New York professor apologizes for 'hypothetical' questions about rape

A University of Rochester professor has apologizes for a personal blog post in which he questions whether the rape of unconscious victims should be illegal.

“I am both sad and sorry that my recent blog post has distressed so many people so deeply, both on campus and off," economics professor Steven Landsburg said in a statement released Friday. "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."

The then suggested people read his follow-up post, where he "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," he said.

Landsburg came under fire from students at the university after he recently posted on the blog questions about rape — citing, in particular, the Stuebenville, Ohio, case in which two high school football players were convicted of raping an underage girl who was unconscious. 

On his blog, "Censorship, Environmentalism and Steubenville," Landsburg posed questions such as: "As long as I am 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?" 

Landsburg also wrote: "If we legalize the rape of unconscious people, we will create an incentive to render people unconscious."

In an interview earlier this week with, Landsburg acknowledged that his remarks on an ongoing academic discussion could have been better worded, saying, "This was not one of my better blog posts."  

"The whole reason it's an interesting question is that is seems so obvious to me that it should not be allowed," he said. 

"The reason I’m asking a question is because my personal strong feelings run so counter to what would seem to follow from the standard principles of policy analysis. Those standard principles say that if there's no harm perceived than the action should be allowed." 

University spokesman Bill Murphy said in a statement Thursday that: "The University of Rochester is committed to the academic freedom of our faculty and students. Their views are their own; they do not speak for the University."

"In his personal blog, Professor Landsburg poses some hypothetical questions about an unconscious rape victim," Murphy said. "He asks whether such rapes should be illegal. The University’s answer is that rape is abhorrent.  It is and should be a crime."

When asked whether disciplinary action would be taken against Landsburg, Murphy said, "Not on the basis of what we now know."'s Cristina Corbin contributed to this report.