Saturday, March 22, 2014

"Rape Culture" on campuses

'Rape Culture' Fraud--Unmasking a Delusion

Anyone who follows the contemporary media closely is doubtless familiar with the suddenly ubiquitous phrase "rape culture." In the context of higher education, the phrase implies two interlocking beliefs. First: despite crime statistics showing sexual assault (as well as all violent crimes) to be very uncommon on campus, colleges and universities are, in fact, hotbeds of rape (but not, it appears, of all other violent crimes). Second: despite the fact that most college faculties and nearly all administrations are extraordinarily sympathetic to the activists' position on gender issues, the campus culture over which these figures preside nonetheless--somehow--actually encourages the prevalence of rape at college.
That little, if any, evidence exists to sustain either of these beliefs has not deterred the "rape culture" believers; if anything, the lack of evidence for their claims appears to have emboldened them. Nor have they been deterred by the revelation of high-profile false rape claims on campus (ranging from the Duke lacrosse case to the Caleb Warner affair at North Dakota); if anything, the increasing build-up of sympathy for clearly railroaded males has intensified the rage of those who discern a "rape culture" on campus.

The Premise

The "rape culture" movement operates from three central characteristics.

First, it has received almost fawning press coverage (what media members want to be deemed pro-rape?)--allowing for transparently absurd allegations, such as those at Occidental, to be presented as credible. In some instances, this has come from the usual suspects, such as Kingkade at Huffington Post, Allie Grasgreen at Inside Higher Ed, and Richard Perez-Peña of the New York Times. But the phenomenon has also received extensive, uncritical attention in BuzzFeed, which despite its generally solid treatment of legal issues just hired the discredited Katie Baker to help coordinate its "rape culture" articles. In a media too often accepts at face value a politically correct narrative on campus, the "rape culture" claim is almost ideal for campus "activists."

Second, the "rape culture" approach allows activists to shift the narrative away from uncomfortable questions about due process and false accusations against innocent male students, and toward a cultural critique in which the facts of specific cases can be deemed irrelevant. Selena Roberts pioneered the tactic at Duke--when the case against the lacrosse players imploded, she (falsely) claimed that her guilt-presuming columns were merely designed to critique a flawed "campus culture." Or, as Amanda Childress implied in her oft-criticized remarks, whatever value might exist in following specified procedures in sexual assault cases, universities should focus their efforts on tackling broader cultural mores.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the "rape culture" approach provides a weapon to advance a particular type of gender-based agenda (curricular and administrative priorities need to be revamped to recognize that women are victims) in a campus environment in which race/class/gender advocates already dominate. There always will be a stray, anonymous misogynistic comment on a message board, or by a drunken student at a spring-break party, from which advocates can then generalize to claim that a crisis exists on campus--without ever defining precisely what a "rape culture" is, or how the steps they recommend could possibly eradicate it. And since there isn't a recent example--from Duke to Dartmouth to any of the current Title IX claims--in which those who have cried wolf on campus have experienced any repercussions for their actions, there is no drawback in advancing inflammatory claims, no matter how unlikely.

So expect a lot of talk about "rape culture" in the coming months.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Harassment policies are becoming all the rage at science fiction conventions.  There's a risk of overdoing them, and killing off conventions altogether.

Party by the Rules

Did you hear about the caterer who was so self centered, he thought that parties were a place of business?
Well, there are apparently a lot of writers who think so.  Because science fiction conferences are – for them – a place of business and a must-attend, they think that they are the same for everyone else.
I think my colleagues have lived so long in fictional worlds that they think rules prevent things from happening.

 I’m not for harassment (who is?) and I’m not even against rules.  Some basic, enforceable rules are useful.  Say “don’t bring up pron on your computer in a con suite with children playing around.”  Or say “Don’t go feeling up people, or cornering them and trying to feel them up.  And don’t try to get into their rooms.”
Why, yes, that later has happened to me, (no, I wasn’t doing it, sillies.  Well,  I do this stuff to my husband — groping, not pron — but he doesn’t mind.)  I fail to see in the situation what a rule would have done about that, since the first instance (trying to corner me and feel me up) was done by a — then — powerful editor, late at night, in a semi-deserted corridor on the party floor.  Quite frankly, what he was trying to do was already against the rules — civil society rules.  I believe forcibly stopping someone and trying to grope them is assault, right?  Unfortunately, I also wasn’t carrying a handy policeman in my pocket.  I was carrying a knife (I usually am) but you know how con hotels are about blood stains on the carpet.
 One of the problems I've noticed when it comes to harassment is, unless the victim is willing to make a formal statement to someone in authority (security, or probably best yet, the hotel Loss Prevention department), nobody has anything to act on.

