April 21, 2014

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Rape Culture is Bad, but Discourse is Good

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To the Editor:

Re: “LETTER TO THE EDITOR: The Danger of Rape Culture Denial,” Opinion, April 18

A Letter to the Editor published on April 18 demanded that the Sun “take responsibility” for the “triggering effect” that an column about sexual assault could have caused victims. I hope that they do no such thing. The column, written by Julius Kairey, acknowledged that sexual assault is an enormous issue that needs to be addressed. At the same time, it stated that exaggerated claims of “rape culture” have led to policies that deprive accused of fair hearings.

I am not agreeing with Kairey; I think that more needs to be done to support victims and prevent rape from occurring. However, I agree with the decision to publish his opinion piece. It was grounded in reality and reflected many legitimate concerns. Cornell needs to find a balance between protecting victims from their attackers and making sure that people who are accused are actually guilty. The question at hand is where that balance lies.

For an effective dialogue about sexual assault to occur, people with differing perspectives must be able to voice their concerns. The letter’s authors claim that Kairey should not be able to publish his opinions about rape because it may cause flashbacks for victims. But if The Sun censors this topic, a greater harm occurs — the loss of a productive dialogue.

Benjamin Gandesbery ’15