Who enables this culture?: When we read Concepcion de Leon's profile of Chanel Miller's new book, we were immediately struck by the highlighted statement:
DE LEON (9/23/19): On Jan. 17, 2015, Chanel Miller was seven months out of college and working at an educational technology start-up when she decided to accompany her younger sister to a Stanford fraternity party. She remembers going, having some drinks and, hours later, regaining consciousness in the hospital.According to de Leon's profile, Miller "remembers having some drinks" at the Stanford frat party in question. Assuming basic competence on the part of de Leon and her unnamed New York Times editor, that anodyne statement strikes us as an act of journalistic deception.
What happened in between she pieced together primarily from news reports...
We say that because Miller actually had a very large number of "drinks" on the evening in question. She had so many "drinks" that her blood alcohol content was estimated to be 0.25—more than three times the so-called "legal limit"—by the time of the behavior which a jury unanimously ruled to have been an act of criminal assault.
According to her own sworn account, Miller had been "blackout drunk" for roughly an hour by the time of the assault. That it, she'd been up and about, walking around, saying and doing things, but without the ability to form memories of the things she had said and done.
By 1 A.M. or thereabouts, Miller was unconscious, though no one says that she'd been drugged and no one says that she'd been mugged. She had "had [so many] drinks" that she first went blackout drunk, then later passed out.
In our view, de Leon and her unnamed editor made the journalistic decision to withhold these facts. Even worse, they decided to insert an anodyne account designed to deceive their Times readers.
Let's be clear! De Leon didn't have to mention the "drinks" at all. In all likelihood, Miller may also have "eaten some pretzels" at this gruesome Stanford bacchanal, but any such consumption would be completely irrelevant to the criminal assault which occurred later that evening.
De Leon skips the pretzels, but she does mention the drinks. And sure enough! When she does, she massively understates what actually happened. Presumably, she and her editor chose to do this for a pair of reasons:
They mentioned the drinks because the "drinks" almost surely were relevant to the horrible events which happened later that night. At the same time, they downplayed Miller's state of drunkenness because we liberals know that current tribal dogmas require us to mislead others, and ourselves, in this ridiculous fashion.
Early in her well-received book, Miller makes a fascinating declaration. The statement defines the approach she takes all through her well-written but highly evasive book.
The statement appears in Chapter 1, right there on page 4. It isn't completely obvious what the statement means, but the statement goes like this:
"I, to this day, believe none of what I did that evening is important..."In context, that seems to mean that Miller's state of drunkenness wasn't "important" that night. This claim is mandated by tribal dogma, but on balance the claim seems absurd.
Does anybody actually think that the sexual assault in question would have occurred if Miller's hadn't been "extremely drunk" that night? If she hadn't been blackout drunk by roughly midnight, unconscious by roughly 1 A.M.?
We find it very hard to believe that her interaction with Turner would have occurred at all, absent the massive amount of drinking. In our view, this makes the massive drunkenness extremely important.
Though everyone knows to avoid this question, no one has ever claimed that Miller was forced to leave this drunken frat party with Turner. Presumably, she did so of her own volition, to the extent that a person can be said to have volition when her blood alcohol content is 0.25—when she's blackout drunk.
Asked at trial to testify about her departure from the party; asked to testify about what occurred once she and Turner were outside; Miller testified that she doesn't remember. The court was left with Turner's account of those events, but with no account from Miller.
Miller acknowledged that she can't say what happened as she and Turner left the party. But just to be clear, that doesn't mean that Miller was unconscious when at that time.
Beyond that, it doesn't mean that she was dragged from the fraternity house—that she was physically forced to go outside with Turner. Everything is always possible, but no one has ever said that that's what happened that night.
Miller's inability to testify about events from midnight on means that she was "blackout drunk" that night. She was up and about and walking around, but unable to form memories of the things she was saying and doing.
Before the week is done, we'll link you to further information about the widely-chronicled dangers of this undesirable state. But we know of no reason to believe that Miller would have left the party with Turner at all had she not been "extremely drunk."
Given the awful events which ensued, we would therefore have to say that her unfortunate state of drunkenness was indeed very important.
Let's be clear. There's nothing about Miller's degree of drinking that night which is necessarily "immoral" (as opposed to perhaps unwise).
There's nothing about her drinking that night which meant that, on a moral basis or in a perfect world, she should have been subjected to a criminal act of assault, or to any other sort of misconduct.
Her degree of drunkenness wasn't immoral that night. It certainly doesn't mean that she committed some sort of crime, as Turner was judged to have done.
That said, Miller's degree of drunkenness was dangerous that night. Before we ask you to wonder about who enabled this state of affairs, it might be worth pausing for a brief moment approaching comic relief.
As we noted yesterday, Miller and Turner were both very drunk on the evening in question. In the Stanford Daily, Hannah Knowles reported the data presented at trial, with Miller referred to as "Doe:"
KNOWLES (3/21/16): Alice King—a supervising criminalist for Santa Clara County—also testified. Given nominally hypothetical situations corresponding to Doe and Turner on Jan. 18, King estimated that the Doe and Turner’s blood alcohol content (BAC) levels at 1 a.m. would have been .242 to .249 and .171, respectively.According to the prosecution, Turner's blood alcohol content was more than two times the legal limit. Miller's BAC was more than three times the level at which a person can legally drive.
These young people were both very drunk. Who had enabled this dangerous state of affairs? First, consider a further report from Knowles about the frat party in question.
As we noted yesterday, Miller had gone to the party with her younger sister, a college student, and with a friend of the sister. The sister's friend was a Stanford student.
Why wasn't Miller's sister on hand to keep her from leaving the party with Turner? In her report about the trial, Knowles reported the relevant testimony. Who enables such nonsense as this?
KNOWLES: At some point, Doe’s sister left the party to get a highly intoxicated friend into bed on campus. That was the last time the sister saw Doe that night, though she searched for her later.The sister's friend, or perhaps some other friend of her sister, had been so drunk that she needed help to get back to her dorm room! This left Miller, who was blackout drunk, alone at the party with Turner, who was 19 years old and apparently would have blown a 0.17 himself.
“When you left...you weren’t worried about her?” [the defense attorney] asked.
He noted that in a police interview, she said Doe seemed “fine” at the time.
“She was standing; her eyes were open,” Doe’s sister told him.
By the way, please note what Miller's sister testified at trial. She testified that she couldn't tell that Miller was impaired when she left this drunken brawl to help her drunken friend find her way to her dorm room.
That's the nature of the state of being "blackout drunk." This plays a role in the peculiar logic of the Turner trial, which we'll describe before the week is done.
At any rate, behold the state of play! The sister's friend was so drunk that she couldn't make it to her dorm room by herself. Miller herself was blackout drunk, at three times the legal limit. Turner was more than two times the legal limit. According to a unanimous jury, a criminal assault then occurred.
The events we're describing didn't happen inside a dorm room, or in someone's apartment. They didn't happen inside some biker bar, where laws about underage drinking, and strictures concerning dangerous over-serving, were perhaps being ignored.
Where did these brain-dead events occur? Who enabled the obvious danger involved in such absurd levels of drunkenness?
We'll answer your question as the week proceeds. But in our view, the journalistic lesson here is clear:
De Leon and her unnamed editor understand the childish tribal logic which now controls large amounts of pseudo-liberal discussion. For that reason, Times readers were told that Miller "had some drinks" that night, with all that that phrase concealed.
More accurately, Miller was blackout drunk that night. In all fairness, is our routinely ridiculous, self-impressed tribe really much more lucid?
Tomorrow: A slightly peculiar logic