As much as I enjoy seeing Yale circling the drain of self-destruction, I am simply flabbergasted by the most recent discrimination suit it faces from a group of current and former female students.
The Yale group's confidential Title IX complaint to the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) reportedly includes testimony about sexual assaults, but the hostile-environment charge against the university rests as well on a litany of complaints about offensive exercises of First Amendment freedoms. A December 2010 draft complaint letter, obtained by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), focuses on these "incidents": In 2006, a group of frat boys chant "No means yes, yes means anal" outside the Yale Women's Center. In 2010, a group of fraternity pledges repeat this obnoxious chant outside a first-year women's dorm. In 2008, pledges surround the Women's Center holding signs saying, "We love Yale sluts." In 2009, Yale students publish a report listing the names and addresses of first-year women and estimating the number of beers "it would take to have sex with them."
There are few adults who would not recognize these incidents as stupid, boorish frat-boy behavior not to be emulated. But taking Yale to court, in effect seeking to force the University to punish such speech, takes the current college trend of protection the right not to be offended to absurd extremes.
Consider for a moment that there are radical women's organizations on most college campuses that take it as an article of faith that all men are rapists and all men are complicit in violence against women. How is this speech any less aggressive, though it is treated with complete respect by universities. In fact, many integrate this point of view into required Freshman sensitivity training. Women on compuses routinely engage in speech saying that every man is a guilty felon complicit in awful crimes, and I don't see any men whining and running to Uncle Sugar to protect their delicate ears from offense. At least the frat boys were probably drunk and joking -- the women are sober and dead serious.
Don't not be mistaken -- this is not about rights or freedom, but about a bid for totalitarian control of campuses by a niche group. From Wendy Kaminer
Sad to say, but feminism helped lead the assault on civil liberty and now seems practically subsumed by it. Decades ago, when Catherine MacKinnon, Andrea Dworkin, and their followers began equating pornography with rape (literally) and calling it a civil-rights violation, groups of free-speech feminists fought back, in print, at conferences, and in state legislatures, with some success. We won some battles (and free speech advocates in general can take solace in the Supreme Court's recent decision upholding the right to engage in offensive speech on public property and public affairs). But all things considered (notably the generations of students unlearning liberty) we seem to be losing the war, especially among progressives.
This is not simply a loss for liberty on campus and the right to indulge in what's condemned as verbal harassment or bullying, broadly defined. It's a loss of political freedom: the theories of censoring offensive or hurtful speech that are used to prosecute alleged student harassers are used to foment opposition to the right to burn a flag or a copy of the Quran or build a Muslim community center near Ground Zero. The disregard for liberty that the Obama administration displays in its approach to sexual harassment and bullying is consistent with its disregard for liberty, and the presumption of innocence, in the Bush/Obama war on terror. Of course, the restriction of puerile, sexist speech on campus is an inconvenience compared to the indefinite detention or show trials of people suspected of terrorism, sometimes on the basis of un-reviewed or un-reviewable evidence. But underlying trivial and tragic deprivations of liberty, the authoritarian impulse is the same.
PS- The last part in the first quote about rating women as related to sex is ironic, as, if memory serves, Yale was the location around 1980 when a group of female students created a guide rating male students on their sexual talents. When women do it, it is a brave act of liberation. When men do it, it is sexual harassment.
PPS- My son is going through the college admissions process. All these schools stress how much they are looking for future leaders. How can Yale be so selective that it has an admissions rate around 7% of applicants but still end up with so many people who cannot function in the world as an adult? The women are begging to have a daddy to protect them and the men seem to need a daddy to kick their ass until they act like adults.