What DO They Teach Them At Those Schools? Sexual Scandal at Catholic Universities
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"Cite your source!"
That was the constant refrain for four years of taking the Great Books Honors program at my alma mater, Franciscan University of Steubenville, OH (FUS).
"Cite your source!"
It was a great way to force the resident long-winded student who had actually done the a close reading of, say, the entirety of Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan, to give you enough time to skim the part he was going on about, glance at the bits you'd managed to underline, and formulate a thought sufficient to throw out to satisfy your professor.
Of course, as soon as you'd asserted something, someone else who was frantically looking for a quote themselves would cry out:
"Cite your source!"
And the game would continue.
However, it's a valuable lesson, particularly in this age when the majority of men I know are looking back at #metoo and yelling: "WITCH HUNT! Women can just run up behind you and git you now! Innocent men are falling left and right! Anything can happen!"
To which I would like to reply, calmly but seriously:
"Cite your source."
Just the Facts, Ma'am
A few days ago, Professor Stephen M. Krason, the director of Ethics in Public Life at the Vertias Center, which is housed at Franciscan University, published a controversial piece in Crisis Magazine, a Catholic publication with increasingly far-right politics. In What Sexual Harassment "Crisis"?, Krason essentially attempts to roll back any influence of #metoo, writing - without citation - in his third sentence:
"First, it is troubling that in the minds of the media and political powers that be in Washington mere allegations—often backed up by nothing more than the fact that a woman, often out of the blue, made them—are held to equal proof." (Emphasis mine.)
What follows from there is the usual witch hunt rhetoric - including some tone-deaf support for Roy Moore, stating - once again without citation - that :
"[T]here was no firm evidence that he did anything untoward, there were inconsistencies in the claims made...and some of the allegations—such as a thirty-something man seeking the affections of teenaged girls—were hardly an issue in the culture of that time and place."Immediately following this, Krason prophecies that this witch hunt (my term, not his) will lead to:
"Today it’s sexual harassment concerning which mere allegation is held to be proof. Tomorrow, it will move onto other things, until we end up having moral confusion, an undermining of law, injustices left and right, and a society of deepened inter-personal suspicion that comes to resemble something like Hobbes’ state of nature."Without even a Wikipedia-level citation of Hobbes.
A Cover-Up of a Cover-Up
Unfortunately, in an equally tone-deaf move, FUS's official Facebook page reposted the article, and were then surprised when alumni took offense at the University's director of Ethics defending a man accused of statutory rape while blaming the victims for the traumas that led to #metoo. (A moment to shine a *ahem* Spotlight on the Church and her relation to pedophiles, etc. Yes, we've purged, thank God. Yes, we're rather sensitive.)
Alumni replied back, bringing up the case against a married professor still working at the university who has been known to solicit sex regularly from his undergraduate students at a local bar. Students have attempted to report him for harassment, and have been systematically silenced by the Title IX representatives at the University.
These accusations were silenced a second time when they were dead deleted from the Facebook thread, which had since removed the link and replaced it with the following note:
Steel Magnificat, who was prompted to ask the question: Is Franciscan University Scared of Speaking Plainly About Sexual Harassment?
The answer, as Rebecca Bratten Weiss of Suspended In Her Jar notes in her pithy rebuttal of Krason's article is, "Yes."
positive mentorship of male professors, from whom I received such excellent and safe formation, is not immune to human nature. I am even now being made aware of similar incidents which happened during my blissful bubble years there.
In fact, the truth is that there is no one righteous, no, not one, and that evil can creep in anywhere.
However, as a happy Catholic myself - and as an employer and an educator - I truly believe that it is incumbent upon anyone claiming to be Catholic to hold themselves and their institutions to a higher degree of accountability.
Hence, in my small way, and armed with the rhetoric and debate I learned from Franciscan University of Steubenville, I can conceive of only one possible course of action. Sharpen your pencils, ladies and gentlemen, because it's time to...
Cite some sources.'Allo. My Name Is Inigo Montoya. You Doubt My Trauma. Prepare To Debate.
