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Public Interest Law Professor John Banzhaf

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Despite New Major Survey, Govt. is Not Doing Enough to Prevent Campus Sexual Assaults, Claims Prof. John Banzhaf

It’s Letting PC Concerns Over Blaming the Victim Waste Taxpayer Dollars and Ruin Lives, Says Professor John Banzhaf, Noting the Lack of Similar Concerns About Warnings Concerning Everything From Leaving Bicycles Unlocked to Leaving Young Children in Locked Cars During the Summer.

Washington, DC, June 17, 2015 --( Although a very recent Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll featured in the Washington Post shows that most campus sexual assaults occur when students are intoxicated, and that students agree with experts that discouraging excessive drinking would reduce sexual assaults, the Chronicle of Higher Education reports the federal government discourages colleges from even suggesting that students moderate their drinking to reduce such incidents.

Taxpayers probably would be outraged, says law professor John Banzhaf, to learn that the federal government spends their tax dollars telling people how to avoid automobile accidents, but never once warns against excessive drinking - so as not to embarrass drivers who injure themselves in accidents after they drank too much.

Well, it doesn't actually do something quite that stupid, but it does do something almost as foolish, argues Banzhaf, spending taxpayer dollars on programs telling students how to reduce sexual assaults, but never mentioning alcohol, even though, as the Chronicle of Higher Education reported. excessive drinking is a leading factor in such assaults,

More specifically, the Office of Violence Against Women [OVW] on-line guide for obtaining government funds to reduce sexual violence on campus says that campus projects aimed at reducing such assaults which focus primarily on alcohol abuse are considered out of scope, notes Banzhaf, an expert in the field who has twice been termed by his detractors - in the Washington Post and the former Washington Star as a Radical Feminist, and is frequently cited on this topic.

According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, the reason why colleges are so reluctant to warn women about drinking to excess, and about how it greatly magnifies their chances of being assaulted - what the publication called a taboo subject - is that women who become drunk and are sexually assaulted may blame themselves.

But it’s obvious that being drunk can affect a woman's judgment about whether to have sex, as well as about getting into situations in which being assaulted is far more probable, says Banzhaf.

This is a striking example of how women's lives are being ruined, and taxpayers' money is being wasted, all because of political correctness run amok, he suggests. You can't rationally decide how to best spend taxpayers’ money in grants based upon abstract discussions concerned solely with slogans and sound bites about responsibility and blame, Banzhaf argues.

Consider the following hypothetical example. If a college is given a $50,000 educational grant, it will be far more likely that it will actually reduce the number of women being assaulted on campus if it aimed at persuading women not to drink to excess than if it’s aimed at telling men it’s not nice to rape, argues Banzhaf.

This is the same as educational programs warning students to lock up their bicycles are much more effective than programs telling prospective bike thieves not to steal, claims Banzhaf.

Some might object to this simple and logical analogy, arguing that a woman is not a bicycle, so that raping a woman is not like stealing a bicycle.

If by that one means only that women shouldn’t be told to never go out drinking - the equivalent of being forced to keep a bicycle locked up at home - they may have a point, says Banzhaf.

But making practical suggestions that women take reasonable precautions (e.g., not to drink to excess, not to walk in strange dangerous neighborhoods at night, etc.) - the equivalent of not leaving a bicycle in a public area without any lock at all - is simply a suggestion that people should take reasonable and sensible precautions, nothing more, he says.

Undoubtedly, a parent who leaves a child locked in a car on a hot summer day, only to find her dead from heat stroke upon his return, is not just embarrassed and blamed but also heartbroken, but that certainly doesn't mean we should stop warning about the dangers of leaving a child alone in a car, Banzhaf argues.

Similarly,suggests Banzhaf, parents of very small children who let them play outside with little or no supervision are likely to be devastated if they are snatched by a stranger, and clearly it is the abductor - not the parent - who is at fault, culpable, and to blame.

Yet, Banzhaf continues, most logical people see this as all the more reason to have educational programs about the need to provide appropriate supervision for very young children, not to regard any such warnings as taboo and a third rail in favor of campaigns aimed at re-educating potential child abductors.

Rather than simply declaring anti-rape educational programs aimed at women and drinking to excess as out of scope, Banzhaf suggests that, at the very least OVW should conduct a simple test. It should be possible, he argues, to compare anti-rape educational programs warning about drinking to excess with those stressing other themes: e.g., that men should not rape women, that bystanders should try to intervene, etc.

With this kind of clear, unambiguous evidence, decisions regarding spending taxpayers’ money can be made on a rational basis, not on the basis of PC slogans about blame and shear conjecture, Banzhaf recommends.
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George Washington University Law School
Public Interest Law Professor John Banzhaf
202 994-7229 // 703 527-8418

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