Bill Whittle, Scott Ott, and Steve Green discuss just how much of a problem we really have with mass shooters. Thing is, if we look at the incidence of someone deciding to kill lots of people as a defect, this defect occurs at well below the six sigma standard of quality control.
Some years ago, near the end of the “Satanic Ritual Abuse” scare, it occurred to me to wonder how much of the trauma experienced by kids was due to their having been sexually abused, and how much by the constant drumbeat of expectation that they had been traumatized. (Not talking about cases where physical damage occurrs — more like the Kliban cartoon, “Uncle Sid’s Birthday Peek” (good luck finding that one.)
Someone acts in a creepy way, or maybe a very creepy way, and the target is told this is the worst thing that could ever happen to her. She gets the message that unless she recognizes how traumatized she is, maybe there’s something wrong with her. (Some of the interviews of children at the Mc Martin Preschool went awry in this very way.) So she confesses trauma. She rehearses it in interview after interview, conversation after conversation. Eventually, she believes it. An event has progressed from “boy that really creeped me out” to “he ruined my life!”
I don’t know if that ever happens, or how often it might happen. But in the middle of the hysteria, it was probably not safe even to ask the question.
Under this theory, hormones and other neurotransmitters go mad and can cause temporary brain damage; memories of an assault are stored perfectly somewhere in the brain but are “fragmented” at first, so it might take victims time to piece together the true story of what happened. College Title IX coordinators—the folks responsible for adjudicating claims of campus sexual misconduct—are told that “the absence of verbal or physical resistance, the inability to recall crucial parts of an alleged assault, a changing story—none of these factors should raise questions or doubt about a claim,” explains Yoffe. “Indeed, all of these behaviors can be considered evidence that an assault occurred.”
But science offers little evidence to support these claims. In fact, they fly in the face of almost all recent research on memory and trauma. (See Yoffe’s piece for plenty of backup on this front.) Rather, the “neurobiology of trauma” movement seems to have become popular because it plays so nicely into progressive ideology.
We have been here before.
In the 1980s, the idea that childhood sexual abuse caused later psychological troubles, substance abuse problems, and repressed memories grew quite popular. The medical mechanism through which this occurred was supposedly trauma, or more specifically, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Activists alleged that child sexual abuse victims experienced PTSD in the same way soldiers did.
The trauma theory arose in response to questions about why many victims didn’t recall or report abuse until later. Trauma, PTSD, and repressed memories provided an explanation that avoided any emphasis on victims’ actions or behavior. To suggest that they waited out of shame, because they didn’t understand the meaning of the abuse until later, or for any other reason involving the remotest bit of agency on the victims’ parts was seen as too close to victim blaming. Any questioning of quack psychologists who “uncovered” repressed memories was viewed as saying most accusers were making their stories up.
PTSD also provided a semi-plausible biological mechanism for how childhood sexual abuse could directly cause mood disorders, drug abuse, excessive drinking, relationship and sexual problems, eating disorders, personality disorders, and other issues later in life—problems that were proclaimed to arise in almost every case.
Yet “the theory of PTSD did not readily adapt to the experience of sexual abuse as described by victims,” writes Clancy, who began focusing on the issue as part of her doctoral research at Harvard in the 1990s.
At the start, Clancy expected her interviews with survivors of childhood sexual abuse to confirm conventional wisdom: that this type of abuse was always traumatizing to children as it occurred, that this trauma could cause them to block it out or detach from it until years later, and that the result was always lifelong psychological, sexual, and relationship problems. But what she found was more complicated. Most of those she talked to—as patients and as part of her research project—knew their abusers, were not physically harmed by them, and recalled feeling more confusion than fear at the time.
In other words, they had not experienced the abuse as particularly traumatic when it occurred. The negative psychological effects of the abuse came later, in adolescence or early adulthood, when a victim could fully conceptualize and understand what had happened. That didn’t fit the PTSD model.
To be clear, she does not suggest that sexual molestation isn’t traumatizing—just that it traumatizes victims in a different way than was commonly understood. But when she began putting this out there, it was not taken well by her peers in the psychology community or by feminist activists. Clancy was accused of victim blaming and of being a “friend of pedophiles.” At the very least, critics asked, why did it matter? If the new trauma paradigm had mobilized mass attention and opened Uncle Sam’s pocketbook for research studies, child abuse hotlines, training programs, and awareness campaigns, then why quibble over the psychological particulars?
