Why BLM and the Campus "Rape Culture" Movement Are A Lot Alike

Both BLM and the campus rape culture movement have a starting point in real problems.

On campus, and even in a few police precincts, women complaining about sexual assault would get patted on the head and sent on their way, their charges going largely investigated.  In part, oddly enough, I think the problem stems from the war on drugs -- for literally decades, campus police have helped to shelter their students from drug investigations and harassment from their local community police force.  I know they did so at Princeton when I was there.  So campus police forces really had a mission to keep their students out of jail and out of trouble.  This is A-OK with me on drugs, but it obviously leads to terrible results when we get to sexual assault.  So something needed to be done to have police forces, particularly ones on campus, take sexual assault charges seriously.

With police, officers have been sheltered from any real accountability for years.  We give the police the ability to use force and other powers that ordinary citizens don't possess, but instead of giving them more scrutiny and accountability to offset these powers, we give them less.  This has really been a bipartisan problem -- Conservatives tend to fetishize the police and want to assume by default that all police actions are justified.  The Left is more willing to be skeptical of police behavior, but they refuse to take on any public sector union and police unions have generally locked in their contracts any number of accountability-avoidance mechanisms.  So something needed to be done to bring accountability to police forces.

And with these quite justifiable and reasonable goals around which many of us could have coalesced into some sort of consensus, both protest efforts immediately overreached into crazy zones.

On campus, the reasonable demand for serious action in response to a sexual assault charge was abandoned in favor of the demand for immediate conviction without due process based on any sexual assault charge.  Oddly mirroring the conservative attitude towards police, activists said that alleged victims had to always believed, and demanded that universities punish anyone accused of sexual transgressions.  The result has become a toxic mess, and in some ways is a setback for justice, as activists have made it easier to get a rapist thrown out of school but perhaps harder to actually get thrown in jail.

With police, activists immediately eschewed the reasonable need for more police accountability and jumped to the contention that all police officers are racist and systematically abuse black citizens.  Their focus seems to be on police shootings, though I find the pattern of petty police harassment (through the war on drugs and programs like New York's stop and frisk) to be more problematic.  Just as in the campus rape debate, a reasonable need for more accountability and investigation of police shootings has morphed into a demand that police officers be treated as guilty by default in all shootings.

Each of these movements have made the problems more visible while simultaneously making these problems less likely to be solved.

I will add that I stick by my evaluation of BLM I wrote a while back.  I actually sort of liked a lot of their proposed plan, but I wrote (see particularly part in bold):

There is much that progressive and conservative groups could learn from each other.  Conservative groups (outside of anti-abortion folks) are loath to pursue the public demonstration and disruption tactics that can sometimes be helpful in getting one's issues on the public agenda.  The flip side is that public disruption seems to be all BLM knows how to do.  It can't seem to get beyond disruption, including the unfathomable recent threat to disrupt an upcoming marathon in the Twin Cities.   It could learn a lot from Conservative and libertarian groups like ALEC, that focus on creating model legislation and local success stories that can be copied in other places.  Many of the steps in BLM's plan cry out of model legislation and successful pilots/examples.



  1. W. Fleetwood:

    I'm old enough to have actually been on a campus in the days you say women were "patted on the head and sent on their way". That's bullcookie! If a woman made a charge of rape, swore it out on paper, and agreed to testify in court some young gent was going to see the inside of a jail and get prosecuted in court. What was different then was that when the female (An adult, who can buy booze, sign contracts, and vote for Gods sake!) refused to swear it, or testify about it, the police would file the report and tell her to come back if she changed her mind. Sort of like we were dealing with grown up people, not 12 year olds. The ongoing demonizing of males is matched by a less noticed infantilization of females. Neither is an unintended consequence.

  2. ErikTheRed:

    I think that there's a larger overall problem that prevents people from getting outside of their ideological comfort zones on issues like this (and, heck, just about anything political): people generally want there to be a "right side" and a "wrong side." What I've found in politics is that both side are usually abhorrently wrong, to the degree that if you tried to build up their arguments from any sort of first principles you'd never be able to reach their "deeply held, eternal" (meaning it's been this way for at least a third of a generation) position in a million years.

    To be clear: I'm not advocating some sort of "middle-ground fallacy" or "argument to moderation." Quite the opposite - I'm saying that both sides are usually so deep in bullshit that any "middle ground" would wind up being an equally ridiculous random notion.

