May 16, 2013

WENDY KAMINER: No Sex Talk Allowed: What’s wrong with the Obama administration’s definition of sexual harassment.

What’s the difference between an unwelcome request for a date and rape? Pursuant to the Obama administration’s definition of sexual harassment, this is not an easy question to answer.

You have to read the administration’s latest diktat to colleges and universities to believe it. In a joint letter to the University of Montana, (intended as “a blueprint” for campus administrators nationwide) the Justice Department (DOJ) and the Education’s Department’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) define sexual harassment as “unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature,” verbal or nonverbal, including “unwelcome sexual advances or acts of sexual assaults.” Conduct (verbal or non-verbal) need not be “objectively offensive” to constitute harassment, the letter warns, ignoring federal court rulings on harassment, as well as common sense. If a student feels harassed, she may be harassed, regardless of the reasonableness of her feelings, and school administrators may be legally required to discipline her “harasser.” . . .

FIRE is right to note that fair, inclusive enforcement of this mindlessly broad policy is impossible. But I doubt it’s intended to be fairly enforced. I doubt federal officials want or expect it to be used against sex educators, advocates of reproductive choice, anti-porn feminists, or gay rights advocates, if their speech of a sexual nature is “unwelcome” by religious conservatives.

Conservative student groups must flood the systems with complaints about every Vagina Monologues performance, classroom reference to “testosterone poisoning,” and every single “Sex Week” event until reason returns. It’s an Alinsky principle: Make them live up to their own book of rules. And remember: There’s a lot to make conservative and libertarian students feel uncomfortable on almost any campus.

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