WSJ Editor: Intoxicated Sexual Assault Victims Are Just as Guilty as Their Attackers
Wall Street Journal editor James Taranto claimed that cases of “‘sexual assault’ on campus” that involve alcohol are really victimless crimes in which both parties are equally guilty.
In his February 10 WSJ column, Taranto baselessly argued that men are often unfairly accused in sexual assault cases on college campuses, particularly when both men and women involved in the case were drinking (emphasis added):
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.
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.
As the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education notes, at some campuses the accuser’s having had one drink is sufficient to establish the defendant’s guilt … In theory that means, as FIRE notes, that “if both parties are intoxicated during sex, they are both technically guilty of sexually assaulting each other.” In practice it means that women, but not men, are absolved of responsibility by virtue of having consumed alcohol.
If Taranto is concerned about the treatment of men in such cases, he could have written about male sexual assault victims, who are a smaller but nevertheless important portion of victims. But when men are sexually assaulted the perpetrator is usually also male; in fact, 98 percent of all perpetrators are male. The “double standard” Taranto is worried about, in which men are more often the accused, isn’t a double standard at all — it’s just reality.