Monday, November 19, 2018

In which case, the point is conceded

After months of hemming and hawing, the DoEd's new guidance for Title IX sexual assault and harassment investigations has been released, and advocates on both sides are in an uproar, mostly about the two major provisions of the proposal.


The first is one that courts have repeatedly mentioned in overturning Title IX disciplinary procedures; given that Title IX discipline really is something that can follow a person for most of his life, Sixth Amendment protections (as well as others) apply, and the accused has the right to confront the evidence arrayed against him.  Agreed.  On the same side, victims' advocates note that the Title IX structure does not provide adequate guidance to prevent cross examination from becoming a re-victimization.  Also agreed.


The second major issue is the question of which offenses ought to be investigated by universities; whether it should be just those which occur on campus, or whether off-campus offenses involving students ought to be dealt with as well.  The logic on the part of the critics is that off-campus offenses involving students will impart a sense of fear among victims and their friends if they are not dealt with.  Agreed as well.


In other words, the debate about DeVos's recommended policy changes has everything to do with whether universities are actually capable of investigating these things, and advocates for victims ought to be sobered in that regard by how badly many schools, especially my alma mater, have done in this regard.  So is the solution to retain Obama-era guidelines that are almost sure to be overturned in court sooner or later?


I think not.  Rather, once again, the solution here is for universities to put the onus on local police forces to actually do their job and investigate these allegations, and to have simple rules students can follow.  If you're convicted of sexual assault or stalking, you're expelled.  If you're indicted, you're suspended until the matter is resolved--and if you're exonerated, you retain the right to pick up your studies right where you left off.  If you're arrested, you're suspended until you are either indicted or exonerated.


If you're a victim, you have the right to understand that your university will do the above, and if you file a police report, you have the right to, with the university's assistance, transfer to another equivalent school without losing academic standing or credits.


Chances of the above becoming law; slightly less than zero, I'd guess, because too many jobs are at stake in the matter.  Title IX is, in my view, simply an attempt to co-opt the behavior codes schools used to enforce, but with quasi-legal authority.  I predict a lot more hullaballoo and a lot more people suffering because we refuse to treat sexual assault as the criminal matter that it is.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Here's how it's not done

ProPublica generates an interesting article noting that many police departments are "clearing" cases of reported sexual assault where they have sufficient evidence to make an arrest or more.  What's really troubling is the rationale; federal guidelines allow police to use "cleared" to describe many cases where they know who and where a suspect is, but can't make an arrest for reasons "outside their control".


With all due respect, are all of these suspects really going to third world countries without an extradition treaty with the U.S.?  The article makes clear that's not the case.  What is the case?  Well, the judgmental side of me has to suggest it might have something to do that you don't get $120 a pop for arresting rapists like you get for writing speeding tickets.


Probably not all of these cases fall into the "we need to take Officer Friendly off traffic patrol and task him with arresting rapists", but the article mentions precisely such cases.  In reality, if this were done to any significant degree--say if a "mere" 50,000 out of the nations ~800,000 police officers were to take a week each year away from writing speeding tickets to make an arrest for sexual assault--we might roughly double incarceration rates for sexual assault.  Given that most who commit sexual assault do it far more than once, it's entirely possible that a ~10% ease of traffic patrol could lead to a huge drop in sexual assault.


Cost: a few billion bucks.  Maybe we can take it out of the money we're currently giving Planned Parenthood and Tesla, as well as corn subsidies.

This is how it's done

In today's climate of fighting every allegation to the bitter end, this story is a huge blessing.  Instead of fighting a lawsuit that would likely have been initiated by the widower of a woman who died after she passed out in front of an emergency door with asthmatic symptoms, the hospital executives responsible apologized in person to the widower.


And in a remarkable show of grace, Peter DeMarco is not suing.  Now again, I don't guarantee that a real apology will end every lawsuit, but I have a hunch that owning up to what went wrong would make things a lot less expensive.  Hats off to DeMarco, Patrick Wardell, Cambridge Health Alliance, Dr. Assad Sayah, Somerville Hospital, and Lynette Alberti. 


And rest in peace, Laura Levis.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Putting your face on

This article from Fox suggests that many women in Asia need to heed the timeless wisdom of Dave Barry; if you can stick a pin more than a quarter inch into your face without feeling anything, you may be wearing too much makeup for the business environment.  Apparently, thick wax makeup to make Asian noses look Caucasian, sharpen chins, and the like is all the rage there.


No skin off my nose if they do that, of course (ha), but one would hope that ladies who desire to look beautiful would remember that at a certain point, their husbands are going to see them without the warpaint battle wax, and maybe, just maybe, they might do well to just leave nature well enough alone.


Also on the light side, a Canadian winery has released a wine that would be just perfect for a bris.  Made from four different kinds of grapes and fermented as a red (with skins), it's called "4 skins".  Sadly, it does not appear to be kosher, so unless you're Reform or don't care, you can't put it out there with the cocktail wieners and such. 

Friday, November 09, 2018

Listen to the man

Which man?  John Manly, attorney for many of Larry Nassar's victims, is saying here that the thing his clients are most interested is not money--though some of that is necessary--but rather repentance and openness so others don't have to go through what they did.


I'm not saying here that those who work with young people can somehow evade large settlements if they come clean, apologize, and investigate what went wrong and figure out how to avoid it in the future.  I will say, however, that it's entirely possible that doing so will not only help the healing process, but will also result in smaller monetary settlements than would otherwise be demanded.


One other note is that that somewhere between 88% and 96% of all reported sexual assaults end with neither a conclusion that the complainant was wrong or lying, nor a conviction of a perpetrator.  In this case, various agencies have been tremendously slow to investigate, and it suggests that for a significant portion of those 88-96% of complaints that end with "not enough evidence to arrest" or "not enough evidence to indict" become so for a very simple reason; the police are not willing to aggressively investigate these crimes, just like we saw here in Minnesota and have seen nationwide. 


Yes, these crimes are messy, traumatic, and difficult to investigate, but if we want a world where fewer people become victims, we need to start treating sexual assault like the criminal matter that it is.  And yes, take Officer Opie off traffic patrol for a while and see what he can find out.  Maybe if such were done, the city of New London would be able to hire officers of above average intelligence because they weren't getting bored out of their minds issuing speeding tickets. 

Thursday, November 08, 2018

A mechanic I can trust

.....just contacted me to tell me I didn't have to spend a goodly chunk of change.  Hats off to the mechanics at Lupient GMC of Rochester, MN, for telling me something despite the fact that it would have benefited them not to.


Also on the bright side of life, a flight attendant in the Philippines has taken customer service to a new level.  For those airlines not lucky enough to employ Patrisha Organo, putting in a few packets of formula on planes might be a great public relations move as well. 

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Note to Twin Cities metro Democrats

After putting a guy who ran interference for cop killers into the Attorney General spot, you can shut (the expletives) up about ethics in politics.  Forever. 


(never mind Keith Ellison's obvious adultery, probable domestic abuse on at least two occasions.....yeah, this will be a real dumpster fire in that office for the next few years)