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America’s New Sex Bureaucracy (tabletmag.com)
271 points by hooboy 19 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 369 comments



>But after a lifetime in service of the feminist cause, she took on the case of a friend whose son she came to believe had been wrongly convicted of rape and won his acquittal on appeal.

This is one of the big ways in which sexism is a much more tractable problem than racism and less potentially explosive. Women and men both have members of the opposite sex that they genuinely love. I have heard that fathers with daughters make for a very tough jury in rape cases. A lot of the opposition to these title ix courts has come from mothers worried about their sons being falsely accused.

With racism, there is a pretty good chance that in some areas, a person of one race has virtually no one of another race that they genuinely love. This allows racial discrimination to last longer, and has the danger that when base emotions get appealed to by demagogues, there is less resistance.


How would bias toward gay people fit in with that? A lot of people don't know (or at least aren't aware that they know) anyone gay, but bias toward gay people has dramatically fallen over the last couple of decades.

There was a recent episode of "Hidden Brain" on NPR that talked about this [1].

This part is particularly interesting:

> In a thought experiment, Mahzarin and her colleagues have extended the trend lines of the data to see how long it would take for bias to be entirely eliminated. To be clear, this isn't a prediction about what is going to happen. It just shows you the speed at which different biases are changing.

What they found is that this would have anti-gay bias all but eliminated in 9 more years. By contrast, it's about 60 more years for anti-black biases to be eliminated, 140 years for skin tone biases against darker skin to go away. Biases against the elderly and the disabled and the overweight do not go away within the next 150 years.

Most families include the elderly and the overweight, so the idea that familiarity breeds acceptance would predict that those biases should be going away quicker than biases against gays.

(To reiterate, the timeframes aren't predictions of what will happen. They are just comparisons of the rates that those biases are changing right now).

[1] https://www.npr.org/2019/04/03/709567750/radically-normal-ho...


> A lot of people don't know (or at least aren't aware that they know) anyone gay

This is becoming increasingly less true because it is becoming safer and more respectable to be out. This creates a tight feedback loop of acceptance which makes people feel safer coming out.


This didn't happen by accident, either: If you read i.e. Harvey Milk's "you must come out" speech, you'll see that the explicit intention of campaigns to get gay people to come out was to educate the public that they do in fact know people who are gay.


>Most families include the elderly and the overweight, so the idea that familiarity breeds acceptance would predict that those biases should be going away quicker than biases against gays.

What I'm about to say is not meant to provide a justification for discriminatory behavior, it's just an armchair-anthropologist's attempt at explaining this discrepancy. We might have a very deep bias against old people; if a group of animals has to decide who gets a split of food, and some of them have a dramtically shorter life expectancy, I could imagine there being a biological tendency to care about the young over the old. A similar calculation might be made about the disabled, since a wounded companion is less helpful than an able-bodied one. Weight, I have a number of ideas about. There's a disease correlation, of course. We also might ostracize overweight people because overweight people were more likely to be hoarding food in our deep past, and sharing with those who don't share back is a bad strategy. Even if the specifics of my armchair-anthropology are utter horseshit, I could see factors similar to these out-weighing the familiarity bias without discounting it.


The bias against overweight people is probably less about them hoarding and more about them being unhealthy.

We probably have a bias against unhealthy people because they'd drain the time and resources of a tribe. And they'd be less likely to help with physical activities like hunting, gathering and war.

Obesity is a very new phenomenon but not wanting to include or associate with people who seem sick or unhealthy is probably pretty old.


Bias against overweight people isn't about them being unhealthy, plenty of other unhealthy people have public sympathies, the problem is they are mostly "voluntarily" unhealthy - they want accommodations for conditions caused by their unhealthy habit. It's similar to drug addicts' plight in both the cause and reaction.


The counter to that is that the elderly and the overweight haven't always been the subjects of negative bias. There are plenty of inversions of that bias throughout history and across cultures. It's honestly just fashionable to be young and skinny at this point in history and this part of the world, hence the bias against the opposites.


That's a pretty good counter, actually. I was aware of those facts, but hadn't considered them in this context as far as I recall.


I wonder at want point a gentle pressure to change unhealthy eating habits becomes "discriminatory behavior"?


but bias toward gay people has dramatically fallen over the last couple of decades

Online dating has proven to help gays with successfully finding relationships. Gays can be openly gay online while protecting their privacy. This has helped give people some exposure to gays and their problems who wouldn't otherwise have similar exposure in meat space.

I also think the trend to identify as asexual where such people were probably historically viewed as committed bachelors has probably helped take some of the discomfort out of the equation. Historically, not being interested in sex was not a sexual identity. Now it is.

And that takes the concept of sexual identity into new territory that I think makes it less threatening because it casts light on the fact that sexual identity can be about you and not about other people per se, if that makes sense.


Do you think? The 'trend' for asexuality is very recent, (or if it's not, I haven't noticed, which still kind of undermines your point) not enough time to make much of an impact.

I would turn it around and say that the acceptance of homosexuality has created the space for a spectrum of sexuality.


I don’t think confirmed bachelor means what you think it does.


Could you define bias against obesity and elderly here?

If I were to categorize the elderly as generally less capable than say, a man in his 40s, I would also generally be right. Age comes with it's demerits, and recognizing this would not be anti-elderly bias.

From what I gather, bias is an issue when it unfairly penalizes people for factors outside their control that do not significantly impact their capability.


Bias is more about assigning judgments to a person based on visible qualities rather than actual capabilities.

IOW - Elderly people who can actually code get discriminated against all the time (for basic coding jobs, but obviously everyone thinks they got the next Microsoft brewing). This gets justified in many ways around 'agility', 'flexibility' etc. but in essence it is bias.

In some cases there might be actual reasons like you say, problem comes when it is a summary judgment. In general people don't like being judged I guess, and when necessary - like to be judged based on their actual impact. (Granted there are probably also folks who will cry discrimination when there are actual reasons ... I guess we just funded hr eh :).

I have heard same goes for overweight people.


Might have to do with where a bias stems from. Bias against elderly has to do with deterioration with age. That remains true today. Bias against gay people had to do with the need to protect against disease. This is not true today because education, condom usage and improved treatment have cut down on the impact of stds, eliminating societal need for homophobia.


"it's about 60 more years for anti-black biases to be eliminated, 140 years for skin tone biases against darker skin to go away"

Why the distinction? Will black people still be facing skin tone biases in 61 years? What even is a skin tone bias? I'm pretty sure this isn't a bias against people who come back from holiday with a tan, which suggests it's not about skin tone, so racism?


Skin tone bias is independent of race, because it often manifests inside the race boundaries.

Among Indians https://theconversation.com/bleached-girls-india-and-its-lov...

Among African-Americans https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1988-35485-001

Among East Asians https://nextshark.com/east-asian-pale-skin-beauty-standard/

Difference Between Racism and Colorism: https://time.com/4512430/colorism-in-america/


Ok fair enough, I was thinking about this from a western white person perspective.

I still question whether this should be an ism though. The West kind of has/had these divisions. Pre 20th century having a tan was looked down on because it indicated you had to work in a field for a living. In the 20th century that kind of reversed because the rich could afford foreign holidays, now we have a situation where half of people wear fake tan, the other half look down on it. That all appears to be classism to me, rather than colourism?

And if the colour difference is genetic, is that not racism? If I treat a black person differently it's racism, if I treat a person of mixed origin differently, that's also racism? If a black person treats a mixed origin person differently, is that not equally racism? It's tempting to think of all Indians or Africans as the same 'race' but I as a western European can be racist towards Eastern Europeans, and Jews, and Gypsies, if I were racist towards an Italian because they had a tan, that would be racism, not colourism?

Is there something I'm missing?


I'm not sure the scenarios "some of my best friends are of the opposite sex" or "some of my best friends are of another race" have much bearing on sexism or racism. Loving someone from a different category doesn't automatically dissolve all antagonism or prejudice—it might just override it in a specific case. Relationships are multidimensional. You would need to provide evidence that these bonds of love/affection somehow erode prejudice toward a given 'other' in general. There are many historic cases of celebrities who have been widely accepted despite massive ongoing prejudice against the group of which they are a member. Affection for celebrities is not the same as familial love, but I do think this suggests that the way people feel about individuals doesn't translate in a simple way to their attitudes to whole groups.


As one potential example, though I'd want to see more data on actual relationships, regions with more immigrants tend to have warmer feelings toward immigrants, even among the non-immigrant population.


Because the non-immigrants who don't want to live among foreigners tend to leave and/or not move in. Simple self-selection.

Real life example of someone like this would be John Cleese, who moves from London to Bath after London lost its English identity.

Compare: People who eat burgers like burgers more than people who don't. Is it because eating burgers makes you like burgers, or because only people who like burgers will choose to eat burgers?


John Cleese lived in the US for 10 yers and married three Americans.

I think it's clear he's fine with foreigners, and that London quote got way overinterpreted.


> Real life example of someone like this would be John Cleese, who moves from London to Bath after London lost its English identity.

That seems more like an example of how easily statements get exaggerated and take on a life of their own. Cleese said something that was way overinterpreted, but he didn't move because of what he claimed. I'm not sure where you got that idea.


Counterpoint to you last example just for fun...people who live in places with a lot of highly rated burger restaurants eat more burgers because they are surrounded by good burgers, not because of an inherent love for ground beef patties.

I think the general sentiment was more about the neutral people who hold a view but could be accepting of something different, rather than the people who are staunchly against something.


> Loving someone from a different category doesn't automatically dissolve all antagonism or prejudice—it might just override it in a specific case.

Well-put. One need only think of how many men love their individual wives/sisters/mothers while otherwise being deeply misogynistic.


I think that it's likely not that having affection for someone of a different race or sexuality means that someone isn't or won't be bigoted. Rather its that it provides an opening for someone to re-evaluate their beliefs.


Exactly. For example Thomas Jefferson fathered 6 children with a slave of his. The millions of men who believed their wives had no right to vote, that it wasn't their place. The parents who shame their kids for their sexuality or gender identity. Prejudice and love can co-exist.


There were also women that were nonchalant, or even the large female anti-suffrage movements as well. Suffrage was seen by some (yes, women) as a threat to the family structure, amongst other reasons for oppision. Framing this as "prejudice" alone ignores the culture/opinions of the people of this era.


