Supplemental: A memorable piece of reporting from Mosul!

FRIDAY, MARCH 27, 2015

What hating the others can do:
We saw several pieces of weak reporting in the New York Times this week.

We expect to review a few of those efforts tomorrow. Today, consider some memorable reporting by the Times’ Rod Nordland.

Nordland described some recent events in Mosul. This is the way he began:
NORDLAND (3/25/15): Islamic State militants in Iraq on Tuesday publicly stoned a man and woman to death on charges of adultery, parading the victims in a public square in the northern city of Mosul, according to witnesses and an Iraqi military official.

Later in the day, the militants publicly beheaded three young men on a street in central Mosul, accusing them of being the nephews of a political opponent of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

They were the latest in a series of public executions of people accused of social offenses in the city, which the militants wrested from Iraqi control last June.

The stoning victims, who were not identified, were in their 20s, witnesses said. The woman was described as being married. It was not known whether they had been given a trial, but none was held in public.
Accused of being nephews! Meanwhile, let’s not forget to parade our victims in the square. Hatred of the others can be a very powerful force.

Empathy may be less powerful, at least in the moment. We were struck by this account from an eyewitness who described himself as helpless:
NORDLAND: Another witness said he had tried to record video of the execution on his cellphone but was ordered by the militants not to do so.

“I was moved by the crying of this woman, who started bleeding and then died from the stoning,” said the witness, Saad, who gave only his first name out of concern for his safety. “I was standing there helpless. The government has left us as captives in the hands of ISIS, who make all kinds of crimes in the city. The more I see their crimes, the more I hate them and realize they have come to carry out a paid agenda to destroy the city and its history and civilization and to defame the image of Islam.”
He was moved by the crying, but helpless.

We humans! We’re strongly inclined to hate the others. We thought this remarkable bit of reporting deserved a second look.

OUR CONVERSATIONS TO NOWHERE: Fox takes our latest moment worldwide!

FRIDAY, MARCH 27, 2015

Part 4—Our endless agreement to lose:
Over at Slate, Jamelle Bouie had a message for Hillary Clinton.

Candidate Clinton, he seemed to say. Please don’t bring us together!

To some small extent, we jest. And in fairness, Bouie was offering advice which is now thoroughly standard within the liberal world:

Below, you see the headlines from Bouie’s piece at Slate. This is now thoroughly standard advice within the liberal world:
What Scott Walker Can Teach Hillary Clinton
Forget all this talk about uniting America. It’s a fool’s errand.
We’re not even saying that outlook is “wrong.” We’re here to say that we were struck by the way that standard advice interacts with an early chunk of Bouie’s piece.

Below, you see the way Bouie began.
Given the advice those headlines announced, we were struck by his second paragraph:
BOUIE (3/24/15): Hillary Clinton has been polarizing her entire political career. But now, ahead of a second presidential run, she wants to be a uniter, not a divider. People should “get out of the kind of very unproductive discussion that we’ve had for too long, where people are just in their ideological bunkers, having arguments instead of trying to reach across those divides and have some solutions,” she said, speaking to labor leaders and policy wonks during a Monday event at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank that doubles as the Clinton administration-in-waiting.

Elsewhere in Washington, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities—another left-leaning think tank—released its analysis of the new Republican budgets. “Each budget plan,” notes the CBPP, “derives more than two-thirds of its [approximately $5 trillion] budget cuts from programs for people with low or modest incomes even though these programs constitute less than one-quarter of federal program costs.” This includes billions in cuts to tax credits for working families as well as trillions in cuts to health care for low-income people. At the same time, House Republicans are mulling huge tax relief for the wealthiest Americans; later this week the House Ways and Means Committee will consider a bill to repeal the federal estate tax.

Clinton hasn’t announced a full agenda for 2016, much less a campaign for president. But when she does, it will stand on the opposite bank of anything offered by Republicans, with a vast distance between the two. She will give a plan for growing the welfare state. They will offer a plan for gutting it.
We always gag when liberal writers refer to “the welfare state.” We also balk when writers refer to people like Clinton as “polarizing.”

This suggests that she created the polarization, rather than the Republican propagandists who have been seeking to drive us apart, in the dumbest possible ways, for more than two decades now.

Those are relatively minor points. We were most struck by Bouie’s accurate portrait of those Republican budget plans.

Those plans would eliminate programs for families with modest incomes. At the same time, they would generate giant savings for the lucky duckies who are so rich that they might have to pay federal estate taxes.

Very few Republican voters will ever pay a cent of federal estate tax. On the other hand, tens of millions of Republican voters are people with modest incomes.

In short, millions of Republican voters would be harmed by those GOP budget plans. But in this same piece, Bouie ends up advising against trying to “bring us together”—against trying to cross the red/blue divide in search of votes.

Once again, we aren’t trying to single Bouie out. The advice he gives in this piece is now thoroughly standard.

In the narrowest sense, we’re not even necessarily saying he’s wrong.

That said, his account of those new budget plans understates the extent to which red and blue voters are being jointly looted by current policies—by the ludicrous costs of American health care, by federal tax policies.

Good God! Why shouldn’t progressive figures try to “bring us together?” In a wide array of ways, average voters, red and blue, are being looted together! Why shouldn’t progressive figures actively point that out?

Conservative voters are getting ripped off in the same ways liberal voters are. But when have you seen progressive figures even try to create that conversation about the real shape of our world?

That conversation is rarely even attempted. Very few progressive orgs have ever tried to create a discussion about the massive joint looting.

