nanny state

“Yes Means Yes”– California Leads the State Back Into Your Bedroom

Yes Means Yes: Ryan Gosling

Yes Means Yes: Ryan Gosling

California’s legislature is fond of passing bills to micromanage daily life for the irresponsible citizens, at least those who haven’t left for freer states. They don’t trust people to dispose of plastic shopping bags properly, so they’re outlawed; the process used in French cuisine to make fois grois via overfeeding ducks can’t be rapidly changed to a more humane method, so they outlawed foie gras–or at least you now have to import it from somewhere less enlightened. The state’s enormous debt and unfunded pension and medical obligations will soon be squeezing all services, but that’s not important–vote for me!

Since there’s an election coming up, the Legislature didn’t want to be seen as not addressing an important largely hyped problem, so they’ve passed a law requiring consent–preferably verbal–at every stage of campus sexual relations, to make sure that no student will ever end up doing something they might later regret. Overkill for a problem better addressed by education and closer supervision of alcohol consumption? Probably…

Reason’s Shikha Dalmia takes on the story:

Feminists are super excited about California’s newly minted “yes means yes” law that they claim will not only make sex safer on American campuses, but also better. But that’s as credible as telling little boys that masturbation will make them blind. To the extent that the law works, it will actually ruin both good men and good sex.

California, the first state to implement this law, will require colleges that want to keep their state funding intact to deploy the “affirmative consent” standard when adjudicating sexual assault cases. This means that campus authorities will have to establish whether the partners obtained “affirmative, conscious, and voluntary” agreement. Although non-verbal consent is allowed, verbal is better. And it has to be obtained at every stage–touching, kissing, and foreplay–not just initially.

The obvious problem with the law–which many other states are considering as well–is that it assumes that sexual assault, already a crime under multiple laws, is the result of miscommunication. The assumption is that somehow one partner (and let’s be honest, it is overwhelmingly the one with a Y chromosome) didn’t ask or realize that the other wasn’t into it. But the fact is: Most assaulters know exactly what they are doing. The vast majority of campus rapes are committed by a small minority of repeat offenders who give not a damn about what the woman wants. And if they can threaten violence, they can also lie about obtaining consent. So how will the law change anything?

Feminists argue that the new standard means that campus authorities will now have to grill the accused about whether and how he obtained consent — rather than the victim to prove that she refused–mitigating the trauma of investigations and encouraging more women to come forward. This is true. But by effectively changing the assumption from “presumed innocent” to “presumed guilty,” this new standard will inevitably snag some guys who earnestly meant no harm. Over time, of course, an industry will emerge to coach the accused on how to game the law and get away….

The reality is that much of sex is not consensual–but it is also not non-consensual. It resides in a gray area in between, where sexual experimentation and discovery happen. Sex is inherently dangerous. Sometimes, there will be misadventures when these experiments go wrong. Looking back, it can be hard to assign blame by ascertaining whether both partners genuinely consented. But trying to shoehorn sex into a strict, yes-and-no consent framework in an attempt to make it risk free can’t help but destroy it.

The sexual revolution liberated women from the shackles of modesty, allowing them to explore their sexuality. It won’t help their sexual actualization now to enchain their partners in ill-advised lines that limit their moves.

The return of the view of women as fragile flowers in need of special protection, now being pushed by feminist activists, opens the way for arguments of traditionalists that schools should segregate the sexes, preferably miles away from each other–or at the very least return to the restrictive policies of the pre-60s. The entire effort to tilt the scales of justice against young men to get at the few real rapists among them is wrongheaded–and shouldn’t be tolerated. There are ways to reduce the damage they do but this isn’t one of them.

As for how serious a problem campus rape actually is, The Economist story on the law lays out the lack of a case for seeing it as a crisis:

Sexual violence in America has declined sharply since the mid-1990s. According to the National Crime Victimisation Survey, the gold standard for measuring crimes that are often not reported, the proportion of women subjected to rape or sexual assault fell 64% between 1995 and 2005, and declined slightly further by 2010, to 1.1 per 1,000 women per year (see chart). Colleges do not appear to be more dangerous than other places where young people congregate: according to Bureau of Justice statistics, 18-24-year-olds who do and don’t attend college are about equally likely to be raped or sexually assaulted.

Rape Graph - BoJS, NCVS

Rape Graph – BoJS, NCVS

Nonetheless, colleges are under unprecedented pressure to make campuses safer. Activists talk of an alcohol-fuelled “rape culture”. A student at Columbia has vowed to carry her mattress around all day until the man she says raped her is expelled. Images of what she describes as a piece of performance art, “Carry That Weight”, have landed her on the cover of New York magazine.

