A lot of people seem to think that skepticism is a vice - and certainly not a virtue - but these people overlook the societal good that comes from skepticism. Skepticism doesn't mean not believing in anything or having no values, it means acknowledging the limits of our knowledge - knowing that we all have something to learn and that we can never assume that our first impression is right. It is about making sure that we do not hurt people and spread lies because they are convenient or fit a narrative we want to believe. It is about seeking out, and demanding, evidence for claims. It is about educating ourselves. It is about fact-based beliefs and policies. Imagine how much better off society would be if more people followed this worldview. The following is a case where skepticism was thrown to the wind, and an innocent man had his life destroyed because of it.
(Check out Part 1 of this story here: https://www.publish0x.com/left-antisjw/mattress-girl-a-saga-of-false-sexual-assault-charges-and-bli-xznxmq?a=pnel78MdKB&tid=rc)
After Columbia University had found that there was no evidence to support her claims of having been sexually assaulted, Emma Sulkowicz decided to use the national platform given to her by Senator Gillibrand (D-NY) and feminist media to push for a federal law that would reduce the amount of evidence needed to punish people accused of sexual assault on college campuses. When allowed to give a speech at the State of the Union she said that "Sometimes it takes a federal hand to make colleges listen", as if her college had not listened and thoroughly investigated her case. Gillibrand labeled Sulkowicz "A woman who got no justice" despite the fact that Paul Nungesser had been investigated and found innocent. Sulkowicz clearly was not going down without a fight.
(Gillibrand, who tried to run for President in 2020...and polled less than 1%)
In theory this law, which had bipartisan support, could have been a good thing. There is no reason to deny that there have been cases in recent history where colleges have not given appropriate support to survivors of sexual assault, and at times have not followed up on all possible evidence. Remember, skepticism is about looking for evidence, not just refusing to believe. However, in practice this law has shifted the standard at colleges from being close to "Innocent until proven guilty", to "a plurality of evidence shows they probably did it". Some people point out that colleges are not the judicial system, and so are not obligated to live up to judicial system standards. However, these standards exist for a reason. False accusations do happen, and false convictions can destroy an innocent person's life. Additionally, if the public learns of widespread false convictions, they will rightly lose faith in the process. Imagine a world where you meet a man who was expelled for being a rapist, and have to say to yourself "I wonder if he really did it. There is a serious chance he is innocent" instead of "Well that basically means he definitely did it, this guy is evil". When this law could reduce the stigma of being found to have committed sexual assault, it becomes important to consider if it is worth it.
Sulkowicz continued her battle on the popular opinion front as well by making her senior art project a national feminist rallying-cry. She would carry around the mattress she was supposedly raped on until Nungesser was expelled, hence earning the moniker "Mattress Girl". Of course, he never was expelled, but the display attracted significant media attention. Even a UN ambassador referenced it. However, a counter-movement was brewing.
Nungesser had received far less media coverage, and of course many of the pieces were not positive. Nonetheless, his lawyer had been fighting for him, pointing out that he had been found innocent and that the police had refused to look into the case for lack of evidence. Eventually, the New York Times covered what Nungesser had been put through despite being found innocent. He reported that former friends crossed the street to avoid him, and that posters were constantly put up around campus with his face and name labeling him a rapist. Not only was Sulkowicz getting course credit for her mattress project, but Columbia seemed to be doing nothing to combat the metaphorical lynch mob that had formed against him and constantly defamed him. No students were punished for the posters or graffiti labeling him a rapist, at least as far as is publicly known. He said that the charges against him were the result of a campaign of collusion and revenge, and pointed to how they had all been filed over a short period of time. It seemed he would be pushed into leaving Columbia through bullying, since expulsion did not work. It was clear that, despite a lack of evidence, and even being found guilty, none of that mattered to most people in the media, or to Senator Gillibrand. To them, he might as well have been found guilty. They acted like he had been, but just hadn't been punished.