What do we tend to do instead? Consider the latest ludicrous moment, which went worldwide on Fox.

This ludicrous moment occurred Wednesday afternoon. It occurred on MSNBC’s Now with Alex Wagner, where very few people saw it.

Wednesday evening, the folk at Fox took this latest moment worldwide. We’ll let the Washington Post’s Eric Wemple describe this latest moment.

Warning! Based on the videotape Wemple provides, his account is unfair to Michael Steele. The rest of his account is sadly accurate.

Jamilah Lemieux, who authored this latest moment, is a senior editor at Ebony:
WEMPLE (3/25/15): Freshly announced presidential candidate Ted Cruz has made news with his claim that he became a fan of country music after rock-and-roll music disappointed him with its response to the Sept. 11 attacks. The MSNBC afternoon program “Now with Alex Wagner” used Cruz’s music comments as the jumping-off point for a discussion among guest host Ari Melber, Joan Walsh, Michael Steele and Jamilah Lemieux.

“Nothing says ‘Let’s go kill some Muslims’ like country music,” said Lemieux in kicking off the festivities. The comment came off as something packaged, premeditated. While Walsh and Steele giggled, Melber remained stone-faced, vouching for the pluralism of the genre. “Well, but I mean, there’s plenty of country music that doesn’t have that message,” he said.

Moments later, Melber returned to the matter, telling viewers: “We have a programming note. A few minutes ago on this program, a guest made a comment about country music that was not appropriate, and we want to be clear this network does not condone it.”
On the videotape, we see no evidence of Steele’s reaction to this latest brilliant remark. Wemple gets the rest of it right:

Walsh chuckles appreciatively at Lemieux’s masterful wit—but then, Walsh would feel she had to. Guest host Melber never smiles, then comes back to apologize.

(In one way, Wemple is kind to Lemieux. He omits her second witticism, in which she notes that Cruz’s remarks were made—where else?—in Lynchburg!)

Very few people saw this latest moment live. Five hours later, it went worldwide on Fox.

Millions of people got to see us liberals at our dumbest. When the tribal divide is enabled this way, the plutocrats happily win.

In recent years, we liberals have kept creating conversations to nowhere. We’ve reviewed a few examples this week.

Sometimes, these absurd conversations come from our corporate moguls, like the very strange Howard Schultz.

Sometimes, these conversations come from famous liberal publications like Rolling Stone.

Sometimes, they come from the millionaire hosts who minister on corporate cable, people like Lawrence O’Donnell.

Increasingly, these conversations start when we liberals go around inventing facts which create perfect victims of perfect incidents—perfect incidents which just keep falling apart.

Sometimes, these conversations to nowhere come from our college presidents. And from their assistant professors, who are willing to march into lecture halls and tell the children this:
HARRIS (11/19/14): Research on assault characteristics has revealed that about half of reported incidents involve alcohol, Orchowski said. Many sexual assault perpetrators are repeat offenders...

Orchowski said only about 20 percent of sexual assault victims correctly labeled their assaults as “rape,” often reporting them as results of miscommunication or bad dates.
In fairness, the highlighted statement is a paraphrase written by a student journalist.

That said, does anyone doubt that our liberal assistant professors are willing to make such wonderfully peculiar statements? That we modern liberals are routinely unable to see that such statements are even peculiar at all?

The wide range of voters, red and blue, are being jointly looted. But you will rarely hear that problem described on The One True Liberal Channel.

You will rarely see any attempt to explain this fact to red voters.

What are you going to see instead? On MSNBC this week, Chris Hayes—who started with a lot of promise—was declaiming in astounding detail about Tucker Carlson’s emails.

Also about the emails of Buckley Carlson, Tucker’s brother, who was said to have a weird name. To watch the segment, click here.

It isn’t that Hayes’ statements were wrong. The problem with that segment is different:

Hayes, who started with so much promise, was staging the latest conversation to nowhere. All next week, we’ll be discussing the million ways we liberals now practice to lose.

Supplemental: What Wendy McElroy said at Brown!


No wonder the students were frightened:
Uh-oh! The free-thinking students at Brown’s Janus Forum had scheduled a debate.

For background, see our previous post.

At the Brown Daily Herald, two reporters described the growing concern. They profiled the two debaters:
BRANDFIELD-HARVEY AND KELLY (11/17/14): A Janus Forum debate titled “How Should Colleges Handle Sexual Assault?” that will take place in Salomon 101 Tuesday has incited controversy among some students, prompting a community-wide email from President Christina Paxson this weekend and the creation of alternative events.

Some students have voiced opposition to the nature of the debate between visiting speakers Jessica Valenti and Wendy McElroy, whom Janus Forum fellows director Dana Schwartz ’15 said were chosen as representatives of conflicting viewpoints on campus sexual assault and rape culture.

Their opposition sparked the staging of two additional events—at the same time as the debate, a faculty member will present research on rape culture in the Building for Environmental Research and Teaching, and BWell Health Promotion will host a “safe space” for emotional support in Salomon.

Valenti founded in 2004 and has written five books, including “The Purity Myth” and “Full Frontal Feminism.” McElroy is a controversial author of several books, an editor of—an abbreviated moniker for “individualist feminist”—and the author of “The Big Lie of a ‘Rape Culture,’” an article for the Future of Freedom Foundation. McElroy’s viewpoints in particular have attracted condemnation from some students.
In that account, Valenti has written five books. McElroy is “controversial.” Fear of McElroy’s frightening views had set off a scramble for safety.

