The Pence Rule — Not the law, just a good idea

 

Put me with Pence and Coates. I also have rules. I’ll have lunch alone with female colleagues, but in more than 20 years of marriage, I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I’ve had dinner alone with a woman not my wife. And I’ve managed that without ever disadvantaging or discriminating against any woman I worked for or with. I have other rules as well. For example, I travel quite a bit, but when I’m traveling alone I don’t eat or sit at bars — especially hotel bars — unless there is no other place to sit.

I have those rules not because I think that without guardrails I’m going to assault someone, but because I understand human nature and because I respect women. I don’t want any woman to feel like I’m putting her in an uncomfortable or compromising position. This may come as a surprise to critics of the Pence rule, but there are quite a few women who don’t want to dine alone with male bosses. There are quite a few women who believe that dinner (especially with drinks) is unnecessarily intimate and that business can be conducted in the office or with other colleagues present.

But don’t tell that to Pence’s critics. This week Christianity Today’s Katelyn Beatty took to the pages of the New York Times to write “The Christian Case Against the Pence Rule.” Given her intelligence and theological knowledge, I was surprised to see this paragraph:

The Pence rule arises from a broken view of the sexes: Men are lustful beasts that must be contained, while women are objects of desire that must be hidden away. Offering the Pence rule as a solution to male predation is like saying, “I can’t meet with you one on one, otherwise I might eventually assault you.” If that’s the case, we have far deeper problems around men and power than any personal conduct rule can solve.

No, no, no. Let’s break this down in the simplest terms possible. The Pence rule (or its variations) arises from an accurate view of man’s fallen nature. In this context, it means three things.

First, when men and women are alone — especially at night, especially with drinks — there is a far greater chance of mutual or one-sided attraction (not assault) than when they’re in groups or in professional settings. Even if they don’t intend the attraction. Even if they’re happily married. If you doubt this reality then, well, I don’t know what to tell you. Spend any time in professional settings, and you’ll understand that workplace attraction happens, and when it happens it tends to happen not in the midst of conference calls but rather in those settings that get far more personal and less professional.

Second, variations of the Pence rule protect both sides from reputational harm. It’s a simple fact that observing a married man alone at dinner with a woman other than his wife can start tongues wagging, and it’s also a fact that leaders of Christian ministries have often had to take extreme measures to protect against intentional sabotage of their reputations. I know leaders who never travel alone in part because of actual past hostile attempts to place them in compromising positions (with photographic evidence). If we should understand anything in 2017 it’s that our politics is vicious and poisonous. The more high-profile you become, the more careful you should be.

Third, surprise, surprise but there are actual predators out there, and women who operate under some version of the Pence rule gain an additional layer of protection. Moreover, corporate implementation of the rule is like a flashing sign that says, “This workplace aims to be safe and professional.”

Beatty says, “All the people I know who keep the rule are men.” This is yet another puzzling statement. Every Christian ministry I know that imposes the rule on its employees does so without regard to gender, and these are ministries that employ multiple powerful women. In fact, almost every powerful Christian woman I know keeps a version of the Pence rule.

But here’s where critics of the Pence rule have a point. If you’re in a position of authority, you should endeavor to create a workplace where equal opportunity is evident and gender-based favoritism is absent. It is unfair to take Luke out for dinner and never take out Laura. The better approach is to keep business matters in business settings, and that includes when it’s late and folks need to eat.

Sacred Cattle and Bias

 

People Are Questioning Your Sacred Cows? Listen Up

There’s good reason to scrutinize claims like the Roy Moore mall story. It’s certainly not to protect a pedophile.

I’m skeptical about the mall story. No one in the New Yorker story seems to have been directly involved with the alleged mall ban; every source who was willing (even eager) to talk seems to have heard the story from someone else. It seems probable that there was a rumor floating around that Moore was banned from the mall; it seems possible that this rumor was even true. But it’s also possible it’s false. Those of us over a certain age will remember how many compelling, yet false, urban legends we believed before Snopes.com was invented. And who was the source for every one of those legends? That stalwart figure, “a friend of a friend.”

