Professor's blog on Steubenville rape stirs anger

Professor Steven E. Landsburg speaking at Warwick Economics Summit 2012. Wikimedia Commons

ROCHESTER, N.Y. Some University of Rochester students want an economics professor censured for comments he made about rape in a blog post after the conviction of two high school football players in Steubenville, Ohio.

The Democrat and Chronicle of Rochester reports that students have started an online petition urging the school's president to censure Steven Landsburg. The newspaper says they plan to protest outside Landsburg's class on Monday.

In a blog post last month, Landsburg referred to a recent Ohio case in which two students were convicted of raping an acquaintance who was unconscious. The professor asked whether the law ought to discourage acts of rape in which the person is unconscious and suffers no direct physical harm.

"As long as I'm 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?" he writes in the post.

Since it was first posted on March 20, Landsburg's article has generated a lot of outcry. The Women's Organization to Resist and Defend (WORD) is calling for the professor's firing.

"Promoting an unsafe campus environment, attempting to normalize the criminal act of rape, and minimizing the devastating effects of rape on victims, is not free speech," the organization says on their website. Endorsing violence against women is hate speech and should not be tolerated."

Landsburg, in an email to the paper, said his blog post is about "abstract inquiry" and "we all understand how horrible rape can be."

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