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KC Johnson on Free Speech

Former Williams professor KC Johnson writes in Commentary:

In early May, the Washington Post urged universities to make clear that “racist signs, symbols, and speech are off-limits.” Given the extraordinarily broad definition of what constitutes “racist” speech at most institutions of higher education, this demand would single out most right-of-center (and, in some cases, even centrist and liberal) discourse on issues of race or ethnicity. The editorial provided the highest-profile example of how hostility to free speech, once confined to the ideological fringe on campus, has migrated to the liberal mainstream.

The last few years have seen periodic college protests—featuring claims that significant amounts of political speech constitute “violence,” thereby justifying censorship—followed by even more troubling attempts to appease the protesters. After the mob scene that greeted Charles Murray upon his visit to Middlebury College, for instance, the student government criticized any punishment for the protesters, and several student leaders wanted to require that future speakers conform to the college’s “community standard” on issues of race, gender, and ethnicity. In the last few months, similar attempts to stifle the free exchange of ideas in the name of promoting diversity occurred at Wesleyan, Claremont McKenna, and Duke. Offering an extreme interpretation of this point of view, one CUNY professor recently dismissed dialogue as “inherently conservative,” since it reinforced the “relations of power that presently exist.”

It’s easy, of course, to dismiss campus hostility to free speech as affecting only a small segment of American public life—albeit one that trains the next generation of judges, legislators, and voters. But, as Jonathan Chait observed in 2015, denying “the legitimacy of political pluralism on issues of race and gender” has broad appeal on the left. It is only most apparent on campus because “the academy is one of the few bastions of American life where the political left can muster the strength to impose its political hegemony upon others.” During his time in office, Barack Obama generally urged fellow liberals to support open intellectual debate. But the current campus environment previews the position of free speech in a post-Obama Democratic Party, increasingly oriented around identity politics.

Waning support on one end of the ideological spectrum for this bedrock American principle should provide a political opening for the other side. The Trump administration, however, seems poorly suited to make the case. Throughout his public career, Trump has rarely supported free speech, even in the abstract, and has periodically embraced legal changes to facilitate libel lawsuits. Moreover, the right-wing populism that motivates Trump’s base has a long tradition of ideological hostility to civil liberties of all types. Even in campus contexts, conservatives have defended free speech inconsistently, as seen in recent calls that CUNY disinvite anti-Zionist fanatic Linda Sarsour as a commencement speaker.

In a sharply polarized political environment, awash in dubiously-sourced information, free speech is all the more important. Yet this same environment has seen both sides, most blatantly elements of the left on campuses, demand restrictions on their ideological foes’ free speech in the name of promoting a greater good.

Indeed. The main thing we can do at EphBlog is to fight this tendency at Williams. Who will join us?

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Safety Dance Second Amended Complaint

Here (zip) is a link to a zip folder of all the documents (including exhibits) associated with the latest amended complaint in the Safety Dance sexual assault care and here (pdf) is a highlighted version. Don’t have time to read all that? No worries. Former William professor KC Johnson provides this summary:

(1) Both parties to the case were unappealing. But unappealing students deserve fair treatment just as much as appealing ones.

(2) The accuser was a Williams employee, but received kid-gloves treatment throughout by Williams—in a way that would have been inconceivable if the employee were a man and the student he allegedly mistreated a woman.

(3) The employee had a pattern of filing what appear to have been retaliatory complaints against the student. Williams not only refused to treat the complaints as retaliatory, but refused to consider the effects of the first complaint’s failure on the employee’s credibility for the second complaint.

Beyond the troubling elements from the original complaint, the amended complaint raises four new areas of concern with how Williams handled the case:
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Witch Hunt on the Quad

Glowing review for former Williams professor KC Johnson’s latest book:

In 1692, the Massachusetts Bay Colony found itself in the grip of a moral panic. Seemingly rational people turned on their neighbors, accusing them of witchcraft. The subjective testimony of children and “spectral” evidence, which only the accusers could see, were the basis for the arrest of more than 140 innocent people. Nineteen were hanged.

Today America is in the grip of another moral panic. We’re not afraid of witches but rapists, whom we are told lurk at our nation’s colleges in numbers that render the quad a more dangerous environment for women than downtown Detroit. In “The Campus Rape Frenzy: The Attack on Due Process at America’s Universities,” KC Johnson and Stuart Taylor Jr. dismantle this myth of a campus rape crisis and show how, with alarming frequency, colleges mistreat students accused of assault by failing to allow them any meaningful opportunity to prove their innocence.

