Wall Street Journal Columnist: Victims Of Sexual Assault Need To Take Their Share Of Blame, Too

February 11, 2014 9:46 a.m.

Hold on to your seats, people. James Taranto has some more thoughts on sexual assault.

The Wall Street Journal columnist’s latest effort on Monday focused on what he sees as a double standard of sex offenses on college campuses.

Working off a piece in the New York Times, Taranto highlighted an incident last year at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where a young man named Matt Martel prevented his intoxicated male friend from sleeping with a drunk female student. The young woman thanked Martel the next day, which apparently left Taranto baffled.

The question arises here: Whom exactly did Martel save from danger? The answer is quite possibly both the young woman and his friend. Had she awakened the next day feeling regretful and violated, she could have brought him up on charges and severely disrupted his life. Both of them were taking foolish risks, and it seems likely that he as well as she had impaired judgment owing to excessive drinking.

Taranto just doesn’t think men and women — physical disparities, be damned — should be treated differently in such cases if both parties are drunk.

What is called the problem of “sexual assault” on campus is in large part a problem of reckless alcohol consumption, by men and women alike. (Based on our reporting, the same is true in the military, at least in the enlisted and company-grade officer ranks.)
Which points to a limitation of the drunk-driving analogy. If two drunk drivers are in a collision, one doesn’t determine fault on the basis of demographic details such as each driver’s sex. But when two drunken college students “collide,” the male one is almost always presumed to be at fault. His diminished capacity owing to alcohol is not a mitigating factor, but her diminished capacity is an aggravating factor for him.

Taranto is a reliable soldier in what he’s called the “war on men.” He wrote last June that Democrats such as Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) were trying to “criminalize male sexuality” in their efforts to eliminate sexual assault from the military. McCaskill promptly shot back at Taranto’s “bizarre and deeply out of touch understanding of sexual assault.”

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