Tuesday, April 12, 2005

On Correlation Not Equalling Causation

In response to Andrea Dworkin's death, a few grad students and I had a brief discussion about Dworkin, her ideas, and her death. One of my friends mentioned that when he was studying at another school he had his argumentation class read some of Dworkin's Intercourse to see what they thought about her arguments regarding sex. He mentioned the class had some football players who reacted skeptically to Dworkin's claims. He also mentioned--by way of ironic aside--that five weeks after reading Dworkin, one of the football players was arrested and charged with committing rape.

After hearing this, I was reminded of a passage I had just read over at University Diaries:
Dworkin published prolifically, in heat and in haste. She padded out her books with long paraphrases and descriptions of the most violent pornography she could find. When people began to intuit the desperation of her worldview, she and her supporters had to stammer and back up so that her rage calmed down into something anyone else could share.

Why then did so many people read her? Because it’s rousing in a voyeuristic way to read an absolute fanatic. Because Dworkin, as I say, paraphrased very extensively -- page after page of it -- from the most violent of pornography. UD believes that Dworkin’s books probably brought more people to pornography -- and to an unusually violent level of pornography -- than took them away from it.
Was it possible that, after reading Dworkin and all her graphic discussion of violence and sex, the football player was compelled to rape someone?


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