For this section, I'll be largely quoting in order from the article and then rebutting. As Krason has not bothered to make his own case, I shall in some places be making his case for him. Because I am interested in actual facts and not just logical fallacies masquerading as debate. (Retracted. Poisoning the well.)
We will be taking his points in the following order:
- Dissecting the suppositions and worldview presented in his second paragraph (first three sections), to whit:
- All men are innocent until proven guilty and allegations are not substantive reasons for action;
- Allegations made by women about trauma inflicted on women is invalid because of the gender of the accused;
- Allegations may lead to the potential ruination of all men (with implied dismissal of the actual ruination of the abused)
- Addressing a few of the themes from the remainder of his article (not exhaustive), including:
- Invoking the statue of limitation, and presuming the erasure of offense - both personal and cultural - through the passage of time;
- Appealing for "charity" (read: mercy, clemency, absolution) for the accused (who somehow require mercy despite being "innocent");
- General paranoia that the #metoo movement and feminists in general will make it impossible to touch a woman without her consent;
- Blaming women - particularly those in the arts - for being complicit in their own assaults with "self-gain" as the motive.
But Moses Supposes Erroneously
In his second paragraph, after calling the repercussions of #metoo a "frenzy," Krason states:
"[F]undamental fairness demands that there be genuine proof that a person engaged in an act—to say nothing that the act even occurred—before he’s labeled a miscreant."Krason's desire is for facts before conviction. And certainly, "innocent until proven guilty" is an important tenant of American jurisprudence - despite not being found in any American foundational document, including the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution of the United States. The earliest use of this maxim in America appears to have been around the 1800's, and has since been informally adopted worldwide. (See full article.)
Regardless, presumption of innocence is important for any judge and jury in a court of law. However, in order to get to the court of law, the defendant must be accused of a crime, which requires a presumption of guilt. If everyone in the world were presumed innocent no matter what, I'd be able to go out to my local bodega, smash through their window, and just grab a box of Triscuits right now. Because you must presume I'm innocent.
All of which is to say, "innocent until proven guilty" is only applicable to a trial proper - not a trial popular.
Dem Bitches Be Crazy!
Despite the numerous allegations which have been investigated and corroborated, Krason still dismisses them out of hand, with:
"[M]ere allegations—often backed up by nothing more than the fact that a woman, often out of the blue, made them—are held to equal proof." (Emphasis mine.)
First, Krason presumes that allegations are not a necessary part of jurisprudence ("mere allegations"). Then he dismisses the allegations, first saying that they were made by "a" single person - when in most cases, there are multiple allegations with similar predatory patterning, which is more than sufficient proof for an employer to take action, much less to put before a court of law. (If that'll even happen. Rather than paying the predator millions and sending him on vacation.)
Rather more tellingly, Krason dismisses the allegations because they are made by women which, in cases of sexual harassment and assault against women...who else are they going to come from? This statement alone should disqualify Krason as a person capable of writing on the subject of male-on-female sexual harassment. (If his views on women's fashion weren't sufficient.)
However, to presume mere ignorance on Krason's part (which ignorance of recent events would be almost extraordinary), I shall point him towards the excellent and Pulitzer Prize worthy investigative journalism done by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey about Weinstein's sexual predation in the New York Times. Or if he must hear the same and from a man (whose own sister was similarly abused and silenced), he can read the corroborating exposé by Ronan Farrow in The New Yorker. Perhaps this is not enough. I haven't time to link every single article from the Fall of Powerful Predators, but here's a good start. (You've got to do some of your own homework, Krason.)
