Can Adults No Longer Consent?

Quite a few years ago, Scott and I had an op-ed in, as I recall, the Orange County Register on the Playboy Philosophy. I don’t recall what prompted it, but one point we made was that the idea that two (or more) consenting adults can do whatever the heck they want in the privacy of their bedroom–the bedrock principle of the Playboy Philosophy, as we knew it in the 1960s–was perhaps the most universally accepted moral rule in contemporary America.

As it turns out, that was then, and this is now. Consent is no longer enough. The latest case in point is that of David Sabatini, said to be one of the world’s greatest scientists. His career has been derailed because a former lover has now turned on him. It is a sad story, certainly for Sabatini and maybe for the rest of us, as his cancer research is among the world’s most promising. Sabatini was forced out of MIT and his career has been downhill from there:

David Sabatini, 54, whose research involved unraveling how tumors develop, resigned from MIT last month and has been surviving on [un]employment after fellow scientist Kristin Knouse claimed he “groomed” and “coerced” her into a sexual relationship, according to a report and court papers.

He is gone from MIT, so NYU tried to hire one of the world’s top scientists:

A longtime friend and dean at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine tried to offer him a job, but after an uproar, the school announced on May 3 that it would not hire him despite the fact that colleagues described him in a recent article as one of the world’s greatest scientists — a “genius” in line for the Nobel Prize.

Kristin Knouse

So what happened? Sabatini had the ill luck to fall into a romantic relationship with the wrong woman:

“What wormhole did my life take, to…protests and being called a sexual predator? What quirk in the universe allowed this to happen?” said Sabatini, who has denied wrongdoing and noted Knouse did not work in his lab or report to him.

In an October lawsuit against MIT, Sabatini said that his relationship with Knouse, who is 21 years his junior, was consensual….
Sabatini has contended he and Knouse began their fling during a 2018 conference, while he was in the midst of a divorce. By 2020, he thought the affair had cooled, though he claims Knouse wanted to continue. By October 2020, she complained she’d been harassed, and in a later lawsuit alleged Sabitini oversaw a “sexualized” environment in his lab.

I take it there is no dispute that Sabatini’s and Knouse’s “fling” was consensual. Rather, Knouse now says that Sabatini “groomed” her into a sexual relationship. It’s a novel theory, but let’s do the math. Sabatini is now 54 years old, and Knouse is 21 years his junior. Their consensual relationship began in 2018. So Knouse would have been 29 years old–a little long in the tooth for “grooming.”

Currently, there is a battle going on in Florida over grooming of 5 to 8 year olds in the public schools, where some teachers want to instruct small children in deviant sexual practices. Liberals vehemently oppose any bans on such grooming. On the other hand, liberals say, “grooming” of a 29-year-old scientist? Outrageous! Ban the groomer for life!

It isn’t just “ban the groomer,” either: any who have come in contact with him may be radioactive:

After the Grossman School of Medicine announced it would not hire him, the National Institutes of Health decided to audit $500 million in grant money overseen by the dean who first considered bringing him aboard, Common Sense reported.

On the left, it is scorched earth, every day. So: if you have ever engaged in a voluntary, consensual romantic relationship, and assume that no one has the right to investigate and second-guess it? Forget it. If it is politically convenient for liberals, the Playboy Philosophy is out the window. Consent is no defense.

The liberals’ underlying assumption is that women can never be adults. No matter how old they may be, no matter how many graduate degrees they may amass, women are never free actors. They can only, ever, be playthings in the hands of men. Do you believe that? Probably not, but that is what liberals think, and our culture is awash in such nonsense.

Notice: All comments are subject to moderation. Our comments are intended to be a forum for civil discourse bearing on the subject under discussion. Commenters who stray beyond the bounds of civility or employ what we deem gratuitous vulgarity in a comment — including, but not limited to, “s***,” “f***,” “a*******,” or one of their many variants — will be banned without further notice in the sole discretion of the site moderator.