Shockingly, during the investigation that found him innocent he had not been allowed to bring up evidence that he had. For what reason is unclear. For example, he had not been allowed to show text messages between himself and Sulkowicz. When these texts became public they should have changed the entire conversation. The Daily Beast writer Cathy Young was, as far as I can tell, the one to break the new story and reveal the new evidence. Her article can be found here: https://www.thedailybeast.com/columbia-student-i-didnt-rape-her
Facebook messages revealed a months-long friends with benefits relationship between the two. Sulkowicz herself confirmed that the texts were genuine and accurate, although she said that she would annotate the messages herself to explain the context and why they did not prove she was lying. Later, she said that she would not do this, citing "emotional labor". Despite the fact that The Daily Beast is a very (American) liberal publication, Sulkowicz, in an interview with the also liberal Mic.com, accused Cathy Young of being insensitive and anti-feminist. As is the case with many people who have been exposed as liars, she attacked the author of the piece exposing her, rather than the content of the piece.
So what did the texts say? Aside from revealing the romantic history of the two, they showed Sulkowicz actually pressuring Nungesser into sex when he was reluctant, including on the night of the alleged assault. She requested specifically that Nungesser "fuck me in the butt", which he was clearly uncomfortable with and refused. Emma later denied this until the messages became public. There were multiple times when she would message him about having sex between 5-10 times without getting a response. She continued to message him, including messages with a sexual subtext, weeks after the supposed rape. Two days after the alleged rape she was texting with him about going to a party together and bringing some of her friends along because the ratio at the party was too male. Rape/assault was never brought up in the texts, nor where any references to her being upset with him. I actually had to double-check which night she alleged the rape happened because there was no indication in the texts.
It was only months later, after Nungesser broke off their open relationship, that she made the allegations.
Now a proven serial liar, Sulkowicz still persisted in her campaign to ruin Nungesser's life for breaking off an open relationship. She planned to bring her mattress stunt to graduation. The school sent an email stating that large objects could not be brought to graduation, and would have to be left outside. This is common practice at graduations to prevent people from being disruptive things like beach balls (or even sex dolls) to graduation as a joke. She brought the mattress anyway with some of her friends. In response the President of Columbia did not shake her hand as she crossed the stage despite that typically being the tradition when a student graduates. Feminist media ran with this as further evidence that schools just don't care about assault. However, video shows the mattress crew quickly walking past the president, which may have been what actually led to this incident. Regardless of the reason, this author stands with the President of Columbia University.
Shortly after graduation, a male friend of Sulkowicz accused Nungesser of sexual assault. However, police found numerous flaws in this story as well and soon dismissed it. Interestingly, feminist media did not pick up on this story of a supposed male victim of sexual assault.
Soon, members of the public began to rally, to some degree, to Nungesser's side. An anonymous Twitter account was set up mocking Sulkowicz with a bio describing her as running an "astroturf" campaign (a term borrowed from politics for a campaign trying to make it look like they have grassroots support they don't have, often by using unethical methods like bots). The account also tweeted out evidence she was lying and used hashtags associated with her movement so her supporters would see it. Soon, posters began popping up with an image of Sulkowicz carrying her mattress with three big words printed over it "PRETTY. LITTLE. LIAR." A taste of her own medicine.
Surely at this point Sulkowicz would quietly go off after being so completely exposed, right? I suspect the reader already knows the answer to that question.
In reality she quickly launched a campaign to to guilt-trip those who doubted her by acting out a rape scene on Porn Hub, with the explicit goal of making those who doubted her question themselves.
More horrifyingly, in 2016 the National Organization of Women gave Sulkowicz their "Woman of Courage Award". The National Organization of Women is a significant and long-standing feminist organization. They also apparently don't give a damn about the truth if it contradicts their agenda. After all, if they admitted the lie, it might lead them to have to address that other accusers could be lying.
The only real silver lining in all of this is that Paul Nungesser got some success out of his lawsuit. It ended up in a settlement, but at least he got something. More importantly, this is yet another piece of evidence in his favor. Columbia also put out a statement admitting that they had allowed his life to be torn apart in a disgraceful way. Really, the best outcome of this is in the form of videos (like that from Sargon of Akkad, which largely inspired this article and is linked below), and articles that expose how dishonest the modern feminist movement has become. There is a larger social message to take here, which is that skepticism is crucial, and belief without evidence destroys not only individual lives, but trust in the processes that keep our society together. I want to reemphasize, as I did at the start of part one, that sexual assault is a real, and serious, issue and that it is horrible when survivors are not taken seriously when they ave evidence. However, the dishonesty of how feminists have handled these issues speaks for itself.
The SargonOfAkkad video:
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