UR professor apologizes for controversial blog post

Posted at: 04/05/2013 5:47 PM
Updated at: 04/05/2013 11:29 PM
By: Amanda Ciavarri

A University of Rochester professor apologizes after a blog post he wrote set off a firestorm of complaints.  

Steven Landsburg says many readers got the wrong impression, surrounding the post where he discussed a hypothetical question about rape. Landsburg wrote the controversial article late March on his personal blog. He used the case in Steubenville, Ohio as an example. A 16-year-old was so drunk she was passed out and didn't know what happened to her.

Landsburg seemed to want readers to ponder this question if she didn't know what happened and wasn't harmed physically, was she harmed psychologically? Landsburg seemed to answer his own question writing, “As long as I'm safely unconscious and therefore, shielded from the costs of an assault, why shouldn't the rest of the world(or more specifically my attackers) be allowed to reap the benefits?”

Many people were offended by Landsburg's comments. An online petition called for the university to censure or officially condemn him.

Professor Landsburg not only issued a statement apologizing for upsetting people, but he also posted a new blog hoping to explain the purpose and message of his original posting.

Professor Steven Landsburg said, “The entire point of the original post is that because rape is so horrible we need to revisit some basic principals of  public policy that would see to allow it in certain cases. People seemed to misinterpret that horribly as an endorsement of rape.”

The professor of economics says many people misunderstood a blog post he wrote in late March. The post centered around rape. His apology was something students were glad to see.

Aurora Dopp, University of Rochester student said, “I think for him it was more of a theoretical conversation. I don't think he meant to endorse rape that being said it probably wasn't the smartest example to pick.”

Ricado Gind, University of Rochester grad student, said, “I'm glad that he has apologized and I think I would like to see more appreciation of the error he committed rather than simply regretting the negative reactions that he received.”

News10NBC spoke to Landsburg earlier this week. The professor said he was standing by what he wrote. We asked him why he felt he needed to apologize now.

Professor Landsburg said, “Many of them thought I said things I did not say and they are very upset about them. I am sorry to be an indirect cause of that stress and I want to apologize for that.”

The professor said while we were on the phone that he does feel if people read the original post and his follow-up they will get his message.

Steven Landsburg's full statement:
"I am both sad and sorry that my recent blog post has distressed so many people so deeply, both on campus and off. I am particularly sad because many readers got the impression that I was endorsing rape, while my intent was to say exactly the opposite—namely that the horror of rape is so great that we should rethink accepted principles of policy analysis that might sometimes minimize that horror. This is not the place to rehash those issues, but interested readers might want to look at the follow-up post where I tried to say things more clearly. I very much wish I'd said them more clearly in the first place, and I do very much regret having caused any unnecessary offense."