George Will Should Not Be in the Oregonian

Kristin Teigen

All of us, men and women, deserve a paper that doesn’t print dangerous ideas diminishing sexual assault and real trauma. We deserve columnists that promote real debate, not hatred and condescension.

On June 5, 2014, the Oregonian ran a now infamous column by George Will, in which he mocked the epidemic of sexual assault on college campuses and stated that rape victims enjoy a “coveted status,” enviable among other women. Will further implied that women are making it all up (he doesn’t buy the statistics that 1 of every 5 women on U.S. college campuses experience sexual assault), and that definitions of assault are “capacious” for including unwanted touching.

Apparently not done offending pretty much everyone, especially assault victims, he went on to patronizingly suggest that trigger warnings, sensitively afforded for victims of assault, served only to prevent a ruffling of a “student’s entitlement to serenity” and that the true victims were, wait for it, the universities themselves as they faced demands to provide a safe environment for women.

Pretty gross. And absurd.

Rather than contributing to valuable debate on an important topic, Will demeaned, ridiculed and diminished what is, in reality, a pervasive problem on our college campuses and a real and undeniable horror that women face. In short, he was not one bit aware of or interested in what women experience in the way of sexual violence in this country.

Not surprisingly, there has been a significant backlash to Will’s sexist diatribe. Women’s organizations, including the National Organization for Women, have called upon the Washington Post to fire Will. While the Post has so far stood by their man, others have not been so willing. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has dropped Will, stating “The change has been under consideration for several months, but a column published June 5, in which Mr. Will suggested that sexual assault victims on college campuses enjoy a privileged status, made the decision easier. The column was offensive and inaccurate; we apologize for publishing it."

Now it’s time for the Oregonian to make the same decision. All of us, men and women, deserve a paper that doesn’t print dangerous ideas diminishing sexual assault and real trauma. We deserve columnists that promote real debate, not hatred and condescension. We deserve writers and thinkers who can raise delicate and controversial issues respectfully and who have a better sense of the world around them than Will has. Surely there are other options that would be a better fit for Oregon readers?

What say you, Oregonian? Can you do that for the community you serve and purport to influence?

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