Progressive Overshoot: Efforts Begin as Liberalization, End as Stalinism

I could write a book on Progressive reform efforts which begin as sensible liberalization efforts and then overshoot into authoritarianism.  Gay marriage is a great example.  Liberalizing stage 1:  Let's give gay folks equal access to the benefits of protections of legal marriage.   Authoritarian state 2:  Let's punish any small business who refuses to serve a gay wedding.

I ran into another example the other day.  Hillary tweeted out, "Every survivor of sexual assault deserves to be heard, believed, and supported" which is a common refrain among women's groups  (we will leave aside the irony of Hillary making this statement after she has crushed a number of women who have made sexual assault claims against her husband).

In what I believe to be the initial meaning of this phrase, it was quite reasonable.   In the past (and presumably on occasion today) women have gone to police or some other authority and claimed to have been raped or assaulted, and have been essentially ignored.  A pat on the head and the little lady is sent home.   Women, reasonably, wanted their charges to be taken seriously and investigated seriously.  This is my memory of where this phrase, then, originally came from.  It meant that when women claim to have been assaulted, authorities need to take these charges seriously and investigate them seriously.

But, as with most other things, Progressive reform which began as liberalizing and empowering has transitioned to being Stalinist.  The meaning today of this phrase when used by most women's groups is that any such claims by women should not immediately trigger an investigation but should trigger an immediate conviction.  The accused male should be immediately treated as guilty and punished, and any exercise of due process represents an assault on women -- never mind that the same SJW's taking this stance would take exactly the opposite stance on due process if the accused were, say, a black male in Ferguson accused of theft.


  1. morganovich:

    "Every survivor of sexual assault deserves to be heard, believed, and supported"

    indeed, this is reasonable. it's worth parsing this a little bit though. a "survivor" is someone who was raped. not all accusers are survivors. we saw this at duke, we saw an absolutely flaming example at UVA.

    rape is a terrible crime, perhaps the most terrible. it is a thing to be taken incredibly seriously. but the flip side of this, is the false accusation of rape is similarly incredibly serious.

    everyone deserves to be heard and taken seriously. but a culture of blind belief where "all rape accusations are true" is a truly dangerous place especially if combined with the preposterous "proof of affirmative consent" standard proliferating on college campuses.

    such proof of consent rules are impossible. the criminalize everyone. if the university comes at you, you're done. think back on your own life. how many times have you acquire provable affirmative consent before sex? even if your partner asked you in explicit terms, can you prove it?

    this is another form of truly severe stalinism. everyone is a criminal. if we accuse, you go down. there is no real defense, just a show trial in a kangaroo court and you get expelled and tainted for life for the crime of not having a signed affidavit that your consensual sex was consensual. if you partner had a couple drinks, even if they say they consented, they could not have done so. they can testify for you and you would still technically lose.

    that is about as authoritarian a structure as i have seen.

    as warren aptly points out, this same group actively opposes such standards when applied to groups they like.

    once more, this has nothing to do with seeking justice and everything to do with seeking to wield the whip hand. it's tyranny of the other side dressed up as protecting the victim.

  2. Handle_MZ:

    There is no logical way to reconcile the principle that an accused should benefit from "The presumption of innocence," with the principle that an accuser should benefit from "The presumption of belief."

  3. joe:

    Liberalizing stage 1: Let's give gay folks equal access to the benefits of protections of legal marriage. Authoritarian state 2: Let's punish any small business who refuses to serve a gay wedding.

    Its become more of a case of "lets cram my beliefs down your throat"

    several examples are the contraceptive mandate in the ACA for religious organizations, ie the little sisters of the poor, which by the way is a regulatory interpetation of the statute as opposed to the actual statute;
    AGW - my religion of the AGW (which includes significant anti science) tops your religion of a believe in a god.

  4. Not Sure:

    "this is another form of truly severe stalinism. everyone is a criminal."

    Which is exactly the goal. Ayn Rand described it some time ago...

