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Carol Platt Liebau - Columnist

Carol Platt Liebau is editorial director and a senior member of tOR and CRO editorial boards. She is an attorney, political analyst and commentator based in San Marino, CA, and has appeared on the Fox News Channel, MSNBC, CNN, Orange County News Channel, Cox Cable and a variety of radio programs throughout the United States. A graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School, Carol Platt Liebau also served as the first female managing editor of the Harvard Law Review. Her web log can be found at [go to Liebau index]

When “Girl Power” Goes Bad
The Deadly Danger of Mindless Political Correctness...

[Carol Platt Liebau] 3/14/05

“Women are capable of doing anything that men are capable of doing.”

It’s such an empowering sentiment – when it’s true. But it rang false last week, when Fulton (Ga.) District Attorney Paul Howard invoked it, responding to a query about whether an unaccompanied female deputy sheriff should have been escorting brawny accused rapist Brian Nichols from detention to the courtroom.

Please forgive the loved ones of Rowland Barnes, Julie Brandau, Hoyt Teasley and David Wilhelm if they don’t necessarily agree with D.A. Howard’s affirmation of “girl power.” After all, Barnes (a Superior Court judge), Brandau (a court reporter), Teasley (a sheriff’s deputy) and Wilhelm (a federal immigration and customs agent) were murdered by Brian Nichols.

Nichols’ rampage began when he overpowered Deputy Sheriff Cynthia Hall, beat her, and stole her gun. At 6’1, weighing 200 pounds, he’s hardly a lightweight. Interestingly, however, no reports have been released revealing Deputy Hall’s height and weight. Perhaps that’s because such details don’t matter if we just know that “women are capable of doing anything that men are capable of doing.”

Recently, Harvard President Lawrence Summers learned, to his sorrow, the very public and humiliating consequences of alluding even to the possibility of innate differences between the genders. And so it appears that the fact – yes, the fact – that on average, most men are stronger than most women is destined to remain unmentioned in polite company. If it costs four lives to maintain the fiction that, in the physical arena, “women are capable of doing anything that men are capable of doing,” well, that seems to be a price that many are willing to pay. The cause of gender equality – defined not as equal opportunity, but as absolute sameness – apparently must go on.

In such a climate, the wisdom of allowing a woman, alone, to escort a burly accused criminal – who had been discovered the day before to be hiding homemade knives in his shoes – is deemed unworthy of discussion. So is the fact that many police departments have instituted different physical standards for women than for men.

Deputy Hall was badly beaten by Nichols, and left with a bruised brain, facial fractures and a gash in her forehead. She deserves our sympathy. But at least she chose to put herself in harm’s way last Friday morning – Judge Barnes, Court Reporter Brandau, Deputy Teasley and Customs Officer Wilhelm didn’t.

When, oh when, will feminists and other proponents of political correctness learn that there’s no shame in the fact that most women are physically weaker than most men? Certainly, women deserve the opportunity to hold any job for which they’re qualified. But the standards for them must be identical to those for men – and those standards must remain rigorous, in order to keep everyone as safe as possible.

Make no mistake – political correctness didn’t kill Barnes, Brandau, Teasley and Wilhelm. Brian Nichols did. But we had assumed that Nichols was dangerous – he was an accused criminal. How many more Americans in local courthouses (or anywhere else) must die, before we learn to assume that mindless political correctness can be dangerous, too? tOR

Columnist Carol Platt Liebau is a political analyst, commentator and theOneRepublic / editorial director based in San Marino, CA. Ms. Liebau also served as the first female managing editor of the Harvard Law Review. Her web log can be found at

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