The Bookworm Beat 12/12/14 — Grabbing at headlines edition, and Open Thread

Woman writingI was talking with a friend of mine about the totally false alleged rape epidemic on America’s college campuses. While the epidemic may be false, the destruction wrought on young men is very real. Moreover, as false accusations crowd out the real ones, those young women (and men) who are genuinely raped are going to have an infinitely harder time getting taken seriously.

Thinking about this, I told my friend that past generations were probably wise to insist that sex wait until marriage and that, before marriage, young women should be chaperoned, rather than left alone with young men. It wasn’t just to protect the women’s virtue, it was also a way to protect the men’s honor. After all, since time immemorial, the truth about what happens between two people tends to be a mystery.

My friend had a better idea. Harking back to Obama’s recent insistence that all police have body cams, he suggested that all college students have body cams! I liked that idea.  Moreover, if the students can’t have a body cam, perhaps the next best thing (certainly for young men who don’t want to be falsely accused of rape) is the “Good2Go” app that makes explicit consent as easy as participating in an Instagram conversation.

We live in strange times. But as I often say, strange and difficult times make for good writing — so I’ve got a lot of good writing to bring to your attention:

The “ISIS is evil” post

What continues to be so bizarre about ISIS (or, ’cause I like to call it, GARBAGE) is the way its followers revel in their transgressions. None are so ignorant that they do not understand that, in the entire world, all cultures frown upon genocide, mass murder, torture, ritual, beheading, pedophilia, and sex slavery. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t places in the world that engage in these horrific acts. There are. But they don’t boast about it. It may be well known — indeed, to hold onto power, this brutality has to be well known — but the practitioners work hard to break any evidentiary links between themselves and these acts of such exceptional evil.  They function in the scary dark, not the bright daylight.

Except for GARBAGE. GARBAGE’s foot soldiers get enormous psychic pleasure out of boastfully displaying behaviors that are anathema in the modern world. “We’re here. We’re evil. Get used to it.”

The latest evidence, of course, is GARBAGE’s handbook for sex slavery. In it, the GARBAGE leaders instruct their trash crews in the finer points of pedophilia, rape, and sexual torture.

This is probably going to distress Hillary Clinton no end, but I simply cannot make myself feel either empathy or respect for the GARBAGE gang.

Good quotations from good articles about the Rolling Stone rape hoax

It seems fitting, after writing about GARBAGE’s rape culture,  which deliberately aims at the most base, animalistic part of a man’s nature, that we should turn to its mirror image:  Leftist feminist’s rape culture, which deliberately aims at the most base, animalistic, male-hating part of a woman’s nature, encouraging a woman to use false rape claims to hide her own shame at saying “yes” when she knew she ought to have said “no,” or simply to get revenge on a man or on men in general:

From Patrick Witt, whose career at Yale was destroyed when he got caught in the university’s “no due process” kangaroo court. Kafka could not have imagined a more horrific “tribunal”:

While an undergraduate there, my ex-girlfriend filed an informal complaint against me with the then-newly-created University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct. The committee summoned me to appear and styled the meeting as a form of mediation. Its chairman, a professor with no prior experience handling dispute resolution, told me that I could have a faculty adviser present but no lawyer, and instructed me to avoid my accuser, who, by that point, I had neither seen nor spoken to in weeks. The committee imposed an “expectation of confidentiality” on me so as to prevent any form of “retaliation” against my accuser.

I would say more about what the accusation itself entailed if indeed I had such information. Under the informal complaint process, specific accusations are not disclosed to the accused, no fact-finding takes place, and no record is taken of the alleged misconduct. For the committee to issue an informal complaint, an accuser need only bring an accusation that, if substantiated, would constitute a violation of university policy concerning sexual misconduct. The informal “process” begins and ends at the point of accusation; the truth of the claim is immaterial.

When I demanded that fact-finding be done so that I could clear my name, I was told, “There’s nothing to clear your name of.” When I then requested that a formal complaint be lodged against me — a process that does involve investigation into the facts — I was told that such a course of action was impossible for me to initiate. At any time, however, my accuser retained the right to raise the complaint to a formal level. No matter, the Committee reassured me, the informal complaint did not constitute a disciplinary proceeding and nothing would be attached to my official record at Yale.