At the same time that activists are expanding the definition of sexual assault, university disciplinary committees are systematically depriving accused students of basic due process protections. At the directive of the Department of Education, many campus tribunals today assign blame if there is a 51% chance that the accuser is telling the truth (the “preponderance of the evidence” standard). Many schools do not allow the accused to cross-examine their accusers. Some refuse to allow accused students legal representation and deny them the opportunity to present exculpatory evidence or witnesses in their defense.

According to the authors, Mr. McLeod is one of more than 100 students who are currently suing their former colleges or universities for wrongly punishing them for sexual misconduct. They recount so many examples that at times the book feels like the movie “Groundhog Day” and the reader soon forgets whether he is reading about a case out of Amherst or Michigan or Yale or USC—to name just a few of the many schools at which miscarriages of justice have occurred.

Unlike in Salem, where there were no witches, there are indeed too many instances of rape on campus. But as Messrs. Johnson and Taylor show powerfully, the current system has its own victims and ultimately undermines the credibility of actual rape survivors whose cases belong in court, not in Kafkaesque administrative tribunals.

Exactly right. Should we be pleased or sad that the Safety Dance court case happened too late for Williams to be featured in the book?

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College Reply on Safety Dance

KC Johnson provides an excellent update/summary on the College’s latest filings (Memo in Support of Motion to Dismiss, Memo v PI and for stay and Kurker Memo) on Safety Dance. Comments:

1) KC’s summary and comments are perfect. Read them! For history’s sake, I have copied them in their entirety below the break.

2) The next hearing in the case is scheduled for January 11. Does anyone have details on exact time/location? Perhaps a reader will be there . . .

rossi3) Does anyone else have the sense that Doe’s attorney is overmatched? Has she ever litigated a case like this in the past? How do attorneys with law degrees from Western New England University School of Law stack up, on average, with attorneys with degrees from Northwestern? As EphBlog likes to point out, money talks (and often wins), and you can be certain that Williams is paying its attorneys much more than Doe can afford to pay his . . .

lapp4) Stop being so snotty EphBlog! And, besides that, Rossi (Doe’s lawyer) has an undergraduate degree from Columbia while the College’s main attorney (Daryl Lapp) has a BA from Swarthmore. Call it tie.

5) How much money have Doe and Williams spent so far? How much can they expect to spend if this case goes to trial? (I would love to get some reasonable estimates from our attorney readers.)

6) Although the details are confusing (to me), it appears that, officially, the College expelled Doe for a single instance of sexual assault against Smith. (She accused him of a variety of violations, including various forms of “relationship abuse.”)

date

First, assuming that this is correct, that the key event happened on September 1, 2014 (in the middle of their approximately two year relationship), did this occur on the Williams campus? (Classes were not in session but perhaps Smith/Doe arrived early.) Second, would it (should it?) matter if it occurred off campus? I can understand (maybe!) why the College feels the need to regulate events on campus. But to do so off-campus seems insane . . .

7) The College is pulling no punches:

punches

EphBlog readers knew about Doe’s prior record two months ago.

8) Can anyone explain the logic of Doe pursuing this case while the College is still going through its own process?

appeal

If I were the Court, I would find this persuasive. Why not wait until the College rules on Doe’s appeal of his expulsion? But, if I were the Court, I would also press Williams on just how long its appeal process is going to take. And, if I were a cynic, I would note that all the lawyers involved benefit from maximizing the paperwork generated and time spent on the dispute . . .

Would readers like me to spend a week going through these documents item by item? Or should I move on to other stuff?

UPDATE: John Doe has filed a Withdrawal of Opposition v Motion to Stay, meaning, I think, that there will be no hearing until after February 28, at which point the College plans to issue its ruling on Doe’s appeal of his expulsion.

UPDATE II: KC Johnson notes that the Motion to Stay has been granted, with the next hearing scheduled for March 2. So, it looks like the judge agreed with EphBlog (unsurprisingly!) and will wait for the College to rule on Doe’s appeal.