The answer, to Clancy, is simple: “To truly help victims, our theories need to be based on the empirical knowledge—and not on assumptions, politics, and lies.”
As she interviewed more and more survivors of childhood sex abuse, Clancy realized that misinformation about trauma was further victimizing them and causing even more psychological harm. For most—those who had not “fought back” against the abuse or reported it until later, those who hadn’t developed crippling psychological problems in the aftermath, etc.—the conventional wisdom on trauma only compounded feelings of insecurity, shame, and self-loathing. If they weren’t terrified in the moment and traumatized forever after, they took that as a sign of their own complicity, deviance, or flaws.
“The reason the truth matters—the reason advocacy is best based in truth—is that our lies about sexual abuse are not helping victims,” writes Clancy.
On campuses today, we may be making things worse for young people by embracing “science” because it feels right rather than because it reflects the empirical evidence. As before, this comes in reaction to a real problem—a historical disbelief in rape victims’ stories and a tendency to treat any minor memory inconsistencies as proof they are lying—but it has veered into a damaging overcorrection.
“This information sends the message to young people that they are biologically programmed to become helpless during unwanted sexual encounters and to suffer mental impairment afterward,” writes Yoffe. “And it may inadvertently encourage them to view consensual late-night, alcohol-fueled encounters that might produce disjointed memories and some regret as something more sinister.”
In today’s climate, this can lead to some major miscarriages of justice for those wrongly accused. But it’s also no boon for preventing sexual victimizaiton or for encouraging sexual safety and fulfillment among young people more broadly.
In survey after survey, students speak of incidents where they never communicated a desire to cease sexual activity because at that moment they felt “frozen,” even though the perpetrator was not (by their own accounts) violent, threatening, or otherwise acting in a manner that should inspire terror. Read about recent campus sexual assault investigations and you’ll find all sorts of cases where the sexual activity started consensually—often under the influence of alcohol—and then one partner had enough but didn’t say or do anything to indicate that. The other party, who cannot read minds, then continued…and later was accused of rape.
An attorney who defends students accused of Title IX violations told Yoffe: “I don’t think I’ve seen a complaint in the past year that didn’t use the word frozen somewhere.”
Of course people should take responsibility for ensuring a sexual partner’s consent. But in the absense of this affirmative consent—i.e., in the vast majority of sexual encounters today, on campus or off—it helps for people to speak up when they don’t want sexual activity to go on, to be forceful about it, and to physically attempt to leave if necessary. Obviously this isn’t realistic in every situation: Attacks involving strangers, violence, threats, etc., do not lend themselves to polite conventions and conversation. (And no victim should be disbelieved or blamed simply because he or she didn’t respond in some idealized way.) But the vast majority of campus sexual assaults that get reported do not involve violence or threats, do occur between people who know each other, and seem to involve some degree of genuine confusion over consent.
Rather than wade into what sorts of cultural messages and factors could contribute to all this, activists have invented a biological explanation and started teaching it through college pamphlets and websites, Title IX training modules, and more.
We are constructing a new trauma myth.
To challenge it is to be accused of victim-blaming, of putting the onus “on women not to get raped instead of on men not to rape,” of being a “rape apologist.”
To not challenge it is to deprive a lot of young people of skills necessary to avoid being assaulted.
Freezing up should be understood as something that’s understandable in the face of an unwanted sexual advance. It should not be our presumed default. Yet we’re teaching a generation of people new to sex that if they feel any hesitation about someone’s advances, it’s perfectly natural to say nothing and, because it’s the other person’s job to ask for affirmative consent, later report them for rape. Who is this helping?
The Atlantic has published part three of its series exploring the parallel justice system that investigates and hands out punishment in cases of campus sexual assault. Part one outlined standards the Obama administration pushed schools to adopt, standards that often provide little protection for the rights of the accused. Part two dealt with the bad science being used to back up this approach. Part three is about the race of those being accused in these incidents and how it probably differs from the public perception of what a campus rapist looks like.