    "There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kinds of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted—and you create a nation of lawbreakers—and then you cash in on guilt. Now that's the system, Mr. Rearden, that's the game, and once you understand it, you'll be much easier to deal with."

  5. bigmaq1980:

    "this has nothing to do with seeking justice and everything to do with seeking to wield the whip hand"

    Hence the skepticism around the Coyote post on "BLM Has A Pretty Decent Plan"

    Couple this with Thomas Sowell's recent post, "Political Translations" for some perspective in how this comes to be - "Politics produces lots of words that can mean very different things, if you stop and think about them. But politicians depend on the fact that
    many people don't bother to stop and think about them."

    We get lulled by what initially sounds plausible/reasonable, only to later find the intent and direction these people want to take with it has little to do with their initial stated reasons.

  6. Mercury:

    Sexual assault is really in a separate category from the other examples since the most important facts of any particular sexual assault case are often not discoverable (behind closed doors, he said/she said etc).

    If you give the benefit of the doubt to either the female or the male in such circumstances the result will often be injustice. Extra-legal culture has been successful in limiting -to some extent- such injustices in the past; either the morals of your culture or your fear of private vengeance restrains your baser impulses.

    Restricting the extent and circumstances of male/female interaction (especially young adults) has obviously been the other traditional solution to potential trouble in this area but really I don't see that the set of options are any different here than they were 10,000 years ago - more women just happen to be better armed now.

    But we should let "market" forces settle this particular clusterF especially on college campuses where this and related issues are forcing a re-examination of the $50k+/yr value proposition of a US college education. As I've stated before, my financial support of a college bound son would be predicated on his public refusal to touch a co-ed with a barge pole for the next four years. If enough men did likewise (in a twist on Aristophanes' Lysistrata) and instead favored other fish in other ponds, this 'war' would end one way or the other.

  7. Bram:

    Her comment was both hypocritical and tyrannical.

    I've had a friend accused of rape by his ex. The police didn't believe her accusations - because they were complete lies. He was at work, then a bar with friends when the alleged rape took place as a dozen witnesses told the cops. Her rape examine also relieved no sexual activity of any kind. Her soon to be ex-husband still had to spend a weekend in jail while the cops sorted it out.

    All she deserved was some jail time of her own, which she didn't get.

  8. Bram:

    Nope - the only logical end-point is where any woman can have any man jailed at her whim.

  9. morganovich:

    this is also a featured concept in orwell's "1984".

    ultimately, you want to be able to punish not just actions but thoughts.

    "Thoughtcrime does not entail death: thoughtcrime IS death.”

    once everyone is automatically guilty, you can punish thought even if you must resort to calling it punishment for action.

  10. Not Sure:

    "once everyone is automatically guilty, you can punish thought even if you must resort to calling it punishment for action."

    Once everyone is automatically guilty, you can punish people for anything you can imagine.

  11. STW:

    I've been on a jury for a rape case and the law, at least 30 years ago in California, presumed the woman was telling the truth. This was pre DNA tests but we had a victim, a rape kit, and a description of the accused genitals (thankfully acknowledged as correct by the defense). The defense claimed she knew about his private parts because she was a prostitute and it was, at most a business deal gone bad.

    Guilty or not guilty? You either presume she's telling the truth or she's lying.

    Luckily, for us but not the defense, one of the witnesses called by the defense completely contradicted the testimony of the accused. Whoops! Your prostitute story is lying there in ashes.

    (FYI - There were 13 other charges for various and sundry evil doings and the bad guy got life plus 33 years. He's probably out now.)

  12. VictorErimita:

    Stage one: we should exercise prudence with respect to our environment and not simply dump anything we want into it willy nilly. Stalinist stage: anyone who question even the most outlandish, scientifically unsupportd claims about "The Planet," especially "climate change," should be ridiculed, denounced, fired, ruined, imprisoned, executed.

    Stage one: no culture should be automatically deemed wholly unworthy of respect or interest. Stalinist stage: the culture that originated stage one must be wholly rejected, vilified at every chance and deemed utterly without redeeming qualities, in the name of tolerance and diversity.

