Saturday, October 6, 2018

Yale middle school or, The mean girls of the establishment

From Investigation at Yale Law School by Dahlia Lithwick and Susan Matthews. Hard not to read this as middle-school mean girl antics among establishment players in the mainstream media, politics, and the academy. And entirely irrelevant to the rest of the 95% of the population except that they are setting bad examples, corrupting the system, and tearing things apart through their squabbling feuds in the pursuit of power and prestige.

It also illustrates the autophagy of social justice Jacobins.

Amy Chua, a professor at Yale Law School, is a strong supporter of Kavanaugh. Dahlia Lithwick is a Canadian media star in the social justice firmament who received her BA from Yale and her JD from Stanford University.

The left are going after Chua because of her support for Kavanaugh but she is a difficult target because she is Asian American and has established a strong reputation of placing women and minorities in elite clerkships. They have attacked her none-the-less but it is third-party hear-say of the "she said this which, if you work hard and squint, might be interpreted as disreputable that" type. The Jacobins would like to bring her down but that's going to be hard to do.

So they go after husband, Jed Rubenfeld, also a professor at Yale Law School as well as a novelist.

Lithwick and Matthews work very hard to conjure something out of what appears to be nothing. They have two anonymous women (after the UVA hoax, it seems like the SJ Jacobins would be tiring of anonymous allegations) claiming that Rubenfeld made them feel uncomfortable with his questions (which one would rather have assumed to be much of the point of law school).

Stipulated that Rubenfeld might be an entitled jerk. It is by no means unknown in the top tier of any institution. Being rude and boorish, while regrettable, is no crime.

But these allegations sure look like weaponizing the flawed Title IX process in order to pursue personal, political, or ideological vendettas, not an effort to actually discover whether a crime has been committed. In fact, it appears from the article that no crime has been committed, other than the crime that two SJ Jacobins were not allowed to automatically destroy a couple's career because they have different views from the Jacobins.

There were two things that struck me the most, other than the gossamer innuendoes in place of concrete accusations. The first is reflected in these passages.
That summer, Linda spoke to Yale Law School’s Title IX coordinator. (Linda is a pseudonym, and to preserve her anonymity, we have chosen not to name the Title IX coordinator at the time, as it would identify her class year.) Her goal was twofold: She wanted to start a paper trail about Rubenfeld’s behavior, and she was looking for advice on what her options were for engaging the school’s Title IX process, the government-mandated means of investigating and stopping gender-based discrimination. According to Linda, the Title IX coordinator at the time told her at the very beginning of the call that if Linda named the professor during their conversation and the allegations were sufficiently serious, the coordinator would have to file a formal report. Once that process began, the coordinator said, Linda’s anonymity could not be guaranteed.

This put Linda in an enormously tough position. Schools need to protect the accused as well as the accusers, so it makes sense that Yale would ask women, or anyone alleging misbehavior, to attach their names to allegations. But it also makes sense that attaching her name would be incredibly difficult for Linda: Rubenfeld hadn’t just advised her on a paper. He also taught one of her courses, and he’d been her “small group” professor during the fall semester. (At Yale, each first-year law student is assigned to a 16- or 17-person small group. Those students take all of their courses together, including one course with just their group that’s led by one professor.) Until that April late-night meeting, Linda had generally considered Rubenfeld her advocate. She was counting on him to be one of her references on her clerkship applications, which she needed to submit soon after returning to campus in the fall. She worried that if she made a report or even told the Title IX coordinator his name, it could get back to Rubenfeld and she’d lose his support. This could undermine her chance to earn a prestigious clerkship with a federal judge—which would then make it harder for her to continue to pursue competitive opportunities, like the holy grail for Yale Law School students: a clerkship on the Supreme Court.
The accuser is enjoying many benefits from Rubenfeld's teaching, she doesn't want to jeopardize that. She also wants him to behave in a way that makes her feel comfortable, i.e. wants to make him behave the way she wants him to behave. She also doesn't want to do this publicly and doesn't want to actually have to address the nebulous concerns about his behavior herself. She wants her cake. She wants to eat it. She wants to tell others how to bake it. And she wants yet further third parties to force the bakers to bake it the way she wants. Middle-school mean girl antics in pursuit of power and prestige.

