Kan­ga­roo courts on cam­pus

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - By Thomas Sow­ell

There seems to be a full-court press on to get col­leges to “do some­thing” about rape on cam­pus. How­ever, there seems to be re­mark­ably lit­tle at­ten­tion paid to two cru­cial facts: Rape is a crime, and col­leges are not qual­i­fied to be law-en­force­ment in­sti­tu­tions.

Why are rapists not re­ported to the po­lice and pros­e­cuted in a court of law?

Ap­par­ently. this is be­cause of some col­lege women who say that they were raped and are dis­sat­is­fied with a le­gal sys­tem that does not au­to­mat­i­cally take their word for it against the word of some­one who has been ac­cused and de­nies the charge.

There seem to be a dan­ger­ously large num­ber of people who think that the law ex­ists to give them what­ever they want — even when that means deny­ing other people the same rights that they claim for them­selves.

Nowhere is this self-cen­tered at­ti­tude more com­mon than on col­lege cam­puses. Nowhere are such at­ti­tudes more en­cour­aged than by the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s Jus­tice Depart­ment, which is threat­en­ing col­leges that don’t han­dle rape is­sues the po­lit­i­cally cor­rect way — that is, by pre­sum­ing the ac­cused to be guilty and not let­ting con­sti­tu­tional safe­guards get in the way.

Any­thing that fits the “war on women” theme is seen as smart pol­i­tics in an elec­tion year. The last thing At­tor­ney Gen­eral Eric H. Holder’s Jus­tice Depart­ment is in­ter­ested in is jus­tice.

The track record of aca­demics in other kinds of cases is not the least bit en­cour­ag­ing as re­gards the like­li­hood of im­par­tial jus­tice. Even on many of our most pres­ti­gious col­lege cam­puses, who gets pun­ished for say­ing the wrong thing and who gets away with mob ac­tions de­pends on which groups are in vogue and which are not.

This is car­ried to the point where some col­leges have es­tab­lished what they call “free-speech zones” — as if they are grant­ing a spe­cial fa­vor by not im­pos­ing their vague and ar­bi­trary “speech codes” every­where on cam­pus.

The irony in this is that the Con­sti­tu­tion al­ready es­tab­lished a freespeech zone. It cov­ers the en­tire United States.

Have we al­ready for­got­ten the lynch-mob at­mos­phere on the Duke Univer­sity cam­pus a few years ago, when three young men were ac­cused of rap­ing a strip­per?

Thank heaven that case was han­dled by the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem, where all the ev­i­dence showed that the charge was bo­gus, leading to the district at­tor­ney’s be­ing re­moved and dis­barred.

If all the cur­rent cru­sades to in­sti­tu­tion­al­ize lynch law on cam­puses across the coun­try were mo­ti­vated by a zeal to pro­tect young women, that might at least be un­der­stand­able, how­ever un­jus­ti­fied.

How­ever, those who are whip­ping up the lynch-mob men­tal­ity have shown far less in­ter­est in stop­ping rape than in politi­ciz­ing it. Many of the po­lit­i­cally cor­rect cru­saders are the same people who have pushed for uni­sex liv­ing ar­range­ments on cam­pus, in­clud­ing uni­sex bath­rooms, and who have put con­dom ma­chines in dor­mi­to­ries and turned fresh­man ori­en­ta­tion pro­grams into a venue for sex­ual “lib­er­a­tion” pro­pa­ganda.

They laughed at old-fash­ioned re­stric­tions de­signed to re­duce sex­ual dan­gers among young people on cam­pus. Now that real-life ex­pe­ri­ence has shown that these are not laugh­ing mat­ters, the po­lit­i­cally cor­rect still want their sex­ual utopia, and want scape­goats when they don’t get it.

There is a price to pay for al­low­ing un­sub­stan­ti­ated ac­cu­sa­tions to pre­vail, and that price ex­tends be­yond par­tic­u­lar young men whose lives can be ru­ined by false charges. The whole at­mos­phere of learn­ing is com­pro­mised when male fac­ulty have to pro­tect them­selves from ac­cu­sa­tions by fe­male stu­dents.

People to­day are amazed when I tell them about a young African woman who had just ar­rived in Amer­ica back in 1963, and who was so overwhelmed by ev­ery­thing that she fell far be­hind in my eco­nom­ics class. I met with her each evening for an hour of tu­tor­ing un­til she caught up with the rest of the class.

There is no way that I would do that to­day, and there is no way that she would have passed that class other­wise. In­stead, she would have re­turned to Africa a fail­ure. There are many un­in­tended con­se­quences of lynch-law poli­cies that poi­son the at­mos­phere on cam­pus and di­min­ish Amer­i­can life in gen­eral. Thomas Sow­ell is a se­nior fel­low with the Hoover In­sti­tu­tion at Stan­ford Univer­sity.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.