The comments made by bloggers Ann Althouse (a law professor) and Glenn Reynolds (a conservative pundit) and quoted in this Feministe post in response to the Auto Admit lawsuit match the beliefs of too many people.
A little background: Auto Admit is a site where a series of rape-related comments were allowed to be made about specific female law students by a group of people which according to those who posted included those women's classmates.
Those who don't put 1 and 2 together to reach a troubling conclusion trouble me. So what are 1 and 2?
1) An atmosphere where the posting of personal information which comes from stalking is acceptable.
2) An atmosphere where posting statements like this: “for minimising this tragedy, she deserves a brutal raping" is just regular guy stuff and possibly considered tame.
So what is 3?
Ann Althouse wrote:
“the scummiest kind of sexually offensive tripe” exactly what we always used to say people had to put up with in a free country?
Glenn Reynolds wrote:
Stuff that offends dumb hicks in the heartland is constitutionally protected. Stuff that offends Yale Law Students must be stamped out!
Both of these statements equate something like crudely-written erotica to people who -- under the shield of anonymity -- salivate over the prospect of seeing specific classmates brutally raped and who with the support of pack mentality do what they can to make that crime easier for someone else to commit from both a logistical and rationalization perspective.
To put it in the rawest terms the price for freedom in the US becomes allowing 100 men at a law school related event to chant, "She deserves to be raped. She deserves to be raped. She deserves to be raped." to the man closest to the woman who happened for any reason to become the focus of their attention. And if -- wild shock -- she is raped by that man, those egging him on are completely innocent. They never said, "rape her," they were just expressing a personal opinion about this woman -- a constitutional right.
It's not like college women ever prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they were raped on or near campus so how were these men to know that some man could take this meaningless talk seriously?
And of course the women treated to this hostility and increased physical risk are the only ones attempting to harm anyone if they demand, through the courts when needed, that the chanting and the stalking stop.
Don't these women know that freedom always comes at a heavy cost?
I found this quote from Eugene Volokh:
The posters’ actions are pretty disgusting and unprofessional; they violate codes of basic decency endorsed by most of society, left, center, and right. If their identities are disclosed, they are likely to lose their jobs (or job offers), lose friends, and be set back for many years and by many hundreds of thousands of dollars in their careers.
If women are supposed to pay the price for other people's freedom of speech, then those people who attack women must also be willing to pay the price for that freedom as well. Free speech doesn't mean people should never be legally accountable for their words and never have their words seen as reflecting on their true character.
According to Prof. Volokh rape threats should be viewed as hyperbole rather than be viewed as actual threats. Maybe in cases where men threaten to rape other men, it is more easily assumed that the threats are nothing more than hyperbole, but since many men do rape women in far too large of numbers, a threat by an anonymous man to rape a woman he disdains should never be dismissed as hyperbole that can be ignored as an idle threat.