So without better confirmation than “35 years ago, I heard from a guy that Roy Moore got banned from the mall,” I will withhold judgment on whether Moore was actually banned. I tweeted as much after I read the New Yorker story. And was immediately inundated with aggressive accusations of covering up for a child molester and general partisan hackery.

I am not generally identified as a member of Team Trump, much less Team Roy Moore. Indeed, prior to my tweet about the mall story, I’d been saying some fairly astringent things about the people who were attacking Moore’s accusers — or worse, saying “But Democrats covered for Bill Clinton!” I just didn’t happen to think this particular story was very strong.

I also didn’t think it particularly mattered. If Moore did everything he has been credibly accused of, would we be inclined to give him a pass because that supreme judicial authority, the mall of Gadsden, Alabama, never got around to banning him?

But as I attempted to explain why this story looks weak to a lot of journalists (I was not the only one who noticed the thin sourcing), I began to understand why I’d triggered such outrage. Because several people asked me some version of the same question: “Why would you even question this story?” In their minds, it was clear that there could be only one reason: because I was trying to somehow salvage Moore’s candidacy.

I get asked this question a lot these days. Why would you even argue about rape statistics, when we know that rape is a problem? Why would you give even a moment’s consideration to those who theorize that global warming could be moderate rather than catastrophic? Why would you raise questions about that terrible gang rape at UVA?

My interlocutors have a point: We all make choices about which assertions we interrogate, and which we accept on easy faith. And because we are biased, we tend to interrogate most ruthlessly the inconvenient claims that stand in the way of something we’d very much like to believe. When someone casts doubt on a politically charged story, it’s not crazy to infer an ulterior ideological motive (even though in this particular case involving my qualms about that Roy Moore mall story, this inference was dead wrong).

But if we are committed to believing only things that are likely to be true, then how much does the motive of a questioner really matter? I’d argue “not much.” Knowing someone’s political commitments tells you that they are likely to accept evidence for some propositions more easily than for others. But it does not tell you that their analysis is wrong.

To the contrary, partisans with an axe to grind are often the people who see what others don’t. The faked Second Amendment scholarship of Michael Bellesiles, the forgeries that suggested Bush had gone AWOL during Vietnam, the imaginary gang rape at a UVA fraternity — in all cases, the people who raised questions were dismissed as cranks and partisans, and often this was actually true. And yet, they were the ones seeing clearly, while the people questioning their motives were not.

Truth is powerful stuff; it can be bottled up for just so long before it bursts its container and splatters all over the place. And when that happens, the revelation of the lie hurts the credibility of everyone who embraced it — and harms the very cause they thought they were helping.

So instead of labeling folks as partisan and dismissing their questions, we should embrace a tough critique regardless of its source. You have your blind spots, just like they have theirs. By overlaying their world view onto yours, you may be able to get a fuller picture. You’ll get closer to the truth by listening to people who see the world very differently from you, especially the ones who ask questions that make you uncomfortable. If what you believe is true, their objections can only refine your ideas into something stronger. And if what you believe is false — well, it’s better to find out quick.

Bourgeois Culture

An editorial linked from Tax Prof Blog:

Too few Americans are qualified for the jobs available. Male working-age labor-force participation is at Depression-era lows. Opioid abuse is widespread. Homicidal violence plagues inner cities. Almost half of all children are born out of wedlock, and even more raised are by single mothers. Many college students lack basic skills, and high school students rank below those from two dozen other countries.

The causes of these phenomena are multiple and complex, but implicated in these and other maladies is the breakdown of the country’s bourgeois culture.

