Earlier this week, a shitstorm swirled in the wake of toupeed troll George Will's latest column in the Washington Post wherein he argued that being the victim of "sexual assault" (his dickish quotation marks, not mine) conferred a "coveted status" that came with "privileges." In response, several groups called for the Post to discontinue running his column. The Post's response was, predictably, shitty.
The National Organization for Women called for Will to "take a break" from his column, maybe go sit in a corner, think about what he's done. And four Senators, in a letter to the editor, urged Will to stop being such a dipshit. Sens. Dianne Feinstein, Tammy Baldwin, Richard Blumenthal, and Bob Casey wrote in a joint statement,
Your column reiterates ancient beliefs about sexual assault that are inconsistent with the reality of victims' experiences, based on what we have heard directly from survivors. Your words contribute to the exact culture that discourages reporting and forces victims into hiding and away from much-needed services. For starters, your notion about a perceived privileged status of survivors of sexual assault on campuses runs completely counter to the experiences described to us.
The Post's editorial page editor Fred Hiatt rushed to Will's defense, telling Media Matters that his column was "within the realm of legitimate debate." Using the word "legitimate" — a word that has been invoked by conservative men in a rape apologist context before — to describe Will's column must have been a Freudian slip.
If George Will had written about any other indignity or crime perpetrated by the powerful on the disempowered — race-motivated violence, xenophobia, child abuse, — and implied that victims who came forward were just doing it for the "status," he'd be out on his ass faster than Donald Sterling on greased roller skates. When the Chicago Sun-Times ran a republished stupid and deliberately trolly transphobic op-ed from a National Review contributor who is sort of like a kindergarten George Will, the paper responded to public outcry by taking the post down and apologizing. Yet, because pieces called "It's Time to End Rape Culture Hysteria" and "The Rape 'Epidemic' Doesn't Actually Exist'" (written by the same conservative think tank flack author) that ran in TIME and USNews, respectively, are still up, and somehow, George Will's editor accepts his embarrassingly ignorant and damaging screed as "legitimate," I cynically reach the conclusion that something bigger is going on here. Are victims of rape and domestic violence (occasionally men, but overwhelmingly women) the final politically acceptable punching bags for opinion pages? The Washington Post sure seems to think so.