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College Fix on Safety Dance

They start with a great headline:

College employee falsely accused student of rape so she wouldn’t get fired, lawsuit claims

This is much better than our first effort since it mentions the (obviously false) rape accusation. After reading the material associated with the case, no reasonable person would believe that John Doe sexually assaulted Susan Smith. However, I don’t think that Smith used the false rape accusation to avoid getting fired. The timing does not work out. This is much more likely to be a women-scorned scenario.

Williams College is withholding a former student’s diploma based on transparently false rape accusations by a college employee – his former lover – who believed her job was jeopardized by him, a new lawsuit claims.

The former student accused the once-religious private school of conducting an “inherently flawed” and “fundamentally unfair” rape investigation, in violation of his Title IX rights, and violating federal education privacy law.

1) Again, the most important (and indisputed!) facts of the case are that Smith/Doe were having sex for a year, then something happened one night, then they continued to have sex for another year. Now, obviously, sexual assault can occur in the middle of a long-standing sexual relationship. But there ought to be a fairly high standard of evidence required if you are going to ruin someone’s life in this scenario.

2) Why the College Fix uses the (accurate) description of “once-religious private school” for Williams is a mystery to me. Is this some sort of weird right wing tic?

To investigate the employee’s claims, the college hired the same person named in a lawsuit against nearby Amherst College that said her work was rushed and one-sided in favor of the accuser.

That would be Allyson Kurker, another person who makes money off of the weaponizing of sexual relationships in college. If you are accused of sexual assault, the last thing you want is Kurker to investigate the claim. From KC Johnson:

In the deposition, Kurker made clear that when accusers change their minds about whether they were sexually assaulted, what they previously said about their attack isn’t relevant to her inquiry. She added that she was interested in contemporaneous writings from the accuser only “to the extent that the incident is being described as nonconsensual.” Kurker continued: “The only e-mails that I would have found material” were those in which A.S. had described the incident as nonconsensual. This standard suggests that Kurker sees her job as not searching for—indeed, arguably concealing—potentially exculpatory evidence.

And Williams still hired her! There are dozens of Massachusetts attorneys who would love to get money from the College to investigate sexual assault claims. Why would Williams hire someone like Kurker who is so obviously biased against the accused? The naive answer is that Williams is incompetent, that it did not know about Kurker and did not bother to check out her previous work. The scary answer is that Williams knew all about Kurker, knew that she was biased against the accused and hired her anyway because, after all the complaints over the Lexie Brackenridge case, the College wanted to collect some scalps.

In May [2016], with less than a month before Doe’s graduation, Smith filed a counter-complaint with the Title IX office alleging that he had “displayed abusive behavior towards her during the past two years.”

Smith’s initial complaint provided few details as to the nature of her claim. During the Title IX investigation, which took place over several weeks and included several interviews with witnesses provided by Smith, she made several new allegations.

That timing is the strangest part of the case. It is May 2016. Smith graduated in 2015. Doe is weeks away from graduation. She tried to get him thrown up on trumped up honor code violations and failed to do so. She has been employed by Williams for almost a year but has been (I hope!) told that, given her behavior in striking (!) a student, the College will not be renewing her contract. The relationship between Doe/Smith has been over (really??) for months. So, why file a complaint now?

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On Student Fundraising

My question for Angela Schaeffer, the College’s most excellent Chief Communications Officer:

The Record reports that the students behind Uncomfortable Learning solicit funding from alumni to pay for the talks that they arrange on campus. Is this against College policy? (If you can’t comment on the actions of specific students, could you at least address a hypothetical question along the same lines?)

Her answer (reprinted with her permission):

I don’t know what fundraising activity UL students engage in. I can say that students in general are not meant to solicit funding from alumni without permission from the college. We might not always know, of course, when students are soliciting such support, but hypothetically if we learned of it we’d arrange for students to be in contact with the relevant Williams offices to see whether that solicitation could happen or needed to stop.

Probably relevant is this section from the Williams Student Handbook:

Students who wish to raise money for any campus activity by soliciting alumni, foundations, or other sources of funds must receive advance approval. Students interested in fundraising should contact the Assistant Director for Student Involvement in the Office of Student Life at least two weeks in advance. Most fundraising requires approval from the Dean’s Office, the Provost, and the Vice President for College Relations.