That culture laid out the script we all were supposed to follow: Get married before you have children and strive to stay married for their sake. Get the education you need for gainful employment, work hard, and avoid idleness. Go the extra mile for your employer or client. Be a patriot, ready to serve the country. Be neighborly, civic-minded, and charitable. Avoid coarse language in public. Be respectful of authority. Eschew substance abuse and crime. …

Would the re-embrace of bourgeois norms by the ordinary Americans who have abandoned them significantly reduce society’s pathologies? There is every reason to believe so. Among those who currently follow the old precepts, regardless of their level of education or affluence, the homicide rate is tiny, opioid addiction is rare, and poverty rates are low. Those who live by the simple rules that most people used to accept may not end up rich or hold elite jobs, but their lives will go far better than they do now. All schools and neighborhoods would be much safer and more pleasant. More students from all walks of life would be educated for constructive employment and democratic participation.

But restoring the hegemony of the bourgeois culture will require the arbiters of culture — the academics, media, and Hollywood — to relinquish multicultural grievance polemics and the preening pretense of defending the downtrodden. Instead of bashing the bourgeois culture, they should return to the 1950s posture of celebrating it.

These basic cultural precepts reigned from the late 1940s to the mid-1960s. They could be followed by people of all backgrounds and abilities, especially when backed up by almost universal endorsement. Adherence was a major contributor to the productivity, educational gains, and social coherence of that period.

The Victim Card is Overdrawn

Shelby Steele writes in the Wall Street Journal that the well of white guilt is running dry.

America, since the ’60s, has lived through what might be called an age of white guilt. We may still be in this age, but the Trump election suggests an exhaustion with the idea of white guilt, and with the drama of culpability, innocence and correctness in which it mires us.

White guilt is not actual guilt. Surely most whites are not assailed in the night by feelings of responsibility for America’s historical mistreatment of minorities. Moreover, all the actual guilt in the world would never be enough to support the hegemonic power that the mere pretense of guilt has exercised in American life for the last half-century.

White guilt is not angst over injustices suffered by others; it is the terror of being stigmatized with America’s old bigotries—racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia. To be stigmatized as a fellow traveler with any of these bigotries is to be utterly stripped of moral authority and made into a pariah. The terror of this, of having “no name in the street” as the Bible puts it, pressures whites to act guiltily even when they feel no actual guilt. White guilt is a mock guilt, a pretense of real guilt, a shallow etiquette of empathy, pity and regret.

It is also the heart and soul of contemporary liberalism. This liberalism is the politics given to us by white guilt, and it shares white guilt’s central corruption. It is not real liberalism, in the classic sense. It is a mock liberalism. Freedom is not its raison d’être; moral authority is.

When America became stigmatized in the ’60s as racist, sexist and militaristic, it wanted moral authority above all else. Subsequently the American left reconstituted itself as the keeper of America’s moral legitimacy. (Conservatism, focused on freedom and wealth, had little moral clout.) From that followed today’s markers of white guilt—political correctness, identity politics, environmental orthodoxy, the diversity cult and so on.

This was the circumstance in which innocence of America’s bigotries and dissociation from the American past became a currency of hardcore political power. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, good liberals both, pursued power by offering their candidacies as opportunities for Americans to document their innocence of the nation’s past. “I had to vote for Obama,” a rock-ribbed Republican said to me. “I couldn’t tell my grandson that I didn’t vote for the first black president.”

For this man liberalism was a moral vaccine that immunized him against stigmatization. For Mr. Obama it was raw political power in the real world, enough to lift him—unknown and untested—into the presidency. But for Mrs. Clinton, liberalism was not enough. The white guilt that lifted Mr. Obama did not carry her into office—even though her opponent was soundly stigmatized as an iconic racist and sexist.

Perhaps the Obama presidency was the culmination of the age of white guilt, so that this guiltiness has entered its denouement. There are so many public moments now in which liberalism’s old weapon of stigmatization shoots blanks— Elizabeth Warren in the Senate reading a 30-year-old letter by Coretta Scott King, hoping to stop Jeff Sessions’s appointment as attorney general. There it was with deadly predictability: a white liberal stealing moral authority from a black heroine in order to stigmatize a white male as racist. When Ms. Warren was finally told to sit, there was real mortification behind her glaring eyes.