Moving quickly, President Paxson scheduled a simultaneous forum where students could hear a presidentially-sanctioned account of “the research.” Later in their news report, the Daily Herald scribes reported a solemn pledge:

“Marisa Quinn, vice president for public affairs and University relations, wrote in an email to The Herald that both the Janus debate and Orchowski’s lecture will be taped and available for students to view later.”

We don’t know what happened. But assistant professor Orchowski’s lecture doesn’t seem to be available. Neither does Valenti’s part of the debate.

By way of contrast, the tape and transcript of McElroy’s 20-minute opening statement are both available. This is the way she began:
MCELROY (11/18/14): Thank you and good evening.

How many of you came tonight knowing exactly who I am and thinking you know exactly what I'm going to say?

I'm an individualist feminist which is a tradition within feminism that you may not be familiar with. It's also called libertarian feminism. I'm going to open in an unconventional manner by speaking about my personal background.

I've had a great deal of violence in my life. When I was 16 I ran away from home and lived on the street. I was raped, and brutally so. I did not blame society, I did not blame the culture. I blame the man who raped me. I've had reason in my life to blame other men. Due to a domestic violence incident years ago, I had a hemorrhage in the central line of vision of my right eye that left me legally blind. I did not blame society. I did not blame culture. I blame the man who put his fist in my face.

Every morning I wake up I know the pain and the importance of violence against women because I see only half of the world because of it.

I am bringing this up before I bring up arguments and the evidence because when a woman like me comes and disagrees with the feminist orthodoxy, what comes back are accusations. They claim I don't know what it means—the significance, the importance of violence against women. Or that I trivialize rape.

Let's put that behind us. Let's say I am a woman who knows intimately the pain of sexual violence, and that I disagree. Let's do the one thing that is most important on this issue, which is actually discuss the issues. Raise questions.

This evening I'll address two topics all too briefly. The rape culture, and how I think sexual assault accusations on campus should be treated.
To watch her presentation, click here.

We’re not sure why students needed an alternate forum to protect them from hearing that. As McElroy began discussing “rape culture,” she quoted last year’s statement by the (mainstream) Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), in which RAINN said this:

“There has been an unfortunate trend towards blaming the rape culture for the extensive problem of sexual violence on campus. While it is helpful for pointing out the systemic barriers towards dealing with the problem it is important not to lose sight of a simple fact: Rape is caused not by cultural factors but by the conscious decisions of a small fraction of a community to commit a violent crime. While that may seem an obvious point it has tended to get lost in recent debates.”

For ourselves, we don’t have a giant view on this matter. Does a “rape culture” exist in this country? As a general matter, this tends to strike us as a largely semantic question.

(Though it’s obvious that giant industries earn lots of money from selling the vicarious thrill of violence against women. People, we walked out of The Deep! In 1977!)

We’d like to watch the full debate. But only one side is available.

In this piece last year for Slate, Amanda Marcotte described RAINN as “one of the most active and important organizations in the country fighting sexual violence.” She went on to say that RAINN doesn’t seem to understand the concept of “rape culture.”

You can assess that as you like. We thought it was worth looking at the outlandish views which caused President Paxson to direct an assistant professor to create a forum where students would only be exposed to ideas of which their president approved.

In Sunday’s New York Times, Judith Shulevitz snarked fairly hard at several Brown students. We thought the actual problem here involved Brown’s adult authorities.

Was there some reason why the average Brown student had to be shielded from McElroy’s views? In that report from the Brown Daily Herald, the organizer of the debate was quoted making a striking statement:
BRANDFIELD-HARVEY AND KELLY: “Obviously we knew that any topic about sexual assault would be challenging to address, but we aim to be a non-partisan, non-biased organization,” [Dana Schwarz] said. “We brought two speakers, who have completely different viewpoints, one of which probably has a completely different viewpoint than most of campus, but we do that with the intent to spark debate and discussion.”

Schwartz said the Janus Forum has wanted to host an event focused on women’s issues and sexual assault since students raised concerns about the University’s sexual assault policies and disciplinary procedures last spring.

Janus Forum events “always try to reflect the climate of the campus,” Schwartz said. “We don’t shape it, we just respond to it.”

In response to students’ opposition to McElroy, Schwartz said hearing and dissecting opposing opinions is essential to strengthening one’s own viewpoint. “We have to be aware that people outside of Brown have opinions that we might find highly unpalatable, and I think instead of silencing opinions, by listening and understanding how to deconstruct and debate them effectively, that’s the best thing a Brown student can do.”
Schwarz seemed to think that McElroy “probably has a completely different viewpoint than most of campus.” We don’t know if that’s true.

That said, it didn’t seem to cross her mind that someone might learn something, or end up with a changed point of view, from hearing that different viewpoint. By listening to McElroy, students could only learn about the “highly unpalatable” opinions which obtain off campus, out in the rest of the world.

Schwarz did a lot of things right in the matter. But that strikes us as a remarkably blinkered view.

That said, Schwarz is an undergraduate; she’s a college student. With leadership from adult authorities like Paxson and Orchowski, it’s no wonder that terrific young people at Brown might hold such blinkered views.

Progressives can’t succeed in this know-it-all manner. But as Augustine thoughtfully said:

Dear lord! It just feels so good!

OUR CONVERSATIONS TO NOWHERE: The pros and cons of feeling “safe!”


Interlude—Minder knows best:
We couldn’t help feeling that Lawrence O’Donnell was helping us liberals feel “safe.”

