Part 2—The College of Hansel and Gretel: In the set of events which landed in court, what happened on the Stanford campus—it's long been known as"The Farm"—on the evening of January 18, 2015?
For various reasons, we can't exactly tell you. This March, a jury found that Brock Turner, then 19 and a Stanford freshman, had committed three felonies that night: assault with intent to rape an intoxicated woman, sexually penetrating an intoxicated person with a foreign object, and sexually penetrating an unconscious person with a foreign object.
Just so you'll know, the foreign object in question was Turner's finger or fingers.
The jury reached its verdict in March; Turner was sentenced this month. The perceived leniency of his sentence has produced a storm of protest.
It has also produced a wave of journalism in which our journalists put their modern culture of display.
This modern journalistic culture is built around ostentatious, selective moral outrage. The outrage is served by the three types of facts in which the modern journalist traffics—the invented fact; the disappeared fact; and the irrelevant fact which gets heavily stressed to create the tone the scribe prefers.
Tomorrow, we'll start to look at the way these types of "facts" have surfaced in our journalism in the weeks since Turner, now 20, was sentenced to six months in county jail.
For today, it might be wise to start with a peculiar tale which has emerged in the wake of the sentencing. To our ear, it's an acid-flavored Grimm Brothers tale which captures the immaturity, dumbness and dishonesty of our modern, deeply childish, pseudo-liberal culture.
For us, this modern Grimm Brothers dreamscape starts with the massive, apparently illegal drinking which is deeply entwined with this unfortunate event, which has been judged to be criminal.
At the time of these events, the legal drinking age in California was 21.
As of last fall, signatures were apparently being gathered for a ballot proposal which would lower the state's drinking age to 18. But on the evening when this assault occurred, the drinking age was 21. In our view, this basic fact plays a rather obvious role in this deeply unfortunate story.
That was the legal drinking age. How about the actual drinking in our Grimm Brothers tale?
As noted, the person convicted of those crimes was 19 years old that night. That would seem to have made his drinking illegal—but at any rate, it has been widely reported that his blood alcohol content was 0.17 at the time of the assault. That's more than two times the reading which would have made it legal to drive a car.
That said, Turner seem to have been the piker this night. The victim of the assault was 22 years old at the time; this made her a legal drinker. That said, her blood alcohol content has been reported at 0.25, three times the legal driving limit.
At what point can a visitor to a party at Stanford actually die from excessive drinking? Apparently, you have to get a fair amount higher than that.
That said, the victim, who was 22, can't remember what happened that night; she was unconscious for at least three hours that night because of her excessive drinking at that undergraduate party, and she can't remember events which occurred before that.
That said, she had gone to the fraternity party in question with her younger sister, who was apparently 20 years old at the time. How did the victim get separated from her sister this evening? Of course!
The younger sister had left the party to help a drunken friend get to her room. The age and blood alcohol content of the drunken friend has never been revealed. Who knows? She might have been even drunker than the older sister was!
At this point, we've barely reached the dreamscape phase of this tale, which came to a deeply unfortunate end. That said, we can't help noting the fact that this drunken, apparently illegal culture has been presided over, for years, by this famous university's highly august president and provost.
These figures are highly august, and they aren't teenagers. For that reason, our journalists will give them a pass for the appalling behavior which puts so many people, included teen-aged undergraduates, at so many types of risk.
The provost and president are highly august. Our journalists defer to men of such rank. That said, how crazy is the campus culture over which these august figures preside? Just consider the Grimm-flavored tale of "the scary path."
The encounter which got Brock Turner convicted of three felonies took place not fifteen feet from the scary path. Last fall, Arielle Rodriquez reported the ongoing fight to deal with this frightening trail, which wends its way through the woods, frightening all the children.
Rodriguez reported for the Stanford Daily. In truth, his report, which was perfectly competent, sounded a bit like a dreamscape report from the College of Hansel and Gretel:
RODRIGUEZ (10/14/15): Sexual assault is a hot topic among college campuses, and Stanford is no exception. One aspect of the sexual assault discussion here on campus is what students have nicknamed the “scary path.”According to this report, "the scary path" originates near the fraternity where Turner and his victim and the drunken friend who needed help to get to her room all got drunk that night.
The 528-foot-long “scary path” is a dark dirt path that extends from the paved road between the Kappa Alpha Fraternity and the Enchanted Broccoli Forest to the back of 680 Lomita. The shortcut has become notorious among students as a place where the threat of sexual assault looms more strongly than ever.
Efforts are currently being made to light and pave the path to make it safer for passersby. At the head of the project is Alexis Kallen ’18. A former executive fellow for the Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU), Kallen said the “scary path” was first brought to her attention when the organization received “hundreds of emails about the path” from students who have felt unsafe using it. Kallen turned the issue of the “scary path” into her final project for her Sophomore College class, titled “One in Five: the Law, Policy, and Politics of Campus Sexual Assault.”
Although no reports of specific incidents of sexual assault on the path itself are currently available, former Stanford athlete Brock Turner was found sexually assaulting an unconscious woman last January in the surrounding woods, roughly 15 feet from the path, according to Kallen.
Apparently, this is near the Enchanted Broccoli Forest, a name we didn't invent.
The children are scared of the scary path, even though no one has to use the path and it has been the scene of no assaults. Before the news report is done, Professor Dauber is quoted telling us this:
“[The path] is not only scary for women, but dangerous for all that can trip and fall in the dark."
Someone could trip and fall on the scary path! Indeed, that's what happened to Scout, when she and Jem took the local scary path that Halloween evening in Maycomb!
Can you see the dreamscape starting to form? If you read the rest of that news report, you'll read about the endangered salamander which, in accord with the law of the dream, was always going to be part of this strange and childish story.
By inference, you'll also read about the slacker conduct of the august people who run this famous university. Could these highly respected figures organize the apocryphal two-care parade?
Apparently, they've been struggling as they try to find a way to light a 500-foot path through the woods. Why would anyone think that such slackers could address the larger cultural issues involved in this latest report?
Everybody got drunk on the night in question. The victim was extremely drunk. Given the ages of the people involved, much of the drinking would seem to have been illegal.
Even as they wring their hands about the dangers of assault, the provost and the president permit this crackpot culture to exist. But they are highly august figures, so the nation's journalists will naturally give them a pass, won't even notice the oddness of this ongoing culture.
Instead, they'll set upon the drunken freshman—and upon the local judge. When they do, they'll engage in their favorite games:
They'll disappear a significant fact. They'll stress a highly irrelevant fact which sets the mood for the story they want to tell.
When a Harvard kid dreams up a bogus fact, they print it in the Sunday Washington Post. In fairness to the editors, the young person they ill-served in this way comes from a highly-placed Washington home.
This is the culture with which we all live. Our modern liberal world is too dumb and too full of self-regard to see that this culture exists, or to see all the harm it has done.
We liberals love our outrage culture. We'll go to great lengths to obtain it.
Tomorrow: Journalists hang a judge