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Peikoff on date rape

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Amy Peikoff has announced (February 17, 2012):

Well, good then.

Miss Peikoff ends her note with:

Here, I think she might be pandering by going out of her way to imply these terms are inappropriate, but I am not sure one way or the other--she may be referring only to those cases where the terms are aimed at LP personally. The statement, on the other hand, was indeed disgraceful and disgusting; that's why it was problematic. Whether those adjectives could be applied to LP personally and not just the statement, depends on whether he made the statement by mistake or whether it accurately represented his views. A correction would establish not only that the statement was a mistake, but that LP is moral enough to correct his mistakes, and will make the whole incident have no negative moral consequence.

Two other possible scenarios: 1) If LP made the statement mistakenly but for some reason failed to correct it, I would consider it immoral; he's letting stand a statement that makes him look bad and that is surely not in his interest. 2) If he meant what he said, then he is hugely immoral. Where I am going with this is: no correction indicates some form of immorality on LP's part.

Interesting, though, that some individuals chose to reflexively defend the statement, denying what it clearly meant, apparently because of its source.

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The fact that LP has read AP's note and wanted her to make it public implies to me that he agrees with her analysis, and that he will in a future podcast explain that he had misspoke or assumed a legal context, which was not clear given that the question was a moral one.

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Interesting, though, that some individuals chose to reflexively defend the statement, denying what it clearly meant, apparently because of its source.

I defended the statement, and the person who was being attacked over it, because it was a throwaway line that any rational observer would choose to look at in the context of Dr. Peikoff's obvious and highly publicized beliefs against any use of force, and interpret accordingly.

I don't know what you think it "clearly meant", but I know exactly what was meant by it. I know that because I used judgement, not an emotional reaction to the word rape, to make up my mind about it. The meaning of a statement is dependent on the speaker's definitions and context. Plucking a quote out of any context, ignoring any kind of reasonable assumptions about the speaker's true intentions, and instead using your own definitions for what was meant, is fallacious. Doing that about an emotional subject like rape is clearly just people pandering to their emotions instead of bothering to think.

It is so clear and obvious that Peikoff doesn't support rape, that I am ashamed that I ever even tried to argue with people who don't realize that. I guess on March 4th you will be told what everyone with judgement already knows: that Leonard Peikoff in no way advocates for the use of force, to have sex with a woman. Although I doubt that will stop most of you from ignoring that explanation too, just like you're ignoring the entire body of his work now, and continue to use the out of context quote to attack Peikoff as the number one fan of rape.

Edited by Nicky

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... It is so clear and obvious that Peikoff doesn't support rape, ...
Others -- not you , but aequalsa for instance -- have suggested that Peikoff misspoke. You, on the other hand, keep insisting that his words don't imply the use of force. That is ridiculous. The fact is that Peikoff said -- in other words -- that it was okay to use force. He likely misspoke and will back track his words. Edited by softwareNerd

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It is so clear and obvious that Peikoff doesn't support rape, that I am ashamed that I ever even tried to argue with people who don't realize that. I guess on March 4th you will be told what everyone with judgement already knows: that Leonard Peikoff in no way advocates for the use of force, to have sex with a woman. Although I doubt that will stop most of you from ignoring that explanation too, just like you're ignoring the entire body of his work now, and continue to use the out of context quote to attack Peikoff as the number one fan of rape.

Then it will be no problem for him to add caveats and whatever else to make his statement more clear in the first place. To say "Statements X, Y, Z logically lead to end A" doesn't mean that the speaker even believes A, just that the those statements lead to A. No one is ignoring his entire body of work, so I don't know where you get that from, since no one is saying anything like "he has no idea what Objectivism is".

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I defended the statement [...]

It is so clear and obvious that Peikoff doesn't support rape, that I am ashamed that I ever even tried to argue with people who don't realize that. I guess on March 4th you will be told what everyone with judgement already knows: that Leonard Peikoff in no way advocates for the use of force, to have sex with a woman. Although I doubt that will stop most of you from ignoring that explanation too, just like you're ignoring the entire body of his work now, and continue to use the out of context quote to attack Peikoff as the number one fan of rape.

Well, then, you should have said something like "clearly Dr. Peikoff mis-spoke" rather than try to maintain that there was nothing wrong with what he said because the words didn't mean what they meant simply because Dr. Peikoff spoke them.