Let’s be clear about that. No physical danger was being avoided as we watched The Last Word Monday night. We were being protected from something else—from various types of information which we liberals may not most enjoy.

For background, see yesterday’s report.

In a rational world, there was no reason why liberals and progressives should be shielded from the information at issue. That said, Lawrence and a scripted panel seemed intent on keeping us safe from information like this:
Information which got disappeared:
1) There's no reason to think that a widely-discussed gang rape actually happened.
2) The alleged victim in that case had made a long series of statements and claims which turned out to be false.
3) In failing to fact-check this person’s claims, Rolling Stone engaged in an astounding journalistic fail.
In a rational world, it would be helpful for progressives and liberals to understand those things. It would be helpful for us to know that not all claims turn out to be true, even if they comport with our larger beliefs, and that our “liberal” news orgs can massively fail, especially when they overreach in the pursuit of Tribal True Belief.

It would be helpful for liberals to know those things, but Lawrence wasn’t selling. Instead, he and his panel let us hear some familiar old scripts, the ones we most enjoy:
Some things we were told instead:
1) Universities won’t involve the police in rape allegations because it’s bad for business. (In the case of this rape claim, UVa seems to have called in the local police on three separate occasions.)
2) A black student was recently “brutalized” on the UVa campus. (The investigation of the incident has barely begun. The agency in question seems to have no history of mistreating black students.)
Was Martese Johnson “brutalized” in this recent incident? Like Lawrence’s unfortunate panel, we simply don’t know at this time.

Alas! Lawrence seemed to be protecting us from facts which don’t comport with our views in the most simple-minded ways. This unhelpful service is now being performed all over the “liberal” world.

Rush and Sean have always treated the public this way. Now, people like Lawrence are paid big bucks by corporate entities to bring these practices into the liberal world.

Remember when we fought a war “to keep the world safe for democracy?” People like Lawrence are striving to keep the world safe for the most simple-minded true belief.

This isn’t good for progressive causes, but these practices are widespread. Consider what happened at Brown last fall when a non-ideological student group decided to stage a debate.

The debate bore this title: “How Should Colleges Handle Sexual Assault?” Plainly, that’s a sensible topic—but the inclusion of Wendy McElroy, an “individualist feminist,” sparked a pre-debate debate which included concerns about “safety.”

In Last Sunday’s New York Times, Judith Shulevitz discussed these events, events which are well worth discussing. At the same time, we think Shulevitz was a bit snarky, especially toward several students at Brown, who may be 19 years old.

We thought Shulevitz should have focused more on the adults at Brown—at the adult authorities who, like O’Donnell, seemed to be keeping our “liberal” world safe for the most simple-minded ideas.

With those trigger warnings in place, here’s how Shulevitz started her piece. We include the headline, which basically pokes the students:
SHULEVITZ (3/22/15): In College and Hiding From Scary Ideas

Katherine Byron, a senior at Brown University and a member of its Sexual Assault Task Force, considers it her duty to make Brown a safe place for rape victims, free from anything that might prompt memories of trauma.

So when she heard last fall that a student group had organized a debate about campus sexual assault between Jessica Valenti, the founder of, and Wendy McElroy, a libertarian, and that Ms. McElroy was likely to criticize the term “rape culture,” Ms. Byron was alarmed. “Bringing in a speaker like that could serve to invalidate people’s experiences,” she told me. It could be “damaging.”

Ms. Byron and some fellow task force members secured a meeting with administrators. Not long after, Brown’s president, Christina H. Paxson, announced that the university would hold a simultaneous, competing talk to provide “research and facts” about “the role of culture in sexual assault.” Meanwhile, student volunteers put up posters advertising that a “safe space” would be available for anyone who found the debate too upsetting.

The safe space, Ms. Byron explained, was intended to give people who might find comments “troubling” or “triggering,” a place to recuperate. The room was equipped with cookies, coloring books, bubbles, Play-Doh, calming music, pillows, blankets and a video of frolicking puppies, as well as students and staff members trained to deal with trauma. Emma Hall, a junior, rape survivor and “sexual assault peer educator” who helped set up the room and worked in it during the debate, estimates that a couple of dozen people used it. At one point she went to the lecture hall—it was packed—but after a while, she had to return to the safe space. “I was feeling bombarded by a lot of viewpoints that really go against my dearly and closely held beliefs,” Ms. Hall said.
Byron and Hall, who are students at Brown, got snarked at pretty good in that passage. The description of the “safe space” which Hall helped set up pretty much lowered the boom on These Kids Today.

(Just for the record, that “safe space” was actually run by Bwell Health Promotion, a part of Brown health services. Shulevitz may have had her thumb on the scale a tad as she seemed to mock an overwrought Hall.)

Byron and Hall got snarked at good. In our view, President Paxson got off easy. Let’s discuss three types of conduct cited in that short passage.

Creating the safe space: It may sound silly—in fact, it does sound silly—to stock a “safe space” at a college with coloring books and videotape of puppies. This may sound especially silly since no one was forced to attend the debate.

That safe space may sound silly; in fact, it pretty much does. That said, if some Brown students have emotional issues stemming from past assaults, it isn’t silly to think that Brown would provide counseling services.

We’ve never done such work ourselves, whether for victims of sexual assault or for traumatized former soldiers. For that reason, we’ll hold off on passing judgment about the best practices for young people who may be struggling with such issues.

The views of These Kids Today: Byron and Hall seem to express some peculiar views in that passage. Outside a therapeutic context, the views they express are strange.

