James Taranto is what we in the journalism business, ensconced as we are in our industry lingo, call a "fucking moron." Yet, by virtue of his position as a tastemaker on the Wall Street Journal's op-ed pages, it's worth asking how he spelunked today into his latest, lowest muddy crevice of misogyny.
Primary among Taranto's many inane windmill-tilts is his singular crusade against women who claim that they have been sexually assaulted by men. Today, he uses a New York Times report on campus assaults as an excuse to soap up his box and don his creepiest trench coat. His argument: There really isn't a "sexual assault" epidemic in college, so much as a spate of accidental collisions:
What is called the problem of "sexual assault" on campus is in large part a problem of reckless alcohol consumption, by men and women alike. (Based on our reporting, the same is true in the military, at least in the enlisted and company-grade officer ranks.)
Which points to a limitation of the drunk-driving analogy. If two drunk drivers are in a collision, one doesn't determine fault on the basis of demographic details such as each driver's sex. But when two drunken college students "collide," the male one is almost always presumed to be at fault. His diminished capacity owing to alcohol is not a mitigating factor, but her diminished capacity is an aggravating factor for him...
In practice it means that women, but not men, are absolved of responsibility by virtue of having consumed alcohol.
HUMMMMMMMMM. Interesting analogy! Yes, I can understand James' confusion. If two equally impaired, and equally powerful, bodies smash into one another, can we really ever say one's more at fault than the other?
Ah, but there's the rub. Two given bodies are not equally powerful to determine their own destinies—not physically, and not culturally. We've taught our college women that they are consenting to a man's desires if they interact with a man in any way short of a swift punch to the balls and the certified delivery of a perfectly calligraphed page with the Japanese characters for "NO!" written in ball-blood.
Yet Taranto doesn't realize this. Having a cock and balls and few brain cells that aren't already fettered by Austrian economics, he has trouble conceiving that men and women in college bars are in an inherently unequal power relation. His fear—the thing that clearly undergirds his existential horror about the adjudication of campus sexual assault—is that the process privileges women over men.
You might think that this concern of Taranto's is motivated by a deep conviction of the fundamental equality of men and women. But of course, we know Taranto values one sex over the other, because he's told us before: No mere broad is ever worth nearly as much as a dead man.