California just passed a law whose stated intent was to stop sexual assaults on college campuses, basically known as the “Yes Means Yes” law.
The law, SB967, was signed over the weekend by Gov. Jerry Brown, D-Calif. It requires state-supported colleges to mandate continuous “affirmative consent” from all parties engaged in sexual activity.
Neither silence nor a lack of protest constitute consent, the law says, and heavy drinking – often a contributing factor in sexual assault – makes consent impossible. Under the law, consent is defined as “affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity” that “must be ongoing throughout a sexual activity.”
The law does not require verbal consent, but does not specify how nonverbal consent would be communicated. Some universities with similar policies already in place have included nodding one’s head or moving closer to one’s partner as examples of affirmative consent, The Associated Press reports.
It’s never good when I find myself agreeing with Ted Rall
Let’s look past the obvious stupidity of creating a culture of fear and mistrust, along with the guaranteed witch hunt trials that will come about as a result. Here is another interesting pitfall:
George Washington University law professor John Banzhaf, however, says the imprecise definition of “affirmative consent” means couples who do not specifically discuss consent may be guilty of sexually assaulting each other, and that under the law a female student could be charged with sexual assault if she offers oral sex and her inebriated partner accepts.
“This may seem bizarre that a guy who is presumably laying back and having oral sex and one assumes enjoying it – or at least tolerating it – is not consenting simply by doing that, but under that definition if he didn’t say ‘yes,’ she’s a sexual violator,” he says.
Banzhaf says students may be increasingly inclined to videotape sexual encounters to prove their innocence, though that may not be advisable in California, which requires the consent of all parties involved in a recording.
I find that last part particularly interesting. Given how easy smart phone technology makes recording these days how many students will discreetly record encounters without their partners’ consent? I can easily see this cutting both ways, both to cover oneself or to railroad someone with trumped up charges. Of course there’s no danger of this becoming a kangaroo court system:
The law also requires schools to adopt a “preponderance of evidence” standard for allegations – meaning someone has committed sexual assault if there’s a greater than 50 percent likelihood of guilt – that is lower than the reasonable doubt standard used in courts.
The article raises some good points, and a few more come to mind. Why do only college students need this protection? Do young women outside of campuses not face similar threats? What about the potential reactions to this law on campuses? Should any fraternities, male sports teams, or any other males independently throwing a party only allow admittance to female guests signing a form affirming that they are either not students in the Cal system, and if they are that they have not consumed alcohol beforehand and will not drink to intoxication at said party? Can liability be extended to party hosts or bartenders serving alcohol? How insulting is it that women are so completely incapable of taking care of themselves without insanity like this?
Back to the title of this post, at the end of the day men and women will be men and women. You’ll have good folks, and reasonable laws (such as the ones that already apply to all citizens) to protect people from the bad folks. The real purpose of a law like this is to create new ways for lawyers and therapists to invade our lives – the perfect job for people with gender studies degrees and nothing to offer an employer other than an inevitable sexual harassment lawsuit. And of course, the people running these programs won’t be working for free. The next time you hear a leftist from California declare that action must be taken to fight spiraling college tuition costs ask why they weren’t opposing something like this.
And, to think, I remember a time when the left wanted the government out of their bedrooms. Damn, I feel old.
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Cross posted from Brother Bob’s Blog