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Daniel Hemel
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We may want there to be still other speech environments on campus in which students can share their experiences as survivors of sexual assault and in which statements that in any way “blame the victim” are barred.

Is there some reason you used those quotation marks? It seems like that sentence would be better without quotation marks.

As for this argument and the University of Chicago, there is a boatload of straw man argumentation going on here. The notion that offense language is being targeted is largely nonsense. There is a difference between offensive language and oppressive language; there is a different between harassment and giving offense. Nobody is upset about being offended and, if they are, that’s too bad. People are upset about being harassed and oppressed, as well they should be.

We can start with an obvious example and imagine a man on a college campus hurling racial slurs at passers by or directing cat calls and lewd comments at women. Is this person just being offensive, or is this harassment? Should this be tolerated on college campuses?

Now let’s get a little more offensive and delve into a grayer area. Consider the case of a guy who uses quotation marks to dismiss the validity of claims of victim blaming in discussions of sexual assault. In considering this, keep in mind that victim blaming has been used in courts of law to excuse rapists, and to justify lesser sentencing. Consider the psychological effect this has on someone who has been the victim of a sexual assault and who was blamed for it, whose attacker was ultimately given a free pass. Is someone who insists on diminishing victim blaming just being offensive, or is this person perpetuating (perhaps inadvertently) a culture of oppression and harassment? Maybe that’s a conversation worth having, and I feel pretty confident that you can have it in a safe space.

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