Part 4—It’s all propaganda now: Let’s suppose you’re chancellor of a major university.
Let’s call your school MIT.
You construct a long, bewildering survey for your students—a survey about their sexual experiences on your campus. Your curiosity knows no bounds, so you even include this early question, along with six possible answers:
How often do you hear MIT students or see online posts from MIT students that say that a test or assignment "raped them?”Yes, that question is written in English. At any rate, there’s nothing you don’t want to know!
Less than once a month
Once a month
2-3 times a month
Once a week
More than once a week
At some point in time, your survey was taken by several thousand students. (You forgot to say when the survey was taken when you released your long, confusing report on your findings.) As you survey your voluminous data, these two findings emerge:
Two findings from the MIT surveyRemember, you’re chancellor at this school. Which finding will seem disturbing?
Many students don’t think they’ve been subjected to “sexual harassment” if they hear a sexist remark from a fellow student.
A substantial percentage of undergraduate women say they’ve been raped while students on your campus.
At this point, we’re forced to rely on an unreliable narrator. We refer to Richard Perez-Pena, the frequently hapless, long-time reporter for the New York Times.
Warning! You shouldn’t assume that Perez-Pena’s report about this survey should automatically be trusted. Still, to judge from his news report in last Tuesday’s New York Times, it was the first of those findings which rang alarm bells in the world of our modern elites.
Forget the fact that five percent of undergraduate women said they’ve been raped while at MIT—a figure which almost surely understates the size of the apparent problem.
(Many respondents were freshmen and sophomores. The survey may have been given at the start of the current academic year; freshmen would have been on campus for ten minutes at that point. Presumably, a larger percentage would emerge from undergraduate women at the end of their senior year.)
Forget the large number of undergraduate women who say they’ve been raped on your campus. If we go by Perez-Pena’s reporting, Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart was mainly concerned about the fact that the youngsters weren’t willing to say how often they’re being “assaulted.”
A bit later, Professor Foubert (Oklahoma State) voiced a similar concern:
PEREZ-PENA (10/28/14): Large numbers of undergraduates, male and female, also agreed with statements suggesting that blame for the assault did not always rest exclusively with the aggressor. Two-thirds agreed that “rape and sexual assault can happen unintentionally, especially if alcohol is involved”; one-third said it can happen “because men get carried away”; about one in five said it often happened because the victim was not clear enough about refusing; and a similar number said that a drunk victim was “at least somewhat responsible.”The professor is very concerned.
Such views were less prevalent among graduate students, as was sexual assault itself.
Dr. Foubert said he considered many of those responses a form of “excusing the perpetrator and blaming the victim,” and was very concerned about it.
Again, let’s be clear. We have no way of knowing what Barnhart and Foubert actually said to the Times reporter.
But in Perez-Pena’s news report, no one voices any concern about the large number of young women who say they’ve been raped on this campus. True to the org which funds his life-style, Perez-Pena seemed to be upset about world-class piffle like this:
PEREZ-PENA: There was a similar result on sexual harassment. Among undergraduate respondents, large majorities of men and women said they had heard sexist remarks and inappropriate comments about people’s bodies; more than one-third said someone had uttered crude sexual remarks to them directly; nearly as many had been subjected to people’s tales of sexual exploits; and a smaller number had received offensive digital messages. About one woman in six said someone had repeatedly asked her for a date, even after being refused.Did a large number of undergraduate women say they’ve been raped on this campus? Yes they did—but Perez-Pena was really upset about manifest nonsense like that:
But the number who described what had happened to them as sexual harassment was relatively small: 15 percent of undergraduate women, and 4 percent of men.
The children are hearing sexist remarks and they aren’t claiming “harassment!”
Perez-Pena’s peculiar news report should be preserved in a time capsule. We say that for two reasons.
First reason: Perez-Pena is deeply invested in manifest nonsense. He skips past widespread claims of a very serious crime. What rocks his socks is the fact that many youngsters won’t give voice to a silly script.
Here’s the second reason why this report should be preserved: Because it appears in the New York Times, no one noticed how absurd its values and reasoning were.
We’re past the point where anybody seems to think that the New York Times is supposed to make sense. That helps explain how such a peculiar report could pass right by without occasioning comment.
Might we tell you what we saw when we read that report? We saw a large indifference to the fact that many teenagers are alleging a very serious crime.
We also saw a large investment in a culture which has been seizing the liberal world—a culture which is devoted to jacking up favored statistics.
Is it all propaganda now? We think your question is very good.
Tomorrow, we’ll answer your question.
Tomorrow: A pair of inflated statistics