INCIVILITY AND GULLIBILITY: ONLINE AND OFFLINE
February 3, 2015
Just recently, Kelleigh Nelson posted an article on the Bill Cosby scandal that caught my eye. She related how she had interacted with Cosby way back when, and how he had acted like a perfect gentleman. What she wrote was compatible with the Bill Cosby I recall from his comedy show, which stood out as clean family entertainment, free of the casual cursing, off-color one-liners, and insufferable political correctness we see in situation comedies today.
I don’t follow celebrities much. I have better things to do with my limited time, so I have no idea if Cosby is guilty of what these women are accusing him of. Nevertheless, the contrast between the Bill Cosby Ms. Nelson portrayed (and the one I remember) versus the one being tried in the media are so different that one wants to ask if the real Bill Cosby will please stand up.
In any event, I linked to Ms. Nelson’s article on my Facebook page, which I’ve been using as a sort of current events blog, and penned a comment. I noted the above, and also drew attention to Ms. Nelson’s report on Cosby’s speech before the NAACP back in 2004.
He’d used that occasion to dress down his fellow blacks and tell them that if they wanted to experience less “discrimination” they needed to stop blaming whitey and clean up their own act. Learn to speak intelligible English. Wear decent clothes instead of dressing like hoodlums. Stop getting pregnant out of wedlock and having kids who won’t know who their fathers are. Stop giving their kids first names like Shaniqua or Cortissia or Jamal.
Is there any doubt Cosby made enemies with that speech?!
The idea I entertained on Facebook—and I hasten to add, that is all I was doing with the idea, entertaining it:how difficult would it be, in this era of economic struggles, for someone with motive to find 30 or so women Cosby has interacted with and pay them to concoct lurid stories of sexual misconduct that would ruin his reputation?
My answer to that was: it might take time, but wouldn’t be especially difficult.
I made additional notes on the era we live in, to bring in the context. We aren’t operating in a cultural vacuum. Political correctness, professional victimologists (on campuses, in the legal system, in journalism, in Hollywood, etc.), have been at work for well over a quarter century. We now inhabit a culture in which men are presumed to be potential sexual predators, and so if a woman alleges rape and you don’t automatically believe her, you open yourself to being demonized—whether evidence substantiates her allegation or not!
I hadn’t averred that a “conspiracy” had occurred. As I said, I don’t know what happened between Cosby and these women, if anything. It is possible that he did it. Some people are chameleons. They are different around different people, or change with time.
Government schools, however, have done such a number on people’s intellects that many can no longer distinguish between “P is an interesting idea; it is compatible with Q which we know to be true; maybe we should entertain P as at least possible” and an assertion of “I think P is true and claim to have evidence for it.”
A person I’d somehow become “friends” with on Facebook jumped down my throat within minutes of my post, ridiculing the “conspiracy theory” he took me as having proposed. This “friend,” incidentally, was black, and had distinguished himself in the past with attacks on my skepticism about so-called white privilege (the idea that our being white somehow opens doors for us by some sort of cultural magic). How we became “friends” on Facebook is a mystery to me. It happens. One of the drawbacks of social media is that you end up with “friends” you’ve never met and have nothing in common with—but that’s another column. In any event, next thing I knew, this guy was hurling obscenities at me—on my own wall! Primarily the f-word, which to my mind signifies a low-class person with a poor vocabulary: the sort of person Cosby was taking to task, a loose cannon who finds slights that aren’t there and “disagrees” with someone by cursing at them.
I had a commitment later that morning, so I took him to task for his vulgarity and noted my intended departure. For the five hours I was gone, the online brawl continued, now between two actual “friends” and this joker who had continued his streams of obscenity (37 in all, when I counted them).
When I returned and saw the melee, I blocked him. Facebook, to its credit, allows you to get rid of trolls and online nuisances who no longer have access to your page. I had to block a second person—presumably a “friend” of his—who had begun harassing me with equally vulgar messages demanding proof of my “conspiracy theory” about Cosby.
To repeat: I don’t know if Cosby is innocent or guilty. I had not said he was set up, or that I believed this. My point was that in today’s culture, doing so would not be that hard.
How do we know this? What makes such a charge credible?
Come with me to a university campus: the University of Virginia. The scene of the vicious gang rape of a female student identified only a “Jackie” at a fraternity party on a September night early in the 2012 fall semester. That’s if you believe Rolling Stone.
I’ll let them tell it:
“Jackie was sober but giddy with discovery as she looked around the room crammed with rowdy strangers guzzling beer and dancing to loud music. She smiled at her date, whom we'll call Drew, a good-looking junior … and he smiled enticingly back.
"Want to go upstairs, where it's quieter?" Drew shouted into her ear, and Jackie's heart quickened. She took his hand as he threaded them out of the crowded room and up a staircase….
