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OK, This Will Never Happen At Columbia Law School

When three of my favorite authors have 'gotten their knickers in an unnecessary twist,' I'm interested. When they come out on different sides of the debate, I'm intrigued. And when they manage to get sex, law, and economics into the conversation, I feel compelled to give them a link.

The short version: at Oberlin College, apparently they have a 'Safer Sex Night' which turns somewhat bacchanalian. [1] There is even a 'Tent of Consent' where people... well, consent. From this basic fact the discussion has led:

  • To a Frontpage.com article about Oberlin's 'activist' stance and how horrible it is. It's written from the right: be prepared for breathless details of sexual activity coupled with condemnation of everything from the outrageous to the perfectly sane. Best quote: "The rest of her presentation was too obscene to recount." (Nothing is as titillating as false prudishness wrapped in neo-Victorianism.)

  • To a post by Steve at Begging to Differ, a rather wry commentary on the entire affair. Best quote: "While the Tent Of Consent appears to have attained institutional status at Oberlin, it was banned at Penn State. 'Instead, [students] were encouraged to write on a poster the best places on campus to participate in consensual activity.'" (I'm guessing 'In my bedroom with the door closed,' wasn't listed very often.) To Steve goes the award for starting the whole ball of wax going, by questioning, "Is this legal?"

  • And from this to the promiscuous (at least in terms of sheer numbers of blog posts) Will Baude of Crescat Sententia, who puts the 'libertine' into 'libertarian.' [2] He gives his best shot at answering, managing to work in the Ohio Criminal Code, Barnes v. Glen Theater, and the ever-present Lawrence v. Texas. Best quote: "But this kind of stuff happens at the University of Chicago as well." Who knew?

  • And from here we get to the economics argument, from long-time member of my blogroll, The Curmudgeonly Clerk. The clerk manages to bring things full-circle, from the faux-Victoriana of the original piece to an almost Chestertonian dismissal: "I doubt very much that anyone requires institutional assistance with his or her sex life...College students will, no doubt, find their way sexually even if they cannot explore fetishes in the chaplain's office." The main thrust of his argument seems to be that the money for the Safer Sex Night might better be spent funding a chair in human physiology.
  • Normally, I find myself agreeing with the Clerk, but here I think he's being uncharitable. Perhaps people at the University of Chicago, or Columbia Law School, or federal law clerks in Texas don't need 'institutional assistance with their sex lives.' But my friends, isn't it nice to know that for those who do, Oberlin College is there? [3]

    [1] Keen readers of the articles involved will note that the event is not at all bacchanalian, as any even honoring Bacchus pretty much has to have wine. Oberlin, deciding that wine gets in the way of consent, if not intercourse, recently banned alcohol at the event. I played around with other words, like satyrian, then figured that was sexist but satyrfaunian was too long, and then decided Oberlin probably didn't deserve me making up a term out of whole cloth. The classicists among my readership may be amused, offended, or both.
    [2] Yes, you can't really get 'libertine' into 'libertarian.' Work with me here.
    [3] Best quote from the linked article? It has to be "'I view Safer Sex Night as the penultimate expression of Oberlin's suppressed sexuality and frustrated libido,' added sophomore counselor Chad Stratton, offering a more blunt assessment of the evening." Someone tell me this is an undergraduate mistaking the meaning of the word 'penultimate,' because otherwise I shudder to think of the ultimate expression of Oberlin's frustrated libido. Would it be like a scene from Akira?

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» Consent (Discon)Tent from The Curmudgeonly Clerk
Over at Begging to Differ, Steve opines on the Oberlin college experience. What caught Steve's attention was the "Tent of... [Read More]

» Law School Buzz from De Novo
Some Columbia Law School organizations may hold an event at which sex toys will be sold, with the idea being to promote sexual choice and safety and further discussion about legislation and recent court decisions regarding obscene devices. It sounds... [Read More]

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