In a comment, Frank pointed to a proposal by District of Columbia council member Anita Bonds, who apparently found herself a little late to the “rape epidemic” party, and desperately needed to come up with something, anything, to ride the wave to the twin glories embodied by this sham: Tough on crime and feminism.
To pander to two constituencies who are usually deathly antagonistic is a rare opportunity, and no politician worth her salt would miss the chance to hop on that speeding train. Bonds was no exception.
Newly proposed D.C. legislation would require colleges to put a permanent and prominent notation on the academic transcripts of students who are convicted of sexual assault or who try to withdraw from school while under investigation for sexual misconduct — a “Scarlet Letter” that would follow them to new schools and graduate programs or into the workforce.
Council member Anita Bonds’s proposal Tuesday — which comes as the nation is paying more attention to the widespread problem of college sexual assault — immediately drew praise from several colleagues for its bold approach to attacking the issue.
Sometimes ideas slide down the slippery slope on their own. Other times, they get a push.
Bonds (D-At Large), who is also head of the Democratic Party in the District, cited a Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation survey that found that 20 percent of women who attended college within the past four years had an unwanted sexual experience while in school there.
“I hear these statistics, and I am outraged as many in the community are,” she said.
Outraged? About the unwanted attempted hand-holding? Is that really what outrages someone responsible for keeping Washington, D.C., clean?
“For too long, we hear stories of women being raped, and the first question asked is, ‘What were you wearing?’ or ‘How did you handle that drink?’ ” Bonds said in introducing the legislation. “These questions place the blame on the victim, and it redirects our thinking away from the better question: What did anyone do to stop the person from being raped?”
Perhaps that depends on what stories you hear, Council Member. Did you hear this one? Did it outrage you?
One of the underlying premises of the Title IX college disciplinary machinery that simultaneously denies due process while presuming guilt is that the ultimate sanction isn’t criminal, but “merely” educational. Sure, a male student will be expelled, lose the money and opportunity costs spent on years of education (but keep the debt, because reasons), be tainted by the outcome for life, be denied a future that requires a degree or a license, and all the penumbras that flow from it.
But hey, it’s not like he’ll have a criminal record, right? So it’s not serious, and it’s not like he needs real due process.
And then someone like Bonds comes along with a bright idea, because she couldn’t get her act together in time to hop on the train as it was leaving the station. “I know,” she says. “Let’s make it a permanent stain on the kid’s record, his future, forever and ever!”
Nobody thought of that before, and there was a reason for it. It was the exact opposite of the justification for the rampant deprivation of due process in college disciplinary proceedings, because it wouldn’t be a permanent taint. Sure, it was bullshit, but the advocates of this twisted concept could at least make an argument for it, provided the people listening were dumber than dirt.
But it’s easy to see how Bonds can sell her brilliant initiative, using the same teary-eyed appeal to emotion that’s characterized all discussion of the subject. The rapes! What about the rapes! Rapes, rapes, rapes!!! So go to the cops, prosecute and put rapists in prison, where they belong.
But the cops and prosecutors don’t share the Department of Education’s view that sexual regret at any time in the next two years, or sucking down a long neck Rolling Rock, turns otherwise fully consensual sex into rape. Imagine all the co-eds carrying mattresses, disrupting the educational process because there are no seats left in the lecture halls.
Yet, it would be wrong to be too harsh on Council Member Bonds, who compensates for her woeful lack of knowledge by the depth of her outrage. After all, what sort of sick individual wouldn’t feel the pain of a Fawn Leibowitz who had to survive a guy trying to hold her hand on the walk back to her dorm, or kiss her goodnight at the end of a date, when she secretly wished he wouldn’t?