The last time I read an article by feminist-with-a-law-degree, Jill Filipovic, it was a listicle in Cosmo entitled, 9 Reasons Constitutional Originalism Is Bullsh*t. It wasn’t that I was an originalist. It was that her article made people stupider, as it was complete, utter nonsense. She distorted, well, lied unless she was really stupid enough not to realize how far from the truth she was, to advocate against then-Judge Gorsuch.
But there were others who were far more deeply concerned with originalism to take her to task, and there were other stories that grabbed me harder. So I let it go. It’s not as if her name hasn’t appeared in the annals of SJ before, That she’s a cartoon character of feminist progressive sentience is beyond doubt. That anyone lets her on their soapbox is telling. It’s like asking Ann Coulter to be fair.
According to our last president, several sitting senators, feminist activists and female college students all over the country, sexual violence on campus is one of the most pressing issues facing young American women. Statistics promulgated by the Obama White House declare that an estimated one in five college women will be sexually assaulted. To combat this scourge, universities have hired new administrators, mandated anti-rape training sessions at freshman orientation and sped up the disciplinary process for accused assailants. Prominent feminists and lawyers say many schools are still doing too little to protect female students and far too much to protect male ones.
Unlike the ridiculous crap she spewed at Cosmo (hey, it’s Cosmo, right?), Filipovic is far more circumspect in her language here, attributing the debunked one in five stat to President Obama’s White House. As if it’s not her promoting the lie. Granted, her resort to “prominent feminists and lawyers” is a quick dip in the bullshit pool, but that’s become the norm for facile diversions these days.
It would have been an interesting choice for the Times to put the review of The Campus Rape Frenzy in the hands of a credible feminist, along with the other book reviewed simultaneously, Laura Kipnis’ Unwanted Advances, which was just reviewed by Jeff Gamso. The problem wasn’t that the Times put the books to the test in the hands of someone disinclined to see their merit. The problem wasn’t even that the Times had no choice, because nobody there knows anyone who sees things otherwise.
The problem is that the value of a feminist reviewing books challenging their narrative is dependent on the honesty and integrity of the reviewer. The problem is that Filipovic, despite being a lawyer, is shameless in her advocacy. As Carl Sandburg famously wrote:
If the facts are against you, argue the law. If the law is against you, argue the facts. If the law and the facts are against you, pound the table and yell like hell.
One of the things that writers find insufferable is someone who just lies about what you wrote. When it happens at reddit, you can laugh it off, knowing that the only people who will see it, believe it, are the terminally challenged. There will always be some who either can’t grasp what you write or will contort it to fit their fantasy. You can usually tell who they are by their cool tinfoil hat.
But Filipovic’s review isn’t published at reddit. Not even at Cosmo, between the stories about which lipstick will drive your boyfriend wild with desire or what to name your genitalia if you want to discuss it on your first date. No, Filipovic’s review was in the New York Times, which enjoys a legacy of credibility which its current stewards are trying desperately to destroy.
KC Johnson runs through the factual claims about the content of the book made by Filipovic that are simply false.
After serving as a cheerleader for disgraced district attorney Mike Nifong during the Duke lacrosse case, the New York Times even more aggressively championed Barack Obama’s crusade to erode due process for college students accused of sexual assault. It was probably naïve, therefore, to expect a fair review from the Times when Stuart Taylor and I published our book on the topic, The Campus Rape Frenzy. The review, written by Times contributing opinion editor Jill Filipovic, confirms the paper’s inability to address the issue fairly. In a few hundred words, Filipovic made at least three factual errors in describing the book, and she misleads the reader regarding several crucial points.
For those who are unaware of the significance of the Nifong reference, KC Johnson was one of the few academics who refused to be swept up in the Duke Lacrosse hysteria and adoration of since-convicted, since-disbarred, district attorney Mike Nifong. While all around him were losing their heads, buying the baseless narrative, he refused to forsake critical analysis in the rush to assume that Duke lacrosse players raped a black stripper, because rape culture.
As with Duke, where KC was proven right all along, and which has since been excised from the feminist narrative because it just doesn’t fit, his and Stuart Taylor’s meticulous researched, meticulously accurate, book flies in the face of all that a reviewer like Jill Filipovic believes. Or perhaps more accurately, wants her readers to believe. It would be uncharitable to assume Filipovic is so stupid as to believe what she writes for your consumption.
So while the Times’ idea, to have an agent of their agenda do the review, might be conceptually sound and, perhaps, produce an interesting and informative review, they instead got some twists, distortions, and three outright lies upon which to hang the enemy of the false but adored narrative. It might have worked had they chosen a feminist with integrity, with a desire to adhere to facts and present her views with honesty.
Instead, they asked Jill Filipovic. They chose poorly.