Outside a therapeutic context, it’s hard to know why a person would expect to be protected from hearing “viewpoints that really go against their dearly and closely held beliefs.” Beyond that, it sounds like Byron may not have wanted McElroy to be allowed to speak at all, although we don’t know if that's true.

Outside the therapeutic context, Byron and Hall are expressing strange views—unless you watch Lawrence O’Donnell each night, where we liberals are protected against feeling bombarded by viewpoints and facts that go against our dearly held pseudo-beliefs. In our view, a lot of overpaid corporate figures are engaged in exactly the conduct these young people seem to desire—although again we stress the fact that Byron and Hall were speaking here in a therapeutic context.

Shulevitz hammers Byron and Hall. At this point, let’s hail on the chief.

Assistant professor knows best: In our view, it’s President Paxson, the adult here, whose conduct is deeply unfortunate.

It seems to us she was working hard to cast herself in the Lawrence role—to keep students safe from facts and ideas which don’t comport with “liberal” views in the most simple-minded way possible.

Good God! Confronted with a campus debate in which students would hear competing views, Paxson created a simultaneous forum in which students would be able to hear just one set of views. Here's how Paxson described her plan in an email to the masses:
PAXSON (11/14/14): Over the past year, as the issue of sexual assault on college campuses has attracted national attention, the role of culture in sexual assault has been a subject of debate. Some people–including writer Wendy McElroy, who will speak with Jessica Valenti at a Janus Forum event next week–have argued that sexual assault is the work of small numbers of predatory individuals whose behaviors are impervious to the culture and values of their communities. I disagree. Although evidence suggests that a relatively small number of individuals perpetrate sexual assault, extensive research shows that culture and values do matter. Societies that have strong norms against sexual assault have fewer assaults. Furthermore, people are more likely to come forward to report assaults in communities that understand the seriousness of assault and support survivors.

In order to provide the community with more research and facts about these important issues, students and administrators have worked together to sponsor a lecture by Brown University Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior Lindsay Orchowski, entitled The Research on Rape Culture. This presentation will take place at 4:30 pm on Tuesday, November 18th in Wilson 102 as an alternative to the Janus Forum (which will be held at the same time and date in Salomon 101).
At this second event, students would be provided “with more research and facts” about the issues in question. More specifically, they would hear the “research and facts” of which Dear Leader approved.

In effect, President Paxson was creating a second “safe space.” But this safe space had been designed for students who weren’t trauma victims.

This safe space had been designed so students would only be asked to hear viewpoints with which they already agreed. The event would be held at the same time as the previously scheduled debate!

Students were bright enough to see the downside to this move. Below, you see part of the way the Brown Daily Herald reported the president’s plan.

Two undergraduate journalists created a cool, clear report, if you’re willing to swallow the concept of “feeling attacked by viewpoints:”
BRANDFIELD-HARVEY AND KELLY (11/17/14): Students who may feel attacked by the viewpoints expressed at the forum or feel the speakers will dismiss their experiences can find a safe space and separate discussion held at the same time in Salomon 203. This “BWell Safe Space” will have sexual assault peer educators, women peer counselors and staff from BWell on hand to provide support.

A separate event titled “Research on Rape Culture” with Lindsay Orchowski, assistant professor of psychiatry and human behavior, will also take place in BERT 130 during the Janus debate. The Facebook event for these alternative options was created Thursday.

Marisa Quinn, vice president for public affairs and University relations, wrote in an email to The Herald that both the Janus debate and Orchowski’s lecture will be taped and available for students to view later.

Schwartz and Janus Forum Director Alex Friedland ’15 expressed their disappointment in the events being held at the same time, as they both said students invested in the issues who may want to attend both events now must choose between them.

“I think it could have been really great if (Orchowski’s) event happened right before,” Friedland said. “People would have been able to hear the research and then come to our event fully informed.”
Schwartz and Friedland were able to see the downside to simultaneity. That said, even Friedland accepted the notion that Assistant Professor Orchowski would be presenting “the research” (full stop).

In fact, different people will understand “the research” in different ways. In a perfect world, a senior at Brown would understand that there’s no such thing as “the research.”

But then again, so would Brown’s president!

At any rate, students would now be able to hear only one pre-approved account of “the research.” Like Lawrence and so many others, President Paxson seems to know what’s good for us liberals to hear.

Lawrence’s presentation was horrible this Monday night. We liberals were shielded from hearing about the horrible ways a much-discussed claim had failed.

Instead, we got to hear the same old crap our overpaid corporate minders are constantly reciting. President Paxson played the same role in the vineyards of Brown.

Like Lawrence, Paxson created a safe “liberal” space. At her hastily-scheduled alternate forum, the assistant professor would hand us our truth again.

Sadly and horribly, this is part of what the safety-seeking students were told by the assistant professor. Emma Harris did the reporting in the Daily Herald:
HARRIS (11/19/14): Research on assault characteristics has revealed that about half of reported incidents involve alcohol, Orchowski said. Many sexual assault perpetrators are repeat offenders...

Orchowski said only about 20 percent of sexual assault victims correctly labeled their assaults as “rape,” often reporting them as results of miscommunication or bad dates.
Assistant professor knows best! Orchowski knows if you’ve been raped. Eighty percent of the time, we the people can’t tell!

Assistant professor Orchowski knows best! But then, all around the emerging “liberal” world, so do a wide range of others. They are creating a range of safe spaces for people who aren’t trauma victims. In these safe spaces, we liberals keep hearing the “facts” we’ve already memorized.

