George Will Crosses the Line

George Will Crosses the Line of Decency

I had pondered for a number of days whether or not to discuss the Will column on campus rape and his claim that Progressivism had transformed rape into a “coveted status.” I was upset, but he has said many foolish things as have many other writers on the Washington Post. So, I was leaning toward skipping the topic and discussing the oligarchy of internet providers. But today, the Washington Post responded to criticism, and it was a remarkable response.

According to Post Editorial Page Editor Fred Hiatt he welcomed the column and it “was well within the bounds of legitimate debate.” Really, that’s what he said.

What are the facts?

George Will downplayed the seriousness of campus rape, suggested that women claimed rape when it was not an appropriate charge and out of political correctness. I am familiar with the studies done on campus rape.  Here is one from the National Institute of Justice, an arm of the United States Justice Department. It indicates that on a campus of 10,000 female students, there will be an average of 350 rapes a year. The report indicates that five percent of the women in college are likely to experience rape in any given year (page 11). I can go on and tell you more findings, but does it appear to you that campus rape is a made up crisis? or that it was brought about by Progressivism run amok?

The Business Ethics of the Situation

The Washington Post is a newspaper, a business. It is supposed to provide news and commentary. Many things are debatable and a good newspaper provides a platform for vigorous debate over the great issues of the day.

But some things are facts. And trivializing facts about the nature of rape and suggesting that women are willing to decide later that it wasn’t consensual and that being raped is a positive status would seem in my mind to be in a real way a defense of the rapist, the poor misunderstood male who interpreted a woman’s “No” as part of a twisted game, who may have felt that if a woman dresses suggestively, drinks or invites him into her living quarter, she’s just asking for it.

It was to be hoped that these few men, for the statistics are clear – only a small proportion of the male population rape, could be deterred by more vigorous administrative action or at the very least they could be subject to more vigorous punishment. But this is now rendered more unlikely by George Will and defenders of a status quo which celebrates past custom and male aggression. For the poor, much put upon males, it was in his mind one indignity too much.

This issue brought forward by the commentary page of the newspaper is about crime. I firmly believe that if Will had trivialized armed robbery or shoplifting, he would have been fired yesterday. A great newspaper does not ignore facts or imply that a crime is okay because it has been the custom in the past – so was slavery and wife beating. Times have changed and George Will likes the old way.

But crime is crime, and the newspapers twisted ideas on what constitutes fair comment distorts a horrible act into a matter of dispute. That’s not responsible commentary.

James Pilant

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