Coincidentally, the same day that my accuser decided to lodge the complaint against me, the news that I had been selected as a finalist for the Rhodes Scholarship had been publicly announced. The news gained national attention, with stories in every major media outlet in print and online, because of my position as Yale’s starting quarterback and the fact that my interview date was set for the same day as my last Harvard-Yale football game.

Days after the initial meeting with the University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct, I received a phone call from the Rhodes Trust informing me that they had received an anonymous tip that I had been accused by a fellow student of sexual misconduct. Next came a call from my summer employer, who, having received a similar anonymous tip, rescinded my offer of full-time employment upon graduation.

From Daniel Greenfield, who understands that Rolling Stone is just one manifestation of the Leftist lynch mob mentality:

Rolling Stone’s rape story was cooked out of the same ingredients; a presumption of guilt and a lynch mob demanding its own brand of justice. The facts never mattered.

The assistant managing editor at the University of Virginia’s student paper admitted that when she argued, “To let fact checking define the narrative would be a huge mistake.”

It was never about the facts. It was about the narrative. And the narrative was not only the guilt of a few men, but the way that their guilt stood in for the guilt of all men or all white people. The factual question of whether Officer Darren Wilson or a few UVA students committed a crime was a technicality.

Since the racist and sexist narrative states that all white people or all men are inherently guilty, the factual question of whether a few men actually raped someone doesn’t matter. The factual question of whether a police officer is actually guilty under the law is so obscure that it isn’t worth discussing.

Fact checking just obstructs the narrative that all white people or all men are guilty.

From James W. Ceaser, a professor of politics at the University of Virginia and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, who is appalled by the “flight of reason” from America’s colleges and universities:

The abandonment of a critical spirit on our campuses is as much a failure of moral courage as of intellectual blindness. Every adult, if not every student, knows what happened at Duke eight years ago, where, under pressure from the same kind of academic crowd behavior, members of the men’s lacrosse team were tainted and criminally prosecuted for rape, under charges that ultimately proved baseless. Every professor in media studies and public opinion is fully aware of the spectacular hoaxes of modern journalism, from the gripping accounts of urban poverty by Janet Cooke in the Washington Post to the multiple fabrications of Stephen Glass in the New Republic. And scholars of literature and history cannot be ignorant of the psychology of false accusation, from the biblical story of Potiphar’s wife down to the rape charges by Tawana Brawley, cynically perpetuated by Al Sharpton. Yet, in the climate of the moment, none of the perspective that these teachers could have offered, even if they had wished to do so, was ever brought to bear. A crowd does not listen, particularly when it is convinced it is on the side of the angels.


The latest and most disturbing turn in the whole sequence of events came in the aftermath of the unraveling of the published story. No one, of course, knows exactly what, if anything, happened in that fraternity house, or how many, if any, of the victim’s charges can stand up to scrutiny. Despite promises from different parties to get to the bottom of things, one coming from Rolling Stone no less, this matter may never be resolved. What stands out, however, is the reaction of the activists. Though disappointed that the veracity of this story of suffering and bestiality has been placed in doubt, they remain undeterred. Now they claim that the facts of this case ultimately do not matter. It is the larger cause that counts. The article, they say, has served to put a spotlight on the epidemic of sexual violence on campus. As one of them put it, “The main message we want to come out of all this is that sexual assault is a problem nationwide that we need to act in preventing. It has never been about one story.” The activists, moreover, can claim already to have won a victory. They are certain to be at the center of the next step in the process, now underway at UVA, of adopting new measures to deal with this problem.

