Those of you who have been waiting with bated breath to hear what the “editors” of our favorite men’s rights hate site, A Voice for Men, think of the Occidental College fiasco can now unbate their breath, as AVFM head boy Paul Elam has stepped forward to explain it all to us in a post that contains quite possibly the most ridiculous two sentences ever written about higher education:
We’ve seen a lot of epic flip-floppery from Men’s Rightsers in the last few days on the subject of the Occidental College fiasco — that is, for those who haven’t been following it closely, the organized spamming of Occidental’s anonymous online rape reporting form with false reports by Reddit MRAs and 4channers. Notably, the Men’s Rights subreddit mod known as sillymod went from blaming the false reports on trolls one day to hailing them as necessary activism the next.
But a reader has alerted me to an even more epic flip-flop, this one from Pierce Harlan, a blogger obsessed with what he sees as an epidemic of false rape accusations.
Oh, Men’s Rightsers, can you just make up your minds? Only a couple of days after blaming trolls for the spamming of Occidental College’s rape reporting site with false accusations, rather than acknowledging it as the work of Men’s Rightsers in his own subreddit who were proudly encouraging and taking credit for it themselves, Men’s Rights subreddit mod sillymod is now defending the false rape reporting as “unpopular” but thought-provoking activism.
This whole exchange is worth reading — it continues on for a number of comments beyond this, with sillymod’s rationalizations becoming increasingly baroque. It’s extremely rare to see critical remarks like those from TheIdesOfLight actually get upvoted in the Men’s Rights subreddit. The Occidental College fiasco has divided the Men’s Rights subreddit like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Some are appalled by it; others are digging in their heels.
Speaking of which, here’s former subreddit mod Celda defending the false rape reports in much more straightforward terms than sillymod:
Elsewhere, Celda has called the false reporting “quite moral and laudable.”
Thanks to the AgainstMensRights subreddit — which, again, is not actually against rights for men, but against the reactionary clusterfuck that is the Men’s Rights movement — for keeping close track on all this.
This has to be my favorite quote to come out of the whole Occidental College fiasco; it’s staggering in its moral blindness and fanaticism and its complete lack of self-awareness. It also captures well the peculiarly self-defeating quality of so much Men’s Rights rhetoric and, er, “activism.”
The backstory here: the commenter in question is none other than John “The Other” Hembling, the Number Two (or Three? I can’t tell) boy at A Voice for Men. He’s responding to an article on Raw Story that’s indicative of the incredibly (and justifiably) bad press Reddit MRAs have gotten for spamming Occiental College’s anonymous rape reporting website with false reports of rape, some of which may have named real people at the school as the “perps.”
At this point in the story, even the normally obtuse Men’s Rights Redditors realize they have a disaster on their hands, and are trying to blame anyone else they can.
But Hembling thinks it’s the perfect time to cheer on the false accusers amongst the MRAs.
That’s right: apparently jealous of all the attention Reddit MRAs have gotten for their cloddish “activism,” he’s decided to jump aboard this train — after it’s left the station, derailed, and fallen into a ravine.
That response is classic, too
Some updates on the Occidental College situation.
First, for those who didn’t see my post yesterday, a quick recap: Yesterday, Men’s Rights Redditors discovered that Occidental College has an online form that allows victims of and witnesses to sexual violence to report the incidents anonymously.
Although the information is being collected to track trends, and no one will be charged with anything as a result of such a report, a number of Men’s Rights subreddit regulars decided it would be a great idea to flood Occidental College with false reports to basically break the system, and they suggested this to much acclaim; others proudly reported that they’d sent in bogus reports.
So what has happened since then? The story has been picked up by a number of sites, including Gawker, Business Insider, RawStory, and LAist. In a followup post, Adam Weinsten of Gawker confirmed that Occidental College had indeed been hit with some 400 bogus rape reports in the past 36 hours — that is, after posts encouraging false reports appeared on 4chan and the Men’s Rights subreddit.
Meanwhile, on the Men’s Rights subreddit, after belatedly realizing that this whole thing makes them look kind of bad, the subreddit’s mods are trying their best to make the whole embarrassing thing go away — and not really doing a great job of it.
Last night, a regular commenter in the Men’s Rights subreddit — inspired by a thread on 4chan — posted a link to an online form on r/mensrights under the headline “Feminists at Occidental College created an online form to anonymously report rape/sexual assault. You just fill out a form and the person is called into the office on a rape charge. The “victim” never has to prove anything or reveal their identity.”
This headline is not only inflammatory but untrue: Yes, Occidental College has an online form that allows victims of or witnesses to sexual assault to report the incidents to the school. But, as a statement at the top of the form makes clear, the point is to collect data on how much sexual violence there is at the school, who the victims are, and so on.
If the person reporting the crime names the alleged perpetrator,
a member of the Dean of Students Office will meet with that person to share that the person was named in an anonymous report, review the Sexual Misconduct Policy, and inform the person that if the allegations are true, the behavior needs to cease immediately. Information shared in this form alone will not result in anyone going through the grievance process.
I’ve put the last bit in bold to emphasize a point: No one will be charged with anything based only on information gathered using this form. As would be clear to anyone who thought about the matter for more than a few seconds, it’s rather difficult to investigate, much less prove, a rape if you don’t actually know who the victim is.
Somehow this rather elementary fact eluded the OP, and virtually all of those who left the hundreds of comments on the popular post.
Indeed, a host of Men’s Rights Redditors were so convinced of the innate evil of the online form they all had the same bright idea: let’s flood the school with false reports of rape and break the form. Here are some of their comments. (There are more in the thread.) Note the number of upvotes each of these suggestions got. (Click the images to see the comments in context on Reddit.)
While a few commenters stood up to point out that in fact the school will not charge anyone with anything as a result of anonymous information gathered by the form, they were outnumbered by Men’s Rightsers gleefully reporting that they in fact had reported false information. Among them:
It’s one thing to criticize an anonymous reporting system because of its potential for abuse; this is something else entirely.
The post has been up for 17 hours at this point, with more than 700 net upvotes, and some of the calls for “breaking” the form have been up for nearly as long. The moderators of Men’s Rights have done nothing to stop their subreddit being used to interfere with a school’s attempt to assist rape survivors — including men.
“Breaking” a school’s rape reporting mechanism is apparently a form of Men’s Rights activism.