Comments:

1) Uncomfortable Learning may be OK (which explain Dean Bolton’s supportive attitude) because they don’t “raise money” directly. That is, they don’t ask alumni to send them checks. Instead, they ask alumni to sponsor speakers and pay those speakers (and their expenses) directly. Does the College object to this strategy? I will try to find out.

2) The history behind this section of the Handbook would be interesting to explore. I do not think it existed 10 years ago. If Sarah Bolton were smart, she would just delete it. It serves no useful purpose, other than to suggest that the College is unfairly stymieing the efforts of non-liberal students. Students raised money for all sorts of things for 200 years without any ill effects.

3) Is this section of the Handbook being applied today (against students outside of Uncomfortable Learning by people like Professor Sam Crane)? I have my doubts. Students raise money all the time for all sorts of causes. Recent examples include: hoops for hunger, relief for Nepal, and the crew team selling carnations. Does John Malcolm ’86, Vice President for College Relations, approve them all? I doubt it. And, if he has, then he ought to have a long list that he can show to a Record reporter. But, if Williams has not been enforcing this regulation for years, it had better not start by enforcing it against Uncomfortable Learning. Nothing would be quickly demonstrate a bias against non-liberal students.

4) Former Williams Professor KC Johnson is speaking tonight, brought to campus by the Uncomfortable Learning. If it were not for those students (and the generous alumni who support them), that speech would not happen.

Professor Sam Crane wants to prevent those students and alumni from bringing speakers like KC Johnson (registered Democrat and Obama voter) to campus. What would Bob Gaudino say to that?

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Rape Culture Crusade

More from KC Johnson:

Ironically, the Post series coincided with publication of a study in the New England Journal of Medicine, which showed how training female undergraduates to resist assault had been “successful in decreasing the occurrence of rape, attempted rape, and other forms of victimization among first-year university women.”

This sounds like excellent news—but instead it has been met with outcry by victims’ rights advocates. Here’s Dana Bolger, an Amherst graduate who was a colleague of Amherst accuser AS in the campus victims’ rights movement, dismissing the significance of the study: “As a friend of mine once said, ‘If you’re pushing a woman to change her behavior to ‘prevent’ rape, rather than telling a perpetrator to change his, you’re really saying, ‘Make sure he rapes the other girl.’ There will always be another girl at the bar.”

Prevention, it seems, is not a legitimate goal.

Indeed. Recall our discussion a few months ago. Highlight:

Accusations of victim blaming are the laziest response of the censorious left. Imagine that I tell you to look both ways when using the crosswalk for route 2. Good advice? You bet! Of course, in a perfect world, you shouldn’t have to look both ways. You are in a crosswalk! You have the right of way. And, a fool might accuse me of victim blaming since, implicitly, I am suggesting that anyone who did not look both ways and was hit by a car was, at least partly, at fault. But “Look both ways” is still excellent advice. And so is “Don’t drink too much.”

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College Rape Hype

Latest from former Williams professor KC Johnson:

Since 2012, the New York Times has led the way in systematically biased coverage of on-campus sexual assault allegations and how colleges are responding. The paper has relentlessly hyped the issue, has smeared quite possibly innocent students while omitting evidence that they were innocent, and has cheered efforts to presume guilt and deny due process for the accused. It has also parroted egregiously misleading statistical claims used by the Obama administration and others to portray the campus rape problem, which is clearly serious, as an out-of-control “epidemic,” which it clearly is not. (In fact, the campus rate rape has plunged in the past 20 years.)

Now the Washington Post has joined a race to the bottom among the legacy media, in a June 12 package of two very long front-page articles and a third inside the paper that includes both the results of a Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll and detailed interviews of some respondents. The main headline: “1 in 5 women say they were violated.” The articles and the poll purport to confirm claims by the administration, its congressional supporters, most of the media, and campus activists that around 20 percent of female college students are sexually assaulted while at school. In this portrayal, the nation’s campuses are hotbeds of violent crime.

But like many other advocacy polls on sexual assault, the Post-Kaiser poll misleads readers—most of whom surely will assume that “sexual assault” means criminal sexual assault—by using that criminally charged phrase for shock value in the articles while deliberately avoiding it in the survey questions. As detailed below, those questions are so broad as to invite survey respondents to complain about virtually any encounter that they later regretted, including many that were not sexual assault or rape as defined by law.

Read the whole thing. Note, also, the ending.

