The College Fix presents a roundup of the top scandals, screw-ups, and stupid decisions involving college campuses. This week, a student could be sentenced to 10 years of prison for being immature, and Sandra Fluke is not a slut (she’s just very, very wrong). But first…
3). The website of the late Andrew Breitbart released footage of President Obama during his college days at Harvard. The video shows Obama speaking on behalf of (and hugging) Derrick Bell, a controversial Harvard professor known for advocating radical leftist positions on racial issues.
Though the video is interesting, it doesn’t exactly live up to the hype, and probably won’t have much effect on how most people view the president and his policies.
Of course, that only makes CNN news anchor Soledad O’Brien seem even more biased and ignorant during a recent interview with the video’s originator, Joel Pollack. O’Brien begins by making the mostly valid point that the video isn’t such a big deal and probably won’t matter much. By the end of the interview, she has done the following: adopted the infuriatingly condescending attitude that no one should bother to watch the video because the media always knows better; completely glossed over the controversy surrounding Bell; and worst of all, accused Pollack of having racist motivations.
The video is inconsequential. But O’Brien’s hysterical, petulant reaction to those who disagree with her is one of the dumbest moments of the week.
2). Dharun Ravi is a bad person. He used a camera to secretly watch his gay roommate, Tyler Clementi, having an intimate moment with another man. Ravi thought it was disgusting to the point of hilarity. When Clementi found out, he was mortified, and killed himself. Ravi should be deeply, deeply ashamed of himself, and entirely deserves the condemnation he has received, and will continue to receive.
But he does not deserve 10 years in prison.
Ravi is being prosecuted under hate crime laws, and if convicted, he will spend the next 10 years behind bars. There are rapists and murderers who get off with less.
And should it matter that the victim was gay? If Ravi had watched Clementi have sex with a girlfriend, and he later committed suicide out of embarrassment, is that really less horrible? As Reason writer Jacob Sullum put it:
But even if we discount Ravi’s mitigating explanations, he is guilty, at worst, of being an immature jerk—not the sort of thing people usually got to prison for. Ravi’s comments to friends suggest that if he was picking on his roommate, it was probably because of Clementi’s social awkwardness rather than his sexual orientation. Is the second motivation 10 years worse than the first?
1). You knew it was coming, so here it is: Rush Limbaugh and Sandra Fluke.
As everyone including Rush himself has noted, the loudmouthed radio host should not have called Fluke a slut. He engaged in disrespectful and unnecessary name-calling. It was a mean thing to say, and it did not address the substance of Fluke’s views on birth control.
Which is a shame, because her views, to put it mildly, are stupid. Fluke is welcome to use birth control and to advocate its use. She has no right—none whatsoever—to force others to pay for it.
As University of Rochester Economics Professor Steven Landsburg put it:
[W]hile Ms. Fluke [the law student] herself deserves the same basic respect we owe to any human being, her position — which is what’s at issue here — deserves none whatsoever. It deserves only to be ridiculed, mocked and jeered. To treat it with respect would be a travesty.
The president of the university responded by denouncing Landsburg in a public statement. Some 30 students protested against him inside his classroom. And Landsburg is correct!
So even though Fluke’s defenders are right about Rush’s comments being pigheaded, they are right about nothing else. If the decision to use birth control is to be made by each individual person, rather than by society at large, then each individual person has to pay for it.