As to the point that these allegations came "out of the blue." No, no they really don't. They may seem "out of the blue" to you, because you weren't looking, weren't listening to what your sisters and your students were screaming at the top of their lungs - or whispering on shared Excel sheets - but that willful ignorance is on you - as even The Onion rightly noted.
|Truly. It is the end times when The Onion is serious journalism.|
And I Don't Give A Damn About My Bad Reputation
To finish off Krason's first major paragraph (so many fallacies, so little time), he writes:
"[T]he stakes are high indeed: the destruction of careers and livelihoods, the permanent damaging of reputations..."To which I reply with:
|Oh, at last! You lovely man.|
YES! Thank you, YES! Women's careers and livelihoods are at stake! In fact, one of the great realizations to come out of the #metoo movement is just how damaging these sexual predators have been upon their female victims' careers. Women will leave a position where they are unsafe rather than stay, often leaving the field altogether. These women will then take jobs in "safe" (read: female dominated) careers which are paid even less than the usual salary discrepancy.
As for women's reputations being destroyed by sexual predators. Indeed they are. Whether being blacklisted within their chosen industry, shamed into silence, or sustaining multiple traumas which leave them in a broken life that no longer allow them sufficient credibility in the eyes of the people...there is, in fact, everything at stake.
Well said, sir. You are a true American hero.
Oh. Wait. Wait.
You meant for men. You are worried about the men. Not the actual victims who are suffering; but potential "victims" who are of your gender. Just like it's standard practice in emergency rooms not to deal with the person bleeding out in front of you, but to tell them to wait just in case the president comes in with an ear ache.
Alright, well I'll throw you a bone - and cite your sources for you (wow, this is getting tiresome) - that we have not, in fact, figured out best practices regarding date rape and rape culture on college campuses. And that, indeed, it is a more nuanced conversation than merely getting consent (more on that in a minute). However, this does not give you carte blanche to dismiss every woman who is finally brave enough to stop excusing her abuser and declare the truth as it actually is. In this case, statistically, the odds of "fake news" are simply not in your favor.
But let's get back to that "who to blame for sex" issue that seems to be the fundament of your fear, sir.The Gentleman Doth Protest Too Much
What's most telling in Krason's article - outside of his utter lack of anything resembling academic proficiency - is the amount to which he seems to tell us about his own fears. He harps frequently on the statute of limitations, he appeals to a different time period to approve of deviant sexual appetites including statutory rape, he demands - in advance of being accused - a measure of "charity" (by which he means absolution) for all men, and then he serves up that excuse as old as Adam that, deep down, the woman is to blame.
He also, and I find this very interesting, seems anxious about what behavior is and isn't appropriate. We'll come to that last.
In the meantime, here are a few quick takes on his major arguments:
Time, Time, Time, See What's Become of Me
In his defense of Roy Moore, Krason invokes not innocence, so much as time. To whit, he invokes the statue of limitations, reminding us that:
"...the alleged incidents happened forty years ago..."
He then invokes shifting cultural norms in place of a universal morality, by defending:
"...a thirty-something man seeking the affections of teenaged girls—were hardly an issue in the culture of that time and place."
- Trauma leaves the victim in a state of incapability, much like any wound. Healing sufficiently to be able to come forward may take years, decades, a lifetime if ever. Your refusal to listen doesn't help your sister heal. Moreover, there is no statute of limitations when the victim of sexual abuse was under 16 years old. BOOM. Next.
- Time doesn't go backwards. Every crime that happened, happened in the past. Just because time has passed - even a significant amount of time - doesn't mean the crime didn't happen. This is so blatantly obvious, I'm not even going to look up a physics article on how time works. I'm just going to give you:
|They call it Science Fiction...|
- Finally: The Catholic Church has always stood for Truth against the vagaries of man. Molestation? Always wrong. Abuse of power? Always wrong. TO A KID? I think Christ had something to say about that. I don't care if it was a different time and place (which it wasn't) and grown men were all legally macking on young teens (which they weren't), as the Director of Ethics at a Catholic University, Krason's argument here can only make me wonder:
- What has Krason done that he needs to support the morality of statutory rape at all?; and
- How he can possibly be considered an expert in the field of ethics?
|Even John Paul II is judging you.|
If I Speak With Prophetic Tongue, But Have Not Love...
