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Opening Arguments

Strange days

Sometimes it's comforting to live in a down-to-earth safe zone where looniness comes so much later than in other places that we have a better chance heading it off.

Looniness abounds at Duke University, which has just instituted a new sexual misconduct policy calling it "non-consensual sex" (that's "rape" for all you GED holders) if one of the parties is considered "powerful" on campus. That's because "perceived power differentials" may "create an unintentional atmosphere in coercion." The policy even provides a helpful definition of what the university broadly defines as "acts of a sexual nature."

Touching or attempted touching of an unwilling person's breasts, buttocks, inner thighs, groin, or genitalia, either directly or indirectly; and/or rape, forcible sodomy, or sexual penetration (however slight) of another person's oral, anal or genital opening with any object. Sexual misconduct also includes sexual exploitation, defined as taking nonconsensual, unjust sexual advantage of another for one's benefit or the benefit of another party. These acts may or may not be accompanied by the use of coercion, intimidation, or through advantage gained by the use of alcohol or other drugs.

Note the inclusion of "touching or attempted touching of an unwilling person's buttocks." God knows what punishment the Duke sex police would inflict on someone like the Ball State butt slapper. A man on a bicycle -- identity so far unknown -- slapped two women on their behinds on the campus Wednesday, which prompted BSU officials to send out a public safety notice. That notice, in turn, spurred creation of a Facebook page mocking the university for "considering this an 'Emergency Situation.' " It has over 5,000 fans. Two separate Facebook page were started to criticize the first one for "making light of a serious situation." Combined, those two pages have about 200 fans. It is possible, it seems, to make fun of official fustiness without being perceived as condoning violence.

This just in: A county prosecutor in Wisconsin has sent a letter to teachers warning them they could face criminal prosecution if they teach sex education classes following the mandates of a new state law.

Strange times.