WTF Friday, 8/2/13

This week’s WTF Friday traveled to the blog via Metro-North from New Haven. Yale University has released its latest Sexual Misconduct Report, which manages to avoid using the terms “rape” or “sexual assault” one single time, even when discussing, well, rape.

You see, when such things happen in the rarified gardens of Yale, they’re not crimes, just “nonconsensual sex.” Observe:

“A YC student brought a formal complaint charging that a male YC student had nonconsensual sex with her.

Update: The UWC found sufficient evidence that the respondent engaged in certain conduct of a sexual nature that was nonconsensual. In addition, the UWC found that the respondent violated the Yale College Code of General Conduct. The respondent was given a two semester suspension, was placed on probation for the remainder of his time at the University, was restricted from contacting the complainant, and was encouraged to continue counseling for alcohol abuse, appropriate sexual behavior and the respectful treatment of others.”

Let’s break that statement down, shall we? The quoted text refers to a complaint by a female Yale student against a male Yale student. The “update” sets forth the resolution of the complaint.

Yale’s University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct, or UWC (there’s something amazing about the fact that Yale didn’t even keep the “sexual misconduct” part when choosing an acronym for its committee on sexual misconduct) investigated the allegations, and found that the perpetrator had, in fact, assaulted the victim.

That sexual assault was a crime, and most likely a felony, but there’s no mention of that in the report. (It does, however, make a point of noting that the perpetrator violated the College Code of Conduct, which I think we can all agree is the real problem here.)

Isn’t the term “nonconsensual sex” amazing? The way that it somehow implies a gulf between a situation in which someone has sex with another person without consent, and a totally different situation in which that person commits a rape or sexual assault? Yale apparently thinks there’s a distinction between the two, because the most severe punishment it meted out to any of the perpetrators described in the report was a suspension.

What’s a person got to do to get expelled from Yale? Non-consensual cannibalism?

I don’t know if that counseling for “appropriate sexual behavior and the respectful treatment of others” is available to universities. But it sure seems like Yale could use it.

h/t Texasinafrica.

WTF Friday, 7/26/13

In Germany, controversy has erupted over the town of Schwaebisch Gmuend’s plan to pay African asylum seekers 1.05 euros per hour to work as porters in the local train station:

“Nine predominantly dark-skinned men in red service shirts and jolly sunhats ready to carry the cases of predominantly white clients. For €1.05 an hour. Blacks as luggage coolies for whites – and in our country. How can that be?” wrote Stern magazine.

“Having refugees as bag carriers is a shameless exploitation of the people’s situation,” far-left Linke lawmaker Ulla Jelpke said. Jelpke called the practice “colonial” behaviour.

The bigger WTF, though, goes to the German government’s asylum law, whose policy of forbidding employers to pay asylum seekers more than 1.05 euros per hour – about eight times less than Germany’s minimum wage for temporary workers – is apparently at the root of this program:

A spokesman for Schwaebisch Gmuend told Reuters the conservative mayor was disappointed at Deutsche Bahn’s decision and blamed misplaced political correctness.

“At a first glance, pictures of black people carrying white peoples’ suitcases don’t look good and conjure up images of neo-colonialism and racism, but this is not the case – the asylum seekers want to do this,” said the spokesman.

He added that the 1.05 euros was not a wage as such, as asylum seekers are not allowed to be employed, but is the maximum amount it is possible to give them under the asylum seekers law.

Pro tip: if your migration policy is such that the best case scenario for vulnerable people in your country is a job that makes your citizens scream “OMG, colonialism! Colonialism or perhaps actual slavery!”, something has gone very, very wrong.

WTF Friday 7/12/13 (Okay, 7/13/13)

A late-breaking WTF Friday comes to us courtesy of the Texas State Legislature, which refused to let women bring tampons or maxi pads into the capitol building’s gallery during last night’s debate about the abortion bill that was the subject of protests and a 13-hour filibuster from State Senator Wendy Davis when the legislature tried to pass it last week.