In point of fact you are continuing to deny what the stated words actually mean. I am not expecting you to agree that LP endorsed rape, but refusing to agree that his statement _sounds_ like such an endorsement, however incredible you may have found it coming from the source it did, is just willful blindness.

Here's an analogy: Someone asks a noted astronomer how far away the Andromeda Galaxy is. He responds, "Two million miles." This answer gets published in a podcast. People point out the error, saying that the correct answer is two million light years and the astronomer is mistaken. Maybe a bunch of creationists even gloat--"See! even a noted scientist has admitted the universe isn't that old; Andromeda is only light seconds away!" A defender of the astronomer says "Well, he knows it's two million light years, so his statement that it was two million miles clearly really is a statement that it is two million light years." And when people point out, "Well, he actually did say it was two million miles" you ram your fingers in your ears and insist the people are wrong, because of what you are sure the astronomer meant to say.

That's precisely what I meant by a reflexive defender of Leonard Peikoff. He made a mistake here. It's likely that he will admit such and correct it, trivializing the matter in so doing. But you have insisted he never made any mistake. (That is different from asserting that Dr. Peikoff is not in fact immoral, a statement which I could be persuaded to agree with, especially after I see the retraction.) You are also looking forward to the effect the correction (of the non-existent mistake?) will have on people who, you claim, want it to stand as proof that Dr. Peikoff is immoral. Oceania is at war with Eurasia, Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia.

I am ambivalent to a lot of things Dr. Peikoff has said (and never retracted) over the past few years.

I am utterly appalled at people who will go over logical cliffs defending statements that LP will ultimately retract when their actual and inadvertent semantic content is pointed out to him. In the end this whole incident is going to end up saying very little about Dr. Peikoff, but it is very instructive about the sorts of people, like you, who will defend everything he says no matter what the statement actually is.

edit: Included quote from the individual I am responding to, and adjusted some capitalization and punctuation, altered last sentence.

Edited by Steve D'Ippolito

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I am utterly appalled at people who will go over logical cliffs defending statements that LP will ultimately retract when their actual and inadvertent semantic content is pointed out to him. In the end this whole incident is going to end up saying very little about Dr. Peikoff, but it is very instructive about the sorts of people, like you, who will defend everything he says no matter what the statement actually is.
These so-called defenders actually do more harm than good to Peikoff's brand.

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Oceania is at war with Eurasia, Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia.

Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia, we’re going to need you to report to Room 101 immediately.

There’s a talk by David Kelley that recently surfaced on YouTube from just after the split. A funny line from it that feels relevant here comes at 11:50

“At times Ayn Rand would have a new insight…and then thousands of Objectivists would have to be recalled for service work on their beliefs”

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I look forward to reading the retraction or defense of his statement Peikoff provides. Below are some possibilities I see. I'll leave it to you to imagine Peikoff's tone of voice as you read what follows.

1) Please ignore completely what I said in that podcast. My statement was clearly an endorsement of rape, and I now retract it entirely. It's really no excuse for the ridiculous statement I made, but I was functioning on only two hours of sleep when I made that recording and I was clearly not talking sense. As some have suggested, maybe my subconscious was focused on the rape scene in The Fountainhead and another scene in the same book in which Roark tells Wynand that consent, once given, may never be withdrawn. Who knows where some of the nonsense I say comes from! But in any case I unequivocally retract my previous statement.

2) Now I know that many of you are quite up in arms about a certain podcast I recently posted, in which I allegedly made a statement that some, but not all, would say is an endorsement of date rape. How can this possibly be, that the intellectual heir to Ayn Rand, would make such an endorsement? Well, I did say that there are certain contexts in which a woman can't withdraw her consent to having sex once she has given it. So it's all a matter of context. I didn't say that consent may not be withdrawn in all, or even in most contexts, only that there are some contexts in which it may not be withdrawn. If I recall correctly I believe there is such a context given by Miss Rand near the end of The Fountainhead. I don't remember the page so I'll leave it to you to find it.

3) Look, if a woman, scantily dressed, goes to a hotel room late at night with an alpha male, what the hell does she think is going to happen? I stand by my statement, and I don't care what my ex-wife has to say about it!

Edited by John Link

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I look forward to reading the retraction or defense of his statement Peikoff provides...

I'm looking forward to hearing how much, if any, of the podcast might be focused on attacking the motives of those who expressed their disagreement with Peikoff's stated position, and how much blame and condemnation they might deserve.