Drew ushered Jackie into a bedroom, shutting the door behind them. The room was pitch-black inside. Jackie blindly turned toward Drew, uttering his name. At that same moment, she says, she detected movement in the room – and felt someone bump into her. Jackie began to scream.
"Shut up," she heard a man's voice say as a body barreled into her, tripping her backward and sending them both crashing through a low glass table. There was a heavy person on top of her, spreading open her thighs, and another person kneeling on her hair, hands pinning down her arms, sharp shards digging into her back, and excited male voices rising all around her. When yet another hand clamped over her mouth, Jackie bit it, and the hand became a fist that punched her in the face. The men surrounding her began to laugh. For a hopeful moment Jackie wondered if this wasn't some collegiate prank. Perhaps at any second someone would flick on the lights and they'd return to the party.
"Grab its [sic.]m********** leg," she heard a voice say. And that's when Jackie knew she was going to be raped.
She remembers every moment of the next three hours of agony, during which, she says, seven men took turns raping her, while two more – her date, Drew, and another man – gave instruction and encouragement. She remembers how the spectators swigged beers, and how they called each other nicknames like Armpit and Blanket. She remembers the men's heft and their sour reek of alcohol mixed with the pungency of marijuana. Most of all, Jackie remembers the pain and the pounding that went on and on.
As the last man sank onto her, Jackie was startled to recognize him: He attended her tiny anthropology discussion group. He looked like he was going to cry or puke as he told the crowd he couldn't get it up. "Pussy!" the other men jeered. "What, she's not hot enough for you?" Then they egged him on: "Don't you want to be a brother?" "We all had to do it, so you do, too." Someone handed her classmate a beer bottle. Jackie stared at the young man, silently begging him not to go through with it. And as he shoved the bottle into her, Jackie fell into a stupor, mentally untethering from the brutal tableau, her mind leaving behind the bleeding body under assault on the floor.
When Jackie came to, she was alone. It was after 3 a.m. She painfully rose from the floor and ran shoeless from the room. She emerged to discover the Phi Psi party still surreally under way, but if anyone noticed the barefoot, disheveled girl hurrying down a side staircase, face beaten, dress spattered with blood, they said nothing. Disoriented, Jackie burst out a side door, realized she was lost, and dialed a friend, screaming, "Something bad happened. I need you to come and find me!" Minutes later, her three best friends on campus – two boys and a girl (whose names are changed) – arrived to find Jackie on a nearby street corner, shaking. "What did they do to you? What did they make you do?" Jackie recalls her friend Randall demanding. Jackie shook her head and began to cry. The group looked at one another in a panic. They all knew about Jackie's date; the Phi Kappa Psi house loomed behind them. "We have to get her to the hospital," Randall said.
Their other two friends, however, weren't convinced. "Is that such a good idea?" she recalls Cindy asking. "Her reputation will be shot for the next four years." Andy seconded the opinion, adding that since he and Randall both planned to rush fraternities, they ought to think this through. The three friends launched into a heated discussion about the social price of reporting Jackie's rape, while Jackie stood beside them, mute in her bloody dress, wishing only to go back to her dorm room and fall into a deep, forgetful sleep. Detached, Jackie listened as Cindy prevailed over the group: "She's gonna be the girl who cried 'rape,' and we'll never be allowed into any frat party again."
Now I ask, readers: does what you just read make any sense to you?
Let’s look at it.
“Jackie” goes upstairs with this guy and they enter a dark room—“pitch-black inside,” she tells us. They crash through a glass table. And then the gang-raping begins—Hold the bus! Are we really supposed to believe that “Jackie” and seven guys calling each other “Armpit” and “Blanket”were rolling around in broken glass for three hours?
Supposedly she recognizes the last guy: someone in her anthropology discussion group. This despite the room being “pitch black.” She had also seen them “swigging beer,” one of them being handed a beer bottle to use on her.
“Jackie” says she screamed. No one outside the room heard anything? For three hours? What was this, a soundproof room? No one came in, or left, during all that time?
Are we to believe no one saw her leave? I would think a barefoot girl in a bloody dress would have attracted someone’s attention!
“Jackie”’s friends were strangely nonchalant about someone who, if her story was true, would have been cut to ribbons by broken glass, suffering severe trauma to her pelvic region, and in obvious need of immediate transport to the nearest emergency room. What did they do instead? Rolling Stone says they debated the future of their social lives, while “Jackie” wished “only to go back to her dorm room and fall into a deep, forgetful sleep.” One of her friends whines that if they report the rape, “we’ll never be allowed into any frat party again.”
Does this make even an ounce of sense???
Does it make any sense, moreover, that university officials would have ignored a case that if it really happened, would have ignited an immediate criminal investigation from off-campus?