KC Johnson is a professor of history at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center. Stuart Taylor Jr. is a Washington writer and Brookings nonresident fellow. In 2007, they coauthored Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case. They are preparing a new book about how the campus rape hysteria railroads innocent students.

Should we hope that Williams does or does not appear in this new book?

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Sexual Assault Railroading

Former Williams professor KC Johnson writes:

Yu and a fellow member of the crew team attended a party, had quite a bit to drink, and then returned to his room to have sexual relations. Yu’s roommate interrupted them, the accuser said she didn’t want to go any further, and she left—following this up with several Facebook messages, over many weeks, in which she expressed regret for how the evening had wound up. Then, on the last day allowed under Vassar procedures, Walker (whose father is a Vassar professor) filed a sexual assault complaint at the school; the timing precluded Yu’s filing a counter-claim. She further requested that the matter be handled for Vassar’s opaque Interpersonal Violence Panel (whose procedures aren’t public), on which three of her father’s colleagues would serve. (Vassar denied Yu’s request that the panel include a student.) The entire process—from filing of charges to the “investigation” to the adjudication to Yu’s expulsion—took less than three weeks.

Read the whole thing.

If Yu isn’t innocent, then no heterosexual male undergraduate is. And the single person most responsible for Yu’s persecution is, of course, Cappy Hill ’76, Vassar’s president.

Two Williams students were expelled in 2012-2013. Were both of them as “guilty” as Peter Yu?

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Kafka at Amherst

From former Williams professor KC Johnson:

Kafka was born too early to write about Amherst College. At campus hearings on claims of sexual assault, procedures are relentlessly stacked again males and evidence of innocence doesn’t count. Amherst expelled a student for committing rape—despite text messages from the accuser, sent immediately after the alleged assault, (1) telling one student that she had initiated the sexual contact with the student she later accused (her roommate’s boyfriend); (2) inviting another student to her room for a sexual liaison minutes after she was allegedly raped.

Amherst, on grounds that the accused student (who, per college policy, had no attorney) didn’t discover the text messages until it was too late, has allowed the rape finding to stand, even though the college’s decision relied on the accuser’s credibility (which is now non-existent). Amherst faces a due-process lawsuit in the case.

Johnson’s summary of the case is even more damning than the Globe article we looked at yesterday. Read the whole thing.

What advice do you have for Amherst? I would settle with the student by either re-admitting him or paying him to finish elsewhere. You don’t want to go to trial with facts like these . . .

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One in Five

Good to see Williams taking a lead on sexual assault prevention. Read the whole article. I was especially pleased with this portion.

College sexual assault is a serious problem, both at Williams and across the country. Although the oft-cited statistic of 1 in 5 women being sexually assaulted during their college years is highly misleading (c.f., Emily Yoffe’s reporting in Slate), even a single rape is one too many.

Good stuff! No one denies that sexual assault is a problem. But it is nice to see Williams avoid the inaccurate statistics and out-of-control moral panic that is all too common on other campuses. Yoffe (a liberal reported writing in a liberal news outlet) provides an excellent overview of the issue. Kudos to the Alumni Review for framing the problem correctly.

Much more commentary below . . .
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Sexual Assault Report I

The most recent annual report on sexual assault is out. Let’s spend 10 days talking about it! Today is day 1.

1) Below the break is the version mailed to students. I think that this is the same as the web version. And, as always, thanks to our sources!

2) Why isn’t Meg Bossong ’05, Director of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response, the author of this report, rather than Dean Bolton? Bossong has been at Williams for almost a year and has, by all accounts, committed herself fully to the job. Bolton is a busy person, so why doesn’t she delegate this important and time-consuming work?

3) This gets to the question of Dean Bolton’s attitude toward sexual assault at Williams. Being a charitable person, I want her attitude to be a good one: Williams should fight to decrease the incidence of sexual assault, but not at the cost of due process for accused students. If an informed observer, like former faculty member KC Johnson, thinks that Bolton is balancing these concerns in a reasonable way, than kudos to her! But I am concerned — and more than one (male) student has echoed similar sentiments — that Dean Bolton is more of a social justice warrior (SWJ) Dean, someone less interested in due process than she ought to me.

Comments from readers?