It never even occurred to me to report it, because a) he was a powerful editor.  b) I was a newly published writer.  c) No one saw it.  d) He was more than three sheets to the wind — and probably wouldn’t remember it in the morning.
Note that C is the killer.  It would be he said, she said, and no matter how many rules there are about it, and no matter that it was I saying it, he should be considered innocent until proven guilty.  And I couldn’t prove him guilty.  Had I been able to prove him guilty, I wouldn’t have bothered the con com.  I’d have gone straight to Tor.  (Yes, him.  Though I only figured that out recently.)
 And in a recent "debate" with a young lady, I was told the notion of "presumption of innocence" is part of "rape culture".  Go figure.

And right now you’re thinking “But if you had that happen to you, why would you object to a few sensible rules against harassment at cons?  Even if the rules don’t stop it, wouldn’t it be good to remind the troglodytes attending that there are rules?”
The most important part of my objection is this. ... To most people — to the fans, the people that make a convention a convention — a con is this:  [PARTY!!!]

This means that a set of people who are so far from average they can’t see it with a periscope use conventions as a means of meeting potential mates; of talking to friends they haven’t seen in years; of — sometimes the only time in the entire year — letting their hair down and being themselves.  I know that I keep a running check at the back of my head not to freak the mundanes.  If I’m talking to someone at church, or in the park, or when the kids were little at school, I have to remember not to use sf references or the geek jokes that are the language of our people.

So if people now have to mind their every word and be very careful what they say and do at a con, suddenly it’s not a place to go and relax anymore; it’s not a place to have fun.  Suddenly it’s: [BOOORING]

Or depending on the rules, and on the rule creep, and on how much credence it’s given to “she said” versus “he said”, it becomes: [SCREAM]

Of course, we don’t have to worry about this, because there are no people in science fiction and fantasy (either professionals or fandom), so exquisitely messed up that they suffer from pre-emptive ptsd.  PRE traumatic stress disorder, you could call it.  That is, there are no people who freak out at the mere thought of someone maybe, possibly, saying something that could, might, offend them, at a talk they can attend or not, as they prefer.
 Because in an assemblage of geeks and outcasts, we never have anyone who either been stomped on so hard, or been raised as such a precious little princess (particularly the guys! ) that they think the right not to to be offended is a basic right.  And we NEVER have people who completely misinterpret someone else’s actions and think they’ve been “harassed”.
 [Consider that most people go to conventions to party, and are bringing their usual fannish social skills, ] How many guys are going to have what they think is a perfectly respectful come-on mistaken for harassment?  How many geek girls are going to take offense at the fact that he is — let’s face it — often lame and think they were abused? (I should add here the only cases of SERIOUS sexual assault I know of at cons, and the ones that go largely unpunished/unreported are guy-on-guy.)


So I look at all these “rules” being put in place by people who think the world can and should be made safe for them, people who believe that not just sticks and stones, but words can break their bones, and I think of the royal families of Europe, when their kids were hemophiliac, trying to save the royal line by putting cushions around every tree and bush to keep the kids from hurting themselves.  It didn’t work for them.  For us… Knowing how overworked, tired, uncompensated the few people people willing to serve on con committees are (I put one on long ago, not in sci fi.  Trust me) I predict what they’re going to get is an avalanche of complaints from booth babes that some guy looked at them wrong.

The good news is that though rules can’t make a con safe — they can make the con com nuts; they can make everyone uncomfortable; they can create spectacularly involved he-said, she-said situations — people can make a con safe.

You need one rule: Jim Baen’s “Don’t be a butthead.”

And you need a bunch of people ready to enforce that rule.  You also need women (and men) who aren’t fainting flowers and, in the last instance, stand ready and willing to defend themselves.

Because no matter how many friends you have, or how many fans ready to defend you, they can’t always be with you at all times — for the same reason you can’t carry a policeman in your pocket –  if you do this: [HAVE THE VAPORS]

You’re only giving the butthead power he shouldn’t have.  RULES CANNOT STOP BUTTHEADS.  And there is a hair-fine difference between buttheads and nice guys with zero social ability — which are abundant in our field.  Complaining about the nice guys will just make them run away and hide in the basement for the next fifty years.

So, be prepared to do this: [SLAP!!!]

Because that’s something that both the buttheads and the misguided geeks will get and learn from.  And recover from — far more quickly than an involved, disciplinary “he said/she said” bureaucratic mess.
 Rules that turn normal party behavior into a bureaucratic mess could wind up killing off conventions.
From the comments:

Rape culture is on the rise, and the same people that are supporting new rules at cons are supporting the rise of an Islamic rape culture. It boggles the mind.
 Another point:  Consider the people who get to enforce policies: another comment...