Security officers were concerned that the feminine hygiene items could be used as “projectiles.” (Guns were still okay, though?)

Obviously this policy was 100% correct, because you know who doesn’t need tampons? Pregnant women. If these uppity slatterns had just done as Rick Perry intended and embraced their god-given role as baby factories, then we wouldn’t even need to have this conversation.

So ladies, before you get your your now-blood-soaked panties in a twist: when will you learn that your ACTIONS have CONSEQUENCES?

WTF Friday, 7/5/13

This zebra is not in Nigeria.

This week’s WTF Friday comes courtesy of young Abubakar Souleiman, a 15 year old Nigerian immigrant living in Boston with a creative sense of humor.

Apparently, Souleiman decided to have some fun with Yvonne Abraham, the Boston Globe columnist who interviewed him about his achievements in U.S. schools. He told her that his track and field skills were the result of a youth spent “hunting zebras with spears and trying to avoid antagonizing cheetahs.”

Abraham took his story at face value. Why, of course Souleiman would have spent his childhood dodging cheetahs and chucking spears at herds of zebra, because Africa.

Except, as blogger Bob Blewett points out:

“There are no zebra in the wild in Nigeria. (There are zebra on Nigerian postage stamps but that is about selling stamps to collectors, not zebra habitat.) While it is possible for a cheetah to exist in the savannas of northern Nigeria, this is extremely rare. Humans would frighten, not antagonize, any wild cheetah there. Besides, hunting is about accuracy; javelin is about distance”

Yesterday, Abraham issued a correction.

(Photo of zebra by Muhammad Mahdi Karim, made available under a GNU Free Documentation License.)

WTF Friday, Princeton Edition

This advice, from a Princeton alumna to the young women who are studying there today, is pretty much the worst:

“Here’s what nobody is telling you: Find a husband on campus before you graduate. Yes, I went there.”

You see, “[m]en regularly marry women who are younger, less intelligent, less educated.  It’s amazing how forgiving men can be about a woman’s lack of erudition, if she is exceptionally pretty.”  Women’s possession of erudition, on the other hand, is apparently unforgivable to the dudelier sex:

“Smart women can’t (shouldn’t) marry men who aren’t at least their intellectual equal. As Princeton women, we have almost priced ourselves out of the market. Simply put, there is a very limited population of men who are as smart or smarter than we are. And I say again — you will never again be surrounded by this concentration of men who are worthy of you.”

One wonders if Patton believes that there’s a sliding scale for women who are super-duper-exceptionally pretty.  What if a girl looks like Natalie Portman?  Would that be enough to make men “forgive” the fact that she’s also able to think like Natalie Portman – herself a Westinghouse semifinalist, Harvard graduate, and Oscar winner?  Or should we just conclude that Nat landed Benjamin Millepied by laughing at all his jokes and complaining that math is sooo hard?

Lest any of you think that I’m being too harsh, and Patton is really delivering a message about the benefits of creating a lifelong partnership with an intellectual equal, she then gets down to brass tacks, telling the young women of Princeton that they’d better be “nicer” to the men around them before they get too old to be appealing.  And by old, she means “22″:

“Here is another truth that you know, but nobody is talking about. As freshman women, you have four classes of men to choose from. Every year, you lose the men in the senior class, and you become older than the class of incoming freshman men. So, by the time you are a senior, you basically have only the men in your own class to choose from, and frankly, they now have four classes of women to choose from. Maybe you should have been a little nicer to these guys when you were freshmen?
If I had daughters, this is what I would be telling them.”