So it goes when the reins are handed to crackpots like Lawrence. He insists that he’s a kid from the streets—and he knows what we liberals should hear.

Later today: What McElroy said!

Tomorrow: Our (liberal) conversations to nowhere

Supplemental: Who in the world is Mo’ne Davis?


Professor Cooper’s concerned:
Professor Cooper is concerned about Mo’ne Davis.

A male college baseball player referred to Davis as a slut. When he got kicked off his college team, Davis, who is 13 years old, wrote a letter to the college president saying the offending party deserves a second chance.

The professor voices her concerns in this piece for Salon. For our money, it’s better than her usual fare, which has been both undercooked and perhaps a bit overwrought.

That said, which part of the following paragraph isn’t about Professor Cooper’s greatness? Perhaps you can see what we mean.

We’re just saying, of course:
COOPER (3/25/15): Her level of empathy is remarkable but not particularly surprising. Black girls learn almost from the womb to empathize with others, even when those others have committed deep injustices toward us. Perhaps it is the unparalleled level of our suffering that makes us always look with empathy upon others.
Whatever! We’re not even saying she’s wrong!

Davis appeared with Lawrence O’Donnell on last evening’s Last Word. On that basis alone, we’re prepared to forgive Lawrence his endless affronts to the well-being of the world.

As we watched O’Donnell’s unusual guest, we couldn’t help thinking of a few other people. One commenter at Salon drifted in the same direction.

The commenter quoted one of the great souls, someone who addressed the United Nations on her sixteenth birthday. In the passage the commenter quoted, this young person spoke about the man who shot her in the face:
Even if there was a gun in my hand and he was standing in front of me, I would not shoot him. This is the compassion I have learned from Mohamed, the prophet of mercy, Jesus Christ and Lord Buddha. This the legacy of change I have inherited from Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Mohammed Ali Jinnah. This is the philosophy of nonviolence that I have learned from Gandhi, Bacha Khan and Mother Teresa. And this is the forgiveness that I have learned from my father and from my mother.

This is what my soul is telling me: be peaceful and love everyone.
Watching Davis last night, we thought of Malala Yousafzai and we thought of Anne Frank. We also thought of Nelson Mandela, who can be seen on YouTube discussing the way he and his comrades, locked in prison, “identified with” that young European girl.

The comments at Salon are full of anger at the college player, full of the desire to see him punished. In the end, the world remembers the Kings, the Mandelas and the Lincolns—the people who announce their refusal to judge or to hate. At least, before ISIS it did.

Also the Franks and the Malalas. Last night, as we watched an unusual guest, we were pleased to find our thoughts drifting away toward those famous great souls.

OUR CONVERSATIONS TO NOWHERE: Lawrence O’Donnell provides a safe space!


Part 3—Keeping us barefoot and clueless:
The story of Rolling Stone’s gang rape debacle is extremely complex.

The number of claims Rolling Stone failed to check beggars the imagination. On a journalistic basis, this rates as one of the most astonishing fails of all time.

Meanwhile, the strangeness of the alleged victim’s conduct and claims has led many observers to say that she must be “troubled,” “disturbed” or “mentally ill”—and those are among the more sympathetic observers.

(The less sympathetic call her a liar, or say she should be prosecuted.)

For ourselves, we expect more from adult journalists than we do from college students. In this case, the alleged victim was in the first month of her freshman year when she started her chain of contradictory claims, some of which seemed to violate basic laws of physics and human biology.

We expect more from adult journalists than we do from a college freshman who may, in fact, be “troubled.” Concerning the journalism in this case, one more thing seems clear:

In this instance, it seems that Rolling Stone engaged in the latest example of a growing, deeply unfortunate trend over here on the pseudo-left:

To all appearances, Rolling Stone went looking for the perfect example through which it could pretend to discuss an alleged social crisis. Failing to find a perfect example, it did the next best thing:

It seized upon a troubled young person who was telling a deeply disturbing story. Failing to fact-check her most basic claims, Rolling Stone ran with her stories.

Presto! We pseudo-liberals had our latest perfect example! Within weeks, our latest example was falling apart in a deeply embarrassing fashion.

Here’s the problem:

Over here on the pseudo-left, we refuse to be deeply embarrassed. For that reason, it fell to Lawrence O’Donnell and a panel of stooges to create a space, this Monday night, where we could stay barefoot and clueless.

Lawrence performed this task with aplomb. Let’s start with a bit of background:

On Monday afternoon, Chief Longo held his latest presser in Charlottesville. He reported the findings of a long, expensive police inquiry into Rolling Stone’s much-discussed tale.

On the front page of yesterday’s New York Times, Owen Robinson summarized those findings. Starting with its front-page headline, the Times included the basic facts Lawrence chose to deep-six:
ROBINSON (3/24/15): Police Find No Evidence of Rape at University of Virginia Fraternity

The police here said Monday that they had found “no substantive basis” to support a Rolling Stone magazine article depicting a horrific gang rape at a University of Virginia fraternity house
and that a four-month review had identified serious discrepancies in the account by a woman identified as Jackie, who refused to cooperate with their investigation.

After a review of records and roughly 70 interviews, Police Chief Timothy J. Longo Sr. said at a crowded news conference here, his investigators found “no evidence” that a party even took place at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity on Sept. 28, 2012, when the rape was said to have occurred. Instead, he said, there was a formal that night at the house’s sister sorority, making it highly unlikely that the fraternity would have had a party on the same night.
Police said they had found no substantive basis to support Rolling Stone’s depiction of a horrific gang rape. Beyond that, police had found “serious discrepancies” with the alleged victim’s account.

