Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Not the alleged victim's "role" to tell the truth in University of Virginia rape story?



I have noticed here and there on the Internet some mention of a particular case of alleged rape at the University of Virginia, and that the accused had spoken out about it. Other than that I knew nothing of it, and I have said enough about the topic of the “epidemic” of sexual assault on college campuses in any case. Unknowingly to me, the story supposedly created quite a “storm” all over the country and the world, or at least in the media. But it appears that this case—based on a story in Rolling Stone magazine last month, has been one that has pitted unadorned truth against journalistic integrity—or in the case of the writer of the article, the lack thereof. 

The magazine claimed that writer Sabrina Rubin Erdely did her “due diligence” in finding a person who was identified only as “Jackie” who was eager to tell her a story. “Jackie” claimed to have been gang raped and left bloody and beaten by seven members of a fraternity during a “date party.”  This is what Rolling Stone regards as “due diligence”:

The magazine did not speak to three of her best friends who saw her the night of the alleged assault.

On the “request” of the alleged victim, the magazine did not contact any of her alleged attackers or the fraternity where the incident allegedly took place.

Also on her “request,” the magazine did not try to contact her alleged “date” that night.

The fraternity identified by the magazine was apparently misidentified by the accuser.

The magazine did not interview anyone who might have actually witnessed the events at the gathering where it allegedly took place (one would assume that there many), and those persons who it did quote for “evidence” were all “peripheral” parties to the alleged incident.

This is what is called gender “advocacy” journalism. Only the “word” of the “victim” will suffice—especially if she has something to conceal, like the truth. The result of a Washington Post investigation into the credibility of the story was that the three friends told of a much different account of what they saw on the night in question. “Jackie” appeared to be “upset,” and claimed that five men had “forced” her to have oral sex with them. The accused or persons who may have actually witnessed the encounter were not allowed to present a case refuting the accusation. The alleged “date” not only did not know “Jackie,” but hadn’t been in the area for six years. No one in the fraternity where the alleged assault occurred knew or had seen “Jackie” before. All the “witnesses” in “evidence” offered little more than political opinions or some initial “detection” of brief mood swings.

Upon these revelations, Rolling Stone at first issued an “apology” admitting that its “trust” in “Jackie” was “misplaced.” But the uproar by victim advocates who claimed that the facts would cause victims to demur at coming forward with accusations persuaded the magazine to absolve “Jackie” of any responsibility for the truth with a “clarification”:

“We published the article with the firm belief that it was accurate. Given all of these reports, however, we have come to the conclusion that we were mistaken in honoring Jackie's request to not contact the alleged assaulters to get their account. In trying to be sensitive to the unfair shame and humiliation many women feel after a sexual assault, we made a judgment – the kind of judgment reporters and editors make every day. We should have not made this agreement with Jackie and we should have worked harder to convince her that the truth would have been better served by getting the other side of the story. These mistakes are on Rolling Stone, not on Jackie. We apologize to anyone who was affected by the story and we will continue to investigate the events of that evening.”

Huh? Is the magazine telling us that it was deliberately persuaded by someone with an explosive “story” to tell—and how much was she paid for it?—because the magazine wanted to be on the “front line” of a “hot topic”? Was “Jackie” arrogant in her own perceived “victimhood” in society, as was suggested—or was she on a vendetta against those who had “slighted” her, concocting a story with the hope that it would not be “fact checked”? This is the kind of “evidence” that victim advocates expect us to accept?

Questions like this arise when you give false evidence about something that can harm a person falsely accused for life. We can point to an earlier incident this year concerning three University of Oregon basketball players who were falsely accused of forcible sexual assault, and essentially stated so by the prosecutor deciding on whether to charge the players; yet because of the initial rampage by gender victim advocates on campus, the craven university administrators decided to expel the players without any form or shape of due process by the university. The so-called "victim advocates" were thus nothing more than a modern-day lynch mob.

I’ve already discussed this case at great length, but the essential facts are that according to at least one friend of the female accuser (who is white), she was a “party girl” who had a “habit” of having what appeared to be consensual sex with people she didn’t know; the problem, it seems, is that the next day she tended to feel “disrespected” and “used.” In regard to the accused, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they are black (she had wanted to see what a “black party” was like). To all witnesses (even her friends) the sexual encounter she had with the three players was entirely consensual; she even admitted to having another sexual encounter with one of the accused the following morning that was consensual. But now she needed to feel like a “victim” to explain her own behavior? And she chose a demographic that had a hard enough time getting into college as her victims?

I am not saying that rape is not happening on college campuses. I’m not even saying that no crime had been committed against “Jackie.” But the fact is that differences between actual reported sexual assaults on campus and the claims made by victim advocacy groups (like the American Association of University Women) are not just huge, but they give one who respects due process and truth the impression that it is beyond logical comprehension. There was story in the Seattle Times some years ago on campus crime over one school year at the University of Washington; while reported thefts and burglaries numbered in the thousands, there were a total of six reported cases of sexual assault—none which led to charges. There were no doubt many instances that were not reported, but I’ve strolled the UW student union over the years, and seen all the fliers and posters from women’s studies and campus activists about the “epidemic” of rape on campus, and telling female students that they are “victims,” and that they are not doing their duty to the cause by being “silent” victims. The problem is that if it is as bad as claimed, why is the resort to fabrication, lies and exaggeration so commonplace? 

Perhaps it was what Emily Renda, the University of Virginia’s project coordinator for sexual misconduct, policy and prevention, told the Washington Post: She boldly asserted that “she didn't question ‘Jackie's’ credibility—because that wasn't her role.” What was her “role” then? It was not her “role” to tell the truth? Was her “role” to tell a story, regardless if it was true or not, to “illuminate” the issue of campus sexual assault? Or was it simply to paint as broad a brush over as many people as possible to “prove” a “culture” of sexual assault on campus? And putting your credibility in the toilet is how to persuade people to take you as seriously as you wish, when you want to create innocent victims to justify the false ones?

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