From Charles C. W. Cooke, who states forthrightly that the real UVa scandal (which wasn’t the purported rape but was, instead, the witch hunt) proves yet again the Left doesn’t care about truth:

The rest of us, meanwhile, should have been rudely reminded that at the heart of the so-called social-justice movement is the conscious rejection of prized Anglo-American norms. Where most readers accepted with alacrity the possibility that Sabrina Erdely could have got it wrong, the tireless archaeologists of our supposedly ubiquitous “rape culture” took to remolding their position every six-and-a-half minutes and to carrying on in public like a bunch of frothy peanut-gallery-voyeurs at a backwoods 17th-century witch trial. Just a few short weeks ago, when Rolling Stone’s story was almost universally believed to be true, we were urged to read each and every sordid detail of the case so that we might better acquaint ourselves with the broader problems that are presented by “rape culture.” Today, as the story continues to collapse, the opposite view is regnant, and the very same people who pointed excitedly to Erdely’s work now contend that we should not be focusing on an individual case such as this in the first place. Thus are we being asked to accept two contradictory positions. The first: that Erdely’s gang-rape story was important enough not only to justify months of research but to serve as the hook on which her piece was hung. The second: that it didn’t matter at all. “Not sure,” Vox’s Libby Nelson asked last night in a tweet that summed up the volte-face, what the Washington Post’s “endgame is in continuing to pursue” the facts.

Such self-serving inquiries illustrate something crucial — namely, that many of those who describe themselves as “journalists” these days are more interested in moral positioning and the advancement of their agendas than in the attainment of objective truth.

From Anonymous, a man who, at 15, was accused of rape after what he claims was consensual sex, and whose psyche is still haunted by those accusations:

The arresting officer held my arm in detention until I finished heaving my stomach on to the street before pushing me into the back of the police car and driving me to the station.

I was processed and taken to a single cell where the door was closed and my head exploded. I didn’t make a single sound and declined the blanket and the solicitor, as if they might let me out for good behaviour. They took my shoelaces so I didn’t hang myself.

I woke up in tears to the realisation that I was still in a nightmare that couldn’t possibly be true. My foster dad had been called and he came and cried with me, demanded a solicitor and sat through a police interview so in-depth and humiliating that I still refuse to let myself remember it.

I had samples of my nails, saliva and pubic hair taken.

For three months, my bail was renewed monthly while the case was investigated. All this time, I wasn’t allowed to arrive at school until every other pupil was in class, for their safety. I spent every day in isolation, having work from each lesson sent to me via reception staff. If I went to the toilet, I’d be accompanied inside and prevented from talking to any other pupil in the school who I’d spent the last three years trying to make friends with.

My foster placement nearly collapsed because social workers were not sure if I could be trusted to live in the same house as my foster sister. I became completely introverted.

The charges were dropped in January, after the worst Christmas of my life. I was told that charges against you and me for underage sex had been considered but weren’t pursued. They did not give me any options to take action against you.

From Megan McArdle:

The people who called the skeptics “rape denialists” or “rape truthers” made the mistake of making the specific stand in for the whole. Disbelieving this particular story was taken as disbelieving in the existence of rape, which is absurd. But it would be equally absurd to insist that what happened in this particular case somehow stands in for every journalist, activist or editor who deals with rape. The country is large, its institutions are many, and its people are incredibly diverse. No one story can sum us all up in a neat package. We would all do well to remember that.

And now a few words about Jonathan Gruber

From Michael Gerson, who usually is about as hard-hitting as David Brooks, comes one of the best analyses I’ve seen about what makes the Grubers of this world tick:

Many academic liberals have fully internalized the “What’s the Matter with Kansas?” theory, given vivid expression by Thomas Frank. In its simplified version (and there is seldom any other kind), this is the argument that people who are suffering from economic inequality should naturally vote Democratic. But they often get distracted by the shiny objects of the culture war and tricked into resentment against liberal elites.

It’s a very short step from this belief to its more muscular corollary: Liberal elites (through liberal politicians) should constructively mislead Americans. The task of persuasion is pretty nigh hopeless, given the unfortunate “stupidity of the American voter or whatever.” So the people must be given what they need, even if they don’t want it.

This involves a very high regard for policy experts and a very low opinion of the political profession. Gruber clearly views his own world of policy as a place of idealism and integrity. Politics, in contrast, is a realm where “lack of transparency” and “mislabeling” are sad necessities to persuade low-information voters to pursue their own interests. Purposely employing such tactics in an academic paper, for example, would be a scandal (and presumably a firing offense) at Gruber’s Massachusetts Institute of Technology. But liberal academics expect politicians to have greater cunning and lower standards. In fact, academics depend upon the rougher talents of politicians to turn their ideas into reality.

