It’s welcome to see two preeminently disreputable American institutions belatedly get discredited in the midst of the Rona. I refer, of course, to college and NPR.
In NPR’s case, the discrediting is a result of enough Americans listening to enough NPR to realize that it’s too rotten to deserve their financial support until it loses Amazon’s, Google’s, and that of every other multinational corporation whose sponsorship its reporters end up disclosing several times a day. The target audience has more disposable income than it did before the shutdowns, not less, but work-from-home means listen-from-home, and they’re listening too closely to pay up on demand. KQED shouldn’t need to nag its audience for over a week for a million and a half or three million or whatever half-assed house money it claimed to need badly enough to preempt Michael Krasny less than a month before his retirement. These are gross signs, but they’re good signs.
In the case of college, it’s that there isn’t any. In the nominally good times preceding those we enjoy today, the American undergraduate academy overpromised and underdelivered to a vile extent. With “classes” and “activities” now virtual, its delivery of the socially and sexually catalytic effects it promises its students is nil. A handful of campuses have more or less successfully reopened, usually with extraordinary screening and surveillance regimes. A larger group have reopened haphazardly and disastrously, e.g., making the news for quaranting students in dormitories without food deliveries. Most have remained closed. Setting aside the questionable academic and intellectual objectives of these hallowed institutions, they’ve entirely lost their usefulness as places to party, hang out, and get laid. These are not the only extracurricular forms of social enrichment our colleges are now denying their students, either, but they’re some of the more important, and they’re gone. They’re no longer fully delivered to a minority of students and partially delivered to the rest or anything of that nature. We’re doing everything over the computer now.
Ah, yes, that’s what the visionaries of the early Obama years called a MOOC. Instead of paying administrative rentiers outrageous sums to be dead weight on academic programs under their authority, we could all go online for the Great Courses on tape with a streaming video component. Surely this was in no way a coping mechanism in the face of a fourth-turning economic crash, of course.
Oh. We still have to pay full tuition? Huh-uh. Get fucked.
As I’ve bitterly spilled pixels by the millions arguing, undergraduate education in the United States has been crying out for a teardown overhaul for decades. It went into the pandemic all but unreformable. Anything to break its leverage over its “communities” is welcome. It’s serendipitous for applications and enrollment to finally decline in earnest because institutions that have been shaking the country down for two generations are showing their whole ass by continuing to ask for money. Until last year they offered brick-and-mortar programming that was to some degree or other worthwhile. All they’re offering now are series of videoconferences.
Colleges and their boosters complain that they still face the same fixed costs as ever, plus some. Okay, but why the fuck is that a concern for the general public? Pay me to worry about that shit and I’ll start worrying about it. Yes, I mean this literally. Pay me the fuck up already. Pay up or shut up. Full-freight Zoom school is like Qantas charging full Transpacific first class fares for streaming rights to a collection of YouTube videos of Longreach. This idea that random private citizens have a duty to worry about the solvency of recently profitable corporations because they’ve hit a few rough quarters is completely fucking outrageous. American colleges are manifestly for-profit institutions. If they were actually bona fide nonprofits they would not pay prized administrators multiples of their usual and customary salaries for senior tenured faculty.
Most of these schools, sob stories about hard times and all, are nonprofits the same way the Brands magically shift shape from Irish to Dutch to Liberian to Wilmingtonian, Delaware written on my heart because I’m an unhinged old lawyer who shouts fighting words at factory workers in an authentic blue-collar way. They’re as fraudulent as the home country we share. There have been reports in sober, rigorous media that many American colleges and universities are in trouble because they’re facing capital calls on their endowment assets. Uh, yo, how did that happen? Isn’t that shit supposed to be, like, professionally managed? How did it end up sounding like collateral for investment on margin? Excuse me, but I’m less interested than ever in donating to any institution whose peers are reported to be doing that.
The ethical standards governing these organizations are fictional. It’s impossible for bad actors to get banished from accreditation. If the accrediting bodies enforced ethical standards, the American academy would turn into the Pitcairn Islands of institutional fraud. No, I’m not saying they aren’t full of predatory sexual deviants, too.
