In a discussion on C-SPAN taped yesterday, George Will responded at length to the condemnation that met his column addressing campus sexual assault, a piece in which he wrote that when colleges “make victimhood a coveted status that confers privileges, victims proliferate.” Asked about the backlash, Will said, “Indignation is the default position of certain people in civic discourse. They go from a standing start to fury in about 30 seconds.”
What could possibly be responsible for this default position? The Internet!
Will: “I think it has something to do with the Internet, a wonderful thing. It has lowered, indeed erased, the barriers to entry into public discourse. That’s a good thing. Unfortunately, the downside to this, and there’s a downside to everything, is that among the barriers to entry that have been reduced is you don’t have to be able to read, write or think. You can just come in and shout and call names and carry on.”
On the substance of his controversial column, Will deplored the “preponderance of evidence” standard that universities are to use in sexual assault cases. The columnist told C-SPAN: “You’re going to have charges of sexual assault and you’re going to have young men disciplined, their lives often permanently and seriously blighted by this — don’t get into medical school, don’t get to law school, all the rest — and you’re going to have litigation of tremendous expense as young men sue the colleges for damages done to them by abandonment of the rules of due process that we have as a society evolved over many centuries and are now in danger of casually shoving aside,” he said.
As to the decision of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch to ditch Will’s column: “They know how to propitiate the rabble,” he said.
Will argued that writing about sexual assault on campus makes sense for him as a columnist: “This is my job, is when dubious statistics become the basis of dubious and dangerous abandonment of due process, to step in and say, ‘Take a deep breath, everybody.’”