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Affirmative Consent

Perhaps EphBlog needs more sex blogging? Or sexual assault blogging? Reader requests are always welcome! In the meantime, here is former faculty member KC Johnson writing last September:

The Times and the Nation have both published articles on California’s “affirmative consent” bill, the litigator’s dream signed into law Sunday by Governor Jerry Brown. One piece was responsible journalism; the other was agitprop. Given that Richard Pérez-Peña co-authored the Times article, it’s not hard to guess which was agitprop.

We reviewed a different article by Perez-Pena last year. Calling his work agitprop gives him too much credit. It takes real intelligence to produce agitprop! Read KC’s article for a thorough Fisking.

Who among our readers thinks that the affirmative consent standard would be a good idea for Williams?

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Rape (?) at UVA

The most prominent Eph on the this-happened side of the Rolling Stone story about a horrific rape at UVA is Jennifer Doleac ’03. See our discussion on Tuesday. The most prominent Eph on the this-may-not-have-happened side is former Williams professor KC Johnson. Johnson covers some of the same ground as other skeptics, but, even more compellingly, he brings his encyclopedic knowledge about the Duke Lacrosse Hoax to bear:

In the end, Rolling Stone’s message is “trust us.” Erdely vouches for Jackie’s credibility, and that’s good enough for the magazine. But that editorial style requires readers to take a hard look at Erdely’s credibility. And in that task, more troubling questions emerge.

But then there’s the person Erdely describes “attorney Wendy Murphy, who has filed Title IX complaints and lawsuits against schools including UVA.”

While Erdely elects not to inform her readers, Murphy has a past as a commenter on high-profile campus rape cases. In the lacrosse case, she repeatedly misstated (and on some occasions simply made up) “facts” designed to make the lacrosse players look guilty. To take a few examples, Murphy (on national TV) wildly claimed, “I bet one or more of the players was, you know, molested or something as a child.” She later asserted, “I never, ever met a false rape claim, by the way.” Murphy falsely stated, “All the photographs showing how really fine [lacrosse accuser Crystal Mangum] was when she left scene were doctored, where the date stamp was actually fraudulent.” The attorney falsely told a national TV audience that “all” of the lacrosse players took the Fifth Amendment. (None of them had, and three had voluntarily given statements to police without their attorneys present.) Murphy fantasized about non-existent “broomstick DNA” and the “torn genitalia” of the accuser.

What does it say about Erdely’s credibility—upon which, in the end, the story relies—that she is willing to uncritically quote from a charlatan like Murphy, all while not informing readers of her source’s grievous misstatements of facts on a previous high-profile allegation of campus sexual assault?

Nothing good. Either Erdley is foolish for not understanding/researching Murphy’s background or (even worse?) she is purposely misleading her readers but not providing us with this crucial information.

By the way, if there are other Ephs writing about this issue, please leave links in our comments.

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KC Johnson on Karen Owen

Former Williams Professor KC Johnson writes:

I haven’t commented on the Karen Owen affair because Owen’s affront to basic decency seemed so obvious. (Owen, for those unaware, is the Duke graduate who chronicled, through a PowerPoint replete with photos, her sexual exploits with multiple male Duke student-athletes.) The PowerPoint went viral, and even prompted a Today Show segment, which helpfully used Owen’s actions to recall the lacrosse case—insinuating that a false allegation against Duke male students, inflamed by a rogue district attorney, had relevance to an invasion of privacy by a Duke female student, after voluntary sexual intercourse.

It’s not difficult to imagine how the Duke campus would have responded had the genders of the Owen affair been reversed—i.e., if a male Duke student had publicized, sometimes in mocking terms, his sexual interactions with multiple Duke female student-athletes.

And what would have been the reaction at Williams?

(By the way, KC’s hypothetical here seems a little silly at least in a Williams context. Although it would be possible for a Williams female student to have as many one-night-stands as Owen did, I am not sure that the same could be true for a male Eph, given the realities of sexual relationships, i.e., Williams men are often eager for a one night stand with someone of Owen’s attractiveness while Williams women are more choosy and/or less easy.)

And, as always, a great topic for a senior thesis!