American Mensa does a number of Regional Gatherings that are close cousins to cons with many of the same issues and complaints. A large percentage of long term members are poorly socialized odds so much the same problems arise. When I was active I worked our local RG either in hospitality or security. As I recall most issues revolved around underage drinking, misunderstandings over badly handled flirting attempts, or the occasional free range buttheads. It is worth mentioning that most RG committee members rarely served more than two or three years running before burning out to the point that they withdrew from even local events. Eventually you run through everyone willing to work their butts off for a hell of a lot of work and precious little appreciation but a raft of complaints. 

Nazis: Still Socialists
Tim Stanley’s definition excludes basically all real socialists, past and present.

Why would the Gay Gestapo suddenly need to convince everyone that any act of faith must be viewed suspiciously as discrimination and “hate?” Forcing a bakery, Hobby Lobby, Chick-fil-A or a photographer to either violate their religious beliefs or be destroyed is simply a test run. The real target is the church and temple. If the left can convince our society to force people of faith to violate their sacraments in the name of “equality,” why would we allow that to stop at the church door?
This is why bills like Arizona’s protecting individual Christians from lawsuits will have to return, because the left has a mission, and this is only the beginning. It was clear Mrs. Brewer had no choice but to veto the bill, considering the left had completely smeared the state in the process of its media frenzy. Add to that the fact that liberals would like nothing better in this election year than to have this be the discussion in the media instead of Obamacare and the economy. Still, it will have to be confronted eventually if we are keep tyranny from eating away at the fabric of our culture.
Ultimately, the Arizona bill had nothing to do with gays and everything to do with protecting the right of individuals to live their lives in ways that may not include others, or may even offend certain groups. As Americans, we did not go through the growing pains of the civil rights movements only to capitulate to 21st century bullies who have the gall to use the importance of minority rights as a weapon to extinguish those with whom they disagree.

7 Myths About Arizona's Religious Freedom Law

Here, then, are 7 myths the left has told about the Arizona religious freedom law – and why they’re myths:

Arizona’s Law Loosens Discrimination Against Gays and Lesbians in The State.
Adam Serwer of MSNBC says that “‘religious freedom laws could be a license to discrimination.” That’s nonsense. Arizona state law has no provision currently barring discrimination against gays and lesbians. So what does the law do? It actually narrows the law with regard to supposed discrimination against gays and lesbians. The law only provides religious people with an excuse to pick and choose clients if they can prove actual religious adherence (which, by the way, should offend atheists, who should have the same First Amendment right to associate as religious Americans).
The law also makes clear what should be clear from the text of the First Amendment: religious practice is not restricted to your church or your home. Individuals operating businesses have a right to act in accordance with their religion at work. The law also states that religious businessowners can defend lawsuits using the law against other private parties, not merely government prosecution.
This is the essence of American religious freedom. The disgusting attempt to use government to run roughshod over that religious freedom is blatantly unconstitutional. The law, which simply reinforces that, should be unobjectionable to anyone who actually believes in freedom of religion. Unfortunately, many on the left simply do not.

The Government’s Recognition of a Right to Religious Practice “Allows” Discrimination.
“I strongly support religious freedom,” Kansas state Rep. Patricia Sloop (D) explained with regard to a similar law being considered in her state, “but this bill is not about religious freedom. In my opinion, this is about legalized discrimination, and I cannot vote in support of this.”
The logic here is deeply flawed. My right to religious practice does not spring from the government; therefore, it is not up to the government to “allow” me to do anything with regard to my practice of religion. The question is whether government has a right to invade my religious practice in the name of some majority-determined or court-determined or regulator-determined social good. If the answer is yes on any sort of broad level, the Constitution is rendered meaningless. Rights can be balanced with communal needs, and are generally done so through the mechanism of the market. Once you hand the club of social enforcement to the government, however, rights are no longer balanced with communal goods. Communal goods win. Individuals lose.
The right to practice religion is not unique in this respect. My right to associate does not spring from the government; the government’s protection of that right – not violation of that right – is the purpose for the institution of government. My right to be free of unreasonable search and seizure is not subject to the government’s decision that suspicion of racism justifies violation of that right.

Allowing Private Businesses to Discriminate Among Customers Is Like Jim Crow.
On Tuesday evening, NBC’s Brian Williams made this comparison explicit, stating, “Good evening. It’s just one state out of our 50, but tonight what’s happening in Arizona is being compared by some to the epic battles this nation has fought over lunch counters, separate drinking fountains and restrooms.” Outspoken gay activist and former actor George Takei has called Arizona a “Jim Crow state” thanks to the law. Even Fox News’ Andrea Tantaros has jumped on the bandwagon, stating, “I don’t know why you want to bring Jim Crow laws back to the forefront for homosexuals,” prompting host Martha MacCallum to state, “I mean, that’s exactly what it sounds like.”
No, it doesn’t. Private discrimination may be nasty and evil, but it is not and was not Jim Crow. Jim Crow laws mandated segregation in public areas. Here, for example, is Alabama’s Jim Crow law with regard to those “lunch counters:”
It shall be unlawful to conduct a restaurant or other place for the serving of food in the city, at which white and colored people are served in the same room, unless such white and colored persons are effectually separated by a solid partition extending from the floor upward to a distance of seven feet or higher, and unless a separate entrance from the street is provided for each compartment.
State-compelled discrimination is not the same as private citizens discriminating.
As to suggestions that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 would be overthrown by the act, the supremacy clause of the US Constitution prevents any state from superseding federal law.

