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Harassment As a Political Weapon

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Thanks to a recent speech by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, more people are discussing the real world repercussions of the eight-year war on due process waged by the Obama Department of Education. Out of that discussion, there is a consensus emerging, which recognizes that basic due process protections must be restored on our university campuses. These changes are particularly needed in the context of campus sexual harassment and sexual assault tribunals. But once due process is restored, we need to vigorously pursue campus prosecutions against those who knowingly and maliciously accuse others of sexual assault and/or sexual harassment. Proactive measures are particularly needed to combat false charges of harassment that are politically motivated as the problem has now reached epidemic proportions on many campuses.

This politicization of harassment did not start with Anita Hill – but she did accelerate a dangerous trend that was already in progress. After the relatively unknown law professor accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment she became a household name. Other professors were watching as she profited from those politically motivated accusations. Thus, it was just a matter of time before such accusations started to spread throughout academia. Here is a brief history of how the problem has manifested itself at the mid-sized liberal arts university where I teach.

1995. A feminist philosophy professor was personally offended by another professor’s argument that there should be different degrees of rape – because she thought all rapes were equally horrific. Thus, instead of trying to persuade him to adopt her point of view, she reported him to the Dean of Arts and Sciences for allegedly creating a hostile work environment. It is worth contemplating the chances that she would have bothered reporting him if they were arguing about degrees of homicide rather than degrees of rape. 

1999. A feminist criminology professor was upset by her department chairman’s decision to run for a second term. So she tried to defeat him by standing up in the middle of a department meeting and accusing him of sexual harassment – both orally and in writing. In her written supporting documents, she also accused him of harassing three other unnamed women. The charges were investigated and found to be false. She was not reprimanded or disciplined in any way.

2001. The aforementioned criminology professor leveled three more accusations of harassment against another professor who had criticized her publicly for making the first four false accusations. These new accusations were also investigated and found to be false. This brought her career total to seven false sexual harassment allegations. Nonetheless, she was retained without any disciplinary consequences.

2006. After making her eighth false accusation of harassment, the aforementioned criminology professor was finally investigated. At long last, a memo partially documenting her history of making false claims was placed in her personnel file. No other disciplinary action was taken.

2015.  Feminist students were angered after campus police prevented them from shutting down a pro-life demonstration by forming a “human chain” around the peaceful protestors. They then decided to monitor the social media page of the professor who had reported them to the police. Offended by the contents of the professor’s Facebook page, several of the feminists contacted the Division of Student Affairs and leveled charges of harassment. Multiple charges were made in retaliation against the professor for expressing his First Amendment rights in a private forum. All of the charges were summarily dismissed. None of the students were disciplined.

2016. A sociologist finally crossed gender lines to become the first male professor to level a false accusation of harassment for political purposes. Ten days after one of his colleagues was cleared of a speech-related harassment charge, the sociologist tweeted out the false accusation to CNN anchor Anderson Cooper. Fortunately, because the obscure Marxist had only five Twitter followers, there were minimal reputational damages resulting from his malicious and defamatory tweet. Notably, both the sociologist and the original accuser made their accusations in retaliation against constitutionally protected speech with which they disagreed. The sociologist may have lost his man card but he kept his job.

Reasonable people must surely agree that this nonsense has to stop. One way to stop it is for the Department of Education to demand that universities crack down on false accusations of harassment. At minimum, they should tell universities to start firing professors who make false charges of harassment that are clearly malicious and politically motivated. If they refuse to crack down, these schools should lose federal funding.

Of course, the Department of Education, like most other federal agencies, should not exist and should be abolished. Short of that happening, the least the bureaucrats can do is help us get a few tenured sociopaths off the public payroll.

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