New York professor under fire over ‘hypothetical’ questions about rape

Apr 5, 2013 by

A University of Rochester professor will keep his job after comments he made on his personal blog questioning whether the rape of unconscious victims should be illegal, a school spokeswoman confirmed to

Economics professor Steven Landsburg came under fire from students at the university after he recently posted on the blog questions about rape — citing, in particular, the Stuebenville, Ohio, case in which two high school football players were convicted of raping an underage girl who was unconscious.

On his blog, “Censorship, Environmentalism and Steubenville,” Landsburg posed questions such as: “As long as I am safely (unconscious) and therefore shielded from the costs of an assault, why shouldn’t the rest of the world (or more specifically my attackers) be allowed to reap the benefits?”

Landsburg also wrote: “If we legalize the rape of unconscious people, we will create an incentive to render people unconscious.”

In an interview with, Landsburg acknowledged that his remarks on an ongoing academic discussion could have been better worded, saying, “This was not one of my better blog posts.”

“The whole reason it’s an interesting question is that is seems so obvious to me that it should not be allowed,” he said.

“The reason I’m asking a question is because my personal strong feelings run so counter to what would seem to follow from the standard principles of policy analysis. Those standard principles say that if there’s no harm perceived than the action should be allowed.”

University spokesman Bill Murphy said in a statement Thursday that: “The University of Rochester is committed to the academic freedom of our faculty and students. Their views are their own; they do not speak for the University.”

“In his personal blog, Professor Landsburg poses some hypothetical questions about an unconscious rape victim,” Murphy said. “He asks whether such rapes should be illegal. The University’s answer is that rape is abhorrent. It is and should be a crime.”

When asked whether disciplinary action would be taken against Landsburg, Murphy said, “Not on the basis of what we now know.”

But Landsburg’s explanation and the school’s have done little to quell outrage from students who are calling for him to be censured.

Some students have started an online petition urging the school’s president to censure Landsburg and the newspaper reported that they plan to stage a protest outside his class on Monday.

“We want to give the university a chance to express its outrage,” Daniel Nelson, a UR graduate student who drafted the student petition, told the The Democrat and Chronicle of Rochester newspaper. “There are many people who have not signed the petition but nevertheless want to protest his remarks as insensitive, irresponsible and and even dangerous.”

via New York professor under fire over ‘hypothetical’ questions about rape | Fox News.

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