The previous night, Lawrence and his panel had taken a different approach. They created a space where we pseudo-liberals wouldn’t have to deal with the latest collapse of a perfect story.

Before we see how Lawrence did that, let’s think about the kinds of “serious discrepancies” which were found in the alleged victim’s various accounts. From now on, we’ll call her Jackie.

In fact, these discrepancies were virtually endless. For the sake of simplicity, let’s consider one relatively minor example, concerning a second alleged attack.

According to Jackie, the gang rape at the heart of this matter occurred on September 28, 2012. According to the Charlottesville police department’s press release about its probe, she first reported a version of this alleged attack in May 2013, after being “referred to the Dean because of poor grades.”

Her version of this alleged sexual assault would change over time. But in April 2014, Jackie reported a second assault to the UVa dean—an alleged assault in which she was deliberately hit by a bottle which shattered against her face.

A version of this second alleged attack appeared in the Rolling Stone article. Given the laws of physics and human biology, Rolling Stone’s account sounded highly improbable, if not completely impossible.

The police department investigated this claim. According to Monday’s press release, Jackie’s claims about this attack fell apart in three different ways:
CHARLOTTESVILLE POLICE DEPARTMENT (3/23/15): On April 21, 2014, “Jackie” again met with Dean Eramo and reported a physical assault that was alleged to have occurred on April 6, 2014 on the University Corner in the vicinity of Elliewood Avenue.

According to “Jackie” she was struck in the face by a glass bottle. She further advised that her roommate at the time, a nursing student, assisted her in removing glass from her (“Jackie’s”) face.

In a subsequent interview by investigators, “Jackie’s” roommate denied ever removing glass from “Jackie’s” face. Further, she described “Jackie’s” injury as an abrasion consistent with having fallen.

According to “Jackie” she stood in the parking garage on Elliewood Avenue and called her mother. Yet, a subsequent search of phone records which we believe to be “Jackie’s” failed to yield any evidence that such a call was made. In fact, no calls were made from April 5, 2014 from 8 p.m. to April 6, 2014 at 4 a.m.


Investigators reviewed a photograph of “Jackie” believed to have been taken during the week of April 11, 2014. The injury depicted in the photograph has the appearance of swelling above the right eye and an apparent abrasion on the upper cheek. In the opinion of the investigator, it did not appear consistent with being struck by a blunt object.
This is a relatively minor part of the overall web of claims. That said, the claims concerning this second attack seem to have fallen apart.

The same is true of Jackie’s shifting claims about the alleged gang rape itself. Because those claims are so convoluted and so baroque, we’ll let the simpler account of this second attack provide an example of what happened when the Charlottesville police investigated Jackie’s claims.

Given the weirdness of the overall story, we would guess that the alleged victim may be “disturbed” in some way. It seems likely that she got caught in a web of misstatements from which she couldn’t free herself.

Along came Rolling Stone, looking for a perfect example through which it could pretend to discuss a social problem. In an astonishing journalistic debacle, it fact-checked virtually nothing and it published all.

In a way which should be deeply embarrassing, this latest “perfect example” soon started falling apart. This Monday, the story completely collapsed.

In response, Lawrence and a panel of stooges worked to soften the blow. They created a safe space for us liberals—a place in which we could continue to hear our favorite nostrums. In such ways, the liberal world keeps getting dumbed down and undermined.

How did Lawrence create a safe space for us liberals? Consider the way he started his report, comparing his framework to that which appeared in the Times:
O’DONNELL (3/23/15): Charlottesville police announced today the suspension of a police investigation into an alleged gang rape at a fraternity house on the University of Virginia campus in 2012. The rape was first described in a Rolling Stone cover story last year, but the magazine later apologized after discrepancies in the story were revealed.

NBC’s Gabe Gutierrez has more. Gabe?
To watch the whole segment, click here.

If you read the New York Times, you were told that police had “found no evidence of” the alleged gang rape. The party at which it was alleged to have occurred didn’t even seem to have happened.

If you watched Lawrence, you were told something substantially different. You were told that police were suspending their investigation into the alleged rape.

That was an accurate statement, of course. But it avoided the basic facts about what police had found.

In fairness, Lawrence said “discrepancies” had been found in Rolling Stone’s report. Incredibly, this was the sole example his viewers were given in Gutierrez’s videotaped report:
GUTIERREZ: The shocking story initially led university officials to halt all Greek activities. But soon, Jackie’s friends began to raise doubts.

RYAN DUFFIN: She said that there were five men. The Rolling Stone article reported seven.

GUTIERREZ: Rolling Stone apologized to its readers, saying there now appear to be discrepancies in Jackie’s account. On UVA campus, some students worry the discredited story will have a chilling effect on future sexual assault victims coming forward.
Gutierrez’s basic chronology is hopelessly jumbled there. In fact, Rolling Stone apologized for the “discrepancies” several months ago.

That said, Gutierrez gave an absurd example of the types of “discrepancies” involved in this debacle. In fact, Jackie’s friends have contradicted her various claims in all sorts of major ways. Beyond that, her various stories are full of fundamental claims which didn’t pan out.

Indeed, the backstory to this debacle involves a non-existent suitor, “Haven Monahan,” who Jackie apparently invented in September 2012 in an attempt to make a male freshman jealous. But what example of a “discrepancy” was served to Lawrence’s viewers?