Yeah, we call that internalized misogyny


Not everything needs to be structured in oppressor-victim dynamics so you can slap a label on it. That's like calling the male-only draft externalized misandry.


Thomas Jefferson raped a woman because he was a wealthy slave-owner in a white supremacist, patriarchal society and could do so with impunity.

If you want to understand how to overcome prejudice, it begins with acknowledging historical reality for what it was and not trying to bend your understanding of events to correspond to foundational myths and deifications.


It's more nuanced than simply a wealthy slave-owner doing whatever he wanted with impunity.

When Jefferson was appointed has the US envoy to France and spent over two years living in Paris, he took Sally Hemings with him. This was before he started having sex with her.

France had abolished slavery, and under French law at the time if you brought a slave into France they had the right to leave slavery and remain in France if they wished.

Jefferson and Hemings started their sexual relationship while in Paris. When Jefferson went back to the US, she agreed to go with him (and thus return to slavery) in exchange for his agreeing to certain conditions, including that any children they had together would be freed.


Exactly, racism is much more of a fully-stable equilibrium than sexism, since full dehumanization of the other sex is always going to be impossible, if only due to adjacency. And adjacency can be critical to rights movements: one of the big successes of the gay rights movement was combating the stereotype of evil deviants through a strategy of positioning gay people as neighbors, brothers, sons, etc; regular people who just happened to have a different sexuality.

By contrast, there's nothing stopping racial groups from tending towards being fully segregated from one another, to the point that people stop thinking of the other race as full humans instead of fuzzy stereotypes.


> full dehumanization of the other sex is always going to be impossible

<gestures to entire history of sexism> .. I mean, the Saudi king has lots of wives but until recently wouldn't allow any of them to drive?

For a closer example, there are plenty of married Republican politicians who are willing to make statements on abortion that imply they have no idea how the reproductive system works.


> For a closer example, there are plenty of married Republican politicians who are willing to make statements on abortion that imply they have no idea how the reproductive system works.

If you think the abortion issue as simple as men oppressing women, you're horrendously misinformed, in a bubble of ideological ignorance, or both, given that women skew a decent amount less pro-choice than men.

(I say that as someone who's strongly pro-choice and, to my knowledge, has never met someone who's pro-life. I just don't think my bubble comprises the world or even the country)

> <gestures to entire history of sexism>

I'm not even sure where to start with this unsurprisingly unnuanced response to my model. Again, if your model of gender roles throughout history is as simple as "men lording power over women because they were able", you should pick up a history book. This middle-school model of history fails to explain the historical imbalance in torture, mutilation, violence, and early death (with corresponding imbalances on the other side in sexual violence, lack of agency, etc). There's no such two-sidedness inherent to racism, historically or theoretically, no analogue to things like "women and children first" that belie, as I said, "full dehumanization".

(I'm not remotely interested in comparing the levels of gender role oppression, historically or currently, because it doesn't have anything to do with my point, which was that there's no corresponding force pushing towards humanization of the victims of racism)

[1] https://news.gallup.com/poll/244709/pro-choice-pro-life-2018...


> For a closer example, there are plenty of married Republican politicians who are willing to make statements on abortion that imply they have no idea how the reproductive system works.

Such as?


The "way to shut that down" comment was the one that I was thinking of: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Todd_Akin#Controversial_commen... , but I'm sure people can find others.


That's definitely one, for sure.

One is not plenty, last time I checked.


> full dehumanization of the other sex is always going to be impossible, if only due to adjacency

No surprise, then, that it shows up in the segment of men who are not "adjacent" to any women.


Nor is it a surprise that it shows up in any segment of children not exposed to healthy male influences. That knife cuts both ways.


Why leave out the symmetric case of women who are not "adjacent" to any men?


Right, that's one source of sexism, but not by any means a complete picture. The stereotype of the lothario who thinks of women as inferior is yet another one, as is the feminist who mocks both toxic masculinity and male tears.

You're never going to entirely escape from those who are just shitty people, but at the societal level, sexism is unique in that the groups of potential victims and potential perpetrators are intimately forced together, ij a way that isn't necessarily the case for racism or homophobia (when gay people are forced into the closet).


I have heard that fathers with daughters make for a very tough jury in rape cases.

Generally speaking, if you want to nail a rapist to the wall, you should fill it with middle aged men, whether they have children or not, and actively avoid women.

Middle aged men remember what Randy jerks they were capable of being. Even if they have no daughters, they have mothers, sisters, wives or girlfriends and they want their women protected.

Women will say to themselves "I wouldn't have worn that outfit/gone to that bar/been in that part of town after dark." Women will try to convince themselves it was somehow the victim's fault so they can feel safe and in control of their lives.

Or so I've read.


That's very insightful.

And yet those men are still sexist, but in a protective way.


I recovered from being sexually abused as a child in part because I actively sought out protective male friends.

I've long believed the antidote to "bad men" is "good men." In contrast, a lot of rape victims simply conclude all men are evil and it becomes a barrier to recovery.

I think they don't know another way to feel safe. It seems like the safe bet to them: just don't trust any men.

That wasn't my reaction.


The example you gave about 'all men are evil' falls under similar pretext to a lot of the racism that has existed in history. For example "One individual from X group killed someone from 'my group', now every time I see someone from X group, I perceive them to be killers and thieves".

Humans try to rationalize a world full of unknowns most often with their own lenses.


A family friend raped one of my nieces. She was 15 at the time, and got pregnant. This was a religious community, and the rapist was married. But another family friend, who was single, married the young woman, and they had a long and apparently happy marriage, with two more children. So I guess that it all sort of worked out. They did forgive the rapist father, and he contributed to my niece's family.


It took me twenty years to conclude that the individual who raped me honestly thought there was consent on my part. And then I was able to make my peace with it and move on.

I think we desperately need to work on the societal problems that foster situations like that. Far too often, there is a crucible of social baggage involved.

My takeaway: Have private relationships and don't let the world butt into them. It's hard enough for two people to agree what's okay. It gets vastly harder when other parties get involved.

I read one article where two college students hooked up, everything was initially fine, then the girl's mother basically talked her into charging the guy with rape.

If you weren't there, I don't want your opinion of what happened to me. You can apply your personal baggage to your own sex life/experiences. Keep it out of mine.


Sounds good to me. Maybe with some neutral expert mediaon.


She was quite lucky then that she did not had to marry her rapist. That would sux more.

She did not had choice in whether she can stay in contact with her rapist, tho, despite the money. But it is nice she did not had to marry him, have children with him and be dependent on his income.


that's both insightful and sexist


Your thesis presumes some democratic mechanism, as juries ultimately are.

Unfortunately, an increasing number of the laws we are subjected to in the United States are bureaucratic edicts removed several levels from democratic checks and balances. It appears to me that these are more readily steered by lobbying groups -- which by their nature agglomerate polarized supporters.

How else can you explain this Title IX perversity?


True in the sense that it creates a "floor" for the depths to which people might sink. But this process can still sink pretty low.

Consider how women couldn't vote in the US until 1919 -- a half century after blacks.

And a more modern example that was on display for all to see: the confirmation hearings of Brett Kavanaugh. There were not a lot of facts available -- no date, no place, no witness that could remember. Yet millions were ready to brand him a rapist to the whole nation and pressure him out of political office.


> Consider how women couldn't vote in the US until 1919 -- a half century after blacks.

Not letting women vote is arguably not necessarily a marker of sexism. It is more a marker of the relationship between a country's military leadership and institutions.

Originally originally (~400BC) voting was basically for the army to decide when and where it would fight; hence male-only because men are the physically big ones who can fight. I don't know exactly how it changed over time, but the linkages are probably quite sticky. This modern concept of a government heavily invested in daily life wouldn't have been practical before modern communication and transportation, so needs and viewpoints on what the government is would have been radically different.


1 - I'm doubtful of your claim there was nothing to vote on except where/whether the army fights.

2 - That's irrelevant anyway unless you're suggesting that it was still the case up to 1919.

3 - Even if it was, why does women not fighting imply they can't have opinions and thoughts on when and where the army fights? For sure it still affects them.


And yet 1919 is the closing year of WWI, which as I recall was the first major war where women's labour could be deployed directly as a proactive and systematic part of the war effort on foreign soil. Correct me if I'm wrong, I'm no military historian.

There is a massive link between being involved in the military and having political power, even without suffrage. There are 2,500 years of history and women got the vote around the time that the repeatable firearm was perfected.


The original bill was to be voted just as the war ended and it included a critical detail: female military draft. The world war 1 machine was running out of men to send to the war and the volunteer system for women did not turn out enough people to fill the ever increasing demand in the war factories. Something had to give.

Creating a female military draft raise some major concerns in 1918, one being that women had not voted to enter the war in the first place. It was seen as a bit unfair to then demand them to help fix the situation. Thus the right to vote.

Then the war suddenly ended and the bill got postponed. The female draft part was dropped but the idea of women vote continued with force and a year later it passed.

Most historians agree that the world war 1 was the catalyst for the women suffrage movement, through there are some disagreement. Some points to the fact that the movement existed before the war, but how significant their political influence was at that point is far from clear.


> Originally originally (~400BC) voting was basically for the army to decide when and where it would fight;

This simply isn't true, since other topics were definitely voted on. For example, rather famously, there were votes on whether a person should be exiled from the city in ancient Greece.


There was a lovely quote from that era that said "A city with a navy become democracy, with an army a tyranny". I can't find a reference, but what I can find is this choice quote from Wikipedia [0]:

"Only adult male Athenian citizens who had completed their military training as ephebes had the right to vote in Athens."

I was a bit vague in my original comment, but the point I'm going for is that this looks lot like the army being in charge. The criteria wasn't "men because we like men". The criteria was questions like "are you going to be lining up to fight the Persians with me?" and "Can you build ships?". And a hint of nationalism/classism. If it were feasible to field women on the battlefield in 404BC they would have been voting too.

And indeed, as soon as we reach a level of technology where it is feasible for women to be policepersons and military contributors they start getting suffrage. It was still a battle, but the timing is highly suspicious.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Athenian_democracy#Participati...


My understanding is that women didn't want to vote due to, amongst other things, not wanting to "mix the spheres" of domestic and public life, wanting the government to have no say in domestic life: https://herandrews.com/2015/03/01/women-against-suffrage/

Not voting doesn't have a huge effect on people's lives, which is why millions don't do so.


