Magazine article Insight on the News

Some Advice on Consent: This Is Going Way Too Far

Magazine article Insight on the News

Some Advice on Consent: This Is Going Way Too Far

Article excerpt

This is the story of what happens when you get stuck on one note. And the note they're stuck on at that great laboratory of democracy, Antioch College in Ohio, is the stereotypical conviction that women are weak and men are beasts - or at least that women there are helpless creatures who had no means of defending themselves from sexually predatory college undergraduates until God gave them the Antioch doctrine.

I recoil from what I've been reading in national newspapers about Antioch's new "sexual-consent" workshops. Because at Antioch, every single sexual move is now supposed to be preceded by an explicit, specific, spoken request: "May I take off your blouse?" "May I touch your breast?" "May I move my hand farther down?"

I wonder if the political science department at Antioch has its students read Edmund Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France, or if the rape-crisis feminists who so strongly influenced Antioch's rules for "willing and verbal consent" have even heard of Burke - you know, that 18th century chap who wrote about the importance of tradition; about how social institutions represent the accumulated wisdom of the ages and should be modified only slowly and cautiously; and about how unrestricted rationalism in human affairs is destructive. And also something about the importance of continuity.

Actually, Burke never wrote anything about sex. But I'm authorized to freely adapt his thinking on the danger of abrupt changes to tradition in light of the present national crisis over unwanted touching.

Now, Burke approached tradition with something like religious reverence. He thought of a people as an organized group, with its own history, institutions and customary ways of acting. And he had an abiding distrust of individuals or small groups of people who thought they were so intelligent and rational that, proceeding on some abstract principle, they could alter the way things were done in their society in a sudden yet marvelously beneficial way.

The ideas of such people, Burke felt, were always too simple to fit the facts. He thought the French revolutionaries were of a preposterous arrogance in their glorification of "reason"' meaning of course their reason, at least until they themselves were sent to the guillotine. …

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