Columnist George Will's Ohio lecture draws protest

AP News
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Posted: Oct 23, 2014 10:32 AM

OXFORD, Ohio (AP) — Columnist George F. Will appeared for a speech on a southwest Ohio campus and drew protests over his commentary on sexual assault reporting at colleges.

The Hamilton-Middletown Journal-News reports (http://bit.ly/1pE7PpQ ) more than 100 people turned out Wednesday for the protest outside his Miami University lecture. There were also online petitions against Will's talk.

The protests against the Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post columnist were over a June column he wrote about federal pressure on colleges in reporting of sexual assaults. Will questioned statistics cited by President Barack Obama's administration and suggested that federal authorities were making "victimhood a coveted status."

Will explained Wednesday he was criticizing loss of due process for those accused of the serious crime.

"Our society has decided rightly that rape ranks close to and not far behind murder as the most serious crime," Will said in response to a question after his lecture. Because it carries severe penalties, "it is particularly important that people accused of this heinous crime have all the protections."

The school said he was paid $48,000 from a gift fund for a university lecture series.

Will noted that his column "certainly got the attention of this campus."

"I'm out here protesting because I think Miami, as an institution, shouldn't be supporting the type of sentiments George Will expressed," said Lana Pochiro, a student from Newton Falls, Ohio.

A couple of people had a counter-protest in favor of free speech.

"We're not saying we support him or are against him either way," said Miami senior Brian Beebe, of Cleveland. "We're protesting the fact that people tried to get him not to speak."

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Information from: The JournalNews of Hamilton, http://www.journal-news.com/cgi-bin/liveique.acgi$sch=jnfront?jnfront