Snark aside, this is tremendously sad. I don’t have any daughters, but I do have younger sisters, cousins, and nieces, and it pains me to think that any of them would judge their lives and successes by how palatable they had made themselves to “worthy” men. And it seems like there was also a time when it would have pained Patton herself. In this earlier letter to the Princetonian from 2006, Patton paints a very different picture of her values. She describes the courage and independence it took for her to get a Princeton education in the first place:

“It was a spring day in 1973 when I received my acceptance letter to Princeton’s Class of 1977. It was the affirmative answer to a prayer I could only whisper. It was the promise of a life beyond the Bronx. There should have been great joy and hearty celebration at home. I had forgotten until this week that my admission to Princeton was joyous only to me. It was upsetting and shameful to my parents.

I would be the first woman in my family to attend college. The necessity of my continued education eluded my mother and father. My leaving their home before marriage was an utter disgrace to them. Princeton was unknown to my parents. They saw no honor in my admission to such a prestigious institution, and they were confident that I should be investing myself in other things. It wouldn’t have mattered where I wanted to go away to school. They were adamant that a young girl’s place is in her parents’ home, until she is in her husband’s home. European immigrants and concentration camp survivors, my parents couldn’t understand why at 18 years old, I didn’t direct my efforts towards finding a mate.

As a very young child, I understood that my parents were different. The memories of Auschwitz for my mother and Bergen-Belsen for my father would haunt them all their lives, and often render me feeling more than one generation removed from them. The explanation of how I would benefit from a Princeton education fell on their deaf ears and paled in comparison to their fear of the horrors that could befall me if, as an unmarried daughter, I lived other than under their roof. They wanted nothing to do with my college application and refused to sign the required financial documentation. For many years, filing my application to Princeton as an emancipated minor made me feel strong and independent.

Thirty-two years later, I feel sad that my parents couldn’t accept the pleasure and pride of having a daughter at Princeton. Through loans, grants, and working multiple jobs on campus and during summers, I paid my own way through school. The cost of a Princeton education today is more than 10 times what it was in 1973. I have long dreamed that someday I might be the proud parent of a Princetonian. It will be a (very expensive) pleasure to pay my son’s University bill.

All freshmen begin their undergraduate experience hoping that they will fit in, make friends, and succeed academically. I remember that the support and encouragement from family was often the thing that carried my classmates over their early adjustment hurdles. I was fortunate to find a sympathetic roommate (the granddaughter of an Orthodox rabbi), a caring Schools Committee alumnus (who has remained a lifelong mentor), and happiness singing and dancing with the Triangle Club.”

That is not the life story of a woman who only cared about getting an MRS degree.

What happened to the Patton of 1973, who was willing to sacrifice so much to achieve her dreams of education, instead of “direct[ing] her efforts towards finding a mate”? The Patton of 1977, who became president of her graduating class? The Patton of 2006, who wrote about her own accomplishments, and her son’s, with such obvious and well-earned pride?

If only one of them could have attended that Women in Leadership conference.

(H/T Jezebel.)

WTF Friday, 3/22/2013, Iraq Warlord Pet Edition

In honor of the 10th anniversary of the war in Iraq, we bring you a very special edition of our long-abandoned Warlord Pets series.

RIP Barney, Dubya’s White House Dog:

Barney the terrier lived at the White House during both of George W. Bush’s terms.  He died of lymphoma six weeks ago.  It is not known whether he was a supporter of the Iraq war, but he was certainly a constant companion to the guy who started it.

(Perhaps Dubya’s dog paintings are really therapy to help him ease his grief at Barney’s passing?)

(Barney photo via Wikimedia Commons)

WTF Friday, Hashtag Edition

Stay classy, conservatives: the hashtag #LiberalTipsToAvoidRape spent much of this week trending on Twitter.

Some choice excerpts:

And a special WTF for Fox News’s Dana Perino, who apparently couldn’t come up with a better #ff than the creator of the hashtag, @SooperMexican:

(Mother Jones has a good description of the hashtag’s origins here.)

WTF Friday, 2/15/2013

Weird week, huh? In a move unprecedented in the modern era, Pope Benedict XVI decided to call it quits. No word yet on whether God will accept his resignation, but I don’t think we can ignore the uncanny timing of this morning’s meteor strike.