Charts showing the relative sizes of the total faculty and administrative workforces over time are amazing. The faculty grows very slowly and modestly while the administrative apparatus balloons. Ironically, university faculty bodies are historically autonomous, going back into Medieval Europe. Our professors are effectively bossed around by their own clerks. If our colleges were in fact academic universities, their faculties would elect provosts, the provosts would appoint administrative aides as necessary to shoulder the workload, and the aides would remain subordinate on pain of termination. It wouldn’t matter what the fuck they decided to call the provost: president, chancellor, superintendent, whatever. The point is, a credibly academic institution would be governed by academics for academic purposes. Larry Nassar would be possible; Jim Jordan and Dennis Hastert would not.
Do we still wonder why they’re called “Greek Organizations?” Yes, Virginia, there is a Nebraska Coed. In fact, there are many. No, they are not the worst Nebraskans. Come out. Don’t make me wait. Ben’s Ass–goodness, one would think I graduated able to spell–in any event, Mr. Ass claims to have impressed a group of coeds at his own Nebraska university into erecting a big bristly Christmas tree in full public view, to make the season festive. FreequentFlyr/IndyFinance calls this story a lie. Perhaps Mr. Ass would have dodged temptation by wrestling with these hard questions somewhere back east, among young men.
To wax a bit more earnestly around the bush, athletics are probably a better grooming ground than academics. The main reason there’s such a treasury of stories about professors having midlife crisis affairs or whatever else we care to call them with students is that it’s professors who write maudlin autobiographical fiction, alternately classified as fantasy fiction or memoir. They’d find it too humiliating to write novels celebrating what Denny Dundiddly dun. Coach, for his part, is too dim to write his own story. Which coach? Does it even matter? Lawrence of the Labia was smarter than Marter, which don’t aspicca so wella Bela, but that’s about as impressive as any other barber surgeon outwitting a vulgar meathead by sneaking food into the girls he’s trying to starve. *Unsolicited Jeff Foxworthy Voice* Every month my wife sees the need to set menstruate. The Karolyis don’t need a second look to know what’s wrong with the old lady. Bitches be feedin.
Seriously, though, it’s an overwrought revenge of the nerds deal to imagine the campus sex pests as a collection of tweedy dorks with elbow patches when it’s the sports teams and fraternities that show up and pay for the joint. Nobody gives a shit about lit. Professors sometimes get involved in seedy or predatory sexual arrangements, but they’re probably underrepresented, especially at schools with big sports programs or frat scenes, and with rare exceptions they don’t have nearly the clout it takes to make allegations go away.
It’s generally safer on campus than off. The Brock Turner episode attracted so much attention in part for nasty psychosexual reasons, Blondie being the hot kind of rapist and all that, and because the media love to terrorize affluent parents for profit, but also because it was so jarring to hear about a Stanford student forcibly raping a classmate because he came across her passed out on the street in a town as fastidiously kept as Palo Alto. Nobody gives a shit when that happens on the Rez. Nobody but his mother cares enough to cry when it happens in the ghetto (in the ghetto). The Rez, the ghetto, Skid Row, the outlaw block: That’s where it happens all the time. Garrido and his sad-ass wife got popped because he took the family onto the UC Berkeley campus and made a scene in God’s name, and also in destiny’s oops lol. Nobody bothered them as long as they stayed on Pervert’s Flat.
For real. Do you want to fantasize about getting raped by that ripped young thing under the California palms–healthfully, as Wolfgang Puck would say, even robustfully? Or do you want that gnarly-ass son of a bitch doing the deed in a warren of shacks down by the waterfront, not just east of Eden but hella fucking east, and then dumping a few cans of stir-fried Hamburger Helper onto a bed of Top Ramen and calling that dinner? Ellie Clougherty complained about Joe Lonsdale making her freebleed onto NICE furniture in NICE hotels. There are handsomer gingers, and he’s a bit odd around the edges, but he dressed well and kept his woman in style. I mean, I’d rather have Summer Benton have her way with me in the abandoned apartment complex from the Who the Hell is Whitehead episode (might be the one they now have on the radio) than have that slovenly fat lady who called my aloha shirt jazzy dance up on me in the Bonneville Transit Center.
The analogy here is that I’d rather have the hot weirdo with the tighter curves get weird on my fat white ass than the normal one with the looser curves get normal on me in a facility that still has normal plumbing. Winco may have novels on this topic.