Perhaps we have a hint of what's to come in Amy Peikoff's statement:

"As has been true with other issues, some people seem to find it more interesting to focus on their disagreements with Leonard Peikoff. (Probably generates more web traffic.)"

Yes, we wouldn't want Objectivists focusing on their disagreements with others, including each other. Why, that would be just, well, uncouth! Ayn Rand would have never focused on her disagreements with anyone. Leonard Peikoff wouldn't either. The firmly established Objectivist manner is to look for the good in others and to focus only on the ideas that one has in common with them, to constantly give others the benefit of the doubt, and to minimize, overlook and forgive their errors and differences.

Amy Peikoff also added:

"(Please note that I did not find it necessary to use any of the following adjectives or phrases in expressing the above disagreement: “disgraceful,” “disgusting,” “anyone of good moral character or intelligence…” etc.)"

Is the above comment aimed at people who have criticized Leonard Peikoff's ideas, or is it aimed at Peikoff? I'm not sure, since the adjectives or phrases that Amy gives as examples are exactly the type that Peikoff frequently uses.

J

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Others -- not you , but aequalsa for instance -- have suggested that Peikoff misspoke. You, on the other hand, keep insisting that his words don't imply the use of force. That is ridiculous. The fact is that Peikoff said -- in other words -- that it was okay to use force.

No, he didn't. The "other word" he used is "sex". And that's not another word for forced intercourse, no matter how many times you repeat that it is, or call the notion that it isn't ridiculous. You can't just go around interpreting people's throwaway remarks to mean "forced intercourse", or some other incendiary thing they didn't say, with the logic of "well what else could they have meant, I can't think of anything, so it must be rape". It's no different from all the nonsense in the media about "implied racism", to the point where everything anyone says on the subject of race, and sometimes not even, somehow ends up being interpreted as "I hate blacks".

I don't understand how you don't see a contradiction here. This is your position:

1. Dr. Peikoff, Ayn Rand's protege and the guy who wrote OPAR actually said that it's OK to use force on a woman, once you got her in your room, to have sex with her. He said it in other words, but he said it clearly, He said it so clearly that the mere notion that maybe he didn't really say it, and you're misunderstanding, is RIDICULOUS.

2. He doesn't think that's OK. You know this as well. You are saying that he will retract it, so, unlike Jonathan and the other guy, you at least know that he doesn't think it's OK to rape someone.

Again: you know he clearly said it (other words, but still: suggesting that those other words don't actually mean forced intercourse is RIDICULOUS to you), and he clearly isn't an advocate of forced intercourse (he will retract it).

Who says it's OK to force intercourse, in no uncertain terms, but doesn't mean it? I submit to you that no one. That's not a mistake anyone makes. He's clearly coherent, so it can't be that he's losing his mind. I strongly urge you to consider the possibility that what he actually said isn't "other words" for forced intercourse. Maybe he didn't make it clear enough for some of his audience (like Grames said, his audience is supposedly new-ish to Oism), but it should be clear to you.

I almost have more respect for Jonathan and co.-s position. At least their obvious contradiction is with a reality they successfully detached themselves from. It's not between two statements they are making back to back.

Edited by Nicky

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Who says it's OK to force intercourse, in no uncertain terms, but doesn't mean it?
Peikoff obviously. Or, maybe you're right and he'll come out and say that he meant every word he said.

As I said, Peikoff does not deserve sycophants like you.

Edited by softwareNerd

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Let me try and explain, once again, what I think his statement means:

He's saying that sometimes, when you hook up with a woman, they're going to act all shy, or pretend that they're "a good girl", and claim to not want what they're clearly there for. At this point, people (like Diana Hsieh apparently), yourself, and some others split from Dr. Peikoff on what a gentleman should do next: You think he should say "Alright, Miss, your wish is my command, allow me to escort you to your cab.", while Dr. Peikoff thinks it's still fine to be pushy and have sex with her.

I'm fine with either position. Really, I could care less how you go about having sex. My problem starts when people take that disagreement, and (not unlike Liberals, when they run into disagreement on racial issues) set out to explain its source. You think a person who disagrees with you on this small issue must be a wannabe rapist, while Liberals think that someone who doesn't believe in the welfare state must be a full blown racist or an Uncle Tom.

That's not an OK leap to make. You're jumping from a harmless disagreement to pretty much the worst thing someone could say on the subject. It would be bad if you were talking to someone you know nothing about. It's even worse when you're talking about someone who is obviously opposed to force on principle.

