Well-respected Wall Street Journalist James Taranto recently wrote a piece entitled: “Drunkenness and Double Standards, A balanced look at college sex offenses.” The article acknowledges both the realities of violent rape and, on the other side of the coin, the cases where two drunken people end up pushing genitalia together. Anyone who’s spent time in college knows it’s a common occurrence. Newly independent young people’s first encounters with alcohol and freedom from parental rules are often wild.
The day after this article was published, National Organization of Women (NOW) president Terry O’Neill called for Taranto’s dismissal in a press release. Her stated reason for the demand was her claim that his arguments amounted to victim blaming. However, at no point does she acknowledge that women are just as capable of making poor decisions as men.
The article makes the point that men are blamed for these mutual encounters in the vast majority of cases. His point is; “What is called the problem of ‘sexual assault’ on campus is in large part a problem of reckless alcohol consumption, by men and women alike.”
Taranto uses an apt analogy in making his point:
If two drunk drivers are in a collision, one doesn’t determine fault on the basis of demographic details such as each driver’s sex. But when two drunken college students “collide,” the male one is almost always presumed to be at fault. His diminished capacity owing to alcohol is not a mitigating factor, but her diminished capacity is an aggravating factor for him.
NOW President offers no arguments, only demands dismissal
Terry O’Neill never argued the point in her call for WSJ to fire Taranto. At no point did Taranto condone rape or cast aspersions against women in general. However, Terry O’Neill states:
James Taranto doesn’t need a national platform for demeaning women and condoning rape.
Ignoring the possibly libelous nature of this statement doesn’t change that equality is a two-way street. Unfortunately, it appears that Terry O’Neill would prefer feminists, on behalf of women everywhere, have their cake and eat it too. In calling for Taranto’s dismissal, has she implied that all women need protection from their own decision-making? If this is the case, does that mean she believes women are not the equals of men? Is a women not to hold herself responsible for the choices that led to her “walk of shame?”
Whether the man was drunk and barely remembers it, or that he wouldn’t normally do such things seems to not matter. It follows that it wouldn’t matter that a combination of bad decision on both their parts is what got them into their mess. Does Terry O’Neill’s press release show that she believes all culpability for a woman’s decisions rest squarely on a man’s head? If so, that implies she believes women, in general, lack agency. A belief like this is not in keeping with true equality.
Equality allows for women to make good and bad decisions, suffering the consequences and gaining the rewards of either, just as men do. True equals do not seek punishment against another who is mutually responsible for drunken sex. But, it seems in the opinion of the president of NOW, only a man can be held responsible for the choices of both men and women.
Terry O’Neill’s emotional appeal to deflect from factual argument
In the same press release Terry O’Neill trots out the tired statistic:
Approximately one in four young women will be sexually assaulted during their college career – an alarming statistic…
This stat would be devastating, were it true. Mark Twain stated, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” It is well-known that statistics are often skewed to win arguments. This 25% nonsense is a well-known example that persists in today’s misinformed culture, much like the false pay gap between men and women. These statistics are used to evoke an emotional response intended to shut down further debate.
Here is what Phil in Utah had to say about rape statistics:
So, what do statistics collected from non-feminist sources say? Well, let’s try the FBI statistics. According to an FBI report, which did not account for differing definitions of rape, whether or not the rapes were convicted, or whether or not female-on-male rape was included, the United States had a rate of 29 reported rapes per 100,000 people in 2009. That’s not going to get us to 25%, but I’m feeling generous, so let’s look at the country with the highest rate of rape in the past decade–South Africa, with a rate of 116 rapes per 100,000 people in one year. Percentage wise, this is .1% of the population. Now, I’ll admit that I’m worse at math than anything else in the world, but even I know this isn’t even close to “1 in 4″
I recognize the irony of using one set of statistics to combat another in this case. However, it’s a useful exercise. Both set of stats can’t be 100% correct, because of massive inflation on the feminist’s side and very real problem of unreported rape on the other. The severe difference between the two stats points to a reality that lies somewhere in the middle. The FBI report is solid crime stats though, and I have yet to see the research behind the 1 in 4 claim. Each time a rape happens it’s a potentially life-destroying tragedy, so is every false rape accusation. It is time to acknowledge that politics creates bullshit where these stats are concerned.
Regardless of her motivations, trotting out inflated statistics doesn’t make for an effective argument against Taranto’s point; women are responsible for all of their choices. Terry O’Neill at no point offered logical counterpoint to his article or even presented a single argument. She, instead, weakly used labels like “misogynist” which are meant to silence honest debate as I have pointed out before. She didn’t even acknowledge the false rape anecdote in Taranto’s article or the possibility that such things happen at all. On top of all of that she claimed the article amounted to “victim-blaming” without acknowledging the possibility that men can be just as ashamed as women in these circumstances.
Cowardly attempt to ruin a man’s livelihood
Terry O’Neill has a national voice, and because she does, few question her opinions or her motivations. I submit that intelligent, well-informed people don’t resort to name calling to end a debate. Until factual arguments are made against Taranto’s article he remains the victor in this particular debate. Since it is unlikely any feminist rhetoric will ever remove actual consequences from personal choices, it’s likely he’ll remain the winner.
Trying to ruin someone’s livelihood is a common tactic of feminists and left leaning activists. However, that doesn’t make the attempt correct. It is a fundamentally immoral act motivated by fear brought about by lack of confidence in one’s own argument. It’s my hope the leadership at the Wall Street Journal will recognize her cries for what they are and ignore Terry O’Neill’s bleating.