This liberalism evolved within a society shamed by its past. But that shame has weakened now. Our new conservative president rolls his eyes when he is called a racist, and we all—liberal and conservative alike—know that he isn’t one. The jig is up. Bigotry exists, but it is far down on the list of problems that minorities now face. I grew up black in segregated America, where it was hard to find an open door. It’s harder now for young blacks to find a closed one.

This is the reality that made Ms. Warren’s attack on Mr. Sessions so tiresome. And it is what caused so many Democrats at President Trump’s address to Congress to look a little mortified, defiantly proud but dark with doubt. The sight of them was a profound moment in American political history.

Today’s liberalism is an anachronism. It has no understanding, really, of what poverty is and how it has to be overcome. It has no grip whatever on what American exceptionalism is and what it means at home and especially abroad. Instead it remains defined by an America of 1965—an America newly opening itself to its sins, an America of genuine goodwill, yet lacking in self-knowledge.

This liberalism came into being not as an ideology but as an identity. It offered Americans moral esteem against the specter of American shame. This made for a liberalism devoted to the idea of American shamefulness. Without an ugly America to loathe, there is no automatic esteem to receive. Thus liberalism’s unrelenting current of anti-Americanism.

Let’s stipulate that, given our history, this liberalism is understandable. But American liberalism never acknowledged that it was about white esteem rather than minority accomplishment. Four thousand shootings in Chicago last year, and the mayor announces that his will be a sanctuary city. This is moral esteem over reality; the self-congratulation of idealism. Liberalism is exhausted because it has become a corruption.

Black Lives Matter Students Shut Down the ACLU’s Campus Free Speech Event Because ‘Liberalism Is White Supremacy’ – Hit & Run : Reason.com

Black Lives Matter Students Shut Down the ACLU’s Campus Free Speech Event Because ‘Liberalism Is White Supremacy’ – Hit & Run : Reason.com

Students affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement crashed an event at the College of William & Mary, rushed the stage, and prevented the invited guest—the American Civil Liberties Union’s Claire Gastañaga, a W & M alum—from speaking.

Ironically, Gastañaga had intended to speak on the subject, “Students and the First Amendment.”

And I’m all out of popcorn…

The Three A.M. Terror — According To Hoyt

[…]

At the same time… what the heck is going on with the left?

I mean I expected them to walk back the crazy scare mongering of prison camps for minorities, women and gays after Trump was elected, because, well… that’s what happened when Reagan was elected, and when Bush was elected.

Instead, they seem to have gone crazier and to think the rounding up is just around the corner and that maybe it’s already happening (yes, I know Hillary is an old woman and listening to old people raving is silly, but she actually imagines that Trump is SOMEHOW having journalists killed and no one knows.)  They virtue signal that they accept everyone, as opposed to the rest of us who… accept everyone.  They take knees and fight really hard in the “resistance” against something that isn’t happening.

It sure as hell sounds like the three am terrors.  Only, they can’t be having them, can they?  I don’t believe for a moment that the left, the real convinced left, not the ones who go along to get along, are 50% of the nation.  I think they were more than that, thirty years ago, or so, because there was still a working (for values of working) communist block that could be idealized, and because the idea is so attractive.

[…]

via The Three A.M. Terror — According To Hoyt

Maybe it’s something like this:

Trump-Phobia

Seven Signs of Liberal Privilege – Timothy Daughtry

Source: Seven Signs of Liberal Privilege – Timothy Daughtry

But if we step back and look squarely at it, the one group in America that most demands and expects privileged treatment is the far left. And it is time the rest of us called them on it.