[edit] I posted this before I read your last reply. I guess I'm wasting my time. Bye.

Edited by Nicky

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Apparently we'll have to wait until March 4th to find out what Leonard has to say about his date-rape statement. In the meantime I'm curious about two things:

1) What would you like to hear Peikoff say? I.e., given that he made the statement he already did, what would be a satisfying followup from one who presents himself, and is seen by others, as a significant spokesman for Objectivism?

2) What do you predict he will say?

I would like like to hear Leonard say something along the lines of what I've written in imagined followup #1 in post 185 above, and I would be quite impressed with him if he comes anywhere close to that.

I predict his answer will be similar to the imagined followup #2 in my post 185, but I won't be surprised if his March 4 podcast sounds more like imagined followup #3 in post 185.

Edited by John Link

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1) What would you like to hear Peikoff say?
That he mis-spoke and thinks a man should not force sex on a woman when he concludes she has actually changed her mind.

... one who presents himself, and is seen by others, as a significant spokesman for Objectivism?
Do you think people outside of Objectivists think of Peikoff as a spokesman? And surely its a contradiction to be a spokesman to the people for whom you're a spokesman. Yaron Brook could be termed a spokesman for Objectivism: as something he actually does, something he would call himself, and something non-Objectivists see him as doing. As for LP's own view, he has said repeatedly that he considers himself to be almost retired (my words here). Of course, he still does his podcasts, occasionally controls some aspects of ARI and has a book-release planned, so he's not really retired... just not active as a spokesman. Truth is though, Objectivists might care...but the world at large does not even know that LP is speaking. Edited by softwareNerd

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Dr. Peikoff will remain a spokesman for Objectivism for as long as he remains heir to Ayn Rand. He couldn't shake that status off if he wanted to, and he does not act as if he wants to.

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To the extent that anyone other than Objectivists knows anything about Peikoff he will be perceived as a spokesman for Objectivism. His website asserts that "Dr. Peikoff is Rand's legal and intellectual heir - and the world's foremost authority on Objectivism", so he certainly presents himself as the chief spokesman for Objectivism, just as the Pope claims to be the vicar of Christ.

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2) What do you predict he will say?

I’ve mentioned a couple times that if Peikoff’s statement was strictly moral advice to women, it would be ok. Allow yourself to be put in a certain situation, and you’re liable to be raped. I’m sitting here thinking of how Peikoff could try to redeem his wording, here’s what I’ve got: “frees the man to have sex regardless of what she then says”, refers to the fact that if the woman goes to the police, chances are they’re not going to be able to make a case, and if they try anyway, the man will likely get off scot-free, while the woman is going to go through hell. Immoral scumbags know this, and know they can get away with rape so long as…what? You’re seen drinking together at the bar? You’re seen (maybe on a hallway camera) voluntarily entering the hotel room? You fill in the blank: at a certain point they can do whatever they want and be able to get away with it.*

I’m trying my best here, but I’m still running up against the last phrase: ”it's too late at that point to say, ‘Sorry but no.’” I don’t have semantical gymnastic moves in my repertoire fancy enough to help with that one. She can’t even say “no”? Ugh. Context! Context! Double ugh. In the Kobe case there was no drinking, and the woman was a hotel employee giving a guest a tour, at his request. I believe it was less than an hour between when they first met and the carnal knowledge was had. And she never did get his autograph!

* Of course a rape allegation puts the man through hell too, but let’s never mind that for now.

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I'm looking forward to hearing how much, if any, of the podcast might be focused on attacking the motives of those who expressed their disagreement with Peikoff's stated position, and how much blame and condemnation they might deserve.

Perhaps we have a hint of what's to come in Amy Peikoff's statement:

"As has been true with other issues, some people seem to find it more interesting to focus on their disagreements with Leonard

Amy Peikoff also added:

"(Please note that I did not find it necessary to use any of the following adjectives or phrases in expressing the above disagreement: “disgraceful,” “disgusting,” “anyone of good moral character or intelligence…” etc.)"

Is the above comment aimed at people who have criticized Leonard Peikoff's ideas, or is it aimed at Peikoff? I'm not sure, since the adjectives or phrases that Amy gives as examples are exactly the type that Peikoff frequently uses.

