The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Joyce Trebilcot Award Nominee

Posted on | April 7, 2015 | 30 Comments

Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig (@ebruenig) “grew up in Dallas in a predictably right-wing household, and as a high school kid, had some pretty right-wing ‘opinions’ of my own that I parroted from my folks”:

Then, I volunteered to teach Sunday school to kindergarteners at my church. I became very troubled by the notion that I might unintentionally mislead them about the Bible due to my lack of firsthand knowledge (I’d only read the bits and pieces most people have) and so I committed myself to reading it on my own. I’ve heard this process turns some people into atheists; it turned me into a hardcore leftist.

Tip: Beware of young people who speak disrespectfully of their parents.

Yet who am I to judge Elizabeth Bruenig? My adolescence was spent in a noisy haze of Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and whatever drugs I could get my hands on which, considering that my best friend was a dealer, was quite a lot. There was no Internet back then, however, so you’ll find no Facebook photos of my youthful antics, nor was it possible, circa 1976, for a long-haired teenage rock-and-roll hoodlum to “log on” and spew his precocious opinions out there for the entire world to share.

One suspects that the “right-wing” Stoker family of Arlington, Texas, is rather affluent, so that their daughter had the financial resources to attend Brandeis University (annual tuition $47,833) where she graduated in 2013 and was awarded a Marshall Scholarship. She went from conservative Methodism to dabbling in Quakerism to “social justice” Catholicism in a few short years and married Matt Bruenig, who writes for the progressive think tank Demos. Mr. Bruenig graduated summa cum laude from the University of Oklahoma and then went to Boston University Law School. He describes himself thus:

My writing is informed by a leftist political perspective that draws upon a diverse set of historical and contemporary leftist intellectuals. In particular, the various theories of egalitarian distributive justice that began with John Rawls have had the most influence on me.

Matt Bruenig probably never read Friedrich Hayek’s The Mirage of Social Justice, a thorough refutation of Rawlsian egalitarianism, but then again, when did any liberal ever read Hayek?

All of that, however, is just background I came across while trying to figure out, “Who the hell is this idiot Elizabeth Bruenig?” Her take on the Rolling Stone UVA rape hoax raises this question:

Yes, there were an absurd number of mistakes in Rolling Stone’s journalistic method, but like most events ostensibly about ethics in journalism, the kernel of the controversy is about politics, not journalism.
The politics, of course, inform the journalism. For better or worse (almost certainly worse), rape is a contested political property, and campus rape is its pinnacle. During last year’s ballyhoo over California’s campus affirmative consent law, the contingencies for and against split down the aisle: The left and center-left supported it, while the right and far-right opposed it.

(We pause to note that, in Mrs. Bruenig’s political universe “the left” is a Guardian column by Jessica Valenti, “the center-left” is a Vox column by Ezra Klein, “the right” is a Reason column by Robert Carle and the “far right” is a Federalist column by . . . Robert Carle. So I guess Robert Carle is a spectrum all to himself. But never mind that . . .)

More importantly, similar political groupings tend to form around controversial cases. When Cathy Young reported skeptically on the case of Emma Sulkowicz, the Columbia undergraduate whose mattress-hefting protest made national news, Jezebel’s Erin Gloria Ryan called her out, and anti-feminist finger-waggers at the misleadingly titled American Thinker feted her insight. What accounts for the political polarization in rape journalism, which is presumably odious to everyone, regardless of political orientation?

(Here I’m going to intrude the simple answer to her question. What accounts for this “political polarization” is that feminists and their allies in the Democrat-Media Complex decided that pushing the “campus rape epidemic” hysteria would be a winning issue and, when it turned out that the actual facts about rape contradicted their narrative, they simply refused to quit. The Left’s stubborn insistence on “winning” this issue, despite having neither evidence nor logic on their side, accounts 100% for the aforesaid “polarization.” But now brace yourself for Mrs. Bruenig’s coup-de-main of feminist irrationality . . .)

