Phi Beta Cons

An Intellectual Cocoon

On Tuesday, Brown University hosted a debate about “rape culture” and due process on college campuses. The debate featured libertarian Wendy McElroy and feminist Jessica Valenti. Before the event, Brown’s president, Christina Paxson, e-mailed the entire campus community, writing, “I disagree [with McElroy]. Although evidence suggests that a relatively small number of individual perpetrate sexual assault, extensive research shows that culture and values do matter.” Previously, McElroy had contended that there is no pervasive “rape culture,” and that only a small group of sexual predators are to blame. She’s also questioned the legal burden of proof for college sexual assault cases, which she believes are often rigged against male students. 

When Paxson sent her e-mail, she was preemptively inserting herself into the debate, an unbecoming act for a university leader. But she went further, announcing to Brown students that a counter-event, titled “The Research on Rape Culture,” would be held at the same time as the McElroy/Valenti debate. A promo for the event stated, “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 a separate discussion.” 

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s Samantha Miller has put the entire ordeal into clear perspective: “Given the debate organizers’ prior arrangements to provide support to anyone who actually felt the need for it, Paxson’s choice to counterprogram the event makes little sense in terms of ‘emotional safety.’ But it makes all the sense in the world if you assume the real goal is to provide an intellectual cocoon for students – an effort to create an ideological bubble on campus in which students’ beliefs will be free from challenge.”

Jesse Saffron — Jesse Saffron is a writer and editor for the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, a North Carolina-based think tank dedicated to improving higher education in the Tar ...

Most Popular

PC Culture

Hate-Crime Hoaxes Reflect America’s Sickness

On January 29, tabloid news site TMZ broke the shocking story that Jussie Smollett, a gay black entertainer and progressive activist, had been viciously attacked in Chicago. Two racist white men had fractured his rib, poured bleach on him, and tied a noose around his neck. As they were leaving, they shouted ... Read More
World

Ilhan Omar’s Big Lie

In a viral exchange at a congressional hearing last week, the new congresswoman from Minnesota, Ilhan Omar, who is quickly establishing herself as the most reprehensible member of the House Democratic freshman class despite stiff competition, launched into Elliott Abrams. She accused the former Reagan official ... Read More
U.S.

Questions for Those Who Believed Jussie Smollett

The “we reported the Jussie Smollett case responsibly” contention has been blasted to smithereens. Twitter accounts and headlines in the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times reported as fact Jussie Smollett’s wildly implausible allegations, and many other journalists did so as ... Read More
PC Culture

Fake Newspeople

This week, the story of the Jussie Smollett hoax gripped the national media. The story, for those who missed it, went something like this: The Empire actor, who is both black and gay, stated that on a freezing January night in Chicago, in the middle of the polar vortex, he went to a local Subway store to buy a ... Read More
U.S.

White Progressives Are Polarizing America

To understand how far left (and how quickly) the Democratic party has moved, let’s cycle back a very short 20 years. If 1998 Bill Clinton ran in the Democratic primary today, he’d be instantaneously labeled a far-right bigot. His support for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Defense of Marriage Act, ... Read More