The guilty man always desires mercy. In fact, only the truly guilty require mercy. So it's interesting that Krason's next grammatically tortured appeal is:
"...[E]ven without anything like probable cause as a threshold so as to determine if anything happened in the first place and if it could reasonably be believed that a person did anything wrong hardly bespeaks charity."Putting aside that Krason is still advocating mercy for potential victims over assistance for the actual wounded, it's worthy to note that he's using "charity" to mean "mercy," "leniency" or even "absolution" here - not charity. Charity is something far more awesome and awful. Charity is doing good for the other person - not indulging evil habits, but doing what is actually good for the soul of the other. Charity is the love God has for us, which St. Peter defines in Hebrews as:
"Endure your trials as 'discipline;' God treats you as sons. For what 'son' is there whom his father does not discipline?"If we have learned anything from the priest scandals, it is this:
Charity, true charity, is to remove predators from their positions and to give them the opportunity to heal from their own wounds away from those they would otherwise victimize. True charity is not to allow Weinstein and ilk to remain in power, but to face their own demons. True charity, again, is not to put Weinstein and his ilk back where they first fell, but to find new avenues for them - if possible - away from their temptations.
How Can I Touch You? Let Me Count the Ways
Which brings us at last to Krason's central fear. Which is a fear that I've seen echoed through many of my brothers' talk: that is, "How Far Is Too Far?" As Krason writes:
"If anything has been apparent from the recent exposés, it is that what constitutes 'sexual harassment' is up for grabs."
Give me a second to cite his source for him. My GOD, man. Learn to Google if you're going to be published in a nationally recognized magazine. But here you go, from the Barna Group. I'll even put the main chart here so you don't have to expend any energy clicking on things.
"Directly on point with sexual harassment, we are seeing feminists and some others pushing an expansive definition of rape that goes well beyond what has always been understood. We’re now even told that it’s sexual harassment for a young man to keep asking a young, unattached woman for a date if she keeps saying no. Didn’t at one time we think that gentle persistence would pay off in the end for both parties, that the woman might change her mind over time and wish that she had responded positively sooner?"Yesterday, I wrote in fear and trembling about some, some of my traumas. After I wrote it, I was thinking about the guys who pursued me relentlessly and with my extremely vocal negative for years in middle and high school.
I hadn't even bothered to put those guys on the list. Let me reiterate this: I didn't bother to put my long-term stalkers on the list. But if you'd like me to open that wound, too, I suppose we can.
However, as I learned at Franciscan University's Theatre Program, it only takes a moment to ask: "May I?"
And even my six year old nephew knows that "No" means "No."
She Had It Coming
And so we arrive - after his diminishment of women's voices on their own behalf, after his strawman argument about possible victimhood of men rather than actual victimization of women, after his appeal to Time as the great eraser and gentle excuser of bad deeds, his angry demand for mercy (curious for an innocent to desire), after his complaining that he doesn't get to play with me as a toy and fling his arm around me for a photograph if I do not wish it...
Ah. Yes. We come to the coup de grâce of any poorly "argued" article that's given national release:
It's all her fault.
|If the tenured professor who makes you buy his self-published $300 book, |
and won't let girls sit in the first three rows if they're wearing skirts
(citation in comments - which comments have since been deleted)
concludes his "argument" with playground nonsense,
the only appropriate response is this.
"Speaking of self-interest, it’s noteworthy that some of the accusers of recent months—from the worlds of politics, entertainment, and media—say that they tolerated the harassment or agreed to provide sexual favors for fear that their careers would otherwise not advance. Were their careers more important to them than sexual virtue? Can’t they truly be viewed, at least to some degree, as cooperators with wrongdoing?"Sir: Freedom and Duress.
We've Got a Long Way, Baby
I am not going to change Krason's mind with this article. And it's doubtful whether Steubenville will step up to the plate to clean house, and truly live out her mission as a city on the hill.
But two things are for sure: We women have borne this for too long. And, gents? If you want to help, we always love a Samwise Gamgee.
Correction: Thomas Hobbes was incorrectly called John Hobbes. This is due to the author always thinking of John Locke when she starts fuming about the Age of Enlightenment. Hobbes is now Thomas, as he was originally christened.
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