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Harvard Profs Criticizing The Hunting Ground Might Have Created a 'Hostile Climate,' Activist Filmmakers Claim

Media is catching on to the junk science that forms the core narrative of the campus rape crisis.

KamilahThe Hunting GroundThe team of activists responsible for The Hunting Ground—a deeply irresponsible propaganda piece recently shortlisted by the Academy—are clearly desperate to quash legitimate criticism of their film; they recently implied that the 19 Harvard University Law professors who have denounced the film’s inaccuracies might be contributing to a “hostile climate” for Harvard Law students.

A recent article in The Harvard Crimson spotlighted a website set up in support of Brandon Winston, the Harvard Law student accused of sexual assault by Kamilah Willingham, who is featured prominently in the film. The law professors, some of whom assisted with Winston’s legal defense, have persuasively argued that he is innocent of the allegations made against him. In response, filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering and had this to say:

In an emailed statement, “The Hunting Ground” director Kirby Dick and producer Amy Ziering also denounced the website from Winston’s legal team.

“It’s a slick and sad attempt to mislead the public and blame the victim,” they wrote.

They also criticized the Law School professors, many of whom have been vocal critics of Harvard’s recently overhauled approach to handling sexual harassment cases, for their letter critiquing the film.

“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,” Dick and Ziering wrote.

This galling smear is reminiscent of the Title IX investigation of Northwestern University’s Laura Kipnis, who was essentially accused of violating Title IX because she was criticizing Title IX. Similarly, critiquing an activist film that relies on junk science is unacceptable and possibly illegal, purveyors of hysteria claim.

Janet Halley, Royall Professor of Law at Harvard, called the filmmaker's comments "bizarre," in an email to Reason.

"The press release and the website enable the public to gauge for itself the veracity of the film," wrote Halley. "This might have made a more unfriendly environment for the exaggerations, omissions, and falsehoods spread by the Hunting Ground.  But here at the Law School we cherish debate and think that evidence matters—sunlight is the best disinfectant."

It wasn't just the Harvard professors; Dick and Ziering were equally dismissive of Reason’s criticism of their film. Earlier this week, NPR wrote about the controversy surrounding The Hunting Ground and took note of Reason’s investigation of David Lisak’s confused approach to serial predators:

The libertarian magazine Reason has challenged the work of one of the scholars who serve as a touchstone for the film, the University of Massachusetts, Boston's David Lisak. He has been invoked as an authority by military officials, college campuses and media outlets, including NPR.

In an interview with Reason, Lisak acknowledged that his study concluding the prevalence of serial campus rapists drew heavily on the earlier work of a former graduate student, whose research was not specifically focused on college rapes. It was conducted on people who happened to pass by on the UMass-Boston campus, a commuter school with an older population than the stereotypical four-year college. …

Dick said the overwhelming consensus of relevant studies implicates repeat offenders — and so did the filmmakers' interviews. Ziering said a significant number of the women who participated in the documentary told her they did so because they were heartbroken to learn their victimizer had assaulted other women too.

"When it comes to statistics, we have to look to the scientists and look at the discussion that's going on among scientists," Dick told NPR. "And [we should] not pay attention to people who might be pundits, because they're not researchers. We should really rely on the researchers to give us guidance."

Some scientists, of course, do indeed take issue with Lisak’s serial predator theory. But Dick and Ziering would apparently like to live in a world where the only person allowed to comment on these issues is the guy who shares all of their biases and completely agrees with them.

It’s a sign of the fundamental weakness of their argument—a symptom of the fact that college campuses are simply not “hunting grounds” teeming with criminal sociopaths who prey on women—that Dick and Ziering have only one response to their critics: you’re not allowed to criticize us.

Photo Credit: The Hunting Ground

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  • R C Dean||

    Directly threatening tenured law profs?

    Yeah, that's gonna end well.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    The future of research. Conclusions don't need to stand up to scrutiny when you can scream victim blaming or denialism.

  • RBS||

    recently shortlisted by the Academy

    Of course it was.

  • John||

    It is not the facts, it is the narrative. And you would think that the fact that the movie is mostly about destroying the life of an innocent black man might get black people to rethink their allegiance to the Prog plantation.

  • Sevo||

    "recently shortlisted by the Academy"

    And in line for a Nobel Peace Prize!

  • John||

    Kirby Dick also did the Invisible War, which is every bit as bad as this one. The Hunting Ground flat out slanders Jameis Winston and portrays him as a predator and rapist.

    Remember when it was a really big deal when a rich white man tried to frame a black man for raping a white woman? Yeah neither do I. The rather appropriately named Dick no doubt really does think Atikus Finch was the bad guy in To Kill a Mockingbird.

