Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Restoring Rational Rape Law Won't Be Easy: Sen. Gillibrand's Disturbing Guest

In case anyone thought it might be easy to restore rationality to rape law — or as it is more broadly defined, sexual assault law — on campus and elsewhere, the events of the last 24 hours have shown exactly the kind of fight we're up against. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) invited Emma Sulkowicz to the State of the Union address yesterday. Sulkowicz carried a mattress around Columbia University as an "art installation" in protest of the university's inaction following her accusations of rape by Paul Nungesser. That Nungesser was subsequently cleared of all wrongdoing by the university (and the police apparently found nothing worthy of investigation) makes no nevermind:
Nungesser maintains that he is innocent and says that is why he has never been disciplined or charged. "Sulkowicz’s accusation is untrue and unfounded: I have never sexually assaulted anyone. This is why Columbia University after seven months of detailed investigation in November 2013 found me to be not responsible." He claims that the NYPD decided not to bring charges after Sulkowicz filed a police report in May 2014. "I voluntarily let myself be interviewed by DA chief of Sex Crimes at SVU in New York City, in August 2014," he said. "Shortly after this interview, the DA’s office informed me that they decided not to pursue the case further."
That someone with as much clout as a United States Senator should be not only willing to be seen in public with such an individual, but invite that person to a significant formal political event is very telling, and deeply troubling. Many such individuals undoubtedly litter the various bureaucracies that run the college-industrial complex. The itch to water down due process is similarly strong (see how badly eroded Fourth Amendment protections are, to name just one decision, by Smith v. Maryland). The "message" is more important than what Sulkowicz has actually done, i.e. smear a man's reputation. We deal here with religious zealots.

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