Black students made up approximately 4% of the student body at Colgate. So black and Asian students combined were about 7% of the population on campus but made up nearly 40% of those accused and 42% of those referred for hearings.
What accounts for this disproportionate representation? Yoffe writes, “as the definition of sexual assault used by colleges has become wider and blurrier, it certainly seems possible that unconscious biases might tip some women toward viewing a regretted encounter with a man of a different race as an assault.” If anything is likely to lead progressives to reconsider their support for low standards for adjudicating campus sexual assault cases, this would seem to be it.
The New York Times and the Marshall Project report that homicides are much more likely to be ruled justifiable when a black man is killed by a white person. Racial disparities in self-defense is a topic I’ve spent a fair amount of time thinking about, because in 2013 I had a challenging and rewarding back-and-forth about it with John K. Roman and Shebani Rao of the Urban Institute. (Roman’s study, my response, their reply, my final comment.) There may be some bias in these decisions, but I don’t think this kind of statistic is very helpful when it comes to studying it.
Basically, when a member of one group attacks a member of another group, two things can happen that will affect homicide statistics: The aggressor can kill the victim, or the victim can kill the aggressor. The former act should be charged as a crime, the latter ruled justifiable (assuming the victim reasonably feared for life or limb). Therefore, more acts of aggression by members of a group translate to more unjustifiable homicides for that group and more justifiable homicides for the other group. As a result, if one group commits more violent crime, we’d expect that group’s homicides to be justified a lower percentage of the time.
You can follow the links above for more details on the math, but using a victimization survey by the Justice Department (which avoids the issue of racial bias in arrest statistics), a rough estimate is that there are 767,000 acts of black-on-white violence and 128,000 violent acts where the races were flipped in the U.S. annually. As I explained, if 2 percent of all victims of violence defend themselves,
128,000 acts of white-on-black violence inspire 2,500 acts of justified violence by blacks. And 767,000 acts of black-on-white violence inspire 15,000 acts of justifiable violence by whites. . . . As a result, 10 percent of white-on-black violence is justified, and only 0.3 percent of black-on-white violence is. This corresponds closely to the actual disparity from the FBI figures [regarding homicides ruled justifiable]: 11.41 percent to 1.2 percent.
I also pointed out that most justifiable homicides involve guns, and that whites report owning guns at about twice the rate of blacks.
The NYT/Marshall analysis does adjust the data to account for numerous factors, such as the relationship between the parties, the killer’s sex, the broad type of confrontation, and the weapon used, and finds that the disparity falls from to eight times to 4.7 times. But they don’t have a way of figuring out which party was actually the aggressor, and therefore they can’t tell whether prosecutors make the wrong decisions, letting off whites and/or prosecuting blacks in cases where they’d have done differently if the races were reversed. (I also find it frustrating that in most of their statistics they compare overall rates with rates for black men, combining sex and race so it’s hard to tell the role of each factor. Anyone want to guess whether man-on-woman or woman-on-man homicides are more likely to be self-defense?)
Again, I’m not claiming there’s zero bias at play here; the data are murky enough that we can’t know for sure. But the disparity documented in the report isn’t evidence of bias. It’s exactly what we’d expect to see when one group offends at a higher rate than another.
Riley’s point is the narrative that all black people in America are enraged and feel victimized over white privilege, institutional racism and police shootings — and blame those issues entirely for the plight of the black community — is inaccurate.
He said it’s a concept pushed largely by the mainstream media and those who stand to profit.
“Let’s face it, the grievance industry is a very lucrative one,” Riley said, citing groups such as the NAACP and Black Lives Matter and individuals like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson.
“There is money to be made playing the race card,” Riley said in a recent interview with The College Fix. “I’ve argued that the Civil Rights movement has become a Civil Rights industry.”
Riley’s new book, “False Black Power,” expands on that idea by pointing out that “black Americans in the first half of the 20th century—during the darkest decades of Jim Crow, when racial discrimination was widespread, legal and often ruthlessly enforced—nevertheless managed to climb out of poverty and gain access to white-collar professions at unprecedented rates that have never since been replicated, even after the passage of landmark civil rights legislation in the 1960s and the implementation of affirmative action programs in the 1970s.”
But electing black politicians in recent decades hasn’t helped the black community fix its current woes.
