American newspaper columnist George Will is a journalist, author and Pulitzer Prize recipient. The Wall Street Journal once called him “perhaps the most powerful journalist in America.” He’s also out of a job, at least in syndication with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, who dumped the conservative political writer for an incendiary piece he wrote about sexual assaults on our nation's college campuses.
In his column, carried originally by Will’s employer The Washington Post, the 73-year-old author said colleges and universities “are learning that when they say campus victimizations are ubiquitous and that when they make victimhood a coveted status that confers privileges, victims proliferate.”
As a case in point, Will linked and discussed a rape charge out of Swarthmore College in Philadelphia. A student was in her dorm with a guy that she’d already been sleeping with for about three months. Quoting PhillyMag.com, Will wrote:
They’d now decided — mutually, she thought — just to be friends. When he ended up falling asleep on her bed, she changed into pajamas and climbed in next to him. Soon, he was putting his arm around her and taking off her clothes. “I basically said, ‘No, I don’t want to have sex with you.’ And then he said, ‘OK, that’s fine’ and stopped. . . . And then he started again a few minutes later, taking off my panties, taking off his boxers. 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.
Will said that the Obama administration is “riding to the rescue of ‘sexual assault’ victims” like the Swarthmore student, who filed a rape charge six weeks after the incident above. Will went on to write:
The administration’s crucial and contradictory statistics are validated the usual way, by official repetition; Joe Biden has been heard from. The statistics are: One in five women is sexually assaulted while in college, and only 12 percent of assaults are reported. Simple arithmetic demonstrates that if the 12 percent reporting rate is correct, the 20 percent assault rate is preposterous.
Will claims that “Education Department lawyers disregard pesky arithmetic and elementary due process” and adopt a minimal standard of evidence. Will also mocked out campus “trigger warnings” – a standard of speech designed to protect sexual assault victims from having their encounter brought back up in their minds. To Will, trigger warnings “swaddle students in a ‘safe,’ ‘supportive,’ ‘unthreatening’ environment -- intellectual comfort for the intellectually dormant.”
He closes by writing:
What government is inflicting on colleges and universities, and what they are inflicting on themselves, diminishes their autonomy, resources, prestige and comity. Which serves them right. They have asked for this by asking for progressivism.
Will’s full column can be read here.
Tony Messenger, the St. Louis Dispatch editorial editors, said he had already been considering dumping Will from the paper, but that Will’s column on rape “made the decision easier.”
“The column was offensive and inaccurate; we apologize for publishing it,” Messenger wrote.
Since the column first appeared back on June 6, a petition at MoveOn.org has pulled in close to 46,000 signatures. The petition is calling for the Post to fire George Will. The co-authors of the petition, who are both from the women’s activist group UltraViolet, wrote:
George Will makes his living writing columns that many people disagree with. But his latest column has gone too far. Rape is a serious crime--accusing women of making it up and arguing schools shouldn't be addressing sexual assault puts both women and men at risk. By publishing George Will's piece, The Washington Post is amplifying some of the most insidious lies that perpetuate rape culture. It's not just wrong – it's dangerous.
Other petitions have been thrown up online, and even state senators are weighing in with their rebukes of George Will. Thus far, the Post is standing by Will, calling his column “within the realm of reasonable debate.”
Will is not going down without taking a few swings however. In a discussion on C-SPAN yesterday, seen here in a YouTube upload, Will lashed out at his critics, saying that “indignation is the default position of certain people in civic discourse. They go from a standing start to fury in about 30 seconds.”
Will blames the Internet for creating a free-for-all forum of name-callers who cannot read, write or think on their own:
I think it has something to do with the Internet, a wonderful thing. It has lowered, indeed erased, the barriers to entry into public discourse. That’s a good thing. Unfortunately, the downside to this, and there’s a downside to everything, is that among the barriers to entry that have been reduced is you don’t have to be able to read, write or think. You can just come in and shout and call names and carry on.
What are your thoughts on Will’s column and defense of that column? Leave your thoughts below.