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Most Predictable Campus Scandal Ever (Cornell Edition)

Former (thankfully) Williams Professor Grant Farred is, unsurprisingly, embroiled in yet another campus controversy — this time at Cornell, where he referred to two Cornell students as “black bitches.” This comment is consistent with Farred’s general lack of respect for students, not to mention his fondness for employing inflammatory racial language and/or ideas (previously directed at white students — I’ll give him this much credit, at least he is an equal opportunity asshole).  KC Johnson provides, as usual, thorough reporting and analysis of Farred’s latest antics.  For those who are unfamiliar with him, Farred delivered the most inane, nonsensical, embarrassing, and offensive campus speech in recent Williams history.  I’m just thankful that his brand of bile no longer has a home at Williams.  Can you imagine Farred’s reaction had a white professor or student referred to two students as “black bitches”????  No doubt, he would seize upon those remarks as an opportunity to indict the entire white population at Cornell, if not the entire white race.  As KC noted, karma’s a bitch.

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North American Supreme Court

Former Williams professor KC Johnson read Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s undergraduate thesis: “La Historia Ciclica De Puerto Rico. The Impact Of The Life Of Luis Muñoz Marin On The Political And Economic History of Puerto Rico, 1930-1975.”

This is, by coincidence, a topic about which I know something — I did a biography of Ernest Gruening, a sometimes friend, sometimes foe of Muñoz Marín, and also did a journal article on Puerto Rico and the Good Neighbor Policy. The thesis is quite good. I’m not sure it’s a summa cum laude thesis… but summa grades essentially depend on the competition and the standards at the time.

As for the thesis as a whole, from a historian’s perspective: It’s solidly researched and fairly well written — uses lots of data, more or less presents an argument, and has a pedagogical approach (political/economic history, focus on a key political leader in Muñoz Marin) that is very much mainstream. This is basically a pedagogically sound thesis that (with one exception) allows the facts to speak for themselves.

There are also a few jarring elements that contrast to the pedagogical approach. First, I’m curious as to when Sotomayor ceased being a Puerto Rican nationalist who favors independence — as she says she does in the preface. (The position, as she points out in the thesis, had received 0.6 percent in a 1967 referendum, the most recent such vote before she wrote the thesis.) I don’t know that I’ve seen it reported anywhere that she favored Puerto Rican independence, which has always been very much a fringe position….

Second, her unwillingness to call the Congress the U.S. Congress is bizarre — in the thesis, it’s always referred to as either the ‘North American Congress’ or the ‘mainland Congress.’ I guess by the language of her thesis, it should be said that she’s seeking an appointment to the North American Supreme Court, subject to advice and consent of the North American Senate. This kind of rhetoric was very trendy, and not uncommon, among the Latin Americanist fringe of the academy.

Third, she had an odd habit of inserting [sic] into quotes not to identify an error but because she disagreed with the (usually innocuous) content of the quotes.

Fourth, she asserted that Muñoz Marín’s economic program, called Operation Bootstrap, failed primarily because Puerto Ricans continued to think of themselves as colonials. This, like the reference to the US Congress as the ‘North American’ Congress, was 1970s-trendy dependency theory rhetoric, but was wholly unsupported by the evidence that she presented in the thesis (and, indeed, by virtually any evidence that has appeared since that time).

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KC on Farred

KC Johnson provides further insight into Farred’s recent nonsensical rant at Williams concerning the Duke lacrosse case. Basically, as KC makes clear, Farred’s thesis has shifted over time to allow him to maximize his demonization of the innocent players, despite the accuser being exposed as a fraud.

One good thing about Farred, he provides hope to all aspiring academics. After all, if his brand of incomprehensible gobblitygook (and that is actually a compliment, because to the extent it is comprehensible, it is utterly moronic) is enough to land coveted positions at Duke and Williams, securing a job at an elite institution must be far easier than I had ever imagined. (D)avid, I’m sorry to say that my admiration for your accomplishments is much diminished.

I especially love KC’s link to the piece on Yao Ming and Jeff Van Gundy. Suitably inspired, I’ve already put pen to paper on my breakthrough article — Robert Horry’s Muggery of Steve Nash: A Texas Individualist Critiques Canada’s Health Care System.

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Farred Friday!

Former Williams professor K.C. Johnson gives us a nice hat tip on posting the notes from Farred’s ridiculous rant last week, and provides a lot more information (including audio clips, which must be heard to be believed), on the odious former and currently-visiting professor (and member of Duke’s infamously ignorant “Group of 88″) Grant Farred in his post “Friday with Farred“.

