The Yale Community Apparently Doesn’t Know What the Word “Refute” Means

“Indeed members of the Yale community who know Dach personally refute any possibility that he could have been involved in the scandal. According to 32 sources interviewed, Dach’s character is best represented by the way he interacts with others on a regular basis.”

Amid scandal, University community defends Dach

“Refute” implies that these sources knew something about the “scandal” Dach is accused of– to wit, hiring a prostitute in Cartagena, a place where prostitution is legal, while working as a volunteer for the Obama campaign.  Only one of the sources quoted even mentions ‘women’s issues,’ describing Dach as someone who “genuinely respects women and understands the damaging impact of soliciting sex work.”  I mean, no one at WaPo or the other outlets that covered the story said that he disrespected the sex worker he allegedly hired– but at least this quote is somewhat on point.  The other sources– including two members of the law school faculty– share these insights in their defense of the golden boy:

  • He hosted “tortilla nights” at his New Haven apartment.
  • He hosted an annual Christmas party, which he planned for weeks.
  • He volunteered at the Yale Farm sometimes.
  • This one time, a law professor asked him to call an admitted student, and instead of just calling, Jonny met him at the train station and took him to Pepe’s Apizza for lunch, because that’s just the kind of above-and-beyond service you get when you ask a favor of Jonny.
  • From the same professor: he “had such reverence for the president that he never, not once, referred to him casually as ‘Obama’ — he always called him ‘the President.”
  • A different law professor says Dach was one of the best students he has taught, “adding that many other YLS faculty shared the same sentiment.”
  • He was so smart in high school that he once critiqued Thomas Jefferson’s word choice while reading a draft of the Declaration of Independence in his AP US History class.
  • And then there’s this bizarre leap of logic, from a law school classmate who “said the unyielding support of Dach by his peers is the ultimate testament to Dach’s character”:“I think Yale Law School is unfortunately in its way sort of a catty place, and I think there are a lot of people where if there was something negative written about them in the newspaper, people would be falling over themselves to talk to reporters and rip that person apart.  Either people are just not talking about [the allegations] out of respect for [Dach], or if people are talking about it, it’s like ‘Poor Jonny, I can’t believe the Washington Post ran a story like that.’”

Maybe this classmate is running in different social circles, but the friends I’ve talked to are 1) happy to gossip about the allegations and whether they’re true, but 2) completely disinterested in getting entangled in the story by going on the record to say anything negative about Jonny.  Silence does not equal “unyielding support.”

Unsurprisingly, the Yale Daily News didn’t quote anyone who described him the way a lot of us knew him– entitled, arrogant, sheltered, kind of a prick.  Nor did YDN question the relevance of all these character references, none of whom said “and then there was the time I tried to hire him a prostitute, and he politely refused.”

Above the Law quickly jumped on the bandwagon with an article titled “In Defense of Jonathan Dach,” which consists mainly of quoting the author’s favorite anecdotes from the YDN article, along with some supporting commentary, like “It’s telling that Gerken, a prominent professor, and Alexandra Brodsky, a leading voice in feminist circles, were willing to go on the record to defend Dach.”

Nope, that is not telling.  That Jonny has female friends and admirers has no bearing on whether he has ever paid for sex while abroad doing campaign work.

But the worst part of this latest fawning ‘defense’ comes at the end:

“Here’s one final point in Dach’s defense: he’s kinda cute (especially if he got rid of the facial hair). Why would a reasonably attractive American male, in a resort city known for its party scene, pay for sex when he surely could get some for free? Especially when he might have aspirations for elected or judicial office, like so many Yale Law grads?”

Good point, David Lat, I’ve never heard of any attractive men buying sex– oops, I mean, besides Hugh Grant– but definitely no one with aspirations for political office–er, besides Eliot Spitzer, David Vitter, Barney Frank…

This defense is also a favorite among accused rapists– “why would I force a woman to engage in sex with me, when I’m so handsome that the ladies are knocking down my door to consent enthusiastically?”

I have no idea whether the allegation is true.  I went to school with Jonny, and I never saw him pay for sex, but the version I saw also wasn’t the Squeaky Clean So Polite and Respectful character portrayed by the school paper.

I’m not surprised that there’s a scandal centered on a privileged, entitled rich white male Yale legacy.  Not even that this Democratic lobbyist’s son is now a legal policy advisor on Global Women’s Issues at the State Department, a position many of my friends and colleagues would be eminently more qualified for.  The more surprising thing to me is that, if true, Jonny wasn’t canny enough to consider that pulling a stunt like this, if uncovered, might not reflect well on his whole Rising Democratic Star thing.  In that sense, I guess David Lat has a point.  But this just gets us right back to entitlement, and how you have to be just dripping with it, with privilege and lack of awareness, to think that you’ll never have to answer for any mistakes or indiscretions.  To think that because you’ve gotten away with everything up til now, you always will.

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