There should have been plenty of blood. Remember, “Jackie” mentioned shards digging into her back. After three hours, she leaves, and is barefoot. Was there any blood on the stairs from her feet? Or on the handrail, or on anything else she touched? Was there blood on the floor of the bedroom?
Seven fraternity guys should have been walking around with cuts from broken glass. An investigation would have demanded to examine the men in the fraternity for evidence of such cuts and could have nailed the guilty men almost immediately. Yet “Jackie” refused to ID her attackers, out of fear of reprisal, we are told, and Rolling Stone never interviewed anyone from the fraternity.
The magazine’s editors came to their senses and issued a half-hearted retraction. If you followed the link above you already saw it. The Phi Kappa Psi fraternity had not held an event that night. There were other “discrepancies” in the story, Rolling Stone euphemistically called them. “Jackie” alleged that “Drew,” the ringleader of the attack worked at the campus recreational center, at the swimming pool. The fraternity’s records showed that none of its members had worked there that semester.
But by this time, the campus had been turned upside down. The administration had been accused of a cover-up, even though Phi Kappa Psi had been sent packing. The “rape culture” on the campus had become national news. Even the state Attorney General’s office had gotten involved.
One in five female students will be raped during their undergraduate years, the voices of political correctness tell us.
Does that statistic make sense to you?
Do some elementary arithmetic. On a campus of, shall we say, 28,000 students where (let us say) 15,000 are women, that’s 3,000 rapes! Although many students don’t finish college in four years, let’s use that number to keep the math simple (the figure is easily adjusted). It yields an average of 750 rapes per year, which comes out at between two and three per day!! The final number increases as we realize that the majority of students are off campus during summer months.
I have beach front property in central Nebraska to sell anyone who thinks that many rapes are occurring on university campuses!
There is a total media blackout on how utterly stupid such statistics really are!
Occasionally we read that those of us who write about what some call “conspiracy theories” are supposed to be gullible. I have been scolded: “Do you believe everything you read on the Internet?”
Uh, no. Nor do I believe everything I read in mainstream media— which fell for this story hook, line, and sinker. It also fell for the Duke Lacrosse story which also disintegrated when responsible investigators did some digging. The mainstream press fell for the Tawana Brawley story which turned out to be a hoax, but not before it got Al Sharpton on the map. We’ve been dealing with his racial hucksterism ever since.
I cannot help but wonder if the same thing will happen if anyone seriously probes the allegations against Bill Cosby. This is the background we have to work with, where a girl or woman accusing a man of sexual misconduct is automatically believed no matter how stupid her story really is. This is central to the culture of political correctness that had begun to sweep the country a quarter century ago.
That this is highly dangerous for men is a given, especially in settings where victimologists abound. A male faculty member’s career could be ruined by one allegation, especially if he doesn’t have tenure (most male faculty on campus these days don’t). He will be hauled before a board of inquiry, likely stacked with campus activists. He might not know the specific charge against him, and will not be allowed to bring an attorney. All his accuser has to do is establish her case by “a preponderance of the evidence,” whatever this means. Institutions that do not play by these rules can be refused federal money.
Which is why I now counsel male faculty: if you have to meet with a female student in your office, NEVER, EVER shut the door! If at all possible, have another person in there as a witness. If that is not possible, use a mobile device to record the meeting. Because all she has to do is yell, “He groped me!” and you can kiss your career goodbye!
I take it as given that in today’s climate, a male faculty member should NEVER, EVER ask a female student for a date, much less become romantically involved with one! (This is sad, for I have known male faculty who met their wives-to-be that way.) Remember, if there is sexual contact, the rules permit her to change her mind about consent and allege misconduct after the fact —especially if there was alcohol involved.
This is the present situation for men. What of women? First, rapes do occur on campuses. Nothing I’ve written here says otherwise. But when one highly visible story after another turns out to be fraudulent, what does this tell us about how future allegations will be viewed? The first question on many minds will be, Can she be believed? It won’t be an unreasonable question.
Political correctness has done as much damage to genuine rape victims’ credibility as it has to men, therefore. It has destroyed civility both online and offline, and increased both public and official gullibility more than “conspiracy theorizing” ever could have. It would have been nice if the PC plague could have been stopped 25 years ago. Some of us warned that this kind of situation would result. We were called alarmists when we weren’t called racists and sexists, indicating how badly critical thinking had deteriorated even then.
� 2015 Steven Yates - All Rights Reserved
Steven Yates has a doctorate in philosophy and currently lives in Santiago, Chile. He is the author of Four Cardinal Errors: Reasons for the Decline of the American Republic (Brush Fire Press International, 2011). He also owns an editing business, Final Draft Editing Service.
Steven Yates's new ebook is entitled: Philosophy Is Not Dead: A Vision of the Discipline's Future.