On September 19th Barack Obama launched a campaign to prevent sexual assaults in college. This is not the first time his administration has weighed in. In 2011 the Department of Education sent colleges a letter suggesting that if they did not take steps to curb sexual violence, they could fall foul of a federal anti-discrimination law called Title IX. The letter cited an estimate that about one in five women are victims of a completed or attempted sexual assault while in college—a much higher figure than other studies find. Sceptics protest that the study in question relies on a narrow sample of students and a broad definition of sexual assault, including “any unwanted sexual contact” while the victim is incapacitated by alcohol or drugs.

The entire “crisis” is fueled by an alliance between feminist activists and a Democratic administration to continue their successful campaign to persuade single women to vote for them because they are against rape, portraying anyone who has doubts as misogynists and probably rapists themselves. Civil libertarians are appalled, but who cares? Votes!

Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples OrganizationsDeath by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

[From Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations,  available now in Kindle and trade paperback.]

The first review is in: by Elmer T. Jones, author of The Employment Game. Here’s the condensed version; view the entire review here.

Corporate HR Scrambles to Halt Publication of “Death by HR”

Nobody gets a job through HR. The purpose of HR is to protect their parent organization against lawsuits for running afoul of the government’s diversity extortion bureaus. HR kills companies by blanketing industry with onerous gender and race labor compliance rules and forcing companies to hire useless HR staff to process the associated paperwork… a tour de force… carefully explains to CEOs how HR poisons their companies and what steps they may take to marginalize this threat… It is time to turn the tide against this madness, and Death by HR is an important research tool… All CEOs should read this book. If you are a mere worker drone but care about your company, you should forward an anonymous copy to him.


More on the Campus Rape Panic and Feminist Overreach:

Camille Paglia: The Modern Campus Cannot Comprehend Evil
Social Justice Warriors: #GamerGate Explained
Emma Watson’s Message: Intelligence Trumps Sex
Divorced Men 8 Times as Likely to Commit Suicide as Divorced Women
Life Is Unfair! The Militant Red Pill Movement
Leftover Women: The Chinese Scene
“Divorce in America: Who Really Wants Out and Why”
View Marriage as a Private Contract?
Madmen, Red Pill, and Social Justice Wars
Unrealistic Expectations: Liberal Arts Woman and Amazon Men
Stable is Boring? “Psychology Today” Article on Bad Boyfriends
Ross Douthat on Unstable Families and Culture
Ev Psych: Parental Preferences in Partners
Purge: the Feminist Grievance Bubble
The Social Decay of Black Neighborhoods (And Yours!)
Modern Feminism: Victim-Based Special Pleading
Stereotype Inaccuracy: False Dichotomies
Real-Life “Hunger Games”: Soft Oppression Destroys the Poor
Red Pill Women — Female MRAs
Why Did Black Crime Syndicates Fail to Go Legit?
The “Fairy Tale” Myth: Both False and Destructive
Feminism’s Heritage: Freedom vs. Special Protections
Evolve or Die: Survival Value of the Feminine Imperative
“Why Are Great Husbands Being Abandoned?”
Divorce and Alimony: State-By-State Reform, Massachusetts Edition
Reading “50 Shades of Grey” Gives You Anorexia and an Abusive Partner!
Why We Are Attracted to Bad Partners (Who Resemble a Parent)
Gaming and Science Fiction: Social Justice Warriors Strike Again
Culture Wars: Peace Through Limited Government

Free Range Kids vs Paranoid Child Welfare Authorities

Free Range Kids: Cover

Free Range Kids: Cover

We all know child welfare jobs are tough and essential when stepping in to rescue kids in truly abusive home situations. But when you have a bureaucracy required to decide whether to intervene or not, it can be like the building inspector visiting your work site: if she finds nothing, there’s not much reason for her to have a job, and if she decides to let a borderline violation go and it turns out later to have led to a disastrous and public failure, she pays a heavy price. So the inclination is to enforce, especially when there haven’t been many enforcement actions recently. This can result in injustice.

Worse, the system for caring for children taken away from their parents is itself abusive, with undersupervised, paid foster care worse for children than many of the parents under examination. The orphanages and state institutions of earlier eras were just as bad; my mother was personally threatened by the state with losing custody of me during an episode of truancy when I was 12, and it was only because she was resourceful that I was saved from being sent to what was then called Juvenile Hall.

