Sex Crimes

Activists Might Be Gearing Up to Sic the Title IX Inquisition on The Hunting Ground's Critics

Propaganda film wants to be immune from criticism.

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The Hunting Ground
The Hunting Ground

Earlier this week, I warned that the activist filmmakers behind The Hunting Ground appeared to be threatening their critics among the Harvard University Law faculty:

"The Harvard Law professors' letter is irresponsible and raises an important question about whether the very public bias these professors have shown in favor of an assailant contributes to a hostile climate at Harvard Law," Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering wrote in a statement to The Harvard Crimson.

That sure sounded to me like the prelude to a Title IX investigation. Sure enough, Harvard Law Professor Jeannie Suk writes in the New Yorker that "I've been told by a high-level administrator that several people have inquired about the possibility" of a Title IX inquiry:

To my knowledge, no complaint of sexual harassment has been filed with Harvard's Title IX office—though I've been told by a high-level administrator that several people have inquired about the possibility—and I don't know if the school would proceed with an investigation. Precedent for such an investigation exists in the case of Laura Kipnis, a feminist film-studies professor at Northwestern University, who earlier this year wrote an article criticizing aspects of Title IX policies and culture and was accused of creating a hostile environment on campus; Northwestern conducted an investigation and ultimately cleared Kipnis of sexual-harassment charges. A handful of students have said that they feel unsafe at Harvard because of the professors' statement about the film. If a Title IX complaint were filed and an investigation launched, the professors wouldn't be permitted to speak about it, as that could be considered "retaliation" against those who filed the complaint, which would violate the campus sexual-harassment policy.

Suk's article is worth reading in full.

It would not surprise me if students at Harvard go the Title IX route; it would also not surprise me if the filmmakers encourage them to do so. They already believe that their work of propaganda should be immune from criticism.