As a cradle Southern Baptist from Loudoun County turned Antiochian Orthodox convert on the philosophy faculty at Leiden always said, every analogy at some point becomes a disanalogy. *NYC Guido Voice* Eyy, in that case, how about data analogy! Nah, jus kidding pal, dis one’s all right too!
Rape is a criminal felony. The Brock Turner case infuriated moneyed hysterics not living near Jannie Ligons because it showed forcible rape not to be felonious enough. To judge from the uproar, the kid got away with it.
But he didn’t. He went to jail and was put on the registry. These are not lenient consequences. County jails are brutal. Sex offender registries consign registrants to functional outlaw status; that’s how the Garrido family ended up on the outlaw block, safely away from the prying eyes of the police.
Other punishments are worse. That isn’t the fucking point. A standard booking in a well-run county jail would set off the average SVU junkie into ballistic outrage. So would registry placement. They’d do exactly what Brock Turner’s lawyers did for him.
Or, as I started to write it, Brock Lawyer. We watch too goddamn much TV. There’s an old Vineland aphorism about this: “Ukh uh akha akha oomb.” Something to that effect. We deaden ourselves with that shit.
“Sex crimes get prosecuted.” No they don’t. SVU is a show about a cougar-milf who sometimes gets laid. If you try to press charges against a sexual assailant you frankly have no fucking idea what any of them will do on your behalf. It’s best to assume they’ll do jack shit. Check out patrol response times and rape kit backlogs in Detroit. You’ll have to actually look it up. Joe Bageant was right. Hologram don’t serve no dark meat. Audiences are not immediately rapt before tales of useless police forces doing nothing about the high-frequency stochastic outbursts of chaotic violence in a visibly, incontrovertably failing state. This is why there are so many shows about hot white pricks raping hot white hoes, or like, kinda sorta raping them but nobody remembers much about it, or black guys who wouldn’t quite get barred at the door from the SEPTA 61-Ridge no matter how rough they are in Division I ball.
Look. Fat Cracka, ya boy’s seen some shit. They don’t farm out the writing and casting to schizoid tweakers who hang out around Market East. SVU is a Guild job. Dominic “Denver Dago” Carisi asking about a 5150 doesn’t break frame. It’s retarded, but only the nerds notice. It’s a big jump shy of the handsomest Scotsman ever to wear a botwie in Tulsa helping the handsomest shifty kraut in a squad polo shirt and a collection of Twilight Zone homely sidekicks figure out why the permanent motel underclass beef over baggies of crank and then whack each other.
That’s some fairly honest programming in spite of its picturesque rawness. It’s also difficult to spin into parasocial narrative arcs. Just when they start looking shippable, they’re off to chase down the next crew of hopeless lowlives paying some secretly affluent midcaste Indian family doublemarket rates for everyone on the property to live in permanent squalor. It raises questions more troubling than why Benson is banging Tucker and not Amaru and by the way she’s helping the highcaste deep undercover trust fund Londoner blackmail a Homer and Langley prospect over his shoe fetish while Tucker flips the male dominatrix whose client the priest is reciprocally blackmailing Tucker’s cousin the monsignor. Inspector Lewis and–good God, speaking of funny-looking whites, Sergeant Hathaway–also investigate murderers of money, as one does in Oxfordshire. It’s always some shit with a castle and an inheritance, not wot, oy can’ affawd a boy’ o’ bread foaw me daw’ah, at’s woy oy glassed the coppa.
It’s fine to be Tommy Gilbert weird and just kind of hang out and do drugs until it’s killing time. What won’t cut it is being the kind of seaboard white who has never bought a piece of clothing costing more than ten bucks and will never move out of the crummiest weekly dump on Route 30 in the part of Absecon that doesn’t have sidewalks. That’s drugs, too. That, too, is behavioral health in the community. It still doesn’t quite work. Clean it up and drop it as a storyline now and then, maybe, but for real, none of that is who the audience want raping their daughters. We’re looking for class here. We’re looking for fit, handsome, chiseled young men whose parents have the money to pay full freight at universities that carry liability insurance.
The abandoned dope house can’t burn down by the Speed Line in Camden. The City of Chicago will pay to make it happen under the El. That way it can be woven into a season arc that ships Florida Woman with the ginger whose brothers back in Australia are all white supremacist surgeons. We aren’t looking for Greyhound passengers. We’re looking for fire lieutenants who are general contractors, aldermen, ambulatory, and verbal. All things are possible with a broad set of shoulders.