  • Loki||

    Kirby Dick

    When I see that name, I picture a twee little skinny jean wearing, "ironic" beard sporting little hipster fuck who makes pajama boy look manly and dignified by comparison. I bet he has one of the most punchable faces ever.

  • Loki||

    Eh, close enough. I got the hipster beard wrong, but the glasses, the overall "twee" look, and I'm still thinking if the picture showed anything from the waste down, you'd see skinny jeans that look like something a woman would wear.

  • Loki||

    Eh, close enough. I got the hipster beard wrong, but the glasses, the overall "twee" look, and I'm still thinking if the picture showed anything from the waste down, you'd see skinny jeans that look like something a woman would wear.

  • Loki||

    Fuck you, SKWIRRELZ.

  • John||

    They were verbally raped Sparky.

  • tarran||

    If each word was an instance of verbal rape, then they were raped thousands of times.

  • B.P.||

    He didn't graduate from the Columbia School of Journalism, though. No amount of work experience can make up for that moral failing.

  • CatoTheChipper||

    Dick and Ziering have only one response to their critics: you’re not allowed to criticize us.

    Pretty much the same response that global warming believers have to their critics.

    Which is pretty much the same response that ISIS believers have to their critics.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Welcome to the new world of intellectual discourse. Logic, reason, evidence don't matter if you've got the narrative on your side.

    Another quick example, from a comment I made on my Facebook feed:

    Me: "Ran an interesting little test this morning. I compared per capita gun ownership rates and per capita homicide rates by country, both from Wikipedia. Now, I'll admit, this is a VERY back of the envelope measure. There's a lot more data scrubbing that would almost certainly be necessary to get scientific unimpeachability. But, the correlation came out at -0.15. The negative correlation suggests that more gun ownership is associated with fewer homicides, but the 0.15 suggests that it's not a particularly strong correlation.

    Make of that what you will."

    Liberal Acquaintance: "Oh please, I know as do you, you can make numbers say anything. Get the right set of stats and you can correlate global warming to Kardashian plastic surgeries."

    So, I cite some research I'd done, minding all the caveats that the data implies. And the result isn't "Hey, let me see the data". It's an out-and-out accusation of lying. When I offered up the data, she specifically refused to even look.

  • Ted S.||

    +an arbitrary number of Tyler Vigens

  • Jimbo||

    Can you also run the numbers on all the parties Rico will now be missing due to his horrible lack of feelings?

  • Loki||

    Logic, reason, evidence don't matter if you've got the narrative on your side.

    And FEELZ, don't forget about the FEELZ. That's almost as important the narrative. Progtards are progtards first and foremost to make themselves feel superior to all those uneducated rednecks in flyover country. IOW, it's all about themselves above all else.

  • Loki||

    "When it comes to statistics, we have to look to the scientists and look at the discussion that's going on among scientists," Dick told NPR. "And [we should] not pay attention to people who might be pundits, because they're not researchers. We should really rely on the researchers to give us guidance."

    Sounds like the campus rape hysterics are running the same playbook as the climate change hysterics, e.g.: "TEH SCIENSE IZ SETTELLED!!1!!!! ONLEE PEEPLE WHO ARE SHILLZ FOR TEH KKKOCHTOPUSSS DISAGREEZ WIT SYENSE!!11!!111!!!!!"

  • Scarecrow & WoodChipper Repair||

    News-now is so much more impressive, in the literal sense, than historical trends. I am a long term optimist and short term pessimist; I am convinced that the trend in decentralizing government (kings to democracy), news and information (printing press, telegraph, telephones, radio, TV, internet), and manufacturing (factories to 3D printers) will continue, but fascist news like this is depressing; which will win the race? I am still a long term optimist, and think these must be the spasms of dying statism (in which I include fascism, communism, socialism, and a host of others), but it's still depressing seeing people purposely stop thinking.

  • ||

    Hostile environment theory goes aggregation (cf. commerce clause), FIRE: 'COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., December 7, 2015—Colorado College has suspended and banned a student from campus for nearly two years in response to a comment intended as a joke on the anonymous social media application Yik Yak.

    In November 2015, Thaddeus Pryor sent an anonymous reply to the comment “#blackwomenmatter” on Yik Yak. Pryor’s response read, “They matter, they’re just not hot.”' - http://tinyurl.com/p6goc5d

  • Loki||

    “They matter, they’re just not hot.”

    I thought that was "settled science," with some obvious exceptions, natch. /sarc

  • MJGreen - Docile Citizen||

    “It’s a slick and sad attempt to mislead the public and blame the victim,”

    They just simple country filmmakers speaking the plain truth to ya, not like them slick Harvard professors from the city.

  • dantheserene||

    So the film makers trying to destroy an innocent man with their baseless accusations is not a problem, but pointing out that they're full of shit is an attack?

  • centipedefarmer||

    the climate of fear this film creates on campuses isn't hostile?

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