Stop the presses! A man is upset!
In an epic mansplanation worthy of nothing short of the Wall Street Journal's opinion pages, Peter Berkowitz explains that a terrible menace threatens to derail the educational experience of college men across the country- new protocols of sexual assault investigation that will subject all men to horrible, evil false accusations from life-ruining women.
What has Berkowitz's mortar board in a bundle is the Obama Administration's new rules that require universities thoroughly investigate sexual assault accusations, that the accused not be allowed to cross-examine the accuser, and that the judiciary panel determining the guilt or innocence of the accused not be subjected to the same "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard. All of these things, in the opinion of Berkowitz, are violations of the rights of men accused of rape.
Most egregiously, OCR requires universities to render judgment using "a preponderance of the evidence" standard. This means that in a rape case, a campus disciplinary board of faculty, administrators and perhaps students serves as both judge and jury. Few if any of these judges are likely to have professional competence in fact-gathering, evidence analysis or judicial procedure. Yet to deliver a verdict of guilty, they need only believe that the accused is more likely than not to have committed the crime.
He then makes the impressively athletic leap from "women have the right to have their accusations investigated," and "accused rapists shouldn't be allowed to cross examine their accusers" to "men are presumed to be guilty in all rape cases and this is an abomination." He argues,
In short, universities are institutionalizing a presumption of guilt in sexual assault cases. This implements the doctrine developed in the 1980s and '90s by postmodernists, radical feminists and critical legal studies scholars that inspired the ruinous campus speech codes. That doctrine teaches that the American political order is designed to oppress the weak; that racial minorities and women, whether they realize it or not, are victims; and that the truth, except for the first two propositions, is infinitely malleable.
This would be an apt statement if it wasn't made against a straw man and it didn't reflect a disturbing lack of trust in college women. If men aren't to be presumed to be rapists, then are the women who do report rapes liars?
What of the horrifying statistics that paint a picture of rampant sexual assault on college campuses? What about the fact that only an estimated 5% of campus rapes are reported? What about the Center for Public Integrity's report, the one that found that colleges are, to borrow a word of Berkowitz's, egregious places to be a rape victim?
Institutional barriers compound the problem of silence, and few actually make it to a campus hearing. Those who do come forward, though, can encounter secret disciplinary proceedings, closed-mouth school administrations, and off-the-record negotiations. At times, school policies and practices can lead students to drop complaints, or submit to gag orders - a practice deemed illegal by the Education Department. Administrators believe the existing processes provide a fair and effective way to deal with ultra-sensitive allegations, but the Center's investigation has found that these processes have little transparency or accountability.
But those facts aren't real! Just fairy-stories made up by hysterical women!
It's ironic that someone who says
Such dogmatism and imperviousness to evidence are hallmarks of the authoritarian mind.
would later go on to discount statistics that paint a horrible picture of underreporting and underprosecuting of sexual assault, saying
The materials are likely to include dubious statistics about the incidence of sexual assault; vulgar generalizations that men are controlling, angry and deceitful; and assurances that women neither lie nor make errors in alleging that they have been sexually assaulted.
When people who disagree with the author ignore facts, they're authoritarian threats to liberty. When the author disagrees with inconvenient facts, he's making a salient argument.
Men who are in college will inevitably run up against a false accusation; college is basically a date rape factory. Berkowitz argues,
On campus, where casual sex is celebrated and is frequently fueled by alcohol, the ambiguity that often attends sexual encounters is heightened and the risk of error in rape cases is increased. The consequences for a wrongly convicted student are devastating: Not only is he likely to be expelled, but he may well be barred from graduate or professional school and certain government agencies, suffer irreparable damage to his reputation, and still be exposed to criminal prosecution.
Berkowitz is saying that the possibility of rape accusations threatens to endanger the educational experience for men, but apparently by "educational experience," he means "partying experience." What's under threat is not young men's ability to be educated or to live with freedom and liberty and don't tread on me or whatever conservative buzzphrase he wants to ascribe to it; Berkowitz is deeply upset by the threat that due process poses to college men's ability to have unfettered access to consequence-free sex with drunken co-eds.
I'm embarrassed that this even needs to be said- giving credence to rape accusations is a good thing. Not allowing possible rapists to cross examine their victims is a good thing. And treating campus rape as a real problem that needs to be addressed in a serious way? Also good. And as for the whining over fear of an impending wave of false rape accusations that will never come? I think that I speak for many women who were victimized in college only to face doubt and intimidation when I say: "Boo-fucking-hoo."