    People are, for the most part, deeply tribal and are more worried about fitting in with their tribe than they are with coming up with solutions to problems. Conservatives are a tribe, progressives are a tribe, cops are seriously a tribe, and a significant number of blacks tend to consider themselves a tribe. As long as these groups are ideological slaves to their tribes, no real progress will occur.

  3. John Moore:

    I believe that police are a lot better behaved than in the past. You still get some bullies, but real steps are taken to minimize the danger.

    Unfortunately, they also face very real and scary threats. How would you like to walk up to the driver's door of a car holding someone that resembles an armed robbery suspect?

    I think BLM is a classic Alynskiite project to help the Democrats. And, like all of these, it also provides power and money to some organizers. Certainly many BLM people are of good intent, but the movement is using, just like the anti-Vietnam War movement duped a whole lot of kids who didn't want to get drafted - for the benefit of the COMINTERN in that case.

  4. mx:

    Oh come on. People standing up to affirm the inherent worth of 13% of the country's population is all about helping the Democrats? Why does it have to be about people getting duped? Surely adults are capable of assessing the arguments and deciding whether to protest without evil sinister communists lurking behind every corner.

  5. mx:

    The core of the argument is pretty simple: black lives matter. I don't mean that in the sense of vague platitudes like "all lives matter" when that's clearly been a lie all along, and it certainly doesn't mean that black lives matter more or that other lives matter less. Rather, it's pretty simple: society acts in a bunch of ways like black lives don't matter, and they should matter more. And that's not merely about fatal police shootings, but can extend more broadly: education, employment, the criminal justice system, etc...

    That's not to say that everything that everything everybody wants is a good thing or that there aren't plenty of areas to disagree when it comes to policy or actions, but the core of the argument doesn't seem like should be abhorrently wrong at all.

  6. mx:

    For what it's worth, challenging problematic aspects of police union contracts and/or laws that grant police special privileges in investigations has been something many on the left have worked on. There's been a lot of public interest on that issue in Seattle lately, where a contract was largely negotiated in secret, a local media outlet published several stories, and people are pushing for reforms: http://www.thestranger.com/news/2016/06/22/24243759/inside-the-citys-negotiations-with-the-police-union.

    There's a BLM-affiliated project (http://www.checkthepolice.org/#project) that has undertaken a review of dozens of police union contracts and state laws and identified features that harm police accountability, such as rules that police under investigation be given significant time before being interviewed or literally giving them access to evidence so they can get their story straight before speaking to investigators.

    There's a bunch of stuff like this that happens behind the scenes, but it doesn't get nearly as much attention as protesters and tear gas on the freeway. But there actually are really specific tangible things cities and states can do like "get this out of your police contract" or "change laws like this one" (http://www.thestranger.com/news/feature/2016/02/10/23549781/make-it-easier-to-charge-police-officers-who-kill).

  7. TruthisaPeskyThing:

    I think that one's analytical ability would need to be quite limited not to see the BLM / Democrat link. I do not any comments on COMINTERN, but duping is all over the BLM movement. They have millions believing that blacks are disproportionately killed by police (and the president helps spread this myth), but in reality, whites have a higher chance of being killed in police interactions. Furthermore, I have young, black friends who are saying that they are terrified. They fear that if they leave their homes, they are going to be killed by the police. They have been duped into irrational and damaging fears.

  8. TruthisaPeskyThing:

    mx, perhaps there are pockets in society where black lives don't matter, but that is not all accurate about society in general. First, blacks are less likely to be killed in interaction with the police that whites are. Moreover, society -- and whites in particular -- have poured trillions of dollars into programs trying to help blacks. (In one of his speeches trying to explain black anger, President Obama made an astute observation: probably many of these programs have actually hurt blacks in the long run. However, even if many programs failed, it was not because society does not care about the lives of blacks.) Now, the uncomfortable truth -- and the truth that exists for complicated and poorly understood reasons -- is that the pocket of society that "acts in a bunch of ways like black lives don't matter" is the black community itself. I am not just referring to black-on-black crime which is horrendous in itself, but also how "the black culture" treats education, how it treats marriage, how it feels about accountability, how it treats 2nd and 3rd chances. . . Of course, this statement does not apply to every black person, and many my friends do honor education, accountability, marriage and opportunities. However, they themselves describe the destructive pull of the black culture that often is difficult to overcome.

  9. Rewired actuary:

    I thought you were going to say both movements were founded on lies.

  10. BobSykes:

    You might be interested in this,


    A large majority of the radicals that shut down I-94 in Minneapolis are white.