Jonathan Haidt has observed and commented on this increasing illness in the academy of a small ideologically motivated cadre of students (and their faculty and administrator enablers) trying to create a victimhood culture in which other people make the world work the way you want on your behalf without you ever having to do anything or take any risk.

What these snowflake Jacobins are doing in Law School is kind of a mystery.

The other thing that struck me was this passage.
If a student (or Title IX coordinator) files a formal Title IX complaint with the university’s Title IX office, the accused will be notified of the complaint, a fact-finder is dispatched to determine the circumstances of the situation, and eventually a trial-style hearing is scheduled and heard by the University-Wide Committee. As listed on the UWC’s own website, in reviewing such a case, the UWC can only consider previous formal investigations that resulted in discipline. What that means is that if Jennifer had pursued a formal complaint against Rubenfeld, Linda’s previous complaints would not have been considered in the UWC adjudication process. The Title IX system makes it difficult for the school to recommend discipline based on a pattern of behavior unless several women are willing to lodge individual formal complaints or sign onto a Title IX officer’s complaint, and in both instances the students would be required to sacrifice their anonymity.
There are already multiple problems with the Title IX process, primarily around absence of due process, presumption of guilt against the accused, and the low bar of preponderance of evidence.

Lithwick and Matthews want to deal with two other issues. They are upset that informal, and therefore unsupported, accusations are not given the same weight as formally investigated accusations. Lax as it is already, Lithwick and Matthews really want unsupported accusations to suffice in destroying a career.

The second issue is immensely ironic. One of the long fought battles in second wave feminism was eliminating past patterns of behavior to be used against female victims of rape and assault in court. They were entirely right in that goal. A specific assault by a specific person at a specific location at a specific time either occurred or did not occur. The fact that the victim dated a lot, had many relations or not, advocated particular policies in the past or not are entirely irrelevant to determining whether she was assaulted.

They properly characterized this as a victim being victimized twice, once by the assailant and once by the legal system, destroying her reputation.

But that is exactly what Lithwick and Matthews appear to be advocating.
The Title IX system makes it difficult for the school to recommend discipline based on a pattern of behavior unless several women are willing to lodge individual formal complaints or sign onto a Title IX officer’s complaint, and in both instances the students would be required to sacrifice their anonymity.
They want uncorroborated, hear-say, anonymous accusations to be the basis for over-turning someone's life. And for what kind of crime? In this instance:
The picture we got from these conversations is not one of straightforward abuse but rather a fraught and uncomfortable situation full of insinuation and pushed boundaries that can make learning difficult and has the potential to push women out of the pipeline for the most prestigious and competitive areas of the law.
There is no crime. There is barely anything inappropriate. There is no evidence. There are only whispered assertions that no one wishes to stand behind. They just want the person they don't like to be punished because they don't like them.

Hard to see how this process of going after Chua by going for her husband and solely out of ideological pique is any different from this other case in the news, Lawsuit accuses 'mean girls' at Pa. school of targeting boy with false sexual assault accusations.
In tape-recorded interview with school officials in 2017, the lawsuit alleges that K.S. said she made the sexual assault claim against T.F. because "I just don't like him."

"I just don't like to hear him talk ... I don't like to look at him," K.S. reportedly disclosed in the recorded interview obtained by Fishman.

On Oct. 2, 2017, K.S. told fellow students "that she would do anything to get T.F. expelled ... and accused T.F. of sexual assault" with school officials, the lawsuit states. T.F. was subsequently charged in juvenile court with indecent assault and two counts of harassment.
Sure, the Yalies have better grades and use more syllables, but fundamentally it is hard to see much daylight between their behavior (and that of "journalists" Lithwick and Matthews) and the behavior of K.S. and her friends.

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