped - gosh you sure love sending a judge into other people's bedrooms to take notes, then hearing all about the details, just to explain just how disapproving you are, and how shameful they are for doing those things, but you really need to hear more. It's not the tragedy of 'show me on the doll where they touched you', it's the tragic farce of 'show me on the doll where they touched you, ok, show me again, maybe one more time after that.'

    One explanation could be that the moralists or zealots are, of course, actually getting off to this, on some level. If you told me that Andrea Dworkin had some sexual bitterness or envy, you know, I just wouldn't believe it. So now her ghost gets to haunt the beds of attractive young people and torment them, and everyone around them, until her spirit can find rest.

    This explanation would make sense, because that's exactly what hardcore Christian censors do: we really need to talk about the evils of Satanic death metal, over and over and over, let's play another one, this is so awful.

    And the "sex education" universities have been giving young people is just as bad, if not worse, than that given at Christian schools and at schools in Christian counties. It's impossibly naive, it's dishonest, it picks and chooses what information to share, it exaggerates some details out of proportion and omits others, and constructs an entirely bogus narrative that predisposes people to feel vulnerability and shame. And then instead of learning the good responsible Christian way to have sex, all else bringing damnation, we learn the good responsible feminist way to have sex. And again, Christians are trying to prevent their kids from being sexually taken advantage of, from sexual disease, from emotional compromise and regret and trauma. But also from making informed choices. But they're doing it by lying about sex, and breeding a hothouse atmosphere of fear and naivety. Likewise the people responsible for this mess.

    1. Anonymous Sense, you are trying to reason with a fanatic. There's no point in it. Especially not now, when he is so desperate to spin these awful videos where he mocks sexual assault and gay people. He is way too entrenched in his own foolishness now to step back and see reason. Let him have his little blog. No one reads it anyway.

    2. Anonymous Sense5/08/2017 08:54:00 PM

      I don't think Jonathan is a fanatic, from anything I've seen. But I think he's profoundly in error and knows it and is backtracking in order to save face. I don't think characterizing those videos as awful is fair, I think that's exactly the kind of paranoia that needs to be dispelled.

      Unfortunately, I think his naivety does have some influence - he and his wife and her boyfriend have received national press.

      I looked up that "September statement" you mentioned, here's an outside take.

      The initial call for kindness and civility seemed to me very reasonable, and something I would support, given how inhumane academia has become, structurally and socially. I can understand how it might strike some moral sensibilities or temperaments as unnecessary, but that varies to taste. It seems also to have been a way of claiming leverage in a more mundane power struggle about an unrelated topic.

      Ironically, the "sanctimonious *sshole" accusation seems to have both confirmed the fact that there's a need for more civility, and confirmed the fact that the spirit of the letter was sanctimony.

      Why? Because if its goals had been truly magnanimous, an appropriate response to the criticism would have been "I'm sorry you received it that way. The intent was not to be sanctimonious." The end.

      Instead, the response was sanctimonious - a letter, 600 signatures?

      Am I getting the details or sequence wrong here? I googled quickly, it's all very inane.

      The joke about academic politics is that they're so bitter because the stakes are so small. But for the Title IX stuff, the stakes are very high - hundreds of thousands of dollars lost, reputations damaged, careers ruined. At least one humiliated suicide.

      My impression of the SStatement suggests that some women might in fact be acting histrionically, feigning innocence and aggravated injury in order to gain professional and social power over men. That would in fact be quite ugly, and a way on their part to confirm the worst stereotypes about women while claiming to fight them. And potentially a way of exploiting rape victims as fodder for feminist cannons.

    3. You may have noticed that Itchy has a new post saying that your comments are worthless (mine obviously are, but he lumps you in too, by implication). He isn't listening. He can't. He has too much to lose by truly acknowledging your points, so he waffles but largely sticks to his talking points. He believes that anyone who disagrees with him advocates rape culture. That makes him a fanatic. Others must be converted (as his new post implies) or else condemned. Sanctimonious doesn't get to the half of it with him.