If Williams even extends an offer to this clownish parody of a racial-Marxist postmodern academic, let alone hires him, I will not give a single cent to the college until he is gone. In fact, I’m pretty sure that Jeff Zeeman ’97 would be among the first to join me in starting an escrow fund, and I doubt that we’d have a hard time putting a serious dent in contributions to the college.

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Public Scandal

Former Williams professor KC Johnson writes:

Tomorrow afternoon Group of 88 stalwart Grant Farred will give a talk on the lacrosse case entitled, “Public Secrets, Public Scandals: The Event of Duke Lacrosse.” The talk is scheduled for 4.30pm, at Griffin Hall, Room 3, Williams College.

One “public scandal” of this case, of course, was Farred’s behavior–the Literature professor published a pre-election op-ed accusing hundreds of Duke students of “secret racism” for the offense of . . . registering to vote in Durham.

Given that Farred’s talk seeks to expose “Public Secrets,” it would seem that he would be eager for as much publicity as possible. Yet it is my understanding that he rejected a request for his talk to be taped.

I would invite anyone who attends the talk to take notes, which I will post.

Indeed. Perhaps our readers can leave their notes in the comments to this post. We are all curious. Previous coverage of Farred here. The College likes to podcast interesting faculty lectures. Why not podcast this one? Would Professor Farred be reasonable to turn down a request from the College to do so?

There are a lot of great questions for an enterprising Record reporter. Just what is Farred doing at Williams anyway? He is only here for the spring semester. How much is Williams paying him? Did his class, “Writing Africa from Beyond: The Novel of the Diaspora,” go well?

Even better would be to quiz Professor Joy James, chair of the Africana Studies department. What does she think of the Duke Lacrosse Non-Rape, about Farred’s role a member of the Gang of 88? Does she think that people like Farred belong on the faculty at Williams? Does she plan to invite him again?

And, just a little trip down memory lane, I liked these two comments on a post pointing out what was obvious from the start: there was no rape.

In regards to the alleged rape case, you seem very sure about something that isn’t clear at all. This is a perfect reason why the KaneBlog will never speak for me.

Good to know! Welcome to the reality-based community.

Tell that to Prof. Joy James.

She would run circles around you.

Do tell. It was on my to-do list to interview Professor James and other members of the Africana Studies department about this case last year. Alas, I never did. But it’s never too late. The Record ought to give them a call.

And what lesson should Williams men (of all races) learn from this sad case? Never hire strippers. Never go to a strip club.

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NY Magazine Math

In startlingly annoying equation form:

Sensational incident + prosecutor up for electionreportorial standards x ( crusading ex-Williams professor + contrarian former Spy honcho ) = Major, Major Dap in New York Magazine article.

Prof. Johnson’s money ending:

People assume he’s a right-winger. “I’m a registered Democrat who has never voted for a Republican in my life.” Not that he doesn’t wildly speculate–he is a blogger … For the past few years, I’ve tended to roll my eyes when people default to rants about the blindered oafishness or various biases of “the mainstream media” in general and the Times in particular. At the same time, I’ve nodded when people gush about the blogosphere as a valuable check on and supplement to the MSM–but I’ve never entirely bought it. Having waded deep into this Duke mess the last weeks, baffled by the Times’ pose of objectivity and indispensably guided by Johnson’s blog, I’m becoming a believer.

Hoo-hah. Not half bad.

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KC Johnson: How Not to Diversify

In April 2005, Professor Evelyn Hu-DeHart, formerly chair of the University of Colorado’s Ethnic Studies Department, described Ward Churchill (the professor who denounced victims of the World Trade Center attack as “little Eichmanns”) as “her hire.” She also denied that any special considerations relating to “diversity” helped Churchill get his job–an assertion that was directly contradicted by internal documents recently released by Colorado. And in one of her final acts at Colorado, she arranged for Churchill to receive a merit-based pay increase.

The career of Churchill, an ideologue currently facing allegations of massive plagiarism and lying about his status as a minority, provides an example of how Professor Hu-DeHart herself translated into action her ideas about “diversity.” I’m astonished that Williams would seek guidance from someone with such a blot on her administrative record. That Professor Hu-DeHart was the sole outside consultant to provide input on “faculty issues” calls into question the criteria used for the entire diversity self-study.

Read the rest here. Thanks again to Professor Johnson and all of our discussants.

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