Immorality and Illegality Should Be Identical.
Many opponents of the bill have argued, in absurd fashion, that if you support the right of religious Americans to discriminate, you therefore support discrimination. That line of argument is as wrong as it is dangerous. You can believe that something is immoral and yet agree that it should not be illegal. I think that Mein Kampf is an evil book. But I don’t think we should ban it in the United States, because I think people have a right to print it and read it. Does that mean I’m an advocate for the dissemination of Mein Kampf?
Ironically, this line of argumentation cuts against gay rights. If we now believe that anything the majority believes to be immoral should be illegal, regardless of countervailing rights, what exactly is the problem with anti-sodomy laws? Where exactly is the objection to segregation by this twisted logic?
Of course, we don’t feel that way in the United States. We believe that people have rights to activity of which we don’t approve. Otherwise, we’re living in a tyranny in which we elect the tyrants.

Race and Homosexuality Are Analogous.
Any analogy between refusing to service same-sex weddings to refusing to serve black customers is fatally flawed. Race is an immutable characteristic; homosexuality is only publicly known due to homosexual behavior. No matter how much you may be attracted to a member of the same sex, no one will ever know unless you choose to divulge that fact, or to engage in sexual activity with someone of the same sex. That means that discrimination against homosexuals would actually be discrimination against either homosexual activity, or against evidenceless perception of homosexuality. The former is entirely within the purview of religious morality (it should be and always has been my choice whether or not to participate in a gay wedding); the latter is entirely outside logic (if someone throws you out of his store because you wore a pink shirt, he’s a moron).
The same is not true for race. If you are black, you are black. Blackness is not behavior-linked, despite what some racists on the left may believe. That means that discrimination based on race is entirely morally unjustified in any religious universe. The same is not true of behavior; homosexual activity falls under a behavioral classification.
This distinction is vital, because we have decided (rightly) as a society that immutable characteristics should not be the basis for discrimination – but we continue to believe that behavior can be the basis for discrimination. It would be wrong for you to refuse me service based on my last name being Shapiro. It would not be wrong, however, for you to refuse to photograph my future son’s religious circumcision if you are an anti-circumcision activist. The same holds true with regard to race versus homosexuality.

America Is a Nasty Place.
If an alien were to land on earth today and watch the media coverage of the Arizona law, he would likely believe that the American people are incredibly homophobic, and that only the massive bulwark of government prevents Americans from routinely lynching gays and lesbians. That, at least, is the implication the media look to make when they label America on the verge of another Jim Crow era – the idea is that religious Americans can’t wait to erect separate straight and gay sections of their cigar bars.
That’s bull. No business has ever used Arizona’s current religious freedom law to defend against charges of discrimination. Hate crimes against gays and lesbians, while heinous and evil, are thankfully remarkably rare. In 2012, according to FBI statistics, there were a grand total of 1,376 hate crimes based on sexual-orientation bias. According to the Williams Institute at UCLA, there are approximately 9 million LGBT people in the country. By way of contrast, there are approximately 6.7 million Jews in America, and 836 Jews were victims of hate crimes in 2012. That means that approximately one out of every 6,540 LGBT people in the United States was victimized by a hate crime in 2012; one out of every 8,014 Jews in the United States was victimized by a hate crime in 2012. America is not an anti-Semitic country; America is not a gay-bashing country.
But it is in the interest of those in the gay rights movement to continue to maintain that America is just moments away from an anti-gay outbreak. Such feelings prompt government action to crackdown on religious opponents of homosexuality. Which is, of course, what this entire debate is about.

The Left Will Leave Your Church Alone.
Even those who oppose the Arizona law maintain that they simply want individual religious businessowners to face a crackdown by the state. But that’s patently false. What, exactly, would be the justification for stating that a business, which is privately held and for-profit, would have to service same-sex weddings, but that a church, which receives non-profit privileges from the state, would not? Where is the left’s internal logic? If a religious person – a person who by definition acts in accordance with religious values in the entirety of his or her life, not just inside the four walls of the church – can be forced to violate religious values, why not a pastor?
A religious person is a religious institution. Anyone who fails to understand that has never met a religious person. Religion starts at home, not in the church. It reaches to businesses, not just to the pews. The left knows that. And that’s why the left will not stop.