Children cannot learn to make their own way in a dangerous world without some experience in handling it for themselves; ideally they are given more and more freedom and progressively challenged as appropriate for their age, with advanced 10 year olds able to roam almost freely (as I did, riding bikes miles in all directions, visiting friends and teachers, learning to plan routes and deal with hazards.) Unfortunately the relentless media focus on fear of extremely rare events like stranger abductions has created a population not only risk-averse for themselves, but willing to blame strangers for giving their children any freedom and responsibility at all until they apparently are released fully-capable from their protective custody at 18, blinking in the sunlight.

Conor Friedersdorf (one of the better writers of the modern era of online nonfiction) has two good pieces in the Atlantic on child welfare overreach. The first is about a mother who allowed her 9 year old daughter to play in the park (filled with other children and parents) while she went to work a short shift at McDonald’s:

The case is disturbing on several levels.

1) Parents ought to enjoy broad latitude in bringing up their children. There are obviously limits. The state ought to intervene if a child is being abused. But letting a 9-year-old go to the park alone doesn’t come close to meeting that threshold. Honestly, it seems a bit young to me, but I don’t know the kid or the neighborhood, it doesn’t sound as though the mother had any great option, and as I didn’t give birth to the kid, support her, and raise her for 9 years, it isn’t my call.

2) By arresting this mom (presumably causing her to lose her job) and putting the child in foster care, the state has caused the child far more trauma than she was ever likely to suffer in the park, whatever one thinks of the decision to leave her there. Even if the state felt it had the right to declare this parenting decision impermissible, couldn’t they have given this woman a simple warning before taking custody?

3) The state’s decision is coming at a time when it is suffering from a shortage of foster families, as well as a child protective services workforce so overwhelmed that serious child abuse inquiries are regularly closed in violation of policy.

Perhaps most concerning of all are the surfeit of cases where child protective services censures parents for ostensibly jeopardizing a kid’s safety in a manner that is totally disconnected from any statistical realities about the actual dangers faced. This point was made superbly in a Salon article written by a mother who was cited by police for leaving her kid in a car while briefly running into a store–even though it wasn’t a hot day, she was gone for mere minutes, and the kid was in no danger. She relayed a conversation she later had with a Free Range Kids founder:

“Listen,” she said at one point. “Let’s put aside for the moment that by far, the most dangerous thing you did to your child that day was put him in a car and drive someplace with him. About 300 children are injured in traffic accidents every day—and about two die. That’s a real risk. So if you truly wanted to protect your kid, you’d never drive anywhere with him. But let’s put that aside. So you take him, and you get to the store where you need to run in for a minute and you’re faced with a decision. Now, people will say you committed a crime because you put your kid ‘at risk.’ But the truth is, there’s some risk to either decision you make.” She stopped at this point to emphasize, as she does in much of her analysis, how shockingly rare the abduction or injury of children in non-moving, non-overheated vehicles really is. For example, she insists that statistically speaking, it would likely take 750,000 years for a child left alone in a public space to be snatched by a stranger.

“So there is some risk to leaving your kid in a car,” she argues. It might not be statistically meaningful but it’s not nonexistent. The problem is,” she goes on, “there’s some risk to every choice you make. So, say you take the kid inside with you. There’s some risk you’ll both be hit by a crazy driver in the parking lot. There’s some risk someone in the store will go on a shooting spree and shoot your kid. There’s some risk he’ll slip on the ice on the sidewalk outside the store and fracture his skull. There’s some risk no matter what you do. So why is one choice illegal and one is OK? Could it be because the one choice inconveniences you, makes your life a little harder, makes parenting a little harder, gives you a little less time or energy than you would have otherwise had?”

Later on in the conversation, Skenazy boils it down to this. “There’s been this huge cultural shift. We now live in a society where most people believe a child can not be out of your sight for one second, where people think children need constant, total adult supervision. This shift is not rooted in fact. It’s not rooted in any true change. It’s imaginary. It’s rooted in irrational fear.”

Conor Friedersdorf’s second story reports on another mother’s story contained in one of the comments on the first story:

My decision to allow my kids to stay home for a few hours while I went to school for several hours, a mile away, turned out to be the most catastrophically life-altering decision I’ve ever made. A neighbor noticed me walking to school without the kids and called the police. When I arrived home several hours later, I found a note on the door, but no kids inside. Despite having been told my whereabouts, neither the police nor the CPS workers who removed my kids from our home made any effort to find me, instead regarding the situation as an emergency, procedurally.

This happened four years ago.

