Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Catherine MacKinnon's Hate Speech at Stanford Law
I was at the event that instapundit linked to. Actually, there were two events (yes at Stanford Law, one event featuring MacKinnon is not enough - we had to have two). The first was Thursday evening - it was a regular event. The next day, Friday, we had a book signing event for her new book "Men's Laws and Women's Lives" (or some other title similar to that).

Reason is correct - at the first event MacKinnon did not only in fact say there was a condition similar to "war" between men and women, but actually made it the central point of her talk. If I remember correctly, her test was systematic, culturally accepted violence the law chooses not to enforce punishment for (MacKinnon also said that if war, with its corresponding punishments was not the proper schema for the "conflict" then the behavior of men to women qualified as terrorism) What Reason mag left out was I tried to call MacKinnon out on her redefinition of the term war by pointing out how quickly it descended to absurdity. My example was in part that under MacKinnon's definition, there is a "war" between older and younger brothers (systematic culturally accepted violence the law chooses not to enforce)!

Of course the audience was agasp, and MacKinnon didn't understand my example (she said she was against sexual child molestation). Since then I have caught much flack from my female classmates for questioning this great thinker, but I have stood firm.

I even went to the second MacKinnon the next day when MacKinnon had some other "fun" insights:

Catherine MacKinnon was at Stanford just a few hours ago. When she brought up the need to protect rape shield laws so as to safeguard the equality of women, I asked her if she was willing to prevent inequality of men by making false reporting of rape provable beyond a reasonable doubt a felony. Her response was that she was unwilling to do so, because this would discourage rape reporting for the overall class of women.

If you don't think false rape reporting is that big of a problem read this post with oddly coincidental timing from my old Prof, Eugene Volokh.

UPDATE: Welcome instpaundit visitors. Maybe a little bit of sunlight from the national blogsphere can expose the ridiculousness in attitude as to what is going on here. Since the debate, many of the female attendees were radicalized by MacKinnon - one of my female friends agrees that it was almost akin to a brainwashing - she thinks that a large part of it is that MacKinnon not only sounded good, but looked beautiful, representing the women they all thought they should be.

With respect to the Thursday event, when MacKinnon said the actions of men towards women may constitute a war, I remember her mentioning human rights tribunals and the Geneva conventions as potentially applying. I didn't take a transcript for that, so I can't remember how it related to her overall argument (if they should be applied or if merely they could be applied for the sake of a thought experiment).

At both of her events, a large factor contributing to the cult-like atmosphere was the flexible redefinition of terms to suit MacKinnon's ends. Not only were "war" and "terrorism" redefined as potential schemas for describing men's behavior to women, but so were Men and Women. It was strongly implied (from my perception) that throughout her talk that Men were unified in harming Women as a group who were represented by MacKinnon. Bear in mind that MacKinnon NEVER explicitly said anything about who men and women were - it was implied. If she had actually said it, the magic would have lost its effect. Instead she left it in the air, always hinted at never outright said, leaving the audience to come to that conclusion themselves. In the end this has probably made the prejudicial stereotype stick all the more.

Anyway, one of the current debates on the law school political listserves is whether the MacKinnon is incorrect and women who are proven beyond a reasonable doubt to have knowingly accused men falsely of rape should be convicted of a felony. The debate got really got moving when I forwarded this post by Chicago Law Student Walker Wells to the federalist society listserve which in turn got forwarded to the Women of Stanford Law listserve. I got this angry response:

Given the writer's (representatively) inordinate concern for the possibility of false accusations for rape and sexual assault (with corresponding LACK of concern, or at the very least radical decontextualization with all other instances of false accusations/indictments/arrests---read rampant racial profiling and animus against people of color), I cannot help but be reminded of that telling phrase from Hamlet:

Methinks the [gentleman] doth protest too much. . .

I responded to the writer with this:

[Name deleted] is correc[t] that there is an inconsitency of false accusations in other contexts. Two points
1) As with what I would like to see with Rape, if it can be shown to knowingly be made falsely by proof beyond a reasonable doubt, I think I'd like to see the penalties for that go up too.
2) As for whether in spite of this there should still be a difference in false reporting, I find Walker Wells policy distinction between rape and other crimes persuasive. Once again, here it is "The reason why I question the validity of treating rape like other criminal offenses is because intentions and consent are the critical factors in determining whether the act that transpired was rape or consensual sex."

We will see what WSL does next now that this story is breaking national.

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