Ithaca, N.Y. — Leaflets calling a conservative columnist for the Cornell Daily Sun a “Racist Rape Apologist” have been anonymously distributed around campus.

Julius Kairey, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences and author of a biweekly Sun column titled, “Always Right,” recently wrote a column about sexual assault that drew rebuttals.

The circulated leaflets show a photo of Kairey. Under the photo, the words, “Daily Sun Columnist and Racist Rape Apologist” appear. No other text, no specifics supporting the allegations, are printed on the page. 

Several Facebook pages and the blog of The Cornell Review called attention to the posters or leaflets in recent days and posted photos of them, which were said to have been found on North Campus and in Olin Library. The Cornell Review said at least 15 leaflets had been distributed.

Kairey could not be reached by The Voice for comment. Haley Velasco, editor in chief of the Sun, also declined to comment on the incident Monday.

The Sun’s editors appeared to make an oblique reference to the attacks in a “Letter from the Editors” posted Monday: http://cornellsun.com/blog/2014/09/22/letter-from-the-editors-fostering-appropriate-conversations/

No direct reference is made to Kairey or the leaflets, but the editors wrote, “We will not tolerate harassment or inappropriate actions from any member of the community, and instead we look to inspire conversations in a positive manner.”

The Review, a conservative publication that says it is not affiliated with Kairey, suggests that three columns in particular may have triggered the reaction: “The flyers’ description is most likely a reference to common criticism of Kairey’s recent articles, notably ‘The Truth About ‘Rape Culture’,’ ‘Islamophobia and Racism,’ and most recently ‘Should California Redefine Campus Sexual Assault?’”

The Review said criticism of Kairey’s views have been “strident and widespread” and have included calls for his removal from the Sun staff.

The most recent Kairey column takes issue with a new California law that has passed the legislature and awaits the governor’s signature. It is the so-called “yes-means-yes” standard that would require “affirmative consent” from both parties to sexual activity on California college and university campuses.

Kairey makes several points: that the government should not meddle in private citizens’ sex lives; that the new law further muddies rather than clarifies the line between consent and assault because “affirmative consent” is not clearly defined; that the law applies only to students and, if it is so crucial a protective measure, who don’t lawmakers apply it to themselves and everyone else?

“Student safety is not advanced through vague statutory language…” Kairey writes.

The posters and leaflets circulating at Cornell directly target the messenger, however, not his message.


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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.