We were some of the lucky ones. I fought a protracted court battle with an appointed attorney and few resources. Against the odds, our family was restored.

Over the two years during which the case dragged on, my kids were subjected to, according to them, sexual molestation (which was never investigated) and physical abuse within the foster care system. They were separated from each other many times, moved around frequently, and attended multiple schools. This, of course, was all in the name of protection. Many of the things I was required to do to get my kids back had nothing to do with the supposed issue of inadequate supervision. Under one court order, I was required to allow CPS workers into my home to conduct a thorough “white glove” type inspection. According to the court order, if any of the workers felt anything was amiss, the return of custody would be delayed or denied. I was told to sweep cobwebs and scrub the oven to their satisfaction, which I did, obsequiously. They were pleased.

The kids were returned.

Still under court orders, I moved with the kids to my parents house, over a hundred miles away from the jurisdictional county. One of the requirements of the court order returning my children to me under protective county custody was that they were not to miss a single day of school. (This, also, having nothing to do with the reason why they were removed initially). The court order stated that if they missed even a single day of school, the county could again take custody. During the move, there was a delay before I could enroll them in a new school. CPS workers, acting on another court order, drove the hundred miles to my parents’ home and, with the assistance of sheriff’s deputies, physically pulled my kids out of the house screaming and crying. We had been sitting around enjoying a quiet family evening. They had been in no danger. This was traumatic for all of us. My parents witnessed how this system was not about protection, but power.

Once subject to the scrutiny of this system, parents are at its mercy. Kids are held in de facto hostage as arbitrary demands are made. When those demands are met, new ones are imposed, or the adequacy of the performance is questioned. Rather than being innocent until proven guilty, parents are presumed guilty until they have passed a rigorous and unforgiving character-assassination attempt. Somehow, our family survived this and emerged intact, but not unscathed.

In a small and gossipy rural town, I have been referred to as, “that girl who got her kids taken away.” I feel as if I have to work harder to prove that I’m parentally competent. An unexpected knock at the door still makes my heart beat rapidly. I’m more conscious of strangers’ stares and comments when I go out with my children. Ultimately, I found this ostensibly well-meaning system of child protection to be an exercise in often baseless finger-pointing, pitting neighbor against neighbor, family member against family member. As people vie for power and victory, it all becomes so much less about kids’ best interests and more about adults’ selfish interests. In criminalizing previously culturally normal activities, such as an unaccompanied child playing at a public park, we open the door for any unorthodox parental decision to be subjected to similar unfavorable scrutiny.

We assume that only parents that fit an arbitrary sociocultural mold can be fit parents. Those whose poverty or inadequate childcare options result in intervention don’t get much sympathy in our class-biased culture. People seem more willing to spew vitriol than offer actual substantive assistance. In my own case, four years have passed since our encounter with CPS. As any family who has endured something similar can attest, it is not something from which a family emerges unaffected. It’s hard to say what should change or how. Parents are not perfect. They make mistakes. Some parents are abusive and truly horrible. Some otherwise well-meaning parents are simply caught in unfortunate, temporary circumstances. In many cases, the supposed cure turns into its own illness.

The stories need to be told. Many families are adversely affected and because of the stigma are not discussing it. As more people do so, hopefully it will allow for discourse, and thus, for change. I tried to do too much. I couldn’t be in two places at once. I didn’t have a social support structure. I thought I could do it all. I was wrong.

The harm done to her children (including sexual abuse) by the state’s caretaking vastly outweighed the purely theoretical and unlikely harm that might have been done to her kids by leaving them in the home alone.

Another post on the Scottish idea of state guardians for every child.

More on education and child development :

Student Loan Debt: Problems in Divorce
Early Child Development: The High Cost of Abuse and Neglect
Child Welfare Ideas: Every Child Gets a Government Guardian!
Tuitions Inflated, Product Degraded, Student Debts Unsustainable
“Crying It Out” – Parental Malpractice!
Brazilian For-Profit Universities Bring Quality With Quantity
The Affordable, Effective University: Indiana and Mitch Daniels
Real-Life “Hunger Games”: Soft Oppression Destroys the Poor
“Attachment Parenting” – Good Idea Taken Too Far?
Real Self-Esteem: Trophies for Everyone?
Public Schools in Poor Districts: For Control Not Education
YA Dystopias vs Heinlein et al: Social Justice Warriors Strike Again
Steven Pinker on Harvard and Meritocracy
Social Justice Warriors, Jihadists, and Neo-Nazis: Constructed Identities