I don’t know the origins of the term “Kangaroo Court”, but I certainly know what it means. But for the avoidance of doubt, according to Wikipedia, a Kangaroo Court is a:
judicial tribunal or assembly that ignores recognized standards of law or justice, and often carries little or no official standing in the territory within which it resides.
Perhaps the time has come to update Wikipedia and various dictionaries for the evolution of language and custom. Perhaps it is time to update the term “Kangaroo Court” to “Obama Court” in recognition of the damage to law and justice perpetrated by the Obama Administration through its April 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter to American universities.
Using its financial leverage with US universities, the US government “encouraged” the establishment of sexual assault tribunals where guilt was determined on a “preponderance of evidence” (50% plus a feather). But these tribunals went beyond this. In many cases:
- the accused were not permitted to see expert reports;
- the accused were not allowed to confront their accuser; and
- the accused were not allowed representations.
under the threat of losing federal funds, many did even more than what was required. Some schools chose not to give accused students the complaint against them, notice of the factual basis of charges, the evidence gathered, or the identities of witnesses. Some barred counsel from attending hearings or disallowed counsel from speaking at hearings. Some prohibited the accused from asking questions of the accuser or witnesses, even through intermediaries; often the accuser participated in hearings behind a partition so that she would not see or be seen by the accused. Even when found responsible for sexual misconduct, the accused was sometimes not allowed to have a copy of the investigative report.
Accusers were also sometimes permitted to appeal not guilty findings. So much for double jeopardy. But hey. Justice eh.
It should also be remembered that the accused and their accusers were generally aged 18-22; many of whom were not able to legally purchase alcohol in many of the states in which they resided.
But why all of this? The Dear Colleague letter was sent in response to claims of extensive sexual assaults on American college campuses. In fact, the letter itself stated that:
a report prepared for the National Institute of Justice found that about 1 in 5 women are victims of completed or attempted sexual assault while in college.
Yes. The claim is that 20% of women are victims of sexual assaults while in college. This despite the US FBI reporting that in 2011:
The rate of forcible rapes in 2011 was estimated at 52.7 per 100,000 female inhabitants.
Or 0.5% of the nation female population.
Given the incredibly large difference in sexual assaults on women in the general population (0.5%) as recorded by the FBI versus college population (20%) as suggested by the National Institute of Justice, what did the Obama Administration do? Did they urgently deploying police or security to address the 40x times higher rate of sexual assault in US universities? No.
The Obama Administration sent a letter. A letter that led universities to set up “these” sexual assault tribunals so that, presumably, guilty numbers more closely meet assault claim numbers. They were encouraged to set up extra-judicial systems and processed on threat of losing federal government funding.
Fortunately the new US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has indicated that she will overhaul this insanity. The response to DeVos’ plan to look into overhauling (but not actually do anything yet) the process was extraordinary:
Nita Chaudhary, co-founder of UltraViolet, a leading national women’s advocacy group, said the idea that there needs to be more of a focus on the rights of the accused would be “laughable if it weren’t so terrifying and outright dangerous.”
“With one-in-four women sexually assaulted while in college — we are facing a national rape epidemic on our campuses, and today’s announcement makes clear that Betsy DeVos and Donald Trump are more concerned with protecting perpetrators than the survivors they sexually assaulted,” she said in a statement.
Note the claimed increase in college sexual assaults from 20% to 25% but also:
“This is another cruel, heartless move from the Discrimination Administration,” said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, in a statement following the secretary’s remarks.
But before Australian’s think such things can only happen in America, consider this. The first step in this process was to make American universities deeply depended upon government money thus making them easily “influence-able”, or would that be “nudge-able”.
The second step was to produce research from an “independent” government agency claiming massive levels of college sexual assault. The third and final step was to leverage such research and financial support to implement a pre-determined agenda.
Let’s consider Australia then.
Are Australian universities highly depended on government funding and hence government influence? Tick. Have a look at the budget papers.
Is there research (if government funded better) that suggests that there is a plague of sexual assaults on Australian university campuses? Tick. The Australian Human Rights Commission undertook a study of 39 Australian Universities and found that:
one in five of them had experienced sexual harassment in a university setting
One in five, or 20%. There must be something magical about that ratio.
Has there been a massive deployment of police or security or medical workers to address this significant proportion of sexual harassment on Australian universities settings versus the general population as suggested by the Human Rights Commission report? Nope.
Have there been discussions within the walls of the Commonwealth Department of Education and Training? Dunno. But wait and see. There is a Labor-Green government coming.
Excuse me while I take the fetal position in my safe space.
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