Chicago has ax bars.
Scenario: A classmate gets violently drunk and batters you. He’s always getting absolutely trashed and forcing himself on whoever is partying in the same room and catches his attention. Everybody on campus knows how he rolls. He gets pissed off at other guys for making moves on chicks he wants to bang and Jonathan Josey floorchecks them to show them who’s boss. He waits for thots to get plastered at house parties and moves on them while they’re blacked out, confused, and visibly uncomfortable. He roofies their drinks. He prevails upon brothers who would rather slip away one-on-one with affectionate women to join him in gang rapes. After all, they were hazed into SAE, too. They’ve all done the Elephant Walk.
You’re aren’t one of his “brothers.” Regardless of the loose terminology he spits when he’s on benders, you did not sign up for any of that shit. One of his buddies invited you to the kegger. Or it was a come-one come-all walk-in affair. You start flirting with one of the girls on the dance floor. You begin, in the Burmilian parlance, to dance up on one another. Tough guy doesn’t like it. He gets up in your face and gives you a good shove. You lose your footing.
You look like an ass, but mainly you’re pissed.
Or you’re the girl. For some reason this asshole butted in and pushed that cute guy who was chatting you up out of the way. The poor guy looked mortified. Last you saw he was out the door, silent.
You stick around. As the eastern sky lightens, you realize you’ve lost several hours. You can’t remember what time you formed your last reliable memory of the night. All you know for sure now IS now. You’re sprawled out on a filthy couch. Your underpants are on wrong. They’re wet in a way you can’t explain.
You remember the asshole barging in, yelling at that kid you liked, and shoving him. You’re sexually experienced and confident enough to tell this is unusual, and you can’t account for the past several hours. You dimly remember the asshole making moves on you. You dimly remember squirming and moaning, uncomfortably, with a man pinning you down. You think it was the same asshole who shoved the guy dancing with you to the floor.
You think you were raped.
The fundamental question in each of these scenarios, male victim of battery and female victim of rape by incapacitation, is the same. Are you: 1) ashamed; 2) intimidated, or 3) angry? Which of these reactions is dominant?
You personally witnessed a man widely known to be menacing and violent commit a battery in front of dozens of bystanders. As the male victim, you can testify clearly to what he did to you personally. Alternately, as the female victim, you can testify to what you witnessed him do to a third party and a second violent crime you believe he committed against you while you were incapacitated and at best semiconscious.
That dude committed at least one prima facie violent crime, likely two. Legally, you have the option to press criminal charges in the local district court. You and the assailant were both under the jurisdiction of the local government, not just the college. The local government has legal primacy over the college. Legally, it is allowed to send investigators onto campus or execute raids there to the same extent as it is on any other private property under its jurisdiction. That shit ain’t Gitmo. College officials and boosters can piss and moan, but it isn’t their call. Their gentlemen’s agreement with the town cops ends whenever the townies determine they’ve stopped being gentlemen.
You plot out the process for a criminal complaint. You research it. It looks impossible, not worth the trouble. You’re mad as hell; you’re adamant that that piece of shit knew better and did not have any right to a warning; he knew his way to the Rubicon, to the waters he fondled with his feet like a whore on Hunter Biden, glaring and smirking at the punks on the far shore.
There were other witnesses, but it isn’t enough. They’ll be intimidated into silence or perjury. The defense will assert that they were too drunk and distracted to be credible. It all happened in the fog of war. By the time it’s over, you’ll be exhausted and emotionally bruised and he, through his attorneys, will have established reasonable doubt if the investigators ever believed they had probable cause.
It ain’t SVU.
This still leaves the civil courts. You can sue his ass. You can throw everything at the wall: petition for a no-contact order broad enough to indefinitely bar him from campus and settle for whatever the court grants; demand a financial settlement, on the record, no NDA, no mercy but the option to refuse to stipulate wrongdoing; a private investigation to trace his entire social and professional circles and interview every person in it who seems likely to have information; service of legal process to the assailant, all relevant college officials up to the president and the chair of the board of trustees, and all likely peer conspirators; a full court press at discovery.