    Stage one: peoples' reproductve choices should not be determined by the government. Stalinist stage: babies who have a single cell still remaining in the womb, or who have survived attempts to kill them in the womb, may be killed, dismembered (not necessarily in that order) and their body parts sold on the open market in the name of safe and affordable womens' health care, and anyone who opposes any bit of that hates women.

  13. obloodyhell:


  14. obloodyhell:

    Should've gotten charged with filing a false police report. Your friend could have hounded the DA until they at least filed charges and forced her to spend money on a lawyer.

  15. obloodyhell:

    I want to see them attempt to force an Islamic-owned bakery to produce the same cake.

    Or better yet, a "Mohammed" cake.

    Or, alternately, force a black-owned bakery to produce a confederate flag cake.

  16. Kae Arby:

    What makes you think is overshooting? It's been my experience that authoritarianism is the target.


  17. Craig Loehle:

    Saw a comedian. He said he was walking his dog in Central Park and a cute lady grabbed his butt as she ran by and make a comment about him being good looking. He said he told an officer nearby who said "way to go!". He told his friend who high-fived him. The idea that women could trick a man into pregnancy, hit a man, lie about rape, or be sexually aggressive is simply not believed. No double standard here...
    The other thing about this movement is that religion tries to create good behavior and has always had punishment for extreme sinful acts, but for everyday sin it is accepted that all are sinners and fall short. Only the most extreme ends of religion try to regulate every personal act. Now, SJWs want to FORCE everyone to be nice all the time to everyone. But in the real world, neither the university nor the employer are your friend and comforter, and random people on the street are under no obligation to "affirm" you. Being too friendly on the street is actually seen as violating social norms and arouses suspicion (set up for mugging? going to ask for spare change? crazy?).

  18. Dusty Thompson:

    No amount of education can overcome Liberal stupidity.

  19. SamWah:

    You call it "overshoot". I call it "getting the range" they want. As Kae Arby says below.

  20. Fat_Man:

    The question you should ask about believing "survivors of sexual assault" is whether Mayella Ewell's accusation of Tom Robinson should have been believed. The question is a trap. That is the plot of "To Kill A Mockingbird". Because TKAM is a chief point of liberal piety, you should be cause sever brain damage by that question. The facts and circumstances of the cases of Emmett Till and Leo Frank would also be intriguing to review with SJWs.

    Hillary should be asked about Kathleen Willey and Juanita Broaddrick.

  21. NL7:

    Technically, it's not the cake, it's the customer. If the cake itself is expressive, then there's probably a First Amendment argument that lets you refuse; but if the cake itself is otherwise unremarkable, then US courts mostly won't let you use the First Amendment as a defense to refusing service to a particular person.

    So it'd have to be a normal cake you refuse to serve a particular person because they belong to some protected class. Maybe a Muslim forced to make a cake for somebody who's the wrong religion or sect (say a Sunni refusing to serve a Shia), or a black baker forced to make a birthday cake for somebody who's not black.

    I don't agree with that distinction, because I think the freedom to be a dick secures freedoms for others. But let's not misstate the law. The cake is probably expression, so it's about the customer not the cake.

  22. ano333:

    "Liberalizing stage 1: Let's give gay folks equal access to the benefits of protections of legal marriage. Authoritarian state 2: Let's punish any small business who refuses to serve a gay wedding."

    Oh stop it Warren! "State 2", as you put it, existed way before "State 1"! There has been regulation concerning how businesses serve customers for decades. The punishment of small business owners is based on laws restricting discrimination in businesses open to the public.

  23. Jeffrey Deutsch:

    Basically, the Left and the Right have switched sides on rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment.

    Thomas Sowell once said that if you believed everyone should follow the same rules and be judged under the same standards, in the 1930s you would be a radical, in the 1960s you would be a liberal and in the 1990s you would be a hidebound reactionary racist.

    Well, if you believe one should be presumed innocent until proven guilty, you would also in the 1930s be a radical, in the 1960s be a liberal and in the 21st century if not the 1990s be a rape apologist.