“The persistence in racial inequality, even in the age of Obama, should tell us about using political power and politics to advance racial ethnic groups,” Riley told The Fix. “There are limits to this path and the Obama presidency is the last proof, and perhaps the best proof, that the problems blacks face today are not due to a lack of political clout.”
That’s an idea one might hear if they hang out in black barbershops and churches, but it’s never uttered inside a college classroom, where Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “Between the World and Me,” which discusses white American racism, is one of the most assigned books for freshmen.
“When you go talk to everyday blacks about the problems facing everyday blacks, you realize the critical race theories, and the Ta-Nehisi Coates and the Al Sharptons, don’t really reflect the viewpoints of everyday blacks, that there is disconnect between them and the people they claim to speak for.”
Yet the narrative taught to students nationwide, riling them up over white privilege, institutional racism and police shootings, has sometimes created such angst that they aggressively disrupt and even shut down campus talks designed to present facts and data to support the notion that “Blue Lives Matter” and that cops are not the main problem facing the black community.
Riley said in his experience speaking at college campuses “what I have found is sort of the more elite, the more privileged, the more nonsensical” the students and their reactions.
“And these kids are not being taught to debate,” he said, “they are being taught to silence their critics — and administrators are indulging this.”
“But at school after school you get this small clutch of conservative students who come up to you afterward and almost whisper to you, ‘Thank you, thank you for coming, and we are sorry we didn’t say much,’” Riley said. “The idea that conservatives or just people who think differently about some of these issues are cowed into silence on campus these days is distributing.”
Riley acknowledged “it’s going to be a challenge getting more and different points of view on campus,” but added there’s a silver lining.
“I don’t know how many people who live in the real world are buying a lot of these academic arguments,” he said. “I know they get echoed in the elite media by liberal commentators but I think on some level those commentators are really only speaking to the academic elite … it’s obvious that in the real world you can’t talk about black incarceration rates without talking about black crime rates.”
“This whole idea that blacks are locked up at higher rates strictly due to a racist criminal justice system and not due to any behavior on the part of the young black men being locked up — I don’t know if that goes very far with your average person, but it is a challenge. You want to get at the kids on campus and give them an alternative point of view, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult.”
But there may be an opening to convince young black minds that the real problems lie elsewhere, he added.
“On college campuses, these kids today are obviously a much younger generation that doesn’t have the historical baggage of older generations when it comes to the history of blacks in this country,” he said. “This is a generation that came of age with a black president, with black mayors and governors and senators and all kinds of black political clout.”
And yet what has all that political clout gotten the black community? In “False Black Power,” Riley points out it hasn’t gotten them much.
Meanwhile, he writes, social scientists [a.k.a. professors] “cowed by political correctness are still downplaying or denying the strong connection between black poverty and black family structure.”
“The current focus on white racism and political solutions to racial gaps continues to miss the mark,” Riley writes. “Our national discussions spend ample time on the impact of slavery but precious little on the black social and economic trends that followed the growth of the modern welfare state.”
“In the postslavery era, the differences in black progress before and after the Great Society interventions are glaring. When intact families were commonplace, the rise in black education, incomes, and occupations was significant and steady. As black family disorganization intensified and wealth-transfer programs grew in size and scope, that progress slowed in some cases and stalled in others,” Riley writes.
“Liberals have attempted to compensate for black cultural retrogression since the 1960s with increased black political power. In 2008, America elected her first black president, and eight years later, one undeniable lesson was that political clout is no substitute for self development.”
File this under “unintended consequences”.
In the past three years, male students accused of sexual misconduct have filed hundreds of lawsuits, charging that they were the victims of both false allegations and school procedures that failed to properly vet the claims.
Jazz Shaw comments:
Suing a woman who was allegedly raped? But there have been simply too many cases dredged up where the charges either turned out to be vastly overstated or completely unfounded, combined with instances where there simply were no legal protections in place for the accused that what else can be done?
The truly sad part of this, as in so many instances, is that it’s really not the fault of the woman bringing the allegations. It’s the social justice warrior climate permeating so many schools, filling everyone’s heads with stories of a “campus rape culture” and a distrust of law enforcement and the court system. It’s easy to see why so many would disregard the normal protections and requirements of the legal system and listen to professors or administrators whispering in their ears, telling them that they can simply “handle it at school” so they won’t need to get the cops involved.