You can make it clear to him, in public, that he will be given no second chance for what he did. If he doesn’t voluntarily stipulate the existence of your complaint on the record, you will exhaust all lawful channels to force his surrender. It isn’t about the other chumps he abused with impunity; it’s about the first time he went too far on the wrong person.
You can go to the press. You can publish affidavits on social media. The threshold for a finding of liability for defamation is high. All you have to do is demonstrate that your outcries were bona fide. If he pushes forward with a suit, he’ll open himself and his fraternity up to discovery. The lawyers will warn them. He’s done the same shit to too many other people. All it takes is one complainant blowing the whistle to break the dam on all of them. The first complainant gives cover to the rest. As they say in London, Melbourne, and Chicago, leaders lead from the front.
It doesn’t usually work out this way. Few plaintiffs are willing to force resolutions on the record. Sometimes, though, Grandma calls the sex crimes squad and gets Holtzclaw off the streets.
If that sounds daunting and fruitless, you could always have your complaint adjudicated in house by a hearing officer or tribunal working for the college. We have a big chunk of federal law setting forth this process. It falls under the same title governing men’s and women’s sports.
The Title IX sexual assault adjudication process sets off every possible alarm. The whole thing is a kangaroo court. Hearings are held in secret under the auspices of institutions claiming authority in loco parentis over students old enough to take on massive unsecured debts and enlist in the armed forces. Their rulings have no force of law off campus; at the same time, they expose the accused to life-altering consequences based on questionable evidence admitted into evidence in proceedings with no independent oversight or public scrutiny. The adjudicators have the legal counsel of college solicitors available on demand; they forbid students legal representation at hearings. The adjudicators work for institutions that are extremely likely to be adverse in the near future to either or both parties they’re judging. They have a glaring vested interest in issuing rulings that minimize institutional exposure to liability for serious offenses committed on their property and under their official auspices. They forbid students appearing before them from copying, or sometimes even viewing, documents relevant to civil or criminal cases they might well pursue.
What the fuck is any of this shit? It’s insane. It’s a mesh of systemic conflicts of interest under the private authority–the privilege–of institutions that actively commit preemptive obstruction of justice the moment parties appearing before their courts seek outside resolution of their grievances. Courts–real courts–want to ascertain what remedies parties appearing before them in civil cases have pursued shy of filing suit. Title IX tribunals put defendants and plaintiffs alike in the position of having to respond to judges that they submitted to the private arbitration of complaints of violent crime before closed courts operating under obvious conflicts of interest and actively refusing to cooperate with duly commissioned judges presiding over real cases in the real world.
It’s just fucking bizarre. Schools do not have the sovereign authority to exempt themselves or their students from the jurisdiction of the criminal courts over accusations of violent crime. If I returned to Dickinson to audit classes as a graduate and decided to beat some other student up for some dumb reason, no shit I’d be subject to arrest and criminal prosecution by the civil authorities. This is a good reason not to go whole-ass Preston Brooks on some twerp at the roundtable seminar because you think he mouthed off and you’re mad.
In most circumstances people don’t get to just beat the shit out of one another whenever they’re upset or for whatever insult set off their hair-trigger tempers. Going into Giant and threatening to rape a cashier would be grounds for arrest on the spot. This is common knowledge. It has a strong deterrent effect. What the fuck happened to make accusations of forcible rape subject to private binding arbitration before patently interested arbitrators?
Betsy DeVos infamously did an anti-feminism and a patriarchy when she limited the scope of Title IX hearings to provide more protections for the accused. Betsy is a bad woman from a very bad family, a wretched moralizing lush with grossly feudal pretensions. On Title IX, she was right. She’s a shithead, just not a total shithead. Calling an atrocious kangaroo court system into question was absolutely the right move.
Here’s another thing: I know the type who sit in judgment on Title IX tribunals. I’ve personally interacted with students who served as hearing officers in underage drinking cases. They’re some of the shittiest, most untrustworthy morons I’ve ever in my life known. They’re the same officious petty tyrants who make life hell on line employees at Sheetz whenever they take positions as junior keyholders. They’re larp-grade Judenrat busybodies, unspeakably contemptible.
Their bosses, the people in charge of the Title IX adjudication process, are even easier to understand. They’re college administrators.