A number of witnesses came forwards?


The evidence that any particular accusation was accurate was very thin.

Perhaps more importantly, the accusations were impossible to defend against.

None of this means the events didn't happen. They might have. But the process was fundamentally unfair, and we need a better way to deal with uncertainty.

Lining up on party lines -- a kind of "vote for the truth" -- is ridiculously unfair to the accused. We need to agree on a process, including standards of evidence. When that process plays out, we should be able to basically come together on the outcome.


> She asked if it mattered to them that she believed the acquitted to be innocent. The answer she received made it clear that the guilt or innocence of the accused was a matter of indifference. What mattered was that she had sided with the enemy.

I see this in a lot of forums, such as r/twoxchromosomes on reddit

The outspoken members there are women who assume their negative life experience is all women's experience. That they are speaking for the injustice of all women. Disagreeing with that version of reality is the worst sin of all. Offering a different perspective is at best tacit consent for the status quo or at worst advocating for the victimhood of women, intentionally(?) ignoring any other possibility. Offering a different perspective if you do not have two X chromosomes is mansplaining, no matter what the content is.

This is called an echo chamber. People don't realize they don't have as much consensus on reality as they believe.

I think one way to short circuit this is to reveal that the lack of consensus perpetuates the oppression of women. There are men willing to be allies and help create a gradient of collaboration, but given the censorship it is equally as entertaining watching a fragmented cause get nowhere due to its own balkanization that the echo chambers doesn’t even even seem to notice.

And this is all exacerbated because people aren't treating each other as individuals, and instead trying to speak for entire groups. The irony is that you can't even address this conundrum without grouping the people who do this together.


I think that may be because, at least in America, ethnic minorities are over represented in crime and the "under class" in a way that isn't true of gay people.

I'm not saying its right to draw the conclusion "black people are overrepresented in crime therefore black people/culture must be bad", but I think it is human nature to do so. Going further, if an individual has had a negative experience with a person of another race (e.g. being mugged, living next to an addict, etc.) then there is also likely to be an emotional component that is difficult to overcome.

Again, I want to emphasize that I'm not saying that this is right, just that it's human nature.


The notion that fathers who have daughters can't be sexist towards women is taking a really narrow view of sexism.

You can think that women aren't responsible enough to vote, or to hold certain jobs while still loving your daughter. You can kick it back with your black friend on the weekend while still not wanting black people in your neighborhood, your friends is just "one of the good ones".

Most of human society throughout history has been profoundly sexist by modern standards, and we still have entire countries that are structurally sexist by the standards of the west. None of that was destabilized because everyone had a mother, and most fathers had daughters.


>> Women and men both have members of the opposite sex that they genuinely love. I have heard that fathers with daughters make for a very tough jury in rape cases.

> The notion that fathers who have daughters can't be sexist towards women

You're misrepresenting what the person said.


Am I? The GP seems me to to be proposing the idea that jurors will be more fair to members of the opposite sex if they have members of that sex as part of their immediate family, something that isn't as likely to be the case with different racial groups.

I don't see how that has anything at all to do with the issue. The durability of sex-based discrimination in throughout the history of human societies demonstrably has nothing to do with that.


Yes, you are misrepresenting what was written. You are correct that, "the GP seems me to to be proposing the idea that jurors will be more fair to members of the opposite sex if they have members of that sex as part of their immediate family".

It is a massive exaggeration, if not an outright fabrication, to expand this to "the notion that fathers who have daughters can't be sexist towards women" - what you wrote your original comment in this chain. The grandparent comment stated that fathers with daughters give deference towards women in a very specific situation. No reasonable reading of this comment can be interpreted as denying the ability of fathers with daughters to be sexist towards women.


The GP mentioned this in the context of sexism being a "tractable problem", that means it's a problem that can be solved, as opposed to an intractable problem.

It can be inferred that they're proposing a mechanism by which sexism can be eradicated, not just marginally improved. Otherwise it wouldn't be a tractable problem.

Perhaps I'm still misreading it, but I can't see how it can be understood differently, and how I'd be misrepresenting it by rephrasing the idea as "the notion that fathers who have daughters can't be sexist towards women".

If we suppose that fathers only became marginally less sexists towards women by having a daughter, then it follows that sexism really isn't a tractable problem. Even if we were to follow the GP's logic that sexism or racism can be narrowly understood as the sort of discrimination that would cause discrimination by a jury.

What I'm pointing out is that even if we follow that argument that's taking a very narrow view of those -isms.


> The GP mentioned this in the context of sexism being a "tractable problem", that means it's a problem that can be solved, as opposed to an intractable problem.

> It can be inferred that they're proposing a mechanism by which sexism can be eradicated, not just marginally improved. Otherwise it wouldn't be a tractable problem.

Once again you're misrepresenting what they said. They said:

"This is one of the big ways in which sexism is a much more tractable problem than racism and less potentially explosive." which contradicts your claim that "they're proposing a mechanism by which sexism can be eradicated"


Certainly for the benefit of doubt of the GP I'll concede that at this point, now that I seem to have two commentators disagreeing with me.

I'm not a native English speaker, my understanding of the word "tractable" is "solvable". E.g. arranging some blocks on my desk with the tower of Hanoi algorithm using chopsticks is a tractable problem, doing so with my hands is more tractable, but the end result is the same.

In any case, whether the GP meant "completely solved" or "partial progress can be made" I think the point I was trying to make stands regardless.

That point is that even if you say achieve 100% equality of justice among jurors regardless of the sex of the defendant, you can't say you've achieved much if any progress on sexism in general.


They said much more tractable. That's a qualifier. And, they were saying it was much more tractable in comparison to racism. This says nothing specific about the degree to which it is tractable, nor that it is completely tractable.

It is misrepresenting them to claim, as you're continuing to do ("even if you say achieve 100% equality of..."), that what they said is somehow an absolute statement, or that it was some statement just about juries.


> The notion that fathers who have daughters can't be sexist towards women is taking a really narrow view of sexism.

Nowhere was that written in the above comment


Given the popularity of social justice causes, I have a hard time believing this is a material factor. People seem rather up in arms about racism or even just adverse impact on this day and age.


Up in arms is very different from understanding/empathizing. IMO, it's generally an indication of the opposite.


Seemingly not rascist and being rascist are two distinct qualities. It has been my experience on the receiving end of rascism that it is done quietly with plausible deniability


If it’s plausibly deniable, how do you know it’s racism?


Presumably you can’t in any one case, but may be able to when looking at them in aggregate.


Social justice causes are popular to talk about, not to actually do something about.


Quite an optimistic view. Hope you are right.


What exactly is optimistic about the post?


    "No one will ever win the battle of the sexes; there's too much fraternizing with the enemy."

    --- Henry Kissinger


(Not actually by Henry Kissinger)


The great quotes rarely are said by the right person :)


How in the world is the conversation not about the lack of ethics of the teachers and faculty who agree to serve as the amateur judges/questioners in these tribunals?

Hello, I spent a decade of my life learning just how difficult it is to become an expert in my very narrow field. In fact I spend most of my time helping undergrads refine their rank speculation into tractable problems to potentially guide them to a deeper understanding of even a tiny slice of my narrow specialty.

What's that? You'd like me to serve on a jury for the school? No not on a jury, but instead to serve as a kind of combination panel judge and amateur lawyer? For what may be criminal allegations against a student? And you say there's no actual trained judicial expert to lead and constrain the process, but instead a handbook that will teach me in about an hour how to question a witness?

Sorry, it's my minimal sense of civic and academic integrity calling. I really have to take this...


At Baylor a former investigator described believing that because it was a religious school they expected there wouldn't be much for them to do.

I have to wonder how much life experience someone has who thinks that...

At a large public institution near me they had some lawyers review their processes.

The resulting suggestions were pretty shocking. Things like, educating the accused as to what the process even was. Notifying the accused that there was an appeal (they apparently didn't do that all the time). Allowing all parties legal representation. And more detailed recording of testimony, mostly due to cases that involved concerns from accused students that their testimony that was recorded was inaccurate and had only been recorded by hand written notes taken by another student. In some cases their efforts to correct what they said seemed to be interpreted as lying... because it conflicted with the original notes (but not any factual conflict).

It is mind boggling that any of the suggestions were needed.

In the meantime the folks running the department investigating the reports are also tasked with writing the rules, investigating, judging....and on their own time advocating for various policies surrounding sexual assault.


Colleges are crazy places and professors do all sorts of weird things. I’m not sure why.

I was in a student court for something stupid and it was kafkaesque. I had to sit and hear a professor accuse me. I was not able to object or ask questions despite the professor making factually incorrect statements about how the phone company worked. However, when I spoke the professor was able to object, cross examine and refute me.

It was so weird and professors just sat there in the jury tolerating it.

There’s a lot of fake BS in college besides the knowledge. I just avoided all that stuff because how they would make these unjust systems and be totally cool with it.

I ended up talking with the Dean and he said he wasn’t interested in whether the process was fair he just wanted to find out if I “did it.”

If anyone I know gets into a similar situation I’ll advise getting a lawyer and not speaking at all.


So the system effectively selects for tribunal judges who are partial and/or unethical (re. the italicized)!


Because it's about public policy.


Unfortunately, I do not believe these ridiculous university tribunals will come to an end anytime soon. In fact, I think the problem will get much, much worse before it gets better. They are a symptom of a much larger problem.

Without distracting with any specific cases, it's very clear that the modern world is shifting away from the presumption of innocence. This, combined with an internet that remembers forever and a total disregard for free speech, will have predictably disastrous results. The set of punishable behavior is growing wider every day, whilst the standards of evidence are becoming shallower and shallower.

It's infuriating that every major US news site is being flooded with stories about increasing loneliness, plummetting sexual activity, increasing suicides, etc., but seem more than happy to contribute to the new character assassination of the day. Has it clicked for anyone yet that maybe today's youth are becoming shut-in's because they have a brain, and they know one mistake can ruin their entire life?

The commonly repeated reasons for this status-quo are pitiful.

Journalists aren't part of the judicial system, so it's alright if they pick a side without physical evidence --- as if that somehow makes their claims more likely to be true. Does not caring about science make a person's scientific claims more valid? Why even care about the news if the news doesn't care about the facts?

