• Wed, Jul 3 2013

John McCain Does Not Seem To Understand How Sexual Assault Works

john mccain

The Department of Justice is trying to take a more serious stance on Title IX violations. Those are the provisions that prevent students from being sexually assaulted or harassed at university. The attempt to take a more serious stance comes from an incident where a student at the University of Montana had their complaints of rape being dismissed pretty much entirely (they were told “not to expect much.”) Going forward, the University of Montana has reached an agreement with the DOJ that will define sexual harassment as ”

So, that’s a good thing, right? Many members of the GOP do not think so.

Over at Jezebel, they note that “John McCain is jumping on the fallacious bandwagon in a letter he sent to the DOJ last week criticizing the University of Montana-Missoula Title IX agreement.” What could his concern be? Why would it be bad to have provisions in place where people can feel safe to report having been raped?

Here are his concerns:

Could the following scenarios constitute “unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature” and demonstrate reasonable grounds for filing a sexual harassment complaint under the new definition:

a. A professor assigning a book or showing a movie that contains content of a sexual nature.

b. A student who makes a joke of a sexual nature to a friend and is overheard by another student.

c. A student asking another student on a date.

d. A student listening to music that contains content of a sexual nature overheard by others.

e. A student giving another student a Valentine’s Day card.

f. A student or professor using masculine terms for generic pronouns (e.g., “Each student must bring his own laptop to the exam.”)

No. They could not. And gay marriage still does not mean that dogs are going to be marrying hamburgers.

Discussion over.

Picture via Getty

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  • Tania

    I can’t see any text after the quotation mark following “will define sexual harassment as” – it’s just blank, and then a new line saying “So, that’s a good thing, right?”

    • Edith J. Bullard

      what Marjorie implied I’m stunned that anyone able to get paid
      $4577 in 1 month on the computer. have you read this webpage w­w­w.C­a­n9­9.c­o­m

  • PlanetCharnBaby

    Pettiness Ensues: Nice to see Mama Fratelli is opting for political side-kickery over more kidnapping and attempted treasure-theft.

  • Erynn

    I’d just like to point out that while I am positive that there are still people who use the masculine pronoun to refer to everyone as a whole, I haven’t heard anyone (under McCain’s age, I guess!) use it without just confusing everyone in the room…

  • Holly

    Because it’s more important to make sure people can freely tell sexually offensive jokes than it is to make sure people are not raped or harassed…..

  • Alyssa

    Wow.

  • Hans_Bader

    Many civil-libertarians, law professors, and legal scholars agree with Senator McCain that it was wrong for the Justice and Education Departments to try to redefine sexual harassment to include constitutionally-protected speech about sexual topics in its May 9 Letter of Findings regarding the University of Montana.

    Such people include former ACLU Board members Wendy Kaminer and Harvey Silverglate, UCLA Law Professor Eugene Volokh, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, Cathy Young in Newsday, and Alexandra Petri in the Washington Post.

    It was wrong for the government to try to redefine “any unwelcome sexual conduct” as harassment, even speech on sexual topics that is simply overheard by someone who then finds it “unwelcome,” as Professor Volokh noted, citing page 9 of the government’s May 9 Letter of Findings, and past Education Department guidance treating discussions of sexual issues as “conduct of a sexual nature.”

    The government’s proposed definition of sexual harassment reached so much constitutionally-protected speech that it violated federal court rulings such as DeJohn v. Temple University (2008), which say that some “unwelcome” speech is protected, and that speech about sexual issues cannot be banned unless it is objectively harmful (the government’s May 9 letter expressly rejected the longstanding cornerstone of sexual harassment law — required by the Supreme Court’s Davis decision — that speech must be “objectively offensive” to constitute harassment)