The article written by Peter Berkowitz on the WSJ of 4/4/2017, concerning a suit known as Doe v. Yale makes interesting reading.
Like in Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose interpreting the classics using modern examples, in the eyes of some bigots, could be a dangerous business.
Berkowitz writes: “In late 2013 according to Doe, a female philosophy teaching assistant filed a complaint about a short paper he had written. In the context of Socrates ’ account in Plato’s “Republic” of the tripartite soul, the paper argued that rape was an irrational act in which the soul’s appetitive and spirited parts overwhelm reason, which by right rules. The assistant, a coordinator and an associate dean in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, called Doe to her office and told him his rape example was “unnecessarily provocative.”
Furthermore, she ordered him to have no contact with the teaching assistant and directed him to attend sensitivity training at the university’s mental-health center. She also informed him that he had become a “person of interest” to Yale, which meant that the university had to intervene to ensure he “was not a perpetrator himself,” in the lawsuit’s words. A few months later, the same Title IX office initiated the sexual-assault investigation against him.”
Dr. Doe claims that a university panel found in spring 2014 he had engaged in sexual intercourse with a woman without her consent. But Doe alleges that the woman expressly consented and that was she who had harassed him.
Berkowitz adds: “Doe advances one relatively new and one completely novel legal theory. The relatively new one revolves around Title IX, the 1972 federal law that provides that “no person” may be discriminated against based on sex in educational programs that receive federal assistance.”
Doe points out that the law must protect men as well as women. In punishing him for sexual assault on the basis of allegations that were either unfounded or refuted by facts – to which both sides of the dispute agreed – Yale discriminated against him on the basis of his sex.
Berkowitz ends his article in a somber tone, noting that, if Doe’s story is true, then Yale is no longer satisfied in enforcing correct opinions but demands that you should be of the correct sex. We may add that Yale is stretching the boundaries of censorship intervening in an author’s right to opt for an example he wants to use, while discussing a Greek classic.