The left tends to view oppression as something that operates within systems, sometimes in clearly identifiable structural biases, and other times in subtle but persistent ways. . . . Making sense of oppression, therefore, requires looking at entire systems of oppression, not just specific instances or behaviors.
The right, on the other hand, tends to understand politics on the individual level, which fits in neatly with a general obsession with the capital-i Individual. Thus, the right tends to pore over the specific details of high-profile cases like those of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, concluding that if those particular situations were embattled by complications or mitigating factors, then the phenomena they’re meant to represent must not be real either. And if a few highly publicized rapes turn out to be murkier than first represented, then rape itself is not a crisis, just a regrettable and rare anomaly. . . . It isn’t great reasoning, but it is very appealing on a sub-intellectual level.

Read the whole thing. This astounding claim — that an insistence on facts in journalism “isn’t great reasoning,” compounded with the insulting epithet “sub-intellectual” — has made this hitherto obscure young woman suddenly semi-notorious. Mrs. Bruenig has now made herself such an infamous fool as to deserve her own Twitchy article and even Instapundit felt the need to mock her. While it is not necessary to do a point-by-point rebuttal of her absurdity, let’s ask whether Mrs. Bruenig believes that female students at the University of Virginia (or at any other U.S. campus) are victims of a “system of oppression”? Is it not rather the case that university students in the United States are among the most fortunate and affluent people in the entire world?

As for whether the incidence of rape on college campuses is a “crisis,” I’ll quote my own American Spectator column from Monday:

Rolling Stone was grossly negligent, but this has been true of the entire profession of mainstream journalism in dealing with the claims made by feminists about the “rape epidemic” on America’s college and university campuses. These claims are as fictional as Jackie’s imaginary boyfriend “Haven Monahan.”
According to the Department of Justice, the incidence of sexual assault in the United States has declined significantly in the past two decades, down 64 percent from 1995 to 2010 and remaining stable at that lower rate. Feminists and their political allies, including both President Obama and Vice President Biden, have repeatedly claimed that 1-in-5 female college students are victims of sexual assault. However, according to DOJ statistics, “the actual rate is 6.1 per 1,000 students, or 0.61 percent (instead of 1-in-5, the real number is 0.03-in-5).” And, in fact, female college students are less likely to be raped than are females of the same age who don’t attend college. Feminists have fomented a fictitious crisis because, as Wendy McElroy has explained, “Political careers, administrative jobs, government grants, book and lecture contracts are just some of vast financial benefits that rest upon continuing the ‘rape culture’ crusade on campus.”

Every rape is a tragedy, but no one is arguing otherwise. What happened — the original cause of “the political polarization in rape journalism” that Mrs. Bruenig decries — is that feminists who craved money and power enlisted the assistance of Democrat politicians and liberal journalists to advance a deliberate deceit. They falsely asserted that there was an “epidemic” of sexual assault on U.S. campuses and employed “Statistical Voodoo and Elastic Definitions” (i.e., the bogus 1-in-5 statistic) as “evidence” of this non-existent epidemic. When the falsehood of these statistical claims were exposed, feminists doubled down, calling their critics “rape apologists.” Meanwhile, a number of cases came to light where male students were being denied their due process rights in campus disciplinary tribunals that found these students “responsible” for alleged sexual assault under circumstances where no criminal charge was ever made. Even a courtroom acquittal — a not-guilty verdict — was insufficient to protect male students from being expelled or suspended simply because they had been accused. In any “he-said/she-said” dispute, it seemed that the only thing that mattered was what she said. Despite what appeared to be a set of campus policies heavily tilted against any male student accused of sexual assault, however, feminists were claiming that the system wasn’t tilted far enough against males.

America’s university campuses were in the grip of a “rape culture,” we were told, and administrators were turning a blind eye to this horrific rampage of sexual violence. Anyone who expressed doubt about these extraordinary assertions was denounced as a “misogynist” and, at a time when this feminist campaign was being waged in increasingly strident language, Rolling Stone published Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s lurid tale of Jackie being brutally gang-raped at the Phi Kappa Psi house.



These two things are related, you see. If you are a journalist trying to prove the existence of an “epidemic” that does not actually exist, it is not really an accident when the anecdote by which you “prove” your case turns out to be a hoax. Thus, I am nominating Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig for the inaugural Joyce Trebilcot Award for Bad Feminist Arguments.

