Two "activists," Molly Haigh and Shaunna Thomas, are demanding that Michigan State University cancel its scheduled commencement speech by George Will. ( Petition calls on MSU to cancel George Will speech by Kim Kozlowski, The Detroit News, Dec. 9, 2014, page 6A). The reported reason:
Will stated in a column that sexual assault victims make it up to achieve the "coveted status" of "victimhood."This is what Will actually wrote:
They are learning that when they say campus victimizations are ubiquitous ("micro-aggressions," often not discernible to the untutored eye, are everywhere), and that when they make victimhood a coveted status that confers privileges, victims proliferate. ( Colleges become the victims of progressivism, by George Will, Washington Post, June 6, 2014)
Will writes about a Swarthmore woman who had been "hooking up" with a guy for three months. One night she didn't feel like having sex, but she did get into bed with the guy in her pajamas. He removed her clothes and had sex. Will quotes the woman's vivid description of the aftermath:
I just kind of laid there and didn't do anything -- I had already said no. I was just tired and wanted to go to bed. I let him finish. I pulled my panties back on and went to sleep. (Washington Post)Six weeks later she reported the incident as a rape. Honestly, it wasn't. It was a misunderstanding.
Rape is a serious issue. People who speak or write about it should be careful with their words. Will did not write that "sexual assault victims make it up." That would be absurd. Real victims do not make things up. People who make things up might be liars, but they are not victims. We might question the legitimacy of a report, but a true report of a rape does not render the rape itself legitimate.
In the bizarre ideological climate of a contemporary American college campus, every year a few students are going to outright fabricate claims of rape, racism, sexism, homophobia, etc., etc. A few are going to assume victim status based on trivial events or misunderstandings. Sometimes the falsehoods or distortions acquire political significance. Some lies are political from day 1.
It's like the old European folk tale about the boy who cried, "Wolf!" Seriously, if all you need to do is put your panties back on and go to sleep, why should anyone care six weeks later?
This is a bad time for false or highly embellished claims of rape. The University of Virginia/Rolling Stone controversy is at its peak. Plus, all of the lies and hysteria and revolting street theater connected with the Ferguson, Missouri events have rendered just about the entire white population of the U.S.A. skeptical of protesters in general and in no mood to grant them even a shred of moral authority.
I would advise Ms. Haigh and Ms. Thomas to choose their causes more carefully in
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