The 1st amendment applies only to the government, not private institutions --- so what? Is having a closed mind now a desirable personality trait? I'd hope that private individuals are working to preserve free speech as well, even if they aren't forced to do so. Besides that, many of the private institutions that this argument is applied to are in fact receiving special government funding / support (universities are a prime example, large payment processors are another). Can the government freely disregard your constitutional rights as long as it uses a private-sector middle-man?

/rant


This is amazing, thank you for posting this! I've been thinking along these exact lines for a very long time (especially since I just started at a university), but didn't want to speak up here because I was sure I'd get a chorus of accusations of sexism. But since you put this here, I thought I'd just give you a little encouragement.


Thanks for your rant, very interesting viewpoint!


For the life of me I don’t understand why government funded institutions run their own tribunals. Send it through the proper court system, if the accused is guilty you can expel them cleanly.


If I run a startup, and one of my employees is making other employees uncomfortable, and he keeps getting accused of harassing other employees, and is generally just making some of my best engineers unhappy, hurting productivity, and ruining our carefully constructed culture...

...I can fire him. I mean, obviously I need to go through the proper HR procedures, follow local employment law, respect the terms of his contract, etc., but I have no obligation to keep him employed if I think he's a net negative to my company. Arguably I have an obligation to not keep him employed. And I certainly have no requirement to wait until he has been convicted of a crime; it's not even clear any of the above is a crime.

Similarly, if I run a resort, and one of the guests is so unpleasant they're driving away other guests, or if I run a restaurant, and one of the guests is making other guests uncomfortable, or I run an apartment building, and one of the tenants is behaving poorly.

A university is a business. People come and pay money in exchange for a service, and if someone is interfering with the ability of other people to receive that service, or making people reluctant to come and pay money, it's perfectly fine for them to be asked to leave. If what they're doing happens to be a crime, then by all means, also report them to the police, but it's kind of odd to suggest that you shouldn't expel students except if they've been convicted of a crime.

That being said, I think universities are doing a terrible job here, and I think that given the extreme importance of a university education in modern life, the disruption that being expelled entails, and the stigma that will follow someone if they are expelled, we need to be very careful about the process here. My local dollar store will ban you from the store if they think you shoplifted, and I assume they get it wrong sometimes, but it's fine, because being unjustly banned from a dollar store does not ruin your life. Being unjustly expelled from university could! Things are broken and need fixing. But a world where you can only be expelled on conviction of a crime makes no sense either. The discussion need to be about the correct amount of protection needed.


"A university is a business."

This is a massive false equivalence. For one thing, most of the "employees" in your metaphor are eighteen to twenty-two years old. Not to mention the fact that students are regularly put through the ringer and expelled on the first accusation. It's hardly akin to the "repeat offense" scenario you outlined in your first example. And comparing being expelled for an alleged sexual assault to being asked to leave a resort for rude behavior? Come on.

This is a different situation than anything you described. Universities have much more of a guardian and stewardship role than an employer, and rape is a fucking crime. It should be handled by the mechanism we've created to handle crimes, i.e. criminal courts of law.


Employees come to a business and exchange their money for goods and services?


An apple is red, and your underwear are red, so you should eat your underwear.

The fact that two things share a superficial attribute does not make them equivalent.


In the workplace dating coworkers is generally frowned upon.

At a university, dating other students is so commonplace that a large portion of people meet their spouses that way.

Title IX may want to treat dating at universities with the same disdain as in the workplace, but it's not going to be an easy cultural shift.


> In the workplace dating coworkers is generally frowned upon.

And at a restaurant, being in a relationship with a fellow patron is quite common. Similarly, no legal or cultural ban against dating your room mate when you rent a house (much to the relief of married couples everywhere).

Students are (mostly) not employees of the university, but they are customers of educational services and (quite often) tenants. A university has a number of relationships to students, and a number of responsibilities, both to the (alleged) predators and to the larger student body.

I mentioned a startup situation in the hopes it would seem relevant to many here (surely we've all had at least one co-worker that was disruptive?), but trying to view this purely through the lens of employment law will get you nowhere.


Universities are paid largely by federal student loans and tax dollars. This is not a standard business/patron agreement. Expelling a student $50K in debt can ruin their life. The university owes them a fair trial. And there is no excuse for the overt discrimination or other shenanigans we’re seeing.


Not sure about the validity of the poll, but by at least one indication 15% of couples meet at work vs. 6% at school.

https://www.reportlinker.com/insight/finding-love-online.htm...


The amount of couples forming at work before starting to work (i.e. while in college) is probably approaching zero.

This is to say that of course the poll at age 40 gives a very different result from the same poll at age 25.


Weirdly, the situation is exactly the opposite of what you describe. You might say "hey, it's a private organization, they should be free to make their own rules about who they choose to serve." Many businesses before the civil rights act made exactly the same argument as they excluded African Americans as customers. This type of discrimination was made illegal.

The strange thing is that it is precisely this type of law that has created this situation. The Feds assert that if a university does not apply these extraordinarily dubious adjudication rules for sexual harassment and rape, then it is discriminating against women and is subject to losing any federal funding, including student loans, which effectively shuts down the university.


Most Universities are non-profit, and almost all of them take Federal money. Classifying them as a business isn't accurate.


> Most Universities are non-profit,

You're still a business if you're a non-profit.

> Almost all of them take Federal money

You're still a business if you accept government contracts.

> Classifying them as a business isn't accurate.

I mean, they act like businesses, and in most cases they very explicitly legally are businesses. They accept money in exchange for services. If not a business, what would you classify them as?


>and in most cases they very explicitly legally are businesses.

By that definition every nearly single non-governmental organization is explicitly legally a business, so stating that an organization is a "business" is meaningless.

A church, a soup kitchen, and fraternal lodge are also explicitly legally businesses as well, but it's not useful to classify them alongside for profit businesses.

Many very well off schools don't even charge students who make below a certain income, and the vast majority of their operating expenses come from donations--saying they charge money in exchange for a service isn't a very useful description of what they do.


More importantly, people get paid to work for a business but pay to attend a university.


Universities are not businesses. If they're being run like businesses...they're not serving a function as University any longer.


Universities should not be run like businesses, but that doesn't mean they aren't.


>...I can fire him. I mean, obviously I need to go through the proper HR procedures, follow local employment law, respect the terms of his contract, etc., but I have no obligation to keep him employed if I think he's a net negative to my company. Arguably I have an obligation to not keep him employed. And I certainly have no requirement to wait until he has been convicted of a crime; it's not even clear any of the above is a crime.

This would be a valid comparison if the company in question were receiving massive amounts of federal funding, in which case, I would say yes the accused _does_ have a reasonable expectation of fair treatment. Why? Well the accused is also paying for the regulatory system in question.

It's not really possible to deny that these universities receive "massive amounts of federal funding" either, considering that receiving federal funding is the explicit motivation of performing these title IX tribunals in the first place.


What if employee A makes up lies about employee B, and the reason a bunch of other people feel uncomfortable or unproductive or unhappy around employee B is just based on perception from these lies?

Are you in the right as an employer to fire employee B without serious due diligence? To potentially ruin employee B’s life or reputation? Instead of letting it escalate to a real court case (if applicable)?


I see nothing wrong with asking guests to leave, and honestly not that much with expelling students as there are plenty of universities out there. At my local university I am attending I recently completed a mandatory course on plagiarism and it would supposedly dish out the following punishments:

-Failing you from classes you are in with 0 refund.

-Permanent mark on your academic transcript you supposedly can't escape.

-Having to report to future employers you plagiarized.

Which is essentially asking guests to leave and utterly destroying half a decade of their lives and tens of thousands of their dollars in many cases. This is the part I take issue with. The dollar store you shoplifted from according to one "witness" has now come into your house, took all the groceries in it, and beat up your fridge.


Public universities certainly don’t get to claim treatment as a business. Additionally, like you were driving at, it is dramatically more damaging to be expelled from a university than to be kicked out of a dollar general. And most importantly, if the business’s policy is clearly a thin veil of pretense that allows them to discriminate on the basis of gender (or any other protected category), they are not within their rights. We don’t tolerate businesses asking black patrons (or employees) to leave because a white patron claimed they felt uncomfortable, and we certainly wouldn’t tolerate it from a public institution. And we definitely shouldn’t tolerate it given that universities make students fundamentally more vulnerable than business patrons or standard employees by saddling them with debts that would take them their whole lifetime to pay off if not for a degree. Due process and equitable treatment is not too much to ask.


>>> A university is a business

Most universities and businesses (corporations) are government chartered and entitled enterprises.

And students can already be expelled without being convicted of a crime, e.g., if they get bad grades.


Universities aren’t always a business, they’re often government institutions.

A state organization is legally bound to offer certain equal rights and due process protections, which is one of the trade-offs of having state schools.


The court system is a very rigid structure. It's costly, and in the USA inherently has components that make it ineffective to addressing rape accusations, particularly the right to cross examine the accuser and how a good defense attorney will use that right. Oftentimes a victim doesn't want to go through that process and is mostly interested in not having to be confronted with their rapist every day.

That doesn't mean anything, one way or another, about how well these university tribunals work. It's just pointing out deficiencies in the existing court system.

Another way to think of it is balancing false negatives and false positives. The court system, ideally, errs on the side of minimizing false positives, because of how damaging they are for the accused. That inherently means more false negatives, and aspects of the process that are also much more burdensome for victims to navigate. Universities are trying to create an alternative system, where more false positives are accepted and consequences are less severe, and more focused on making sure the victim doesn't have to confront their rapist in day-to-day life than on life-altering consequences for the accused or protecting the public more generally from repeat offenses.


Leaving aside the hot-button topic of sexual assault, there are plenty of sub-criminal or borderline actions that can occur that the college needs to deal with. Not all violations of a code of conduct are criminal violations. They'd much rather "sentence" an underage drinker to an alcohol education session than have all such students arrested. A lot of this is mission-driven: Schools honestly believe their role is to turn some of these types of things into a learning experience.

Now, you might disagree with this approach to any/all of the above, but this is the reason that answers your question.

Source: I work in higher ed technology, at times very closely with some of the disciplinary groups.


