Ezra Klein’s Confusion on the California Sex Law

In an attempt to defend the indefensible, Ezra Klein penned a meandering column responding to the many critics of his “yes-means-yes” defense. Or, I should say, responding to some critics: he ignored perhaps the most troubling response to his piece, Cathy Young’s observation that he had blatantly misrepresented a column by her—which suggested that false rape reports are actually more common than believed—to instead claim (with emphasis) that false rape reports are “very, very rare.”

In the event, Klein (unconvincingly) suggested that Jon Chait had misinterpreted him. (Chait had little difficulty in rebuttal.) Klein stuck by his defense of stats alleging that one in five college women will suffer rape or attempted rape—which means that he must believe, as FIRE’s Robert Shibley noted, that colleges now face “a law enforcement problem of staggering proportions. Yet instead of making sure the police are involved, the state of California has put its faith in a law that by its plain language makes nearly everyone guilty of rape — but only in a campus kangaroo court.” (Klein has urged no greater law enforcement presence on campus.) And Klein was forced to issue corrections about basic elements of legal procedure, which suggested that Vox’s touted explanatory journalism isn’t too good at explaining legal affairs. Shibley’s thorough fisking is a must-read.

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Is the Left Losing its Mind Over Campus Sex?

This week has featured a potential tipping point in the debate about due process and campus sexual assault.

The first event came in publication of an extraordinary column by Ezra Klein, defending California’s “affirmative consent” law. In one respect, it wasn’t surprising to see Klein defend the proposal; too many liberal commentators (not to mention, of course, the entire Democratic contingent in the California legislature, plus Governor Jerry Brown) have backed the law. But Klein’s argument was astonishing—he conceded that the law was flawed, even badly flawed, but celebrated the flaws as a virtue. The law will mean that “too much counts as sexual assault” and that innocent students will be branded rapists (though such cases, Klein suggests in a fact-free claim, “very, very rarely” occur). But Klein considered it “necessary” to get more students deemed guilty of rape in “morally ambiguous” situations to convince men in college (but, it seems, not anywhere else) that “they better Be Pretty Damn Sure.”

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The Tipping Point for Due Process?

This week has featured a potential tipping point in the debate about due process and campus sexual assault.

The first event came in publication of an extraordinary column by Ezra Klein, defending California’s “affirmative consent” law. In one respect, it wasn’t surprising to see Klein defend the proposal; too many liberal commentators (not to mention, of course, the entire Democratic contingent in the California legislature, plus Governor Jerry Brown) have backed the law. But Klein’s argument was astonishing—he conceded that the law was flawed, even badly flawed, but celebrated the flaws as a virtue. The law will mean that “too much counts as sexual assault” and that innocent students will be branded rapists (though such cases, Klein suggests in a fact-free claim, “very, very rarely” occur). But Klein considered it “necessary” to get more students deemed guilty of rape in “morally ambiguous” situations to convince men in college (but, it seems, not anywhere else) that “they better Be Pretty Damn Sure.”

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Angela Davis, UCLA’s Patron Saint

Over at PJ Media, Ron Radosh reveals that a banner on UCLA’s campus promotes Angela Davis, the radical activist and former UCLA professor from 1969-1970. The banner includes an old image of Davis—presumably taken during her time at UCLA—with the words “WE QUESTION” underneath. As Radosh notes, the ad, which is supposed to boost UCLA student pride, is cruelly ironic. As a diehard member of the Communist Party, she never once challenged the Communist regime, even going so far as to support the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. She is, in his words, a “thoughtless propagandist for every far Left cause one can imagine.”

You can check out the full piece here.

False Imprisonment by Campus Sex Police?

“We are never sending our boys to college.” That line came not from some far-right crank, but instead from Robin Steinberg, a public defender. For an article in the New Republic, author Judith Shulevitz had asked Steinberg to review Columbia’s new sexual assault policy. (I had profiled the policy previously for Minding the Campus.) Shulevitz wrote that “Steinberg, like most people, hadn’t realized how far the rules governing sexual conduct on campus have strayed from any commonsense understanding of justice.”

Shulevitz also writes about the Colgate lawsuit first exposed by Peter Berkowitz of Real Clear Politics. That case involved a student from Bangladesh named Abrar Faiaz, who alleges that Colgate administrators—in what seems to have been a ham-handed attempt to pressure him into admitting guilt in a sexual violence claim—interrogated him (without an attorney) and then, when he refused to admit guilt or leave the country, took him to a guarded basement room for 36 hours, deeming that he was on a form of interim suspension. Among other things, he’s now suing for false imprisonment.

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