From Jonah Goldberg, in his Friday email (which will be Saturday’s lead article at National Review):

There’s another reason Gruber never corrected anybody when they described him as an architect of Obamacare: Because it’s true!

Which leads to another important point: Gruber’s a huge, monumental, Brobdingnagian liar.

To believe his testimony before Congress is to believe that on one occasion after another, he baldly lied over and over again to his peers, colleagues, students, and friends. Darrell Issa sort of gets at this here at the end of Gowdy’s interrogation when he asks Gruber, “Did anybody come up to you and tell you that what you were saying was inappropriate?”

That’s an interesting question and tells you a lot about the sovereign contempt the expert class has for the American people. But a better question would be, “Why didn’t anybody correct you on your factual claims? Or simply say ‘What you’re saying isn’t true’?” Gruber was on panels with other health-care experts. The audiences were full of people who were deeply informed about Obamacare and all its details. And yet no one said, “Hey, that’s not the way it happened.” Why? Because Gruber was telling the truth when he said they had to deceive the American people. And before you ask me what proof I have, I would like to direct you to the fact that Barack Obama deceived the American people over and over and over again when he said things like “You can keep your doctor” and “You can keep your insurance” etc. (and not one liberal journalist cheerleader for Obamacare ever felt compelled to push back on this obvious lie). Are we really so stunned that the same president might be willing to play accounting games with the CBO?

Sure maybe Gruber exaggerated his role or involvement. Maybe he embellished this or that. But you can’t exaggerate a lie; you can only exaggerate the truth. For years he told the truth to anyone who would listen, and now that it’s politically problematic he says it was all a lie.

Talk about a symbolic doll

I can’t help but feel that there’s something deeply symbolic in the look of the new Sharia-compliant doll that took four years of brainstorming to design. It’s all about the Koran’s prohibition against drawing faces, but still….

Sharia doll

I continue to believe that Pope Francis is a hardcore Leftist

In the 1960s, hard-left Liberation Theology took over the Latin American Catholic church. Now, the Latin American Catholic church, in the form of Pope Francis, is moving in on the rest of the Catholic infrastructure. Two stories:

First, the Pope is throwing himself wholeheartedly into Leftist paradigm of climate change that can be solved only by wealth transfers. What this has to do with his Papal obligations, I do not know.

Second, it appears that the Pope is falling in with the Chinese Communists, who are engaged in a decades’ long assault on Tibet, by refusing to acknowledge the Dalai Lama. I think the Dalai Lama is a dunce because he espouses Marxist socialism (only someone mentally deficient would fail to see the link between socialism and the attack on faith and national autonomy), but you have to give him credit for standing up for his people’s faith and autonomy.  The Pope, it seems, lacks that honor.

A few words about DiFi’s CIA torture report

Charles Krauthammer is a seriously good writer. After reminding his readers that, back in 2001, right after America was blindsided, Democrats openly espoused torture to prevent future attacks, Krauthammer has this to say:

There was no uproar about this open countenancing of torture-by-proxy. Which demonstrates not just the shamelessness of Democrats today denouncing practices to which, at the time and at the very least, they made no objection. It demonstrates also how near-consensual was the idea that our national emergency might require extraordinary measures.

This is not to say that in carrying out the program there weren’t abuses, excesses, mismanagement and appalling mistakes (such as the death in custody — unintended but still unforgivable — of two detainees). It is to say that the root-and-branch denunciation of the program as, in principle, unconscionable is not just hypocritical but ahistorical.

To make that case, to produce a prosecutorial brief so entirely and relentlessly one-sided, the committee report (written solely by Democrats) excluded any testimony from the people involved and variously accused. None. No interviews, no hearings, no statements.


So what was the Bush administration to do? Amid the smoking ruins of Ground Zero, conduct a controlled experiment in gentle interrogation and wait to see if we’d be hit again?

A nation attacked is not a laboratory for exquisite moral experiments. It’s a trust to be protected, by whatever means meet and fit the threat.

Accordingly, under the direction of the Bush administration and with the acquiescence of congressional leadership, the CIA conducted an uncontrolled experiment. It did everything it could, sometimes clumsily, sometimes cruelly, indeed, sometimes wrongly.

But successfully. It kept us safe.