"Learning Experience" vs. "Permanent, intractable and public Scarlet Letter" :|


Again, I said leaving aside the controversial issue of sexual assault. For something like illegal drug or alcohol usage, except in very egregious circumstances, the goal is to avoid such a "Scarlet letter" by providing the student an opportunity to deal with the issue without involving law enforcement, e.g., drug/alcohol education programs, counseling or addiction services, and so on.


Good point, but underage drinking is a victimless crime. I’d be pretty appalled if I was raped and the only consequence would be that the rapist was expelled...


Underage drinking in and of itself may be victimless in some sense, but schools want students to be responsible, and from a liability point of view they can't simply ignore it when they see it happening. But neither do they want to refer all such cases to law enforcement. So therein lies the desire for education programs and addiction counseling when it is indicated.

Sexual assault is much more complicated. If the accuser doesn't want to report it to law enforcement and press charges, the maximum penalty the school can inflict is expulsion. Historically this has been a problem in a variety of ways. First, schools have sometimes been accused of discouraging the accuser from going to the police. That problem has resulted in dedicated sexual assault response plans to avoid that sort of thing and work with the accuser to connect them to appropriate resources, counseling, etc. Beyond that, the school is in a bind: prior to either legal action or a school-based disciplinary hearing for violation of the code of conduct, it is punitive to inflict punishment like suspension or force schedule changes to avoid the accused coming into contact with their alleged victim. At the same time, if there was an assault, it can very much exacerbate the harm to the victim to keep things as they are. I don't know of a good solution to this. It often results in the accuser being the one that has to change their schedule or drop out to avoid coming into contact with their alleged attacker.

Again, I don't have an answer that both completely protects a victim from further trauma at the same time that it provides the accused with protection from penalty until they are found guilty. Personally, I think it helps the situation when the accuser is willing to go to the police because that opens up other options like a restraining order that can both protect the victim but also provides judicial review before the accused's rights and privileges are abridged. That is still far from ideal in many cases though. No easy answers here.


Ideally that makes sense to me, but unfortunately courts take a long of time and don't always pursue cases thoroughly. Given that reality, I don't know how an institution is supposed to handle the following scenario without their own tribunal system:

Student A and Student B have a class together. Their dorms are next door to each other. Student A rapes Student B. Is Student B expected to attend class every day with their rapist? To live next door to them? How could one expect Student B to maintain their academic performance in that sort of environment?


What if Student A and Student B both get drunk and have sex. The next day they both feel they were raped. Which one do you expel?

Currently the de facto assumption is whoever files a Title IX report first is the victim and whoever files second is the rapist. I'm sure you can see how this system can be abused: https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2018/06/title-ix-i...


This is an easy determination in a case of heterosex: the male is the rapist and the female is the victim. Other cases could be more difficult.


Perhaps not as easy as you think - female on male rape happens. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_by_gender


Yes occasionally I need a reminder that sarcasm is not appreciated on HN.


Your scenario and the scenario where someone is falsely accused are indistinguishable prior to a court proceeding. In the second case the victim is the person being falsely accused. Then you would have the same problem with the victim being unable to maintain their academic performance if you kick them out of school without due process.

Let's even admit that forcing a rape victim to live in the same dorm as their rapist is untenable. So that option is off the table and one of them should leave, but in that case it would be the same burden (of leaving) on each class of victim and the tiebreaker should be innocent until proven guilty. On top of that, it may be possible to live in a different dorm or take different classes while remaining at the same school, which is a lesser burden than an innocent victim being forced out of the entire school.


Your scenario fails to consider the main thrust of the article.

Student A and B have consensual sex and then student B regrets it and claims student A raped her. Student A is now considered guilty from the onset and is banned from attending class and given no opportunity to read the charges against him or to refute his accuser.


While that would clearly be an uncomfortable situation for Student B, I'm not sure how that is different than when someone accuses their non-dorm neighbor of rape. Is it reasonable outside of school to have to live next door to your rapist while the police and courts slowly do their job? While the hope would be that if the evidence is clear, the suspect would quickly be taken into custody, obviously this doesn't always happen. And obviously, sometimes the evidence isn't clear.

Outside of universities, we've decided on a particular balance between the rights of the accused and the psychological well-being of the accuser. Perhaps we should change the system everywhere to more greatly favor the accuser and to lower the standard for guilt in cases of sexual assault, but I don't see why universities should have a different standard than the rest of society.


What happens in that scenario when it's just two people living in the same building? Why are colleges different?


The problem is that it is reasonable to expel people (and, indeed, to want to expel people) with a much much lower burden of proof than would be required to lock them in a cage.

There absolutely should be a different standard for “can continue to be in this school” and “can continue to walk down the public sidewalk”, and also decided by different people.


No, it's not. "Sneak was expelled from harvard for raping somebody" is not something you want people reading without getting your day in court.


Well, you just wrote that and people are reading it and I seem to have no recourse as you describe. Which is it exactly that you are advocating for?


I can see expelling people for things that are not crimes, such as cheating on tests, or breaking any number of arbitrary rules

But having a lower standard of proof means expelling people who haven't actually done what you're expelling them for. That's a whole other thing, and I'm very hesitant about it.

Of course, when the expulsions almost only happen to members of one gender, on the say-so of members of the other gender, it gets extra complicated.


There's a great paper on this, Rape Culture and Epistemology[0] which, although provocatively titled, addresses why a lower standard of proof may be appropriate.

>We’ll argue that this sort of deference is mistaken, for at least two kinds of reasons. One is that, as anti-rape activists have often emphasized, law enforcement procedures themselves are deeply flawed when it comes to their practice of dealing with sexual assault. Another has to do with the connections between knowledge and action, and between knowledge and knowledge ascriptions. We also think that these disparate considerations are more closely interconnected than it may at first appear.

[0] https://philarchive.org/archive/CRERCA-2


> We’ll argue that this sort of deference is mistaken, for at least two kinds of reasons. One is that, as anti-rape activists have often emphasized, law enforcement procedures themselves are deeply flawed when it comes to their practice of dealing with sexual assault.

Totally agreed. That doesn't justify instituting another unjust system to somehow counterbalance the existing unjust system. This just shifts the injustice to another class of people, it doesn't eliminate it, and human nature being what it is, people will exploit it for selfish ends.

You can only eliminate injustice by specifically addressing the injustice, not by moving it around.


The presumption in your comment is that the system that replaces the legal system in these situations is equally or more unjust - however according to the authors, by realizing why the legal system is unjust, a university body may do a better job - after all, it is undoubtedly easier to change the laws of a university body than to change them in society as a whole, and the university body may not subject to the same cultural pressures the state is (according to the authors, this would be a patriarchal culture).


> The presumption in your comment is that the system that replaces the legal system in these situations is equally or more unjust

No, I'm actually presuming that injustice cannot be weighed and compared. Statements like "equally or more unjust" are fallacious. If injustice is demonstrable, then we know where the injustice is and so where to focus our efforts, since presumably our goal ought to be eliminating injustice.

How does creating a whole new system that introduces its own problems and its own injustice further the agenda of eliminating injustice? Now you have two unjust systems.

This is HN, so consider the question of when it's appropriate to throw out a buggy program and rewrite it all from scratch, as opposed to gradually evolving the buggy system to a better state. Rewrites are occasionally justified, but it's widely recognized that this is a rare exception, and I'd argue for many of the same reasons.

> after all, it is undoubtedly easier to change the laws of a university body than to change them in society as a whole

That's not a priori a good thing. Laws should be hard to change. Attempting to bypass this process ignores all the reasons why laws must be hard to change.


>If injustice is demonstrable, then we know where the injustice is and so where to focus our efforts, since presumably our goal ought to be eliminating injustice.

The central position taken by the authors comes from MacKinnon's Marxist Theory of the State which argues that such change cannot happen within the state as it exists, with all the relations which have constructed it - the argument being that sexist injustice exists prior to the law, and in the law's veneer of equality, it assumes that there is no fundamental injustice to be corrected - the dogma that justice is blind works against justice, not for it. A system in which justice isn't so poorly sighted, and which, according to the authors, starts from the recognition of injustice prior to the law of the state, would be a just one. I'm not convinced that it's fallacious to talk of being "more" or "less" just, since I'm comfortable saying that a Western European country's legal system is more just than Saudi Arabia's.

>as opposed to gradually evolving the buggy system to a better state

Critical legal theory takes the metalegal position that this gradual evolution is impossible given the totality of relations which determine the law. That is to say, the law is a reflection of the society it rules over, its relations of power, of property, of information, knowledge and other things.

>Laws should be hard to change.

It's hard for me to take that as a priori a good thing when laws as they exist in any system reinforce a likely unjust status quo. The law being hard to change seems like a bad situation to be in if you were a Saudi Arabian woman who wanted to drive five years ago. Nevertheless, it circles back to the main point: there are different standards for the law governing society and the law governing a university.


> The central position taken by the authors comes from MacKinnon's Marxist Theory of the State which argues that such change cannot happen within the state as it exists, with all the relations which have constructed it

I've read many fallacious arguments with a veneer of plausibility, but in the end, speculation must explain the facts. The fact is that sporadic revolution followed by iterative refinement only is the only approach that has enjoyed any reliable measure of success in any sphere of human knowledge. The law is not exempt from this.

> Critical legal theory takes the metalegal position that this gradual evolution is impossible given the totality of relations which determine the law.

The clear evidence of social and cultural progress must be remarkably inconvenient for critical legal theory.

> That is to say, the law is a reflection of the society it rules over, its relations of power, of property, of information, knowledge and other things.

And the law only has power in so far as the governed consent to be ruled by it. If you attempt to change it too quickly, you will instead induce bloody conflict. Social and cultural inertia exist.

> Nevertheless, it circles back to the main point: there are different standards for the law governing society and the law governing a university.

I'm sure there are. I still don't see the justification for it, but thanks for the attempt.


At the same time someone’s standing shouldn’t be in danger due to a malicious accusation.

This is a really hard problem because you want victims to be helped and not have to go through a grueling process for something they didn’t bring upon themselves, but simultaneously you don’t want to enable false accusations which would put undue burden on someone who didn’t bring that upon themselves either.


A malicious accusation always puts ones standing in danger. If I were to accuse you of just about any crime, your odds of being wrongfully convicted of that crime go up, even if just a little. If I get this claim published widely enough, you will have a harder time finding a job, even if it the claim later proven false.

