Opinion | Morgan Liddick: ‘Welcome to the Wonderland that is Liberal gender politics’
Reade Seligmann. Collin Finnerty. David Evans. For those who need reminding about injustice involving white men, in March of 2006, these three members of the Duke University Lacrosse team were accused of rape by Crystal Gail Magnum, a Duke student and sometimes exotic dancer and escort. Their lives, and that of their coach Mike Pressler, were shredded by university administrators, a prosecutor hell-bent on conviction and a media foaming at the mouth to see the three teammates drawn and quartered publicly.
But Ms. Magnum’s account was a complete fabrication. There were early hints, but prosecutor Mike Nifong disregarded them, and more. He did not reveal contradictory or exculpatory evidence, doggedly pursuing the young men; his chief investigator, who had a history of confrontations with Duke students, did worse.
When the charade collapsed, Nifong was disbarred and convicted of prosecutorial misconduct. Duke students were threatened for years afterwards. Academic “experts,” quick to seize the increasingly implausible accusations as proof of “inherent racism” because the supposed victim was black and those she accused white, never voiced so much as a “woops.”
Why drag this up? Because it’s informative. Today, at the University of Virginia, the same farce is playing out. Only this time the criminal justice system isn’t involved; too many pesky questions. Instead, accusations of a gang-rape is being played out in the media, whose credulous Progressive commentariat willingly pumps up stereotypes and fans the flames of outrage.
The story first appeared in “Rolling Stone,” a magazine which once knew its limitations. An “exposé” on the “culture of rape” at Virginia’s largest university, it was a 9,000-word screed about a gang rape at a fraternity party, as told by “Jackie.” However, the account now seems to be less a tissue of lies than a steel hankie of them. It matters not that the reporter didn’t verify any of the supposed victim’s assertions. That shows how smart she was: minimal checking would have shown that there was no party on the night of the alleged attack; that the assailant named wasn’t a fraternity member; that other material facts didn’t add up; and a juicy story tailor-made for slack-jawed consumers of herd-think news would have evaporated.
It didn’t matter that the supposed crime was never reported to the authorities. That shows how smart “Jackie” was: not only would a police report initiate an investigation, the whole business would become a matter of public record — which might have exposed the whole story as an outlandish fabrication from the start. Better to let the smear-bomb explode and allow events to run their course. Because it’s not facts that matter, it’s the seriousness of the accusation.
As in the Duke case, administrators at the University of Virginia reacted like a flock of cougar-spooked sheep. Fraternities at the university were “suspended” and their contracts with the institution were unilaterally judged subject to re-negotiation. A new 15-member “Climate and Culture” group will investigate student attitudes about sex, with a view to enhancing safety. Theresa Sullivan, the university’s president, has called on all to “conclude that this is a serious problem that deserves everyone’s attention.” The state attorney general has established a special counsel to investigate how the university handled the incident Rolling Stone reported. That’s right. The state is investigating the university’s handling of an event that apparently never happened. Welcome to the Wonderland that is Liberal gender politics.
Think Colorado is immune? Better check the University of Colorado’s Sexual Misconduct pages at: http://www.colorado.edu/studentaffairs/sexual-misconduct.
None of this is to say that rape doesn’t happen, on campus or off. It does. And when it does, it should be punished to the fullest extent of the law, “of the law” being the operative phrase. That requires reporting the crime, police investigation and, if needs be, a criminal trial where the rights of all parties have legal protections — a nice balance we have been evolving for a thousand years. At present, we have universities using the methods of the Star Chamber or making arbitrary decisions aping the Red Queen’s “Verdict first, trial afterward.” Justice is not served by this, and is often thwarted by evidence that the game is rigged in favor of the accuser. But we continue, because reason has been corrupted by the poisonous innuendo of collective guilt dripped into our eyes and ears by leftist academics and scribblers; by lawyers and activists with axes to grind and money to extort; by politicians eager to wind up their supporters. “There must be guilt,” they argue, “because the accusation, no matter how unbelievable, is so serious.” This is an idea less suited to modern jurisprudence than to Salem Village and the search for witches, and it should stop.
Just ask Messrs, Seligmann, Evans and Finnerty.
Morgan Liddick writes a weekly column for the Summit Daily.
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