Driving home from my girlfriend’s place last night I was tripping balls delirious. We’d been hanging out in her room all night. By her reckoning we’re definitely not a couple, but we talked it over, and I was as much of a dumbass as ever to fear she was dumping me from what she insists is not actually a relationship. She was all like, chill; breathe; we can just be intimate. Her idea of “shitty relationship material” is being a single mother of kids who get along bettter with me than I ever expected and consequently often not having time to have me over. If that’s a shitty relationship, I’ll be damned to imagine a good one.
Sociologically, it’s fascinating to talk so much with an exceptionally lucid and perceptive person who knows a stunning variety of the most incorrigibly fucked up losers and freaks in a county of nearly half a million. I was mostly telling her more stories about the down-and-out shitting in trash cans and dumpsters and the likes. She had some appalling stories of ungovernable medical doctors. One was a cute, peppy milf type who bragged about dropping acid before rounds to make work more fun. Hersheypark Happy, I believe was what we called it. Another was a surgeon who drove one of his OR nurses so mad that she left nursing entirely to do well-paid but not particularly moral clerical work. Her problem with the surgeon was that he came scrubbed into the OR stumbling drunk and poked her with sharps in the course of groping her by the breasts.
It was a four-and-a-half-hour marathon of intermittently verbal storytelling. As Sedge Thomson might reluctantly say, if you can’t be legible, at least you can be plausible. I finally drove off around 4:15. At a few points I realized I didn’t really know where I was: probably Santa Rosa, maybe Kansas. I was on a road I drive all the time. Joe McConnell came over the air with his 4:20 wake-n-shake when I was about a third of the way home. That was the only point of temporal orientation I achieved.
By God’s grace I made it home intact and unmolested. Joe came on for his second report of the morning at 4:50. 580 over the Altamont Pass was already down to 15-35, I believe he said. Normal speeds for that time of the morning, in any event.
I think I fell asleep to Brian Watt’s early local news at 5:22. I had no interest in staying awake for Saul Gonzalez’s chat with Tony Thurmond about some educational bullshit or other. I already spend too much time thinking about the schools. Brian and Saul have a satisfyingly long-lasting effect on me when I’m that fucked up. It’s enough to check in, confirm that their delivery styles are as engagingly bizarre as ever, and go the fuck to sleep.
In the midst of drivetime with the public sector local notables, the mothership piped in from Washington with a report of the latest scandal in the NCAA. It had to do with the lady ballers at March Madness being given shabbier gyms than the gents.
That put me straight back into the preverbally surreal. The coeds were salty about having a disappointing gym. Unbelievable. They were getting national radio airtime to complain about how the men’s teams had nicer workout equipment.
I was flooded with transverbal thot. /Borat Voice/ My Part-Time Wife was facing a full day of Sisyphean parenting on no sleep. Meanwhile a group of elite athletes were throwing themselves a pity party on NPR for having to complain to get a nicer gym to replace their less nice gym, on the basis that having had only a small, crummy gym for their private use was sexism.
NPR’s White Whines always register with me. This one, this time, registered with an inarticulable but overwhelming power I never experience. All I could feel, mentally, was the preverbal–transverbal–knowledge that that squad of bitches didn’t have any real problems, so they were complaining about bogus ones.
They were so embarrassingly close to complaining about real problems. They teetered on the very precipice of karolying the Song of Sport. Lawrence of the Labia, Lying Jordan, J. Denny Dundiddly, Our Lord Joseph and His Servant Gerald: As Yaakov Smirnoff always said, Coach puts in YOU! One might get the idea that the same programs that offer their male players equal no pay have problems worse than shitty workout rooms for away games. Weren’t colleges supposed to be problematic for fostering so much rape? On the other hand, if the focus is carefully kept on bullshit about how the fellas got sweeter iron, one might not.
Those chicks will finish their college careers. A very few will go on to the WNBA, to complain about getting less pay from semi-lucrative teams instead of crummy gyms from very lucrative ones. Most won’t. You won’t play pro hoops, either. I may not know who you are, but that much I know. The rest of the ladies will move immediately into girlboss power careers doing jobs obtainable through mere highbrow hustle, not supernatural athletic talent and luck. From there they will ruthlessly pursue the assortative mating necessary to conceive the next generation of female overachiever, or the male kind.
It has been my misfortune to be aware of Dr. Levine as both.