The question at hand is whether or not things have gone too far.


> The question at hand is whether or not things have gone too far.

I think it's fairly clear that it has, at this point.

1. Sexual assault is defined so broadly it's virtually impossible to legal have sex. "Can I hug you?" "Yes" "Can I kiss you?" "Yes" "Can I squeeze your butt?" "Yes" etc. Did you kiss their neck without asking for and receiving positive, enthusiastic consent? That's sexual assault.

2. There's no recourse if there's an accusation. Notification of a complaint is stated in the form of expulsion. Once expelled, there's no appeals process.

There can and should be an extra judicial system to expect offenders. But this is the wrong one.


Agree. With social media it’s amplified and even opinions can have detrimental effects on people’s standing.

Asking whether it has gone too far is like asking if someone died too much. This problem currently has no good solution -barring a true “lie detector”, but even that is insufficient because people can believe things that didn’t happen as they recall, etc., you’d need something more like a “reconstruct the scenario do we the jury can interpret”


I guess it's a good thing that the judicial system is able to deliver many different kinds of judgement rather than just locking people in a cage, then.


Why should they have a lower burden of proof?


Because attending Harvard is a privilege, walking down a public sidewalk is a right.


For starters its a civil vs criminal distinction.


The government is imposing penalties for criminal behavior. Classifying that as "civil" is a farce.


You can be sued in civil court for criminal actions.


You can be sued in civil court for money. You're not held in prison or kicked out of school by government fiat in the meantime. And the damages (if any) are imposed after the court proceeding.

The exceptions are related to things like civil asset forfeiture, which are of questionable constitutionality and are similar to the rules we're discussing insofar as they are both worthy of contempt.


A university tribunal is not government fiat, and a civil court has more power than simply issuing fines.


A university tribunal that operates as a result of federal requirements is government fiat, and a civil court is primarily concerned with awarding damages rather than imposing penalties. That they sometimes do other things is evidence more that the legal system is messy and flawed than that the exceptions should be the rule.


Its an investigative process with procedure and hearings, its no more a fiat than a court is.


Except - as noted in article - none of the people involved are trained investigators, the starting position it to believe accusers (instead of being impartial), the accused are not allowed legal representation, and they're often under a tribunal-imposed gag order. There is nothing "just" in that situation.

The protections afforded to both the accused and the accuser are to provide safeguards for everyone involved.


It would be ridiculous to have every school policy passed by state and local legislation. That power is delegated to academic reagents.

Because it's not a law, it can't be ruled on in court.

Because it can't be ruled on, they use this form of arbitration to solve what would be a civil matter if the school was a private entity.

Its not nearly as unreasonable as you make it seem.


> It would be ridiculous to have every school policy passed by state and local legislation. That power is delegated to academic reagents.

The point in this case is that it isn't. Both the policy and the procedural rules are imposed by federal requirements.

If it was actually a policy of the school then it would be non-uniform and students could avoid schools with unreasonable policies, or push for changes to the local policy that are more achievable than it is for an individual to change federal policy.


The answer is in the article: Title IX requires them to. Specifically, the new federal guidance that was issued during the Obama administration.


The Obama administration didn't change the rules regarding a schools obligation to investigate harassment. Here's the original guidance letter: https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague...

See footnotes 10 and 12, which lay out the precedent that sexual assault alone could create a hostile environment.

What apparently did change was that prior to the letter some schools applied a "clear & convincing" standard to adjudicating harassment complaints, while the letter demands (citing some precedent) that the proper standard is "preponderance of the evidence". See pp 10-11.

But I don't think that's the critical change. From what I can piece together, the Obama letter was basically a notice that regulators were going to put more effort into enforcing the existing law. This type of shift of emphasis is common. When that notice went out, colleges did as all large organizations do to show obeyance--they made a show of reviewing their procedures and requiring completion of more sexual harassment training by their personnel.

Coincidentally (or maybe not so coincidentally) there was some new "science" about the psychology of sexual assault that had begun to dominate the discourse. And one researcher in particular, Dr. Rebecca Campbell, gained widespread recognition and invitations to "educate" college administrators on matters of sexual assault. Dr. Campbell's ideas have since been roundly rebuked (if not completely rejected), but for a few years they figured heavily into how some colleges designed and applied their adjudication procedures. See https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2017/09/the-ba... for the long story.

But for this bad "science" making the rounds, I think the Obama-era increased enforcement would have mostly gone unnoticed, save for marginal changes in the speed and resolution of sexual assault complaints.

EDIT: And there it is in this article: "But she also described with astonishment a training session she had attended in which the concept of 'trauma-informed investigation' was taught." That's the Dr. Campbell research, likely presented by Dr. Campbell herself.


I understand “why,” in that they are required to. What I don’t understand is why this is a thing to begin with. Government end-runs around standard systems of due process is odd.


The requirement comes from the original Civil Rights Act. Say you're a minority student and some other students start using epithets to taunt you (as was common). Are you going to make a federal case out of it? Is it administratively efficient to require a student to make a federal case out of it, especially if all that's required is a firm rebuke from the administration to cease the hostile behavior?

Remember, the defendant as far as the law is concerned is the university, not the accused student(s). These rules are about requiring the school to provide procedures to address its own conduct; namely, permitting a hostile school environment. Which brings up another point: can a school even be considered to have permitted a hostile environment if they haven't been given the chance to remediate things before initiation of a federal lawsuit? Thus, these rules for internal, administrative adjudication are also about setting standards for judging whether a school has willfully or negligently permitted a hostile environment.

The problem is that in their zeal to avoid being adjudged as having permitted a hostile environment they've in some cases crafted administrative procedures that unfairly treat the accused. But the accused can also make similar claims against the university--that the adjudication procedures sexually discriminated against them. So there's back pressure, it just requires time for things to settle into an equilibrium. (See my post elsethread about the cause for the recent radical shifts.)


> The requirement comes from the original Civil Rights Act. Say you're a minority student and some other students start using epithets to taunt you (as was common). Are you going to make a federal case out of it? Is it administratively efficient to require a student to make a federal case out of it, especially if all that's required is a firm rebuke from the administration to cease the hostile behavior?

I'm confused, a student being racist against another student is not a crime as far as I know. A student raping another student is a crime. How are these remotely comparable?


Because a university isn't investigating to determine whether a crime, per se, has occurred, but to determine whether allegations of discriminatory (racial, sexual, etc) harassment are credible. If such harassment is occurring, or something equivalent which creates a discriminatory hostile environment for the student, a university has an obligation under these laws to end it.

A rape is a crime, but a rape followed by the ongoing presence of the rapist also equates (under legal precedent) to a hostile environment for the student victim, which is how Title IX comes into play.

The question was why are universities conducting these investigations. Rape plus ongoing presence of the rapist is considered a form of sexual discrimination by the university, in so far as the university willfully permits the rapist's ongoing presence. Thus the university is put into the position of judging the credibility of any allegations.

In this way it's also identical to the racial epithet scenario. Shouting racial epithets isn't a crime or even illegal, but a university that doesn't stop such ongoing behavior among its students is considered to be illegally racially discriminatory against the target of the epithets.


> The question was why are universities conducting these investigations. Rape plus ongoing presence of the rapist is considered a form of sexual discrimination by the university

This doesn't follow. The sexes of victim and perpetrator can be changed arbitrarily without affecting the argument, in which case this has nothing to do with the sex of those involved. So in what way is this sexual discrimination, even if it is a "hostile" environment for the victim?

> Shouting racial epithets isn't a crime or even illegal, but a university that doesn't stop such ongoing behavior among its students is considered to be illegally racially discriminatory against the target of the epithets.

Except we come again to the fact that racial epithets are literal expressions of racial discrimination, but as per above, I don't see how the rape scenario qualifies under any defined legal term of sexual discrimination.


Keep it contained. Keep it within your control or within the control of your cronies, and then you'll always get the outcome you want.

The people pushing this aren't in it for fairness or due process.


You can trace this mentality about government back to the progressive era.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourth_branch_of_government


From the article:

"This ideology is a successor to liberalism. It brandishes terms that superficially resemble normative liberalism—terms like diversity and inclusion—but in fact seeks to supplant it. This new regime, in which administrative power has been fashioned into a blunt instrument of deterrence, marks off a crucial distinction—between the liberal rule of law, and the punitive system of surveillance rooted in identity politics known as 'social justice.'”


That is essentially the subject of this article: https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2019-09-09/free-s...

... but I felt that coverage was a bit thin and-- lacking a better phrase-- subjective. Perhaps the continuation of this series will be more substantive, it seems off to a good start.


Institutions often want their own tribunals so that they can more strongly influence both the outcome of investigations and decisions, and the public messaging about them. The underlying goals are not justice and equity, but protection of and advancement for the institution itself. Consider universities, churches, and HR departments.


I don't want to wade into the specifics of campus tribunals, but the broad mechanism here is very commonplace and uncontroversial, no? Eg if I work for an NSF grant recipient and I spit on my boss, and I get fired with no court ruling, would you find it confusing/objectionable?


If firing you was a requirement to maintain the NSF grant? Yes, that would be objectionable, because then it isn't your boss (a private person/organization) but rather the government imposing the penalty without due process.


Unless I'm missing something, the principle you find objectionable is generally legal, widespread, and uncontroversial. In point of fact, the NSF requires grantees (and their scientists) to follow many requirements, and imposes penalties upon them without due process. Movie distributors force the same things on Netflix and their employees via partnership contracts. An umbrella organization like Boy Scouts imposes membership conduct requirements on its independent affiliates and their members.


In this case the government isn't just allowing the school to use judicial procedures the government itself couldn't use without violating due process, it's requiring them to. That's different.

And movie distributors and Boy Scouts are not the government. And when a private organization deals unfairly with a private person, due process is still available in the form of a court proceeding (e.g. a suit for unfair termination), but in this case that would either be dismissed (e.g. because the school was following federal requirements) or put the school in an impossible situation where the federal requirements require them to use an unreasonable procedure that subjects them to legal liability by an innocent accused person.


Yes, that would be objectionable, and probably not even legal, unless your boss was a member of a protected class and it could be shown that what you were doing was a hate action against the class and not the individual.


In the US, employers can fire employees for violating company policies (which presumably would forbid spitting on coworkers) even in cases where protected classes are not a factor. Is that the thing you think is objectionable, and maybe illegal?