Jonah Goldberg says what I bet many are thinking, but few dare to admit: There are times when torture is a necessary evil. Moreover, it’s incredibly hypocritical to applaud Obama for murdering thousands of people with drones, while wringing our hands over “torture” or “enhanced interrogation” or whatever you want to call it against a very small number of men who were reasonably believed to be in possession of information that could spell life or death to thousands of Americans:

One of the great problems with the word “torture” is that it tolerates no ambiguity. It is a taboo word, like racism or incest. Once you call something torture, the conversation is supposed to end. It’s a line no one may cross.


The problem is that the issue isn’t nearly so binary. Even John McCain — a vocal opponent of any kind of torture — has conceded that in some hypothetical nuclear ticking-time-bomb scenario, torture might be a necessary evil. His threshold might be very high, but the principle is there nonetheless. And nearly everyone understands the point: When a greater evil is looming in the imminent future, the lesser evil becomes more tolerable. This is why opponents of the interrogation program are obsessed with claiming that it never worked, at all.

And this suggests why the talking point about drone strikes has such power. Killing is worse than torture. Life in prison might be called torture for some people, and yet we consider the death penalty a more severe punishment. Most people would prefer to be waterboarded than killed. All sane and decent people would rather go through what Khalid Sheikh Mohammad went through than see their whole family slaughtered from 10,000 feet by a drone. And yet President Obama routinely sanctions drone strikes while piously outlawing the slapping of prisoners who might have information that would make such strikes less necessary — and, more importantly, would prevent the loss of innocent American lives.

Robert Avrech says that the Democrats’ one-sided report is wrapped up in Orwellian language. Aside from helping Democrats avoid focusing on Gruber’s testimony, what they’ve done is terribly dangerous for Americans. I agree:

Is it the Democrats who wrote their report — actually, a political document — on the CIA and its tactics against genocidal IslamoNazis, or is it the CIA’s former directors and field operatives who claim the exact opposite, and who were not interviewed by Senate Democrats?

History is a useful guide. According to Democrats, if you like your insurance, you can keep your insurance. If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. Democrats had never heard of Jonathan Gruber until YouTube videos showed that they quoted him at length as their esteemed expert. Democrats tell us that Officer Wilson shot Michael Brown after the latter surrendered. They also tell us that rape culture exists on college campuses. But two prominent recent accusations of campus rape — UVA and Lena Dunham — have turned out to be ghastly lies and unforgivable slanders.

The ethical landscape of postmodern Democrats is fused to Orwellian Newspeak.

Larry Correia takes his fisking pen to the science fiction world

I have never read HP Lovecraft. I do know, though, that he is a giant in the science fiction world. He’s also white, so he must be overthrown.  Or at least, so says one Daniel Jose Older, writing in The Guardian. Larry Correia fisks the Hell out of him.

I actually have thought a lot about the biases of old showing up in classic writing.  Three of my favorite writers — Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Georgette Heyer — were routinely antisemitic in their writing. When I get to those passages, I cringe . . . and then let them pass. These women were fabulous writers, but they were of their time and place, and it was a time and place that was casually racist.

What distinguished those fine writers from antisemites of yesterday and today is that they weren’t aiming to stir up hatred. They were just relying on certain existing stereotypes to move their stories forward. The world would be a lesser place if these women were banned simply because they reflected the passive racist values of the world around them.

People are always going to be racist (witness all the blacks rallying around Michael Brown). You need to separate the wheat from the chaff. Then, work to eliminate the chaff in your own time.

Sadly, new data still shows that blacks are high achievers when it comes to crime

Those people who, in the wake of the whole Ferguson uprising, pointed out that the greatest danger to blacks is their fellow blacks, were castigated as racists. Apparently new crime statistics are also racist, since they reiterate that point.

Raise your hand if you believe Boehner lied to representatives to get their vote

I’m actually not certain whether it’s true that House Leader John Boehner lied to fellow representatives to get their votes on the Cromnesty funding bill. Certainly, Representative Marlin Stutzman (R., Ind.) is claiming that Boehner did. Frankly, this reminds me of the college rape claims. It’s entirely possible Boehner lied — and I wouldn’t put him past him — but it’s just as possible that Stutzman later regretted his “yes” vote and tried to back away from it with a lie.