  • The 2013 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue came out, doubling down on the idea that nothing shows off white models in expensive apparel like a bunch of “ethnic” folks doing something cultural or labor-intensive nearby.
  • Kenya’s High Court declined to rule on whether pending ICC charges should bar Uhuru Kenyatta from a run at the presidency, saying that it lacked jurisdiction over the question. This is a reasonable position for the court to take, but, as The Guardian points out, it does set up the possibility that “If Kenyatta wins, his first foreign trip as president could be to appear in the dock in the Hague at a hearing scheduled for April.”
  • A Kiwi politician suggested that all Muslim men should be banned from flying on western airlines, and referred to the entire Arab world as “Wogistan” for good measure. Classy.

WTF Friday 11/30/2012, Opportunity Costs Edition

Yesterday one Lawrence E. Mitchell, Dean of Case Western Reserve Law School, published an Op-Ed in the New York Times entitled “Law School is Worth the Money.” It’s pretty funny.

Amongst the gems contained therein:

  • People shouldn’t be so upset about the bad job market – in which only 50% of new graduates are able to get jobs in law firms – because it’s only 9% worse than the worst market in recent memory. (Oh, well, when you put it that way, of course it’s an excellent use of hundreds of thousands of dollars!)
  • On the subject of that 50% figure, the “focus on first jobs is misplaced,” because law schools are educating people for “40-50 year careers.”  (HA.  Good luck having a 50 year career in the law if you can’t get a first job in it within a few years of graduation.  Law school teaches you nothing about legal practice, and that J.D. credential becomes stale right quick.)
  • Law school is an awesome investment because “Many graduates will find that their legal educations give them the skills to find rich and rewarding lives in business, politics, government, finance, the nonprofit sector, the arts, education and more.”  (I’m sorry, did he actually say that students should drop off a six figure sum with his law school on their way to careers in the arts?  That is messed up, yo.)
  • That the “thousands of students” who have been discouraged from attending law school will be unable to find fulfilling careers elsewhere, because “[t]hey’re not all going to be doctors or investment bankers.”  (Guess what, dude?  They’re not all going to be lawyers, either, even if they graduate from law school.)

To our vulnerable young readers, who might be considering law school: Put down the Op-Ed, and back away slowly.  Dean Mitchell wants your money.  Do not take his advice.  For more on why, see here, here, and here.

WTF Friday, 9/14/2012

A historical “WTF” to wrap up a rough week:

The National Archives released 1,000 declassified documents on the 1940 Katyn Forest Massacre on Monday. In case you’re not up on your mid-century atrocities, Katyn was a mass slaughter of 22,000 Polish military officials and members of the intelligentsia committed by the Soviet secret police.

When the mass graves were discovered in 1943, the Soviets crossed their fingers behind their backs and pinned the blame on the Nazis. (Silver lining to proximity to an aggressive regime committing genocide and crimes against humanity on an unprecedented scale: No one really bats an eye when the odd extra atrocity get entered on their side of the ledger.) When that went off without a hitch, the Soviets decided shame was for chumps, and attempted to get the Katyn Forest Massacre added to the list of charges at Nuremberg.

Although a number of investigations suggested that the Soviets were the true perpetrators, neither the U.S. nor the U.K. challenged their account, either at the time or in the half century that followed. U.S. government officials maintained that they “did not possess the facts that could clearly refute the Soviets’ allegations that these crimes were committed by the Third Reich” until the 1990 official Russian admission of guilt.

Turns out, they lied.

The newly released documents show clearly that the U.S. government not only had evidence as early as 1943 that the Nazis could not have committed the massacre, but made a deliberate decision to suppress it and continued to do so for fifty years after the wartime rationale of maintaining the Allied alliance disappeared. If that doesn’t earn a resounding “WTF,” I don’t know what does.


(Image from the National Archives.)