You think it's literally illegal to fire someone for spitting on their boss?


The OP talked about getting fired "with no hearing". The days of bosses being absolute rulers that can just fire people instantly with a "You're fired!" isn't really true these days, even in places like the US with limited worker protection. Typically, hearings with HR are scheduled to see what and why things happened. This can result in the worker being fired, of course, but companies fear wrongful dismissal law suits that arise from bosses acting directly.


Okay, so how is that different from the campus sexual assault tribunals that everyone in this thread is objecting to?


My guess is that it enables them to spin up their own experimental judicial systems that they believe should exist. To them, relegating to proper courts would be giving up their stake in determining how things 'ought to be'.

Consider, for example, the premise of 'rape culture' which was popularized a few years ago. If such a claim concerning culture is to be made, then it implies the judicial systems external to the institution are reinforcing that culture, and the only way to prevent that from being a part of the institution is to override it with your own judicial system.

Similar logic could be used regarding other sociological claims made in private institutions that they must reinforce in this way.


Could you elaborate how it follows that the judicial institutions themselves would be reinforcing 'rape culture' in your example? Wouldn't it be more plausible that factors external to the judicial systems might be to blame?


The reasoning being, 'if we let the external systems deal with it, they would not judge rightly by our standards.' If they believed it would judge rightly, they would have no reason to institute their own.


I don't think that follows. A civil court would not typically rule that a defendant who was found liable by a preponderance of evidence should be expelled from their academic programs. A criminal court less so. These systems are not equipped to handle the specific remedies that an academic disciplinary program should be designed around providing.

Zooming out a bit, I don't think the civil/criminal courts failure to be suitable for handling an academic complaint constitutes a reinforcement of rape culture or anything else. That's akin to saying "by not doing something about [some injustice] you're complicit" which is not necessarily true.


> A civil court would not typically rule that a defendant ... should be expelled from their academic program

True, but nothing prevents an internal committee from simply acquiring the results of the court and applying sanctions on that base. In fact you don't even need an internal committee, you just need a general rule that applies automatically.


I believe they would make that claim, again based on their own reasoning.


That ridiculous claims smacks of conspiracy theory.

Any number of institutions have their own committees to judge bad behavior - civil courts of all sorts multiply in a bureaucratic society and colleges just one example of a bureaucracy and one strongly connected to many others in this society.


This is true that bureaucracy breeds judicial systems. My observation is more related to the /why/ of this particular common case. It does not take a conspiracy theory to observe what is said by those enacting Title IX policies and the ensuing results that follow as a natural consequence.


Sometimes an organization needs to act with less power to punish, but also less standard of proof. For example, NFL player Ray Rice was caught on video punching his girlfriend unconscious. The NFL can’t put him in prison, but they did suspend him from the league, because he was a toxic brand even though his girlfriend did not press criminal or civil charges. These universities are government organizations, but also like to think of themselves as independent, so I can see the jam they are in.


Many of them are not government organizations. Even the ones that are, are state organizations, not federal.

They do all take federal money though...


The Supreme Court has held that most Constitutional protections from the federal government also apply to state governments.


It's one thing when there is incontrovertible proof, it's another when it's he said she said.


Sometimes you want to have people behave in a way which reflects higher ideals than mere legality.


As far as I'm aware, these "tribunals" are dealing with issues like rape and sexual assault, which are actually crimes. As far as I can tell, the generous interpretation for their foundation was that the legal system affords due process rights to the accused. The not very generous interpretation is that some powerful ideologues wanted a mechanism to discriminate against a particular protected demographic.


This is a very difficult issue. Most sexual assaults happen in private, so there is rarely any evidence a victim can use to convict the perpetrator. Most accusations are real, but some are questionable as to whether a crime was committed, and some accusations are false. Given there is almost never any evidence, victims are at a severe disadvantage in the innocent until proven guilty paradigm. I can understand why some people want to flip the tables and "believe all women" but it's also clear that such a flipped situation has it's own severe problems, and that IMHO there is no good solution. Knowing this I have more empathy for everybody's view on this topic, rather than being in one camp and demonizing the other.


> Most accusations are real

See, I want to believe that, but I'm not sure there is a way to know whether or not that is actually true. In much the same way that there is rarely evidence of guilt when an accusation is true there isn't likely to be evidence when an accusation is false. I keep seeing people say some variant of "X% of rape accusations are false" but none of the sources I have ever seen have had a particularly accurate way of gathering data... because one doesn't exist. The proportion of unproven accusations that happen to be false is unknowable in practical terms, and I get frustrated by people variously flat out stating it is high/low.


You may borrow priors that are personal but calibrated based on reading statistics: accusations are real at a 3/4 rate, about 1/3 of people have been sexually assaulted ever, and in 9/10 of sexual assaults it is not the assaulter's first time.

I personally would not say that 3/4 is "most", but I don't think any kind of blanket statement can occur below 7/8, and usually I prefer to think in nines or other logarithmic scales very close to certainty or uncertainty.

We need to have evidence before we can make certain reasoned decisions. Without evidence, we need to listen, consider, and keep ourselves open to possibilities.


Do you have sources for those numbers?


Thanks to Aumann's Agreement, I cannot convince you that the priors are well-calibrated priors without infinite regress. Do you have sources for other numbers that you would prefer be used instead?


I'm gonna take that as a no.


Sure. Take a step back and look at this with some perspective:

* Neither of us really know what's going on

* Both of us have done private research

* We came up with some numbers

* I shared my numbers, you didn't share yours

Your complaint is that I'm not delegating the numbers to some authority. My complaint is that, regardless of which authority you choose, you're still choosing an authority.

I'm not saying that I'm right; in fact, part of the point of choosing priors is to be wrong. However, when we publicize the process of selecting priors, we of course embarrass each other: If the priors were already well-known and well-agreed-upon, then by Aumann's Agreement, we would have nothing to discuss.


You are correct that we cannot know. I've made some assumptions I can't prove. But I think they're likely.


Can you at least consider yourself outside of the camp that considers it to be "rape whenever a woman has sex and feels violated”, and feels no need for standard due process measures in campus sexual assault judgments?

What would be the equivalent extremities of the opposite camp? I'm not hearing from many opponents that sexual assault should be tolerated. It's more common to hear that they should be immediately escalated to law enforcement.


> I'm not hearing from many opponents that sexual assault should be tolerated.

It wasn't that long ago that a literal parade of college students were chanting "No means yes! Yes means anal!"

Fortunately, that behavior isn't common. But it also isn't fair to insinuate that the other side doesn't exist.


> It wasn't that long ago that a literal parade of college students were chanting "No means yes! Yes means anal!"

Nor too long ago that a parade of college students were chanting "Die Cis Scum." Bizarrely (to me), detailed reporting showed that neither groups actually believed the words they were chanting - most people shouting "No means yes! Yes means anal" didn't believe rape was ok and most people shouting "Die Cis Scum" didn't believe murder was ok. Such cultural phenomenon deserve more than the surface glance you've given them.


I cannot find a single source for your claim. Do you have one?


I can't find any either. Just stuff about the meme,[0] and the woman who started it.

But at least two frats were using the first one as an initiation ritual.

0) https://knowyourmeme.com/memes/die-cis-scum


It definitely exists, but doesn't appear to have anything like the equivalent influence. It has been successfully marginalized.


That's actually pretty funny. In reality, I'd say it was a good thing too. Better to be upfront that the world is a cruel and unforgiving place to young men/women than to pretend the judicial process is ever going to consistently be able to obtain sufficient evidence for rape charges.


Yes I'm outside the camp you describe. I side with due process and the presumption of innocence, name supression (not calling someone out who hasn't been found guilty) and I've been against the mob justice aspect of "me too", and I've seen it and cancel culture in general as a kind of social madness. But recently I started to understand the other side better, and I wanted to share why that side feels the way that they do... it's not as mad or as illogical as I had once thought.


"Innocent until proven guilty" and the need for evidence prior to an assumption of being guilty are not difficult issues.


Innocent-until-proven-guilty is morally, ethically, and logically superior to guilty-until-proven-innocent.

The former is the high ground, the latter is the low ground. Full stop.

I have empathy for accusers and the accused. But I don't have any empathy for people pushing guilty-until-proven-innocent.


I agree with your post that "victims are at a disadvantage", but you say that:

> there is rarely any evidence

while also saying that:

> Most accusations are real

This feels like a contradiction. We can only know whether an accusation is real or not when there is enough evidence. I think that doing extrapolation exercises based on no evidence is a bad idea.


You are correct that we cannot know. I've made some assumptions I can't prove. But I think they're most likely.


As society reaches a point where the cost of simply being accused of rape leads more and more cases of loss of a degree, job, social relations, imprisonment and that uncertainty over whether it happened or not forces decisions that are not fair or just to either party. We will simply see more and more individuals isolate themselves from the other sex to limit the risk that they will be blamed or look down upon for something.

Folks like the current Vice-President of the US, saying that he will only meet with a woman in the presence of others may become more prevalent and "correct" to limit the risk of liability. In the long run, this may lead us to fall back into segregation of sex similar to Islamic doctrine, where segregation is needed to ensure the protection of families and society.

Most may not be thinking about it, but change can happen slowly, but sometimes it happens abruptly like the changes we have been seen lately. I encourage everyone to use their minds to help build an environment that better suits the current times, before we go back in time and all we have to blame is ourselves.


In my junior year of college (very early 2000s), a senior friend was accused of rape by a classmate. Within two days he had to hide out at my girlfriend's house because a large group of large athletes was on the hunt for him to beat him up. Within weeks he was expelled from school. I don't recall the police ever being contacted.

Turns out the girl was ashamed she voluntarily slept with him. She admitted it to friends a couple months later. That was too late, of course. She received zero punishment. He was "lucky" that the police weren't notified on Day 1.


I was once told (very emphatically) that no woman would lie about being raped because it's such a horrible thing. I just stood agape.

People like about horrible things all the time to hide things that they think are more horrible.

Worse, some people don't care about anyone but themselves, and will lie for any advantage or benefit.


#BelieveAllWomen was in fact a real thing, a year ago....


As a reaction to a system where literally thousands of women's rape kits are not tested for years due to a combination of mismanagement, underfunding and understaffing, as well to structural issues such as male police officers not taking sexual assault accusations seriously or subjecting victims of assault to traumatizing questioning with no care about their mental well-being.