Here is a brief checklist to aid in recognizing the signs of liberal privilege:

1. Assuming that you have the right to control what everyone else does, what they have, what they say, and how they think. The idea of living your own life and – here’s a thought – leaving others the hell alone to do the same never crosses your mind.

2. Assuming that you have the right never to hear any opinion that contradicts your own, and using intimidation and violence if necessary to protect your ideological bubble. And if someone actually does or says something you don’t like, you are entitled to a hug or a puppy.

3. Assuming that feeling offended on your part constitutes a political crisis on the nation’s part. Others might have to grow up and accept the fact that the world will not bow to their every whim, but not you.

4. Having exquisite sensitivity to the moral speck in society’s eye while ignoring the beam in your own. It is your privilege to establish the standards by which others must live and to critique them at will, but any criticism of you is evidence of hatred.

5. Consistency is for other people. You are free to deny the existence of absolutes while imposing absolute standards that others must follow. As long as your heroes condemn fossil fuels and support gun control, they are free to fly in private jets and live in mega-mansions protected by armed guards. You are free to say the vilest things about conservative blacks or women, but any criticism of liberal blacks or women is evidence of racism or sexism.

6. You must be judged only by your rhetoric and not by your results. If your social policy weakens black families, the resulting social ills are the result of racism on society’s part and not any arrogance, presumption, or failing on your part. As long as you claim to value education, you are free to support an educational system that cranks out students who cannot read or do basic math, and who are ignorant of even the most essential points of American and world history.

7. And finally, liberal privilege means never having to say “not guilty.” Laws that apply to everyone else do not apply to you. Laws protecting public and private property may be suspended in order to allow leftists room to ventilate their feelings. Laws protecting classified information or forbidding the abuse of governmental positions to harass opponents do not apply to you or your allies.

The left constantly introduces new words and phrases into our political discourse. Perhaps the phrase that has been missing is, “Your liberal privilege is showing.”

This would be a good time to introduce it.

DeVos Moves to Rein in the Campus Kangaroo Courts – AEI

Source: DeVos Moves to Rein in the Campus Kangaroo Courts – AEI

In an anticipated speech yesterday, delivered at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia School of Law, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced that the U.S. Department of Education is moving to end the reckless Title IX enforcement regime adopted by the Obama administration. The speech reflected a welcome regard for statute after years of executive-branch adventurism and, more important, a much-needed push to begin correcting for the kangaroo-court insanity that Obama-administration ideologues unleashed on college campuses.

DeVos appropriately framed her remarks by hailing twin imperatives: the need to protect all students on college campuses from sexual harassment or assault, and the need to ensure that those accused of such acts are treated fairly. Especially for someone who has had her share of stumbles in public remarks, DeVos delivered a well-crafted speech with aplomb. The balance and tenor of her remarks was just right.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos makes remarks during a major policy address on Title IX enforcement, which in college covers sexual harassment, rape and assault, at George Mason University, in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., September 7, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Theiler
She opened by flatly declaring, “Let me be clear at the outset: Acts of sexual misconduct are reprehensible, disgusting, and unacceptable. They are acts of cowardice and personal weakness. . . . One rape is one too many. One assault is one too many. One aggressive act of harassment is one too many. . . . Survivors aren’t well-served when they are re-traumatized with appeal after appeal because the failed system failed the accused.”

But DeVos also proceeded to do something that her Obama-era counterparts never did, which is to carefully affirm that we do not protect or support victims by railroading the accused through sham processes. As DeVos put it, “One person denied due process is too many. . . . Every survivor of sexual misconduct must be taken seriously. Every student accused of sexual misconduct must know that guilt is not predetermined. . . . Due process either protects everyone, or it protects no one. The notion that a school must diminish due-process rights to better serve the ‘victim’ only creates more victims.”

