A short time ago Northwestern University professor Laura Kipnis wrote an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education. In it, Kipnis questioned today’s campus orthodoxy about rape culture and trigger warnings.
I dutifully posted on it here.
Now, the campus Brown Shirts and junior Red Guards have chosen to harass Kipniss over her ideas, the better to create a hostile intellectual atmosphere on college campuses. She compares it to being brought before the Inquisition. In that she is largely correct.
According to Kipnis, they have succeeded. The decline and fall of American education proceeds apace.
In a new article from the Chronicle Kipnis recounts her experience:
According to our campus newspaper, the mattress-carriers 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 the essay; another called it "terrifying." I’d argued that the new codes infantilized students 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 of someone’s ideas, which seemed to prove my point.
Clearly, the tactic is fascistic. Kipnis explains:
Marching against a published article wasn’t a good optic — it smacked of book burning, something Americans generally oppose.
On what basis is Kipnis being assaulted? On the basis of Title IX and a new policy issued by the Obama Department of Education.
Score one for the zealots become bureaucrats. They have no real interest in the criminal justice system. They want to impose their will on the nation and they have a special animus against free speech.
If you wanted to know where all of that government spending is going, you now know that the Obama administration has hired more bureaucrats and more lawyers to conduct kangaroo courts, administrative trials that circumvent due process and that shut down free inquiry on college campuses.
Things seemed less amusing when I received an email from my university’s Title IX coordinator informing me that two students had filed Title IX complaints against me on the basis of the essay and "subsequent public statements" (which turned out to be a tweet), and that the university would retain an outside investigator to handle the complaints.
I stared at the email, which was under-explanatory in the extreme. I was being charged with retaliation, it said, though it failed to explain how an essay that mentioned no one by name could be construed as retaliatory, or how a publication fell under the province of Title IX, which, as I understood it, dealt with sexual misconduct and gender discrimination.
Title IX was enacted by Congress in 1972 to deal with gender discrimination in public education — athletics programs were the initial culprits — and all institutions receiving federal funds were required to be in compliance. Over time, court rulings established sexual harassment and assault as forms of discrimination, and in 2011 the U.S. Department of Education advised colleges to "take immediate and effective steps to end sexual harassment and sexual violence."
Apparently the idea was that they’d tell me the charges, and then, while I was collecting my wits, interrogate me about them. The term "kangaroo court" came to mind. I wrote to ask for the charges in writing. The coordinator wrote back thanking me for my thoughtful questions.
It’s big government at its worst:
The Title IX bureaucracy is expanding by the minute. A recent emailed update from my university announced new policies, programs, hires, surveys, procedures, websites, and educational initiatives devoted to sexual misconduct. What wasn’t quantified is how much intellectual real estate is being grabbed in the process. It’s a truism that the mission of bureaucracies is, above all, to perpetuate themselves, but with the extension of Title IX from gender discrimination into sexual misconduct has come a broadening of not just its mandate but even what constitutes sexual assault and rape.
Ambivalent sex becomes coerced sex, with charges brought months or even years after the events in question. Title IX officers now adjudicate an increasing range of murky situations involving mutual drunkenness, conflicting stories, and relationships gone wrong. They pronounce on the thorniest of philosophical and psychological issues: What is consent? What is power? Should power differentials between romantic partners be proscribed? Should eliminating power differences in relationships even be a social goal — wouldn’t that risk eliminating heterosexuality itself?