J

In that excerpt, Amy Peikoff was referring to the comments of Erosophia blogger Jason Stotts from his post Contra-Peikoff on Rape. From the introduction to that post:

"I think that Leonard Peikoff has done some great things for Objectivism, he is like a demi-Aquinas, but when he talks about sex and sexual issues, it makes me really sad. Frankly, his position on rape is both disgraceful and disgusting. I don’t know how anyone of good moral character or intelligence could actually advocate what Peikoff advocated. It is made much worse because Peikoff is someone I respect and I did not expect him to hold such a reprehensible view of rape.

...

Leonard Peikoff believes that if a woman were to come to a man’s house late at night, dressed sexily, and perhaps drunk, that he should just be able to use her a fuck-toy, even if she says no. Even if she says no. He thinks that the context is sufficient consent and that any other consent is unnecessary. Furthermore, he believes that this consent cannot be withdrawn, which is the most troubling part of his claim.

...

Ultimately, the only thing that differentiates sex from rape is consent and just because a person initially gives some kind of consent, does not mean that this consent cannot be withdrawn.

I really hope that Peikoff just wasn’t thinking clearly when he said this and that he will recant his statement after reflection."

Jason's analysis in the rest of his post is essentially correct. He has already taken heat for the harsh tone of his post, Amy Peikoff being one heat source.

--Dan Edge

Edited by Dan Edge

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I note that while Jason Stotts used a tone that could be considered harsh, his use of the harsh terms was not directed to Leonard personally, but rather to his opinions:

"his position on rape is both disgraceful and disgusting"

"I did not expect him to hold such a reprehensible view of rape"

Ok, here it gets personal:

"I don’t know how anyone of good moral character or intelligence could actually advocate what Peikoff advocated."

Frankly, I find Jason's use of "disgraceful", "disgusting", "reprehensible", and "anyone of good moral character or intelligence" perfectly appropriate.

Dan, below your picture it says that you've made a total of two posts. Haven't you been around here for a long time, or was that another Dan Edge?

Edited by John Link

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In that excerpt, Amy Peikoff was referring to the comments of Erosophia blogger Jason Stotts from his post Contra-Peikoff on Rape.

That was good. I can only roll my eyes at the throat clearing praise of Peikoff as a “demi-Aquinas”, but after that he gives the podcast the passionate denunciation that’s called for, and even makes a point or two that haven’t been made here. I wonder why he didn’t reblog it here, I’ve seen other things by him on OO.

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I note that while Jason Stotts used a tone that could be considered harsh, his use of the harsh terms was not directed to Leonard personally, but rather to his opinions:

Ah, but that's precisely the point. There seem to be legions of people who do not make this distinction, and to them disagreeing with a Peikoff opinion (no matter how outrageous that opinion might be) is "bashing" him.

Of course the same people are incapable of admitting that a Peikoff opinion, or even a misstatement of a Peikoff opinion, could either be a misstatement or outrageous.

Edited by Steve D'Ippolito

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I listened to the LP quote a couple of times. He does indeed seem to be saying, in-context, that the woman's mere presence in the hotel room constitutes consent and that consent cannot be later withdrawn.

Dr. Peikoff, as a philosopher, should be an expert at crafting words in such a way as to be clearly understood. More than the common person, he should understand the importance of "getting it right" when it comes to making a statement. It is generally my policy to give people the benefit of the doubt and assume that what they meant to say was reasonable and often words don't come out the way a person intends them to. However, as I said, he is a philosopher and this was a prepared podcast. His words ought to be evaluated on face-value.

In that light, I find it only a little disappointing that LP has this, what I consider to be, bizarre opinion of sexual consent. Frankly, I haven't cared for some of his other podcasts opinions either in the area of sexuality. Back to thinking for myself ;-) j/k

Hopefully, for the sake of those who benefit from his podcasts, he will retract his statement.

I don't know if anyone has said this, but the difference between rape and consent is physical force. I don't actually know if this was proven in the Kobe Bryant case. I actually get the impression, from reading the facts that are known, that physical force was not proven, but it seems that he used persuasion to allow matters to progress beyond the point of her comfort level. That is not, in my view, rape. The guilt or innocence of Bryant does not change my view of the LP statement. It is still wrong.

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Of course the same people are incapable of admitting that a Peikoff opinion, or even a misstatement of a Peikoff opinion, could either be a misstatement or outrageous.

Why would a true believer ever doubt the statement of one who speaks ex cathedra?

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