Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Paul Nungesser is probably a rapist

(Reader note: I meant to post this about 9 months ago, but forgot. Better late than never, I suppose).

As much as I love Reason magazine, the constant accuser-critical articles from Robby Soave and Cathy Young are really starting to piss me off. The latest is this post by Cathy Young which is states “Another Accusation Bites the Dust” in its title.

I’ve read all Young has to say, and I can assure you that no accusation has bitten any dust.

Think about this from Emma’s position here. Carrying this mattress is not just physically straining, horribly inconvenient and interruptive to every facet of her college life: it’s a life-defining act. No matter what she does for the entirety of her time on earth, she will forevermore be remembered, above all else, for being raped. She had to have known that making such a spectacle of the mattress performance would have this result, and she did it anyway. She, as an intelligent woman at an Ivy League university with a bright future and a world of opportunities ahead of her, decided to align her entire identity with a single act of protest, to invite dozens of news outlets and millions of onlookers into the most lurid details of her private life, and forgo any semblance of privacy or a normal college experience in the process. Why would she do that if it weren’t true?

If she’s lying, she must also know that might one day be revealed, that she might slip up and reveal inconsistent testimony. Surely she knows this would destroy her social standing and make her into a national pariah for the left and right alike. The daily pressure to make certain her story was consistent or face tremendous backlash would be immense. Why would she take that risk, and bear that stress, were here story false?

Young attempts an answer to these questions towards the end of her Reason piece:

“[T]he collusion scenario in this case requires no irrational and groundless malevolence. If Nungesser is innocent, it is entirely plausible that Sulkowicz and Natalie, who met at a party and discussed their history with him shortly before they filed charges, may have genuinely goaded each other into the conviction that he abused them (or, as Sulkowicz put it to Jezebel, "Together, we [came] to a better understanding of our shared trauma"). It is also entirely plausible that Josie and Adam either reinterpreted their past encounters with him, or even fabricated stories in the sincere belief that they were helping eject a rapist from the house and supporting his victims. The problem is not female "wickedness"; it is a campus culture that fetishizes trauma and turns "survivorship" into a cult.”

No, Cathy: the problem here is that Paul Jean Nungesser raped someone. To believe otherwise is to go through Herculean efforts to spin a narrative that no neutral investigator would rationally arrive upon if given the facts without preconceived notions of guilt or innocence. Re-read my paragraph on just what Emma has done for the past few years, and ask yourself how likely it is that this was done to fit in with campus culture. Cathy is right that lefties on today’s campuses fetishize trauma. She’s right they turn survivorship into a cult, and even a revered status. And having just come from such a campus, and attended meetings of the Hopkins Feminists and Hopkins for Social Justice groups in the wake of the Baltimore Protests last year where I was asked to introduce myself by my “name, major, and preferred gender pronoun,” I am totally willing to believe that when the talking stick gets passed around and the spotlight is on at such meetings, someone might make up or exaggerate a vague survival story to get a round of thunderous jazz hands. Talk is cheap.

But to carry a mattress for three years???

I mean, yeah, it’s theoretically plausible. There are people who kill their infants just because they want people’s sympathy and attention while they feign grief. Those people are rare, but they’re out there and they’re sick. I suppose a far-left college environment that specializes in doling out unending heaps of sympathy might color the drunken memories of one person.

But four of them?

Are we to believe that this girl is lying too? And his ex-girlfriend? And the male accuser? Or, if they’re not lying, that each of them are so impressionable, and have such poor and malleable memories that mere peer pressure has prompted them to levy baseless accusations of violence?

Again, it’s possible. But you know what else is possible? He raped her! The simplest answer is very often the right answer. How is Cathy’s theory possibly more persuasive than Emma’s testimony? How could it even have been presented by anyone who didn’t begin with the suspicion that cultural leftism run-amok is the real problem on college campuses?

