Conservative

O’Connor: John Kasich’s well-intentioned assault prevention advice twisted by media

The media had a field day taking Donald Trump out of context at his Buffalo rally when he misspoke last week and seemingly confused the 9/11 terrorist attacks with the #711 first responders.

And just like Trump was unfairly criticized by the press, the media’s attempt to smear Republican politicians surfaced when Ohio Gov. John Kasich gave an answer about sexual assault at a town hall earlier this month during his campaign across the state.

A first-year student from St. Lawrence University asked what Kasich would do as president to make her feel safer and more secure regarding sexual violence, harassment and rape. In response, Kasich discussed the importance of confidentiality and access to rape kits.

He also added as a piece of advice for her, “Don’t go to parties where there’s a lot of alcohol” in a sound bite that has spelled unwarranted trouble for the campaign. At face value, Kasich’s statement might have seemed to be in poor taste, but it was actually a respectable comment that fell victim to political correctness and an unfortunate misinterpretation by the public.

The problem isn’t with Kasich — it’s the media’s deliberate attempt to take him out of context. While Kasich did make it easy for the press to do so with his specific words in the modern, politically-correct climate, it was immoral of liberal outlets to exploit the situation, knowing full well that Kasich had the best intentions.

Kasich’s words don’t blame sexual assault victims for the actions against them — he’s simply giving good advice. Women do have the right to attend parties with alcohol, but they should understand that the choice to get inebriated can make it easier for someone to take advantage of them. There’s nothing wrong with educating youth about the dangers of alcohol-centered environments, which is exactly what Kasich was trying to do.

The presidential hopeful, who has two 16-year-old daughters, should be able to suggest that partying isn’t always the best decision to make. Sure, drinking is a major part of college life at schools like Syracuse University and it’s unrealistic to prevent women from being around alcohol. Plus, it’s clear there’s no one at fault in an assault case other than the perpetrator themselves. But that’s not to say that it’s right for men or women to be careless in heavy-partying situations.

The media relentlessly attacked Kasich for being out of touch with the issue of sexual assault and cold-hearted toward its victims. The situation has proven to be part of a larger pattern by the press to paint Republicans, such as Trump and Ted Cruz, as cruel and politically incorrect.

Sure enough, the Ohio governor eventually clarified his remarks in a sit-down interview with CNN after taking a lot of heat in the press. Kasich was forced into defending himself, so he explained that he doesn’t mind if there’s a party with alcohol, as long as everyone stays safe.

“When alcohol is involved, it becomes more difficult for justice to be rendered,” he continued in a completely logical next step that he should’ve mentioned in his original answer for specification.

Combating sexual assault is also not a subject to criticize Kasich on either, as he is seen as a leader in the field. Unlike many other states, Ohio’s last budget rightfully dedicated $2 million to prevention and response training for sexual assaults across college campuses, doubling New York’s allocation. And nearly all of the Ohio’s public and private universities are circulating campus climate surveys to provide a feedback as to how students feel the school is servicing them in regard to sexual assault.

But the media blatantly ignored Kasich’s record on sexual assault as a politician. Perhaps if they had taken the time to analyze what he said like they would for a Democrat, they wouldn’t have been so quick to jump to conclusions. These misunderstandings somehow seem to only happen with Republicans because the media tends to make excuses for liberals while pretending to be objective. And maybe if more thought was put into Kasich’s critique, they would’ve realized the astonishing statistics linking alcohol with sexual assault.

According to the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, 43 percent of sexual victimization incidents involve alcohol consumption by victims and 69 percent involve alcohol consumption by the perpetrators. Again, that’s not to say survivors of sexual assault have any reason to be blamed or that women should cease drinking. It’s just important to know that, as Kasich pointed out, intoxication shouldn’t be encouraged either. Alcohol can allow people to commit criminal behavior and put others in very unfavorable situations — a factor that should’ve been acknowledged by the media.

When thought of from the perspective of a parent, Kasich’s comments in Canton weren’t that bad after all. His solution to protect college-age women from sexual assault wasn’t meant to stop them from going to parties with alcoholic drinks — it’s to continue what he’s already done in his home state. Kasich was just trying to offer friendly parental advice, yet critics unfairly found a way to twist his words into sounding callous toward the issue of sexual violence.

Kasich’s remarks might not have blown up like they did if the press wasn’t looking for headlines that would sell. The media will do anything to demonize conservatives, even if it means taking them way out of context. In this case, Republicans were demeaned for discouraging alcohol use in hopes of ensuring the safety of women. But certainly, it won’t be the last time conservatives will be reprimanded by the media for their good intentions.

Kyle O’Connor is a sophomore sport management major and political science minor. His column appears weekly. He can be reached at kdoconno@syr.edu.

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