This award is named in honor the late (and indisputably crazy) lesbian feminist, Professor Joyce Trebilcot. In addition to authoring the 1994 book Dyke Ideas and co-founding the department of Women’s Studies at Washington University in St. Louis, Professor Trebilcot wrote the influential 1974 treatise “Sex Roles: The Argument From Nature,” a landmark work of lunatic feminism. Presuming to address the question of whether male/female sex roles are justified by “natural psychological differences between the sexes,” Professor Trebilcot in effect answered, “So what?” The question to be asked was not “what women and men naturally are, but what kind of society is morally justifiable,” Professor Trebilcot argued. “In order to answer this question, we must appeal to the notions of justice, equality, and liberty. It is these moral concepts, not the empirical issue of sex differences, which should have pride of place in the philosophical discussion of sex roles.”

To translate this into the simplest possible terms: “Facts be damned.”

A deliberate indifference to facts in service to a devotion to egalitarian theory is the philosophical foundation of feminist insanity.

Although I’m sure there will be many other deserving competitors for this year’s Joyce Trebilcot Award, Elizabeth Bruenig has made a strong early bid to capture this prestigious honor.



30 Responses to “Joyce Trebilcot Award Nominee”

  1. Phil_McG
    April 7th, 2015 @ 6:13 pm

    She went from conservative Methodism to dabbling in Quakerism to “social justice” Catholicism

    In other words, a Catholic In Name Only. A reed, swayed by the howling socjus winds.

    We need more good Catholics, like Charles Martel, Pope Sixtus V, and General Pinochet.

  2. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    April 7th, 2015 @ 6:14 pm

    They are shameless liars.

  3. Hodor
    April 7th, 2015 @ 6:31 pm

    “Rape journalism.” Oh, Lawd…

    Quite descriptive of a lot of what goes on out there, actually…

  4. OrangeEnt
    April 7th, 2015 @ 6:31 pm

    ” it turned me into a hardcore leftist.”

    Guess she misread it then….

  5. Adobe_Walls
    April 7th, 2015 @ 7:15 pm
  6. RS
    April 7th, 2015 @ 7:38 pm

    I’ll give Bruenig this. She’s honest about her motivations. For her, the narrative–derived precisely how we’re not told–is everything, and “journalism” must serve that. Which, in reality, is not journalism but propaganda.

    What’s interesting is that she fails to realize that she is merely a sheep being led in whatever direction her leader wishes her to go. Without looking at individuals and facts, how do you determine whether the narrative is accurate?

    Finally, what Bruenig fails to acknowledge is that the Left advances the tale of the individual as evidence of the accuracy of the narrative. When, however, the individual tale is found wanting, it is jettisoned without any harm to the narrative. Left unexplained is whether there is any evidence sufficient to disprove the assertions underlying the narrative.

  7. robertstacymccain
    April 7th, 2015 @ 8:09 pm

    How can anyone who calls themselves a Christian not be offended by the deliberate lies feminists have told, not just about this UVA story and not just about “rape culture,” but about EVERYTHING?

    There is a really profound dishonesty at the core of radical feminism, a refusal to admit that what they are doing is rationalizing personal failures by making males (The Patriarchy) scapegoats for whatever it is they’re unhappy about. And it’s this dishonesty — building a political worldview on a foundation of lies — that is (or should be) so deeply offensive to anyone who cares about truth.

  8. RS
    April 7th, 2015 @ 8:13 pm

    How can anyone who calls themselves a Christian . . .

    Matthew 7:21: Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.

  9. DeadMessenger
    April 7th, 2015 @ 8:20 pm

    They scapegoat and marginalize normal women, too, so it’s not just The Patriarchy™, peace be upon them.

  10. RS
    April 7th, 2015 @ 8:42 pm

    I’ve been pondering Treblicot’s argument about sex roles and morality for an hour or so. Among many problems is that she essentially is putting the cart before the horse. By arguing that morality, not empirical evidence of nature should have the priority, she ignores that human nature is what led to morality.* In other words, our morality is predicated upon what humans actually are. To accept her argument that sex differences are irrelevant, one must accept that morality sprang from the ether ex nihilo and pre-existed nature. However ” notions of justice, equality, and liberty,” to use her words, have no meaning absent human nature to which to apply them.

    * I, as a Christian, believe that God is author of Truth which includes morality which is simply a shorthand way of describing His Word and His Will. Teblicot would not agree, I assume, so my comments are made with that assumption in mind.

