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University of Rochester President Joel Seligman: Dismiss pro-rape economics professor Steven Landsburg

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In a March 20 blog post titled "Censorship, Environmentalism and Steubenville," University of Rochester economics professor Steven Landsburg openly promoted rape. He questioned the harm of raping an unconscious woman who may not remember the attack, and wondered why rapists should not "reap the benefits" of women's bodies:

"Let's suppose that you, or I, or someone we love, or someone we care about from afar, is raped while unconscious in a way that causes no direct physical harm—no injury, no pregnancy, no disease transmission. (Note: The Steubenville rape victim, according to all the accounts I've read, was not even aware that she'd been sexually assaulted until she learned about it from the Internet some days later.) Despite the lack of physical damage, we are shocked, appalled and horrified at the thought of being treated in this way, and suffer deep trauma as a result. Ought the law discourage such acts of rape? Should they be illegal?"

Landsburg's blog entry continues:

"Why shouldn't the rest of the allowed to reap the benefits?"

To summarize Landsburg's position: As long as a woman is unconscious, you should rape her.

Landsburg's blog openly promotes violence against women. Yet when faced by criticism from students and the public, the University defended Landsburg in a statement from spokesperson Bill Murphy:

"At the University of Rochester, we honor our Communal Principles: fairness, freedom, honesty, inclusion, respect, and responsibility. We are committed to academic freedom and free speech.

"Professor Landsburg is entitled to his opinions and his independent publishing of them. His opinions do not represent the views of the University—we work hard to promote a culture of mutual respect and to combat sexual violence."

The University is most assuredly not promoting a culture of mutual respect that combats sexual violence. Instead, it has described as academically legitimate one professor’s assertion that when a woman is unconscious she becomes an object without human rights. Legitimizing this viewpoint promotes an unsafe campus environment, normalizes the criminal act of rape, denies the devastating effects of rape on victims, and outright recommends that male students perform violent crimes against female students.

Endorsing and promoting rape should not be protected by "academic freedom and free speech." Calling hate speech “academic freedom” is a fallacy. It is not a legitimate academic standpoint to encourage students to commit crimes of violence against their fellow students.

Steven Landsburg is using his position as a professor of economics to promote rape, and the University is defending his right to do so. We demand he be dismissed.

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