This, of course, is a betrayal of not only the victim and the accused, but of all other women in the surrounding community. As has been repeatedly noted, if a rape takes place, these college kangaroo courts can’t do more than issue a reprimand and boot the alleged offender out of school. If he was actually guilty, this basically means that you just turned a rapist loose on the rest of the community with far more time on his hands. Tell me, advocates of such systems… is there nothing worrisome to you about such a scheme?
No woman needs to be “put on trial twice” in these situations if you actually put the accused through a real trial the first time. That means filing police reports, having them gather evidence, interview witnesses and bring charges. And the accused gets to mount a legal defense and have his day in court as well. (I’ll say “his” because it’s nearly always a man.) Yes, it can be uncomfortable for any victim of any crime and I have all the sympathy in the world. But in case it’s any consolation, if a crime actually did take place and the guy is guilty, the judge can lock him up for a very long time and I’ll be there right alongside you cheering for the most severe sentence possible.
Merv Benson at Prairie Pundit notes:
I have noted before how ill-suited colleges and universities are for handling these matters. Many of them routinely deny the accused due process rights including the right to an attorney and the ability to cross-examine their accuser. What they should be required to do is turn the matter over to local law enforcement such as a district attorney’s office to determine if there is sufficient evidence of a crime.
Now attorneys for the accused are suing their accuser alleging defamation which at least gets the matter in front of a real court and not some campus star-chamber proceeding. Colleges who thought they were protecting the accusers now find those same accusers having to pay attorney fees to defend themselves. If the case had been turned over to the DA’s office, to begin with, this could have been avoided and both sides would have had a better chance of getting due process.
Location, location, location.
When you look at individual counties with high murder rates, you find large areas with few murders. Consider Los Angeles County, with 526 murders in 2014, the most of any county in the US. There are virtually no murders in the northwestern part of the county, with only one murder each in Beverly Hills, Hawthorne, and Van Nuys.
When I first heard, in March 2015, that students at the university where I teach had staged a protest march over an essay I’d written about sexual paranoia in academe, and that they were carrying mattresses and pillows, I was a bit nonplussed. For one thing, mattresses had become a symbol of student-on-student sexual assault — a Columbia University student became known as “mattress girl” after spending a year dragging a mattress around campus in a performance-art piece meant to protest the university’s ruling in a sexual-assault complaint she’d filed against a fellow student — whereas I’d been talking about the new consensual-relations codes prohibiting professor–student dating. I suppose I knew the essay would be controversial — the whole point of writing it was to say things I believed were true (and suspected a lot of other people thought were true), but weren’t being said for fear of repercussions. Still, I’d been writing as a feminist. And I hadn’t sexually assaulted anyone. The whole thing seemed incoherent.
According to our student newspaper, the mattress carriers on my campus were marching to the university president’s office with a petition demanding “a swift, official condemnation” of my article. One student said she’d had a “very visceral reaction” to it; another called it “terrifying.” I’d argued that the new codes infantilized students and ramped up the climate of accusation, while vastly increasing the power of university administrators over all our lives, and here were students demanding to be protected by university higher-ups from the affront to someone’s ideas — which seemed to prove my point.
The president announced that he’d consider the petition.
Last week Inside Higher Ed published an essay from an anonymous feminist professor that truly has to be read to be believed. In it, she describes being triggered into literal hysterics by a male student’s essay (at one point saying that she screamed at her computer screen, “Zero! You get a f**king zero!) This student, who allegedly rather bluntly questioned the existence of “rape culture,” caused her to compare the student to the man she claimed raped her many years ago. Here are her exact words:
I imagined him being friends with my rapist (though the man who raped me is now significantly older than this student, he is frozen in the 18-22 age bracket in my mind). How, I wondered, could I possibly evaluate this student’s work in an “unbiased” fashion? Such a request would involve me living an entirely different life than the one that I have had.
It’s worth highlighting her essay not so much because of one professor’s unbalanced reaction to one student’s essay but because of something else — something far more indicative of campus propaganda on rape and sexual assault. Here’s her description of teaching about “rape culture.”