At first, Jackie reported five attackers. But Rolling Stone later said seven!

(In the original account, Jackie was forced to give oral sex to five men. In Rolling Stone, she was vaginally raped by seven men, for a period of three hours, on a bed of broken glass.)

Jackie said five; Rolling Stone said seven. It’s virtual journalistic fraud to offer that as the sole example of the “discrepancies” in this mess. That said, Gutierrez was working with some very soft soap this night.

After a very soft report, it was time for Lawrence and his panel to create a safe space for us liberals. We’d get to hear our favorite points repeated all over again!

Here’s the way the hapless O’Donnell started his panel discussion. For him, this was the main take-away from Monday’s events:
O’DONNELL: Thanks, Gabe. We’re joined now by Karen Desoto, former defense attorney and prosecutor. She’s a legal analyst for the Weekend Today show.

Karen, what the police seem to be saying today, as one of the lessons of this, is go to the police early.
DeSoto agreed with that idea. “Yes, absolutely,” she said.

Police had said many things that day. Lawrence chose to walk away with an absurdly anodyne lesson.

From what he said, you might have thought the problem with this remarkable case involved Jackie’s failure to speak to police right away. In fact, she has refused to speak to the police, in any way, right to this very day.

Seven deeply vicious rapists are loose on the UVa campus. In response to this situation, this is what Jackie has done:
CHARLOTTESVILLE POLICE DEPARTMENT (3/23/15): On November 20, 2014, Detective Via again attempted contact with “Jackie”. This time “Jackie” responded and agreed to meet after the Thanksgiving break.

On December 2, 2014, “Jackie” came to the Charlottesville Police Department headquarters accompanied by University Dean Laurie Casteen and legal counsel from the Legal Aid and Justice Center. While there “Jackie” declined, through legal counsel, to provide a statement or answer any questions.

Since that time, despite numerous attempts to gain her cooperation, “Jackie” has provided no information whatsoever to investigators.

In an effort to access certain records pertaining to “Jackie” that would aid in our investigation, efforts were made through her legal counsel to obtain her written consent. Those efforts, too, were met with negative results.
Lawrence’s viewers weren’t asked to hear that. Instead, he offered a bromide a person could offer any day of the year.

As he continued, Lawrence threw to Professor Warren, who is defining himself as one of the most reliable hacks in the world of liberal TV. He voiced an array of talking-points designed to make us glad:
WARREN: Right now, Lawrence, there are over 100 universities that are being investigated around sexual assault charges by the Justice Department, ongoing investigations, right now. And so it raises a bigger question: What is the role of the university in creating a safe campus climate for all of its students?

I mean, you look at UVA and take sexual assault, and then Martese Johnson, who, by the way, went to my high school in Chicago, and was brutalized by, not campus police, but another law enforcement agency.

And, in this case, you don’t have campus police doing this investigation, you have Charlottesville police. That raises a larger question: What are campuses doing, or not doing, to keep all of their students safe? Why aren’t they the first place of recourse for students who in some way feel violated?
We’d have to call that jumbled passage a ball of confusion. That said, it involved a set of talking-points and insinuations which make all liberals glad.

Most strikingly, we got to hear that Martese Johnson was “brutalized” by that other agency.

The investigation of that event has just started. But so what? The professor already knows what the probe is going to show—just as Lawrence once knew that Michael Brown had been a victim of first-degree murder.

Rather plainly, nothing can stop our “liberal” professors from behaving this way. They’re paid to dumb us liberals down. They’re only too happy to do it.

At this point, DeSoto jumped in again, reacting to the professor’s suggestions. What she said flew in the face of the day’s revelations:
WARREN: What are campuses doing, or not doing, to keep all of their students safe? Why aren’t they the first place of recourse for students who in some way feel violated?

DESOTO: Well, that’s an easy answer because universities are—it’s a business. And you want people to go to your school. And moms and dads don’t want their daughters to go to school where there’s a high rape incidence, right? So you’re going to want to protect that.

You’re going to want to, maybe, cover that up because you want students to go there. So that’s part of the problem.

I mean, are you going to have campus police? Are you going to report it? So the policies and procedures that a lot of these universities are what is in question. I mean, are you going to be for the student or are you going to be for your image? And that is the huge problem here.
DeSoto voiced another one of our tribe’s favorite scripts. The universities won’t call the police because they’re running a business!

That may well be a problem. But in fact, that day’s report had seemed to show that UVa called in the local police three separate times in this case, starting in April 2014. Jackie refused to cooperate every time.

For the Washington Post’s report of this matter, just click here. To see Jezebel’s Anna Merlan say the same thing, just click this.

DeSoto was stating the standard point while skipping what the report had shown. At home, we liberals got to feel glad as we heard a favorite script.

There was more, but let’s quit.

Lawrence and his panel staged an awful display this night. They conveyed little sense of what had been revealed that day. Instead, they rattled a series of tribal talking-points.

Viewers were given little idea about the shape of this remarkable case, in which a young person made an assortment of claims and a group of adults at Rolling Stone staged one of the most gigantic fails in journalistic history. All in pursuit of the latest perfect example!

Lawrence’s viewers got little sense of that. They heard that Jackie said five, while Rolling Stone later said seven. Also, the universities won’t call the police, even though UVa did!

As usual, Lawrence gave us a tribal “safe space.” But what do we mean by that?

Tomorrow: Assistant professor knows best!

Friday: Our liberal conversations to nowhere