People are calling on the US college professor who implied sexual assault is a rite of passage to be fired — but now he claims his comments were satirical

Brooklyn CollegeMitchell Langbert.
  • An associate professor at Brooklyn College is being criticised for a blog post in which he implied that sexual assault is a rite of passage for men.
  • “If someone did not commit sexual assault in high school, then he is not a member of the male sex,” professor Mitchell Langbert’s post began.
  • Students at the school now want Langbert fired.
  • Langbert has since updated his blog with a disclaimer stating that it was meant to be satirical, written in the style of Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal.”

An associate professor at Brooklyn College is being criticised for a blog post in which he implied that sexual assault is a rite of passage for men.

Mitchell Langbert’s blog post was first published on September 27, the same day both Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“If someone did not commit sexual assault in high school, then he is not a member of the male sex,” he began. “The Democrats have discovered that 15-year-olds play spin-the-bottle, and they have jumped on a series of supposed spin-the-bottle crimes during Kavanaugh’s minority, which they characterise as rape, although no one complained or reported any crime for 40 years.”

Also in his post, Langbert called the Kavanaugh hearing “a travesty.” He also suggested that “in the future, having committed sexual assault in high school ought to be a prerequisite for all appointments, judicial and political” and that “those who did not play spin-the-bottle when they were 15 should not be in public life.”

Read more: These 15 women opened up about their sexual assault experiences thanks to the #metoo campaign

After the post was shared in a private Facebook group for Brooklyn College students and alumni, people were upset and disturbed, as CNN reported. Now, some are even calling for the professor to be fired. Current students have even organised a protest calling for Langbert to be fired scheduled for Thursday afternoon.

“To have someone in a position of power espousing sexual assault is not a joke. It’s something that needs to be taken seriously,” Corrine Green, who organised the event with the campus group Young Progressives of America, told CNN.

Langbert said his comments were intended to be satire.

In the ensuing backlash, Langbert has since attempted to walk back his comments. The blog post now has a disclaimer at the top, asserting that it was intended to be satire. The business professor said that his post was written in the style of Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal,” a 1729 essay that suggested Irish people sell their children for food to relieve poverty.

“It is intended to be taken in the same light as Swift’s claim that Irish children should be eaten,” he wrote. “I was surprised to learn that some readers took me literally, claiming that I advocate rape.”

Langbert said that he was surprised that his so-called joke didn’t land.

“Given that it is unclear that Kavanaugh did a thing, the defamation that he has suffered at the hands of the media is a disgrace,” he wrote in the newly added preface. “Intolerance of and defamation of anyone who does not toe the big government line are ongoing threats to freedom. The humiliation that Judge Kavanaugh has suffered is a disgrace.”

The professor told CNN that he has no plans to quit.

In a statement, Brooklyn College’s Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Ana Lopes called Langbert’s post “abhorrent” and “contravening the fundamental values and practices of our community.”

“It has come to our attention that a Brooklyn College faculty member blogged a gender-biased and homophobic post that advocates sexual assault last week,” the statement said. “I view the post as offensive, obviously abhorrent, and contravening the fundamental values and practices of our community. However, the First Amendment to the United States Constitution protects even speech that many experience as offensive, such as the faculty member’s post.”

Read more: 24 photos show how eerily similar Christine Blasey Ford’s hearing was to Anita Hill’s 27 years ago

The school is planning a forum to reflect on the post and how it has impacted the school’s community.

Editor’s note: This post has been updated.

If you are a victim of sexual assault, you can visit RAINN or call its hotline at 1-800-656-4673 to receive confidential support from a trained staff member.

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