It was the middle of the semester, and we were covering rape culture. As any feminist instructor who has ever taught about rape culture probably knows, covering this topic is challenging for a multitude of reasons. Sometimes we encounter students who realize that they have been raped who come to office hours looking for resources. Other times, students learn that they have actually perpetrated rape and struggle to reconcile that with their images of themselves as “good people” and “not one of those (usually) guys.” And many feminist instructors, especially those who are women, know all too well what it is like to navigate the “mansplaining” of a few men students who would like to ardently deny that rape culture exists. (Emphasis added.)
Read the italicized portion again. She’s claiming that thanks to feminist instruction, some students actually “realize” that they’ve been raped, while others “learn” that they’re rapists. This is extraordinary. Rape is not difficult to define — unless, of course you’re redefining it. And if she is describing people who “learn” that they’ve committed actual rape, why is she not calling the police? If she’s not calling the police, is she placing other women in danger? After all, didn’t she just “learn” that a sexual predator is on the loose?
Here’s a fundamental problem with campus “rape culture” arguments. On the one hand, campus feminists argue that colleges are in the grips of an extraordinary crime wave — with women at astounding risk of experiencing sexual violence. On the other hand, these same feminists will argue that it’s entirely fine if women choose to leave these crimes in the hands of campus tribunals – that people they believe to be actual criminals should receive academic discipline only, leaving them free to rape again.
Do feminists want to take rape seriously? Then they should define it according to the law and refer every single rape claim to law enforcement. But if they’re really talking about drunken hook-ups or radical new concepts of consent, then they should speak the language of morality and manners, not crime and punishment. Otherwise, they drain the word of its real meaning and contribute to the skepticism they so loudly condemn.
The statistics are unquestionable–at least to the social justice warriors inhabiting American colleges: something between 20 and 25 percent of women will be raped during their four (or more) years of college. Presumably, women sticking around for a master’s or doctorate degree face even more daunting odds.
In March 2017, a 15-year-old girl in Chicago was lured into a basement and gang-raped by five to six males. The girl was threatened with a pit bull if she tried to flee; she was picked up and thrown around. One of the participants live-streamed the rape on Facebook. So far, two boys, 15- and 14-years-old, have been arrested in the attack. The 15-year-old slapped the girl in the head while she was performing oral sex on him. Up to 40 people watched the rape live; none reported it to the police or to Facebook.
Since then, threats, taunts, social-media bullying, and physical assaults have been directed at . . . the victim and her family, not at the rapists. A group of girls beat the victim’s twelve-year-old sister last week, reports DNA Info Chicago. One of the girl’s attackers said: “Why [did] you send my brother to jail,” according to her mother. You want to see an example of “blaming the victim?” This is it. People ring the family’s doorbell and surround the home in a menacing way, the girl’s mother has told the Chicago Tribune. The victim has been moved to an undisclosed location to escape the constant insults and bullying, but the family has not yet raised enough money through a GoFundMe campaign to follow her.
Yet the Left continues to pump out a series of interlocking lies: that “rape culture” is a product of Western civilization exclusively, practiced primarily by heterosexual white males, and its most egregious seat is the pacific American college campus; that minorities are victimized predominantly by white racists; that police presence and proactive tactics in minority neighborhoods are a function of bias, not crime; that disparate racial rates of school discipline reveal teacher bias; that the disciplining of black girls, in particular, constitutes racial injustice. The Left gets away with these lies because of the virtual taboo on the reporting of inner-city dysfunction. This Sunday, a mass shooting broke out in Chicago at a memorial for a Hispanic gang member shot and killed hours earlier. Two masked men with rifles opened fire on the crowd gathered at the shrine, killing a woman and man and wounding eight others, reports DNA Info Chicago. The national media barely cocked an eye. Last year in Chicago, 4,300 people were shot, one person every two hours, including two dozen children under the age of twelve. Had the victims been white, there would have been a revolution. But because the victims were overwhelmingly black, no one pays attention, both out of a reluctance to call attention to black crime and out of an unspoken assumption on the part of the media that that is simply what black people do.
Until that liberal condescension changes, liberal pieties about “rape culture” and other alleged sins of Western society will continue to be just so much obfuscating nonsense.