Back then, the status quo was "if you're a woman and you got raped, good luck getting justice".


It's still that way, no matter how you present. If you're a woman, good luck getting justice after going through the horror of an exam and a police report in which you have to relive that same experience and a trial in which you often have to face your assailant directly, reliving it yet again. If you're a man, good luck even having your initial report recorded in the official record and then receiving no support in dealing with the trauma and violation and then risk being outed and treated like you're a weak subhuman if you dare try to reach out for help. It's one hell of a sick joke all around.

Believe everyone when they say that they were assaulted, full stop. Everyone is entitled to compassion and care. In terms of making sure no one else is assaulted by the same person who assaulted them again? Collect all evidence, with all care, every single time, process it in a speedy manor and let the usual standards of criminal justice apply, as they always must. Anything less is a direct menace to society.


How to deal with uncertainty:

If you are not in a position of judgement or power, give all parties the benefit of the doubt -- accuser and accused -- and show compassion. Especially if they are personally right in front of you.

If you are in a position of judgement or power, like a reporter, a judge, a prosecutor, or a juror; then use a fair and impartial process.


#testallkits seems more appropriate than #believeallwomen.


Yep, exactly my point! The believe all women hashtag was literally a real thing... Literally referring to rape claims!


We should make the punishment for falsely accusing someone of rape equivalent to the punishment for rape. That's take care of the problem.


You should watch the Netflix series "Unbelievable" or read the true story it's based on:

https://www.propublica.org/article/false-rape-accusations-an...

It's eye opening about how hard it is to be believed about even a "classic" masked stranger, home invasion rape.

Having read that (and watched a couple of episodes of the Netflix adaption) I'm more likely to believe the original commenter's friend commited a rape and the victim was just compelled to deny it, possibly suffering twice.


The woman admitted she lied, in private, to friends. Where is the coercion? Are you saying we should only believe women when they are accusing men of rape? And disbelieve them later?


I think we should take statistics into account.

I think there's a likelihood that someone will lie about being raped, and a likelihood of them identifying a named individual (two numbers that should be considered seperately, since young girls who fall pregnant may lie to avoid blame, while not trying to blame anyone in particular).

I think that similarly, there's a percentage of retractions that will also be false, for various reasons.

This is similar to the statistics question about whether someone has cancer when a test comes back positive. It depends on the accuracy of the test and the base rate.

I could easily believe that there's more false retractions than false accusations (both as a percentage and an absolute number) so I'm not sure a retraction actually increases my belief in their not being a rape, particularly if a specific person is named, without taking into account other specific evidence.


This is exactly the problem. You want to determine guilt based on what you believe is generally true about the world. Not about the facts of the case at hand.

The negative ramifications of this mindset for the accused are hard to overstate.


How is that not equally true of anyone who makes the opposite determination?

We have no information besides a third party report of an accusation and a retraction.

My understanding of the world is that false accusations are rarer than many people think and false retractions are more common.

There's negative ramifications that are hard to overstate to that as well.


Have you considered that it is not your job to make a determination?

If someone shares a story like this you politely believe them and move on, comfortable in the knowledge that it may or may not be true.

"Your understanding" is purely anecdotal.


> you politely believe them and move on, comfortable in the knowledge that it may or may not be true.

You have a very different understanding of the word "believe" than I do.


Someone may be speaking honestly but still be incorrect.

When I believe someone I am making a judgement that they are not deceiving me, not that they are infallible.


It isn't different from the opposite determination in that sense. But the burden if proof is on the accuser (or at least it was, until recently), as expecting people proving a negative is often not feasible.


I think you must be crazy to mix in statistics.

That's why each individual case is being judged individually according to evidence, facts gathered and etc.

With the same mindset you could say that if a member of some group is accused of murder, he must probably be guilty because this group of people statistically are convicted more that exonerated?


If they become equivalent, it just increases the odds that the accuser will take it to their graves and the name of the accuse will be tarnished forever.


This assumes the court system is infallible though when we know it is not. Plus, I can see something like this deterring actual victims from coming forward.


something like this deterring actual victims from coming forward

This is also a possibility, but it's pretty much universally accepted that it's better to let a criminal go than to punish an innocent person.


I don't agree. I would argue that the rise of the victims' rights movement suggests that culturally, the United States is beginning to see the few false reports/convictions as an acceptable casualty to the vast majority of truthful reports.

I mean, we have Marsy's Law being added to state constitutions left and right. One of its provisions is that the victim[1] can refuse a deposition before trial. This obviously conflicts with the accused's right to access all the evidence, does it not?

Another provision limits the amount of time a convicted person can seek post-conviction relief. The goal here is to remove stress from the victim, but again, we have seen many convicted people be exonerated due to DNA evidence, or other evidence that arises after the fact. Again, this is a statement of values - that the deprivation of liberty is less important than the desire of the victim to not feel anxious about the perpetrator's possible release.

[1] I would argue that calling a complainant a victim undermines the presumption of innocence. If you're a victim, it follows that the accused is a perpetrator.


This is precisely what another commenter on this thread meant when they said the presumption of innocence that underlies our system of justice is currently eroding in modern society. Assuming guilt gives too much leeway for authoritarian abuse


Innocent until proved guilty is a fundamental principle of American values. I don't at all see why we should throw that out the window and say that "a few people falsly convicted is an acceptable casualty" just so we can catch more perpetrators.


I mean, I agree. I'm not in favor of "acceptable casualties", I'm just saying that the mainstream opinion is changing.


It doesn't. Not saying that we should throw in jail any accuser who fails to prove their case. But if it's proven they made it up, then we should. There are three outcomes, not two: proven guilty, inconclusive, proven not guilty. Either end comes with an equivalent penalty, middle comes with acquittal.


....provided "rape" is defined as something other than "whatever the accuser says it is".


It's not just the school system. I don't dare so much as flirt with anyone in a friendly way, because that becomes fuel for a possible case. It really is to the point where outside of group settings, nothing should ever be done with the opposite sex outside of marriage itself. Whatever women's lib was trying to achieve, it begins to look more and more like Islamization daily. Not to say I hate either, but it seems they used to be opposite goal sets, but slowly they are evolving back to be one and the same. I want women to have rights, but anything where an accusation becomes instantly proof seems to throw us back towards older times of isolation.


Good point! My understanding is that the horrific situation depicted in The Handmaid’s Tale started by well-educated women pushing on women’s rights! Also suggest reading Houellebecq’s Submission for a related view about pushing legitimate viewpoints to extreme.


> Turns out the girl was ashamed she voluntarily slept with him.

This happened to a classmate of mine in high school but it was reported to the police. He shot himself in the head.


I bet a few dollars that everything that is wrong about how we handle sex related issues (be it improper flirt, harassment, or more) is based on a long history of stories like this.

Too often witness are unreliable. There's a gray area where only a patient and wise (ideally) judiciary system can make sense of all this. Otherwise.. it backfires in mobthink.


Well this kind of anecdata if shared really has to come with details. Even if I knew and trusted you well I would need to hear about where the information comes from. There are huge gaps of detail to be filled in.

I am not saying that false accusations do not happen. I'm saying these kind of hearsay stories are not even evidence for the people that tell them.


I think it's horrible that this happened, but to be perfectly honest, this is why society is having a massive argument around what consent means. Did she really consent to having sex with him if she felt so ashamed of it afterward that she accused him of raping her? How voluntary was it really?

If you're a kid in this position, wondering whether it's dangerous to have sex, the answer is yes, it's one of the most dangerous things you can possibly do. Wasn't that long ago that having sex could put you in an early grave with an uncurable disease.

So just add "false accusation of rape" to the ever growing list of things that can happen to you if you're not careful with your jubbly bits.

Get everything in order before you start having sex. If you're in school, make sure your grades are decent, you know how to wrap it, line up someone who you know is interested and already have a friendly rapport with.

To go about it in any other way at all is to invite grave danger. It's always been this way, there has been no point in at least the last 1000 years, probably even longer that sex couldn't royally ruin your life.


Using your logic: Drugs are dangerous. Your rights being violated, your stuff being taken, and getting thrown in jail are just a few more dangers. If you don't want those things to happen, don't do drugs.

The flaw is that you can't equate natural and artificial dangers. Natural dangers are equal-opportunity dangers. Artificial dangers can be used to oppress people.

Also, avoiding behavior X is not enough to avoid the danger. There's not much evidence that Brett Kavanaugh was ever alone with Christine Blasey-Ford, but he still faced serious danger from her.


Drugs are dangerous even without the threat of being thrown into jail. They're not victimless either. If you become a junkie, you're a drain on everyone around you. Your family suffers, your ability to participate in society is wrecked. To say nothing of drinking and driving.

I don't do drugs recklessly. I don't have reckless sex. I do not think these things should be okay to do until and unless you take the proper care to do them without causing harm to others. If you don't take the proper care, then it doesn't matter whether the danger you run afoul of is "natural" or "artificial". Taking the proper care obviates both types of dangers.

Don't be reckless, or the life you ruin might not be your own.


"Don't be reckless" is simply not good enough when there's no due process, no standards for evidence, and no standards for guilt.

You can be very careful, and still end up on the wrong side of a baseless claim. Could be anything from a lie, to a dream, to mistaken identity, to a drug dog sneezing. Without due process, anything goes, and being careful isn't enough, because suspicion becomes guilt and by the time you sort anything out the damage is done.

And artificial versus natural does matter. It's the difference between misfortune and injustice.


You brought up Brett Kavanaugh. That's a silly example. Anybody in politics knows it's a hostile environment. It's like walking into a gunfight and expecting to not get hit. You might not get hit. But just being there makes you a target.

In the OP's situation, basic sexual hygiene would have prevented the whole thing. It will for everyone that doesn't put themselves first and foremost in a shooting gallery.

You can use the concept of herd defense to contemplate how to remain safe in these sorts of situations.


Isn't politics the place we need to use the most restraint? Otherwise, it's just too easy to remove an inconvenient politician from play.


If you're in politics, you need restraint more than anyone.


Bollox. I don't think I could disagree more with practically everything you have written.


Which part, do you think we shouldn't be worrying about consent issues when having sex? Or maybe that teenagers absolutely should be banging everything that moves?


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