In retrospect, Kipnis might as well have been a 13th-century monk taunting the Inquisition, or a 17th-century courtier of Charles I daring the Stuart king to throw him in front of the Star Chamber. She was duly accused of violating Title IX by writing an essay questioning the excesses of Title IX.
The university’s investigation of her was about what you would expect if Kafka’s Josef K. had caught the attention of the shadowy Committee of Affairs by writing an op-ed some people found uncongenial. It was difficult for Kipnis even to find out what she was accused of, which turned out to be violating a Title IX prohibition against retaliating against an accuser — even though all she did was write about a case that had nothing to do with her.
Kipnis was eventually cleared of the charges, but, as the cliche goes, the process was the punishment. Her subsequent essay on her experience, “My Title IX Inquisition,” has caused liberal soul-searching. It’s all fun and games when Condoleezza Rice gets disinvited, or when feminist-critic Christina Hoff Sommers protested, but when a film professor with high regard for Foucault is targeted, then clearly things have gotten out of hand.