  11. DirtyJobsGuy:

    As someone who grew up in the 1960's and 70's crime was at it's absolute peak. Public support for cops under all circumstances was largely due to this crisis. Big Cities were true war zones like Chicago is today. Whatever caused the reduction in overall crime (aging population, less crack cocaine, better policing) the really tough neighborhoods have been driven back to largely black and some Hispanic areas. This concentrates issues to black areas and helps BLM. In NYC a few months ago a new cop shot a black man in a high rise housing project stairway by accident. I had a relation who was interested in going into law enforcement after his army stint said he would not go to a big city force because he would end up doing the same thing in some building stairwell. But the residents clamor for this type of patrol.

  12. jdgalt:

    BLM's "demonstrators" in Ferguson and Baltimore were organized and trained by George Soros' Ruckus Society. Clearly Soros is doing this for some reason other than saving the lives of people who could save themselves simply by behaving. Why don't some people who were harmed by those "demonstrations" come forward and file a RICO case against Soros? His entire fortune could be subject to forfeiture!!

  13. CC:

    The war on drugs also led to the ability of cops to grab cash on the theory that the cash was drug money. If the Coast Guard seizes a boat full of cocaine and it has $50,000 cash on board, ok fine. But when a car is stopped and the only crime is the cash--no way!! Of course there are terrible incentives at work here because the police get to keep the money. The insane crime of "structuring" is also a big problem. Of course both of these affect the poor the most and are thus a big injustice.
    What is worst about the shootings is that once the police shoot they neither try to save the victims life nor allow bystanders to do so. They often just let the person bleed to death.
    As far as recent violence goes, the media play a role: they only report black shooting victims, not white. They also rarely mention statistics or how often the victim was actually shooting at police.

  14. CC:

    As a % of white deaths, cop shootings are higher (12% I saw) since the overall murder rate is so low. As a % of the population (killings per million), cop shootings of blacks are higher but proportional to crimes committed. I would venture that cases where cops over-react are higher for blacks because they have more experiences of having faced danger before.
    One of the problems with BLM is that there is no answer to the protests that would be considered satisfactory. If you agree that black lives matter, that isn't good enough. Even if you were to fix most of the fixable problems (ie, not assuming you could turn all of us into angels) there would still be rare cop over-reactions. The same with campus rape epidemic. In response to rape protests, what response would be considered adequate? None.

  15. mlouis:

    Fully agree that black-on-black crime is the most puzzling aspect of the BLM movement. It should be focused inward if results are the goal. However I also agree with Erik that "results" aren't the goal - tribal cohesion is.

  16. jdgalt:

    That's certainly one puzzling aspect if you start out assuming that the purpose is to save black people's lives. Another is the fact that half of BLM's alleged martyrs are bad guys such as Michael Brown who earned and deserved their Darwin awards.

    But what most puzzles me is some of the group's more recent actions, which have been really stupid and lost them public sympathy. I'm not talking about the Dallas shooter (who appears to have been a lone nut), I'm talking about things like running up on stage with Milo Yiannopoulos, assaulting him and stopping his speech. That kind of thing will drive a lot of the non-black Left away from BLM's cause. Similarly BLM's disturbance in a library at Yale. What was that supposed to accomplish?

    I only hope that the good cause of making police accountable to us when they use excessive force has not been irretrievably damaged by having these a--holes associated with it.

  17. mx:

    Check out the 10 point plan from Campaign Zero (http://www.joincampaignzero.org/#vision). It's fine to quibble over specific details,, and the proposals aren't going to solve every problem magically and they wouldn't mean police shootings would never happen, but they'd go a long way in helping to restore some public trust and accountability in the process. That would mean that, if there is a police shooting, there's a fair and independent investigation every single time, following standard rules, with evidence from bodycams available.

  18. mx:

    But "black-on-black" crime is part of the problem too. If you're in a community that doesn't feel it can trust the police, you're sure as heck not going to call the police even if you're a victim of a crime. Whether a shooting is considered justified or not, if you believe that getting the police involved actually increases the danger to everyone, you're not going to make that call. This leaves criminals emboldened to commit more crimes.

  19. mx:

    I agree not every action has been particularly helpful and there's a good argument that some are counter-productive. That said, what have you done to more effectively further that "good cause?"

  20. wreckinball:

    BLM is just a despicable group. I agree police abuse is an issue. However their racist and violent rhetoric and tactics disqualifies them from any legitimacy .
    They chant about killing police and a couple of their members have done it. Remember NYC cop killing awhile back. We have BLM harassing white students in the Dartmouth library and sit ins at restaurants targeting whites.
    They are about 90% of the time foul illiterate and violent.
    I find it astonishing anyone can compare them to any group other than possibly the KKK.

