Free Speech: The Hoya wants to censor debate on ‘rape culture’
Free Speech is under threat at Georgetown University. The college’s student magazine, The Hoya, wants to no-platform a woman they don’t approve of.
The Georgetown University College Republicans hosted Christina Hoff Sommers, an author and philosophy professor known for her criticism of contemporary feminism and her disavowal of a so-called “rape myth,” last week.
By giving Sommers a platform, GUCR has knowingly endorsed a harmful conversation on the serious topic of sexual assault.
Giving voice to someone who argues that statistics on sexual assault exaggerate the problem and condemns reputable studies for engaging in “statistical hijinks” serves only to trigger obstructive dialogue and impede the progress of the university’s commitment to providing increased resources to survivors.
Arguing the statistics will not be tolerated! Surely, the students are sure-footed enough to be able to counter any naysayers? Demanding Sommers be made to shut up is lamentably weak.
The Hoya’s editorial board continues:
It is necessary and valuable to promote the free expression of a plurality of views, but…
They had us right up until ‘but’.
Still, let’s stick with it.
…this back-and-forth about whether or not certain statistics are valid is not the conversation that students should be having.
Blimey. What happened to student rebels and free thinkers? What a bunch of fuddy-duddies.
Students should engage in a dialogue that focuses on establishing a safe space for survivors while at the same time tackling the root causes of sexual assault.
They should discuss whatever they want to discuss. The only good thing about a safe space is that pretty much everyone who choses to be in one is everyone you should avoid.
Inevitably, the discussion initiated by Sommers distracts from a focus on solutions. At its worst, such discourse encourages rape denialism.
This ploy to divert attention and resources from solutions and survivors has no place anywhere — especially not at Georgetown, where students are fortunate enough to participate in a community that emphasizes care for the whole person.
Can they think for themselves so long as they don’t say the unsayable aloud? And does the whole person include the men, who are portrayed as so thick that one word from Sommers and they will think it’s ok to go and commit a criminal act?
‘You see, judge, when living at home, John Boy was in-tune with the local no-rape culture, respectful of his parents no-rape policy. But once in college he wanted to blend in, so he took up raping with gusto. He just wanted to be one of the guys.’
Denying the lived experiences of survivors stands in sharp contradiction to this value.
Conversations that focus on whether or not the problem is “overstated,” rather than on how the problem can be solved, are an insult to Georgetown’s survivors and a recipe for inaction.
Rape culture is a system that thrives on silence. Students cannot allow Georgetown’s sexual assault discourse to be subdued by those who would downplay the problem at hand.
Instead, implement consent education, promote bystander intervention, criticize casual sexism, encourage reporting and agitate for prosecution —protect students and change the campus climate for the better.
Having read The Hoya’s call for censorship, it’s an idea to hear from corruptor of young minds Christina Hoff Sommers. John Stossel writes:
“This idea of a rape culture was built on false statistics and twisted theories about toxic masculinity,” she says.
No one denies that some men, especially when drunk, get violent and abusive. I saw nasty behavior when I was in college, and I assume there are places worse than Princeton.
Sommers says, “I always make clear, rape is a very serious problem, (but) if you look at the best data … it is not an epidemic. And we do not have a rape culture…. Rape culture means everything in society is reinforcing (rape) and making it seem a legitimate thing to do. Of course that’s not true.”
But in The Hoya is it a fact.
Wendy McElroy addressed students at Browns University, Rhode Island:
I am going to open in an unconventional manner with some personal background. I’ve experienced a great deal of violence in my life. When I was 16 years old, I ran away from home and lived on the streets. I was raped, and brutally so. Then and now, I do not blame the culture. I blame the man who attacked me.
I’ve had reason in my life to blame several specific men for violence. For example, as a result of domestic violence when I was a young woman, I experienced a hemorrhage in the center of vision of my right eye. I am legally blind in that eye. Every morning I wake up, I am reminded of violence against women because I now see only half the world because of it. Again, I don’t blame men or the culture; I blame one specific man. Most men I know would have put themselves at risk to protect me.
I bring up my background because my presentation may upset some people. And I look forward to a productive exchange…But please do not tell me that I do not understand the importance or pain of violence against women or that I trivialize rape. Such accusations are commonplace when a woman disagrees with the feminist orthodoxy and they shut down the one thing that is most needed: a real dialogue.
Reuters had some statistics:
Campus rape is a serious problem. But while public attention is focused on students carrying mattresses and the discredited Rolling Stone report about rape at the University of Virginia, the fact is that sexual assault is more common off campus than on.
Consider this: If you lived in Gallup, New Mexico in 2013, you were 47 times more likely to be raped than if you attended Harvard, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) statistics. Yet chances are you won’t see any protesters in New Mexico. Coverage of campus rape has likely increased for a variety of reasons – the social media influence of the at-risk demographic, the ability of victims and supporters to articulate the problem and because it — like any other type of violent crime in poor communities — is more of a surprise. That’s not to lessen one or the other; just a diagnosis of the arc of public attention.
A 2014 report from the Department of Justice called Rape and Sexual Assault Victimization Among College-Age Females, 1995–2013 found that non-students aged 18-24 were 20% more likely to be sexually assaulted than students.
So. Rape culture can be debated. And as for clamping down on free speech, well, that’s just the Censorship Culture…