The stories of these four people don’t have to each constitute rape independently to indicate a troubling pattern of behavior that besmirches Paul’s character and credibility. Their recollections of the details needn’t be perfectly corroboratory to be less far-fetched than the possibility they are either a) a vindictive cabal running a high-risk, no-reward scheme to anonymously slander a shared enemy, or b) a band of overwhelmed kids who can’t quite remember what happened, but convinced one another to play fast and loose with a man’s reputation anyway in pursuit of sympathy points on Tumblr.

I don’t know if the evidence in this case is sufficient to find Paul guilty in a court of law, or even in a college review board. But when it comes to forming our own opinion, Paul Nungesser is very probably a rapist, and we should judge him accordingly.


  1. Hi Andrew,

    the Nungesser case is troubling me for months now and I still search the internet for articles every now and then. I'm very unsure what the truth is in this case and I think it is possible a rapist is getting away with it. Though, I'm more than uncomfortable with the way the case is treated. You are right; Cathy Young's articles very much sound like trying to prove a point instead of finding out what really happened. And I feel uncomfortable because this case is about rape which as a topic seems mostly to be off the radar.

    But there are rules in a nation of law including the presumption of innocence. The police and university followed procedure to find out what happened and found him not guilty. (All sexists?) That didn't change when the number of accusers quadrupled. As the case had large media coverage his reputation was damaged as was hers, at least at first. Though it is true that many (maybe most) rapists never get caugth it is also true that many wrongly accused never get the chance to truly clear out accusations. Being doubted as a victim of rape is a stigma as is being doubted as an innocent accused of rape. The point is, neither is better or worse. They are equally horrific.

    Being mostly in a position of physical superiority (as one potential presupposition for rape) in fact makes men potential rapists. But it shouldn't be viewed as proof for society just because there is an accusation. It needs evidence and this includes doubting accuser and accused unbiased.

    Unfortunately, those taking position for Sulkowicz have equally biased interests (randomly chosen: http://forward.com/sisterhood/309709/this-is-not-about-my-rape-it-is-about-you/). This article uses Emma's video-piece-of-art, to point out that Emma has become a symbol for making rape culture visible, showing how rape victims are treated in general. I think this is eyewash. Sulkowicz named it "This Is Not A Rape" but could equally have called it "This Is Not Paul Raping Me" because it is a re-enactment; how could you possibly not think of Paul? Video and mattress, as forms of art, are allowed to give her a platform with Paul Nungesser having no chance to defend his case.

    University and police procedures don't matter. Like Emma who now is a rape activist, Paul has become a symbol for rape. How do you fight that?

  2. If you have nothing to say, don't.

  3. Well, I'm female, and I am on Team Paul. I think the sex was either all consensual or a misunderstanding. Emma is not denying that the first part of sex was consensual (the initial penetration). She is even the one who initiated the sex. She is saying the last few seconds was nonconsensual. So if a woman says "no" or "stop" during sex, is it rape for every second after that? and if it is, how damaging or victimizing could that be? Should a man's life be ruined. She wanted him kicked out of campus from a school he had secured a full scholarship to attend. Yet there was no proof of her allegations (which came several months after the incident). I felt there was more proof to support Paul's version of events

    Emma had sex with Paul before and if your read or email and texts, she loves this type of sex (anal). Yet she claims the vaginal sex was consensual, but the anal sex was not. He claims that she never said "no" or "stop" and that he never hit her. (none of Emma's friends could testify that Emma had any bruise or mark on her face or that she even mentioned the incident to them)

    Why would Emma claim to be raped if she wasn't and drag a mattress around? First, it gives her power and control. I think she wanted a relationship with Paul and was upset that he did not want the same. Second, because it turned her in to a celebrity. She was featured in Newsweek magazine and invited to the White House!

    And if anyone thinks that having other people come forward and claim sexual assault by Paul suggests guilt, I suggest you read the context. None reported after the supposed "incident", they reported after discussions with Emma and the male's claim (also a friend of Emma's) was ridiculous.

    Read the timeline and the texts from Emma (especially the ones after the incident where she indicates she loves him and wants to see him again)

  4. Thank you for mentioning all the other accusers. That definitely gets lost in the sensationalism. No, nothing you have said here would have any legal meaning in a court of law, but I couldn't agree more with any of it.