“Take Back the Night” events are a mainstay of contemporary college campuses. Although they originated from a debunked theory (the idea that one in four women will be victims of sexual assault while in college), they are the sort of undertakings that can’t really be criticized: who, after all, wants to be attacked as “pro-rape”?
That said, the lacrosse case offers an example of how easily the cause can be overtaken by extremists. The 2006 Duke “take back the night” rally featured the distribution of the “WANTED” posters of lacrosse players—without, it seems, condemnation from the Duke administration.
Last weekend, Vanderbilt had its annual “take back the night” event. The featured speaker?
That’s the same Houston Baker who:
--demanded three days after the case went public that Duke expel, without due process, every member of the lacrosse team;
--suggested, without evidence, that other lacrosse players had committed other rapes;
--published an open letter containing ten derogatory references to the race of the lacrosse players;
--from his Vanderbilt email account, referred to one lacrosse parent as the “mother of a farm animal.”
The event profile of Baker described this behavior thusly: “He raised a dissident voice against the University’s handling of accusations leveled against members of their men’s lacrosse team.”
(That’s one way of putting it.)
The profile praises Baker’s “wonderfully brilliant smile,” “mischievous wit,” “disarmingly friendly demeanor,” and “humility.” It hailed him for “not forget[ting] the intersection of race and gender” in his scholarship.
And then author Kacy Silverstein, associate director of VU’s “Project Safe,” concluded: “When I think of
Some might say that Baker’s powerfully demanding that the academy abandon its traditional reverence for due process, and his lending his voice to a high-profile, bogus allegation of rape did more to undermine “this struggle to end violence against women” than most professors could do in their entire careers.