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University of Rochester professor under fire for blog

LIFESTYLES EDITOR

Published: Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, April 9, 2013 08:04

Landsburg

Courtesy of Gawker.com

Professor Steven Landsburg of the University of Rochester created an uproar following a post on his blog justifying the rape of an unconscious woman. A petition has started on the campus calling for Landsburg's censure. The petition has reached more than 500 signatures.


Rape is a crime that is not treated seriously enough in the world. Especially when there are men like University of Rochester economics professor Steven Landsburg, who questioned whether the rape of an unconscious girl should be illegal. 

In a blog post titled “Censorship, Environmentalism and Steubenville,” Landsberg wrote, “As long as I'm safely unconscious and therefore shielded from the costs of an assault, why shouldn't the rest of the world (or more specifically my attackers) be allowed to reap the benefits?” 

How someone can justify rape and essentially say that if you don’t remember, then it didn’t happen is beyond me. It’s kind of like saying, if a branch falls in the woods and no one’s around to hear it, does it still make a sound?

The thing that gets me is that he’s an educator. He’s not some masochistic John Doe spewing his opinions across the Internet. He is a representative from the University of Rochester. 

He even went as far as posting a follow-up question, “Would you be willing to legalize the rape of the unconscious in cases where the perpetrators take precautions to ensure the victim never learns about it?” 

The keywords to focus on in the posed question is “legalizing rape.” Doesn’t it make it even more traumatic that your rapist plans out your rape and takes precautions so that you never know about it? Imagine being targeted for a planned rape.

According to defendwomensrights.org, the organization's view is that the university is standing behind Landsburg and his personal blog by not firing him. According to a press release on the website, university spokesperson Bill Murphy said, “Professor Landsburg is entitled to his opinions and his independent publishing of them. His opinions do not represent the views of the University — we work hard to promote a culture of mutual respect and to combat sexual violence.”

Regardless of that, defendwomensrights.org is demanding that Landsburg be fired for what he said. Students from the university have also started a petition against Landsburg. According to nydailynews.com, an online student petition seeking Landsburg's censure — an official statement of disapproval — has reached more than 500 signatures.

According to defendwomensrights.org, Landsburg's actions of “promoting an unsafe campus environment, attempting to normalize the criminal act of rape, and minimizing the devastating effects of rape on victims, is not free speech. Endorsing violence against women is hate speech and should not be tolerated.”

Do the women at the University of Rochester feel safe after a professor uses his personal blog to promote rape? Is it right for the university to just let this slide?

According to The Huffington Post, “The Steubenville victim, whose identity was not released, recalled in court that she woke up ‘with no clothes on in a strange house’ and was unaware she'd been raped until she saw text messages, pictures and a video relating to the incident.”

It doesn’t matter that the Steubenville rape victim wasn’t aware that she was sexually assaulted until after she learned it on the Internet. That doesn’t make it any less damaging or traumatic. 

This is where the line is questionable to the world. How do you penalize someone for their personal blog? This is where the freedom of speech clashes with the 21st century.

The university has taken no action against Landsburg, even though they handled a past controversy of his differently last year. According to The Huffington Post, “In 2012, the professor triggered a ‘deeply disappointed’ response from Rochester administration for applauding Rush Limbaugh in his disagreement with Georgetown University student Sandra Fluke.”

According to nydailynews.com, University of Rochester President Joel Seligman wrote responding to one of Landsburg’s previous blog posts, “I am outraged that any professor would demean a student in this fashion," referring to Fluke, who Landsburg referred to as an “extortionist.”

Despite Landsburg’s past controversies, according to 13-WHAM, the university said in a statement, “It's committed to the academic freedom of our faculty and students. Their views are their own; they do not speak for the University.”

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