If you cancelled your St. Louis Post-Dispatch subscription over George Will's highly offensive column belittling rape victims, you can come back to the fold now. The paper says it has tossed Will's columns for good.
Tony Messenger, the Post's editorial page editor, says he's replacing Will's Thursday and Sunday dispatches with columns from Michael Gerson, a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush and an alum of Westminster Christian Academy.
Will made the paper's decision to cut his columns very easy, Messenger says, after his June 5 piece "Colleges Become the Victims of Progressivism," in which he dismissed rape victims as hypersensitive, power-hungry manipulators riding the coattails of the Obama administration's efforts against sexual assault on campuses. In a particularly offensive move, he actually put quotation marks around the term sexual assault.
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Will's column claims women earn "privileges" by identifying as rape survivors and calls schools "delusional" for catering to their whims. (We can't help but think of this story from The Onion: "College Rape Victim Pretty Thrilled She Gets To Recount Assault To Faculty Committee.")
He even criticizes a woman for claiming she was raped after an acquaintance she'd had sex with before forced himself on her, as though men aren't required to get consent from women each time they have sex.
Thankfully, most of America saw Will's column for what it was: nonsense drivel based in the very lies that perpetuate a rape culture in the first place. As senators Dianne Feinstein, Tammy Baldwin, Richard Blumenthal and Bob Casey wrote in a joint statement:
Your column reiterates ancient beliefs about sexual assault that are inconsistent with the reality of victims' experiences, based on what we have heard directly from survivors. Your words contribute to the exact culture that discourages reporting and forces victims into hiding and away from much-needed services. For starters, your notion about a perceived privileged status of survivors of sexual assault on campuses runs completely counter to the experiences described to us.
In a note alerting readers to the change, Messenger also apologizes for publishing Will's piece in the first place.
"We don't edit our syndicated columns but we do maintain the right to express editorial judgment in terms of deciding whether or not to publish something that we got from a syndicated columnist," Messenger tells the Washington Post. "Part of it is just the reality of the news business these days. Nothing gets as much of a look as it used to. That's our reality and we have to live with that. That's why it was important to include 'We apologize' in that note because we didn't want readers to think that we were shirking our responsibility."
So welcome, Michael Gerson, to the Post's editorial page. If you can understand how rape works, you're already doing a better job than your predecessor.
Follow Lindsay Toler on Twitter at @StLouisLindsay. E-mail the author at [email protected].