DeVos addressed the worrisome way in which Title IX enforcement has grown into a tool for policing speech. She highlighted the need to be “more precise in the definition of sexual misconduct” and observed:

Schools have been compelled by Washington to enforce ambiguous and incredibly broad definitions of assault and harassment. Too many cases involve students and faculty who have faced investigation and punishment simply for speaking their minds or teaching their classes. . . . But if everything is harassment, then nothing is. Punishing speech protected by the First Amendment trivializes actual harassment.

Bizarrely, DeVos’s sensible stance represents a sea change from current policy. In April 2011, responding to hyperbolic claims of a “campus rape epidemic” fueled by junk science, the Obama Department of Education issued a “Dear Colleague” letter that dramatically altered Title IX enforcement on college campuses. The letter greatly expanded federal reach into how colleges should adjudicate sexual-harassment investigations if they wanted to steer clear of a potential federal investigation.

The 2011 guidance, issued without the required notice-and-comment rulemaking process, informed schools receiving federal funds that they should use the “preponderance of evidence” standard — the lowest possible standard of proof in our judiciary system — in all investigations of sexual offenses, ranging from unwelcome sexually charged speech to rape. The preponderance of evidence standard means that if the campus administrator thinks there is a 50.1 percent chance that accusation is true, the accused is to be found guilty. The letter also imposed a form of double jeopardy by requiring that schools allow accusers to appeal not-guilty rulings. It further “strongly discouraged” institutions from allowing accusers to be cross-examined. Campuses that failed to abide by any of these “suggestions” would be vulnerable to federal civil-rights investigations.

Subsequent Obama-era Title IX guidance imposed further federal strictures on higher-education institutions, including telling them to adopt a remarkably expansive (and unconstitutional) definition of sexual harassment. A self-proclaimed “blueprint” for Title IX compliance issued in 2013, for example, reaffirmed OCR’s expectation that schools treat any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, including speech, as sexual harassment, despite the Supreme Court holding otherwise. It also made clear that conduct which a “reasonable person” would not consider “objectively offensive” could still be deemed to constitute harassment.

The consequences of all this were as unfortunate as they were predictable. K. C. Johnson, co-author of The Campus Rape Frenzy, has noted that a district-court decision against Appalachian State University last month marked the 60th time that courts have ruled against colleges and universities in campus due-process cases since the 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter. This September, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) released a study of campus due process in which it reported that of 53 of the nation’s leading colleges and universities, 85 percent maintain policies that grossly violate due-process protections and nearly three-quarters don’t even presume the accused innocent until proven guilty. In one striking instance, Northwestern University professor Laura Kipnis found herself subject to two Title IX investigations in 2015 following an essay she had written for The Chronicle of Higher Education about campus sexual politics and paranoia. Other instances of accused students and faculty being railroaded by university kangaroo courts can be found in nearly any major news outlet.

DeVos’s speech marks a promising turn. While the education press reported that DeVos was, for now, leaving the 2011 Obama guidance intact, a senior Department of Education official told us that this is misleading. Rather, the official says the department has already filed paperwork with the Office of Management and Budget to rescind the guidance and adopt new interim guidance in its place.

The interim guidance will stipulate fair-treatment standards for both parties involved in these investigations. This means no more star chambers: All the evidence available to one party is to be available to the other, and institutions will be required to notify the accused of any charges levied against them. The interim guidance will also take Washington’s thumb off the scale in terms of evidentiary standards, cross-examination, and the like, allowing campuses to reinstate due-process protections without fearing they will trigger a federal civil-rights investigation. DeVos also announced that she will launch a “transparent notice-and-comment process,” in accord with federal law, to develop guidelines that can more responsibly and effectively promote safe campuses, provide justice to victims, and safeguard the rights of the accused.

Secretary DeVos’s fine speech and pledge to act are worth commending — especially given the caterwauling and vitriol with which she knew she’d be greeted by the Title IX lobby, campus ideologues, and old Obama hands. If she’s able and willing to follow through, DeVos’s articulate and measured challenge to campus kangaroo courts will prove to be a heartening win for common sense.