  11. Adobe_Walls
    April 7th, 2015 @ 8:50 pm

    Atta girl.

  12. RS
    April 7th, 2015 @ 9:03 pm

    “. . .The Patriarchy™, peace be upon them.” (Emphasis supplied)

    On behalf of The Patriarchy™, we thank you. I shall place you on the agenda of the next meeting for purposes of commendation. As you know, said meeting will be held in the basement of the Kiwanas hall in Cut Bank, Montana next Thursday at 7:00 PM. There will be a spaghetti supper with salad and bread. The Ladies Auxiliary is baking pies. BYO hard stuff. Beer and set-ups provided.

  13. kbiel
    April 7th, 2015 @ 9:14 pm

    conservative Methodism

    What, there’s like 15 of those in the U.S., er, 14 now, right?

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  16. chizbro
    April 7th, 2015 @ 9:36 pm

    Ms. Bruenig lost me at her first paragraph; “The
    retraction comes on the heels of the Charlottesville Police Department’s
    announcement that there was not
    enough evidence to pursue an investigation of the story’s titular rape”
    Wrong. The police said there was NO evidence of a rape. It’s right there in the headline of the link she provides.

  17. Hanzo
    April 7th, 2015 @ 10:11 pm

    “My writing is informed by a leftist political perspective that draws upon a diverse set of historical and contemporary leftist intellectuals”.

    His “diverse” opinions were all helpfully formed by leftists. How quaint.

    Those leftists say the darndest things.

  18. Adobe_Walls
    April 7th, 2015 @ 10:52 pm

    Which is kinda funny since they really don’t have anything to say.

  19. RichFader
    April 7th, 2015 @ 11:09 pm

    If your response to the collapse of the Rolling Stone story can more or less fairly be described as “but Fox!”, you’re doing it wrong.

  20. concern00
    April 8th, 2015 @ 1:00 am

    Your American Spectator article once again demonstrates your journalistic talents exist well beyond this blog. I am always pleasantly amused to read your articles written with a different editorial style.

  21. DeadMessenger
    April 8th, 2015 @ 2:52 am

    If it were the Kiwanas hall in Eau Gallie FL, I’d be there, with extra BYO.

  22. wbkrebs
    April 8th, 2015 @ 4:43 am

    I think he means he read Leon Trotsky, Che Guevara, and Franz Fanon.

  23. M. Thompson
    April 8th, 2015 @ 7:33 am

    More than you’d think. But mostly in the South.

  24. Quartermaster
    April 8th, 2015 @ 8:46 am

    Are we voting?


  25. Quartermaster
    April 8th, 2015 @ 8:46 am

    “Leftist Intellectual” is an oxymoron.

  26. Quartermaster
    April 8th, 2015 @ 8:51 am

    There are many in the north. The West Ohio district has had a number o kick up a stink when the Bishop hired a queer as treasurer, and many pastors have been removed when the charge raised a stink over their heretical activities.

    The UMC has seen significant push back at the General Conferences lately, over the direction of the denomination. If the trends continue, there’s going to be a purge at the UMC.

    Here in the south, there is quite a bit of heresy. At Lake Junaluska, there is a South African Methodist, Can’t remember his title, who thinks acceptance of queers is just show the love of Christ. It’s never been explained to me how allowing a person to engage in sin that will drag him/her to hell is “showing the love of Christ” to anyone.

  27. Quartermaster
    April 8th, 2015 @ 8:53 am

    She may have read “Das Kapital” by mistake.

  28. Dana
    April 8th, 2015 @ 9:06 am

    If rape on, or around, campus was as common as the Social Justice Warriors claim it to be, one would think that they could find some clearly unambiguous stories on which to build their case.

    The problem is that it isn’t about rape; it’s about power, and a leftist need to change what they see as an unequal power dynamic between men and women in college. Men and women can compete intellectually without any outside help, but nothing can make women, on average, as large and strong as men, and the feministe perceive that as intolerable.

  29. Squid Hunt
    April 8th, 2015 @ 11:58 am

    Ladies, we need help. How do we get through the crazy? Because 2016 is coming up quick.

  30. Daniel O'Brien
    April 8th, 2015 @ 2:31 pm

    How long before she becomes a lesbian and leaves her husband?