Sunday, December 21, 2014

One of the most effective ways to analyze the motivations of political activists is to identify discrepancies between their declared intentions and their actions.  It's well-known, for example, that supposedly "pro-Palestinian" activists are completely uninterested in publicizing or alleviating Palestinian suffering not caused by Israel, such as the starvation at the besieged Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria, the Apartheid-like legal restrictions imposed on them in Lebanon, or most recently, the evictions and house demolitions along the Gaza-Egypt border.  The scant attention paid to these atrocities compared with, say individual protestors injured during violent clashes on the West Bank, demonstrates clearly that those calling attention to the latter are more concerned with demonizing Israel than actually helping Palestinians.

A similar analysis can be applied to the "rape culture" activists currently advocating for various legal and procedural measures in response to an alleged "epidemic of rape" on US college campuses.  These measures focus on making sure that accusations of sexual assault on campus are "taken seriously"--or, more specifically, that those accused are less able to exonerate themselves.  The problem with this focus, though, is that recent statistics show that (1) rape incidence on US college campuses is low and declining; (2) sexual assault risk for college-age women is considerably higher off-campus than on; and (3) sexual assaults occurring on campus are far more frequently unreported (to the police) than those occurring off-campus.

Given these statistics, a reasonable course of action for an activist concerned about sexual assault victimizing college-age women might be (1) to avoid raising undue alarm about a declining problem; (2) to avoid focusing specifically on college campuses, where the risk is lower than elsewhere, except perhaps in order (3) to emphasize encouraging the reporting of on-campus sexual assaults to the police, to bring them into line with off-campus reporting rates.  Of course, the activists do no such thing.  Instead, the measures they support have the exact opposite effects:  doing nothing about off-campus sexual assault, and actually discouraging the reporting of on-campus assaults to the police, by establishing or strengthening alternative processes.

As it turns out, those processes grant enormous power to university administrators, allowing them wide discretion to impose draconian academic punishments on students based on minimal evidence.  Perhaps that's why the anti-rape activists on campus have met with so little resistance from university administrators...        

Wednesday, December 10, 2014