An Intellectual Discussion of Sexual Harassment with Richard Epstein

Each week, the list of celebrities accused of sexual assault seems to grow longer. Bill Cosby, Bill O'Reilly, and now Harvey Weinstein are just a few of the mighty who have fallen from grace. But while none of these three men has yet to be officially convicted of a crime, the market's retribution has been swift. O'Reilly lost his show, Weinstein lost his job, and Cosby lost his reputation as the benign, sweater-wearing father figure that America so loved. On college campuses, criminal proceedings are being jettisoned (for different reasons) in favor of Title IX discrimination hearings, which lower the standard for guilt to a "preponderance of evidence." Reason Magazine's Robby Soave has documented numerous instances in which campus tribunals have functioned as kangaroo courts – ruining the lives of innocent men and women under the banner of civil rights.

Of course, it goes without saying that sexual harassment deserves to be treated seriously. Richard Epstein returns to the show to bring his full intellect to bear on this hairy subject. He and Bob will discuss the threat to free speech posed by the Federal Government's broad guidelines on harassment issued to universities under Title IX legislation. They seek to define appropriate remedies for sexual harassment, and the market's role in punishing bad behavior. Bob will ask what culpability the enablers of sexual harassment possess for saying nothing when "everyone knew" about certain individuals' abusive behavior. Finally, Epstein will explain how anti-discrimination legislation often creates new forms of discrimination. It's time for an adult conversation about sexual harassment.

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Anthony L. Fisher on Confidential Informants

Andrew Sadek was 20 years old when he was caught dealing small amounts of marijuana on his college campus in North Dakota. He was told by law enforcement that he could possibly face up to 40 years in prison, or accept a deal to aid campus drug busts for a time as a confidential informant. Soon after signing on, but before completing the terms of the deal, Andrew went missing; a few days later his body was found, with a gunshot wound to the head, wearing a backpack full of rocks. The law enforcement agency which had assigned Sadek his task not only failed to inform Sadek’s parents of his role as a confidential informant when he went missing, they also dragged their feet in investigating the death (still a mystery). Anthony Fisher, an Associate Editor at Reason Magazine, picked up the story, which has since been covered by 60 Minutes – shining a light on a very shady corner of the U.S. Justice System. Bob welcomes Anthony back on the show this Sunday to discuss the lack of accountability surrounding the use of confidential informants.


Anthony Fisher's original coverage (, June 15, 2015)

Matthew Feeney on Best Practices for Police Body Cameras

Technology is rapidly changing the way law enforcement operates, and as we’ve learned from previous guests, such as Adam Bates on StingRay Surveillance, the change is not always for the better. On the other hand, the recent adoption of body cameras by a growing number of police departments would seem to increase accountability and civility in officer-civilian interactions without much of a downside. Matthew Feeney, policy analyst at the Cato Institute, says the technology – while promising – is not a panacea. The public widely supports the adoption of body cameras, but could there be a risk that new technology is getting ahead of sound policy, and putting our privacy at risk? What appears like a simple criminal justice reform turns out to have multiple complex considerations, including whether or not police can view the footage before submitting a statement. It takes a Cato analyst to explain the nuances of best practices for body cameras. Bob and Matthew discuss how we can get the best of both worlds: keeping police accountable while keeping our privacy too.

Sarah Stillman on Minors on the Sex-Offender List

It’s tempting to divide the world, in its unyieldingly complexity, into "good guys" and "bad guys." This provides endless plots and ratings for Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, but it often hides the messy reality of our criminal justice system, where overzealous prosecution can make new victims out of innocent people. Sarah Stillman is an award-winning journalist and staff writer for The New Yorker, with a talent for bringing clarity and nuance to murky topics. The last time Stillman joined the show, she had written a gripping exposé on civil asset forfeiture – the unconstitutional takings of private property by police from suspects who have not been convicted of any crime. Now, she joins Bob to discuss her latest New Yorker piece, *The List,* on an even more delicate subject: minors placed on the sex-offender registry for their youthful mistakes. Stillman reports on a sampling of tragic cases, which cast doubt on laws that lead to harsh sentences and life-long scarlet letters for kids – some as young as 10 years old. We all want to protect victims. Tune in, and you may be surprised to learn how poorly the system works, even by that measure.


The List - The New Yorker, March 14, 2016 issue


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