White House Protection for Black-Out Drunks?

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Do American young women deserve a sacred, federally-protected right to engage in reckless, irresponsible and even illegal behavior with no fear of consequences?

Vice President Biden seems to think so.

After a White House meeting in January to announce a new task force to curb sexual assaults on campus, the ever-effusive VEEP declared that every woman should expect such federal protection “no matter what she’s wearing, no matter whether she’s in a bar, in a dormitory, in the back seat of a car, on a street, drunk or sober.”

His remarks accompanied the release of a new report by the White House Council on Women and Girls, suggesting that victims of sexual assaults on university campuses are often “abused while they’re drunk, under the influence of drugs, passed out or otherwise incapacitated.”

Since most students at university campuses are below the legal drinking age of 21, shouldn’t the White House do-gooders also warn against the dangers of illegal drinking and drug abuse that would lead so many of our daughters to become “incapacitated” at college parties?

To pose these questions doesn’t mean ignoring the very real problem of women who face unwanted, sometimes violent advances from brutish and anti-social males. The big new White House report, entitled “Rape and Sexual Assault: A Renewed Call to Action” claims that one in five university students will experience such incidents during their years on campus, but only 12 percent of them report the bad behavior. At times, this failure to go to the authorities no doubt stems from the victims’ knowledge that their own conduct in boozing to excess, or blacking out, naked, in someone’s bedroom, may have contributed to their painful experiences.

University administrators across the country already try to send a clear message that a female’s provocative, self-destructive or ambiguous behavior doesn’t give a man any right to assault or molest her. Males who nonetheless take advantage of such situations should rightly face stern, sure punishment from campus authorities and local law enforcement. But it’s hard to see a pressing need for a sweeping new federal initiative complete with “a task force of senior administration officials” and passionate endorsements by both the president and the vice president.

Obviously, there is an appropriate and necessary federal role in curbing sex assaults in the military since armed forces personnel are, by definition, federal employees. But there’s no logical reason to believe that only Washington big-wigs and the White House itself can effectively handle the job of protecting college students from unwanted advances on their campuses, both public and private, in every corner of the country.

President Obama gave the new task force just 90 days to recommend best practices for colleges to prevent and respond to assaults, and to check that they are complying with current legal obligations.

It remains unclear whether those obligations include enforcement of ubiquitous state and local laws against underage drinking and illegal drugging, but the remarks surrounding the new initiative suggest that the White House will remain protective, if not solicitous, of such dubious behavior.

This much ballyhooed program amounts to so much bally-hooey. It isn’t just an example of federal over-reach. It also shows the highest officials of our government sending messages to a younger generation that may do more to exacerbate than to solve a painful problem.

This column appeared first at

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Comments (5)

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  1. Claudia  •  Feb 14, 2014 at 8:16 am

    Well Joe’s idea works for women only if the male aggressor is not a football player. I’m sure you have read about the current Heisman Trophy winner from Florida State, that at least took advantage of a young woman while she was too drunk to formulate a NO and then so frightened that she failed to report her rape in a timely manner. He said, she said, would not be of consequence if young people took personal responsibility for themselves and their actions. When assault is condoned by authorities these people are empowering all the others that have bad judgment.

    • John K  •  Feb 14, 2014 at 9:04 am

      Claudia, what exactly do you want the federal government to do?

  2. DAVID INGRAM  •  Feb 14, 2014 at 9:13 am

    What should the government do? I think it should be illegal to force your will upon someone who is incapable of defending themselves or making their will known. As a conservative, I have this same view for the protection of the unborn.

    I also do not think the question of how a woman becomes incapacitated should determine whether or not she is sexual fair game. What if a young passed out because of heat exhaustion or some other reason. Is is then fair for a man to say, “well she didn’t say no.”

    David Ingram

  3. Kyle smith  •  Feb 14, 2014 at 10:46 am

    Holy sh*t Are you kidding me?!
    “I think it should be illegal to force your will upon someone who is incapable of defending themselves or making their will known.”
    I’m not a lawyer but I’m pretty sure that’s called rape and or assault and, again, I’m pretty sure it’s already illegal. It’s never ok to rape/assault another person for any reason but to encourage a lack of personal responsibility because It’s now “EXTRA ILLEGAL” to do so shouldn’t bring any woman additional comfort in thinking “well now I can’t be raped ’cause ‘ol Biden said so.”

  4. tim  •  Dec 8, 2014 at 4:57 am

    There is also something called personal responsibility. Young women should not lead men on and the say “just kidding”. I personally know of a female army office who was having consensual intercourse with a friend of mine. after
    she climaxed she said, ok, get off of me, I decided this is wrong because I am an officer,and you are enlisted. I know it’s true because I was in the same room. At that point,if he did not withdraw from her body, he was at that point raping her, even though she initiated the sex, but withdrew consent after she climaxed.

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