Avital Ronell, a world-renowned female professor of German and Comparative Literature at New York University, was found responsible for sexually harassing a male former graduate student, Nimrod Reitman.
A group of colleagues, including Judith Butler, has written a letter in her support that looks just exactly like the crap that has been used to dismiss sexual harassment claims for decades.
“We testify to the grace, the keen wit, and the intellectual commitment of Professor Ronell and ask that she be accorded the dignity rightly deserved by someone of her international standing and reputation,” the professors wrote.
Professor Ronell also does precisely what all the sexual harassers do, and claims that he’s inventing this “because he just wasn’t smart enough. “His main dilemma was the incoherency in his writing, and lack of a recognizable argument.” ”
The parallels to all the other cases I’ve been involved with are striking and clear. A powerful person is found to have* abused her power over a subordinate. She is now retaliating, and her powerful peers are closing ranks to insist that she is so famous and talented that she should be above the law. She should not.
Read more details of the case here.
*Actually, this is the one bit that’s rarer. All too often, they get away with it entirely.