  21. TruthisaPeskyThing:

    mx, there may be a valid point in your latest comment here, but I am also puzzled by it. Blacks do call police into their neighborhoods. They not only report crimes, but they also report disturbances. Maybe the call rate is not as high as it would be in absence of fear of cops, but the police indeed are called every day by blacks into black neighborhoods because of the crime there.

  22. ErikTheRed:

    Again, it comes down to tribes. The thing with tribes is that they form and then they attract "support and leadership." Prominent members of the establishment (almost universally sociopathic, power-seeking assholes) reach out to them, flatter them with attention, and then embed themselves take over.

    So you get a group like BLM that starts out addressing a very legitimate problem, but gets hijacked by "support" from the usual media-friendly black "leadership" suspects (Al Sharpton, etc) and turned into a counterproductive mess. Similarly, you have the Tea Party that started out as a libertarian attempt to reign in the excesses of the Republican party - and then attracted the "support" and "leadership" media-friendly GOP establishment (Sarah Palin, etc) and the Tea Party became just another co-opted apologist movement for them. You have the cops with an exceptionally strong tribal structure, with a mafia-esque "Code of Omerta" that prevents any internal reforms from occurring. I could go on and on, but if you look at most movements in this context (formation, followed by subversion) it makes reasonable sense most of the time.

  23. Brotio:

    "Whether a shooting is considered justified or not, if you believe that getting the police involved actually increases the danger to everyone, you're not going to make that call. This leaves criminals emboldened to commit more crimes."

    This is largely due to the nearly-universal belief that only the police are authorized to stop/prevent crime.

  24. mlouis:

    So black communities are under-policed? I seem to consistently hear the sentiment that they are over-policed. How do you become "over-incarcerated" while being "under-policed?" I can't imagine the math backs this up.

  25. TruthisaPeskyThing:

    mx, good question on what is one doing to further the "good cause." I will share my efforts: at least 10 hours a week and 10 to 20% of my income on helping the disadvantaged. This time is spent on befriending and mentoring troubled young men. And I would emphatically tell you that the worst damage that you can do to the "good cause" is to enhance a victim mentality. I have yet to meet a young man who has had fewer opportunities and benefits than I did as a young man -- except that the victim mentality was never implanted in me. The victim mentality is a cancer that is destroying lives in our black communities. It undermines effort, fosters anger, and removes the sense of accountability. That anger is manifested in a variety of ways -- including their interaction with police.
    I have a hard time accepting that a person really believes that black lives matter while spreading the victim mentality.

  26. Ann_In_Illinois:

    But that stunt with Milo is going to get the university in question to require courses on racial, ethnic and gender "studies", which will require hiring many more people to teach the courses, and will allow students to get good grades if they simply repeat the "right" attitudes while punishing any students who resist those attitudes. They're also working on allowing faculty of color to have certain student evaluations thrown out if the faculty member feels that the student's anonymous opinion is "bullying" or racist. What the protestors did to Milo on stage has gotten them a lot of faculty and administrative support - the official line is that those students were being threatened with "physical violence" from his thoughts and opinions, so they were simply acting in self defense.

  27. Ann_In_Illinois:

    I agree with you completely about the victim mentality. I've seen on college campuses how these kids are getting their lives twisted by all of this. They're paying for a college education (OK, perhaps with tons of financial aid, but still...), and they're being taught not to think or work hard or learn or be accountable. Instead, they're taught to be scared and angry and resentful and bullying and sometimes even violent. I don't see how we're helping these kids. It's awful.

  28. jdgalt:

    If that's true, the university is and should be doomed. Even if the law doesn't shut down those so-called courses, students will stop enrolling, as they already have at U. of Misery.

  29. markm:

    It's quite possible to be simultaneously under- and over-policed. When you report a burglary and the police don't come for hours (or not at all), and don't put any effort into catching the thief or recovering the stolen property, your neighborhood is under policed. When instead, cops are all over the neighborhood trying to catch people in victimless crimes, e.g. by stopping and searching all the young black men that walk or drive by, your neighborhood is over-policed. Both conditions often coexist in poor neighborhoods.

  30. jdgalt:

    I'd modify that first statement: "So you get a group like the CopBlock/PINAC movement that starts out addressing a very legitimate problem, but gets hijacked..." The result of the hijacking was BLM. Cops using excessive and disproportionate force are a real problem, but not a race related one. It is only the professional race-baiters who say that race is an issue, or has been in the last 20 years.