Rolling Stone Rape Story Reversal

So wow, you try to blog about stuff you learn from reliable, respected news sources, and look what happens. This week, Rolling Stone totally backpedaled on their blockbuster gang rape story from last week. Apparently, whatever they figured out in the last seven days, they were unable to determine in the prior many months of researching this story, and here’s what they have to say about it:
In the face of new information, there now appear to be discrepancies in Jackie’s account, and we have come to the conclusion that our trust in her was misplaced. We were trying to be sensitive to the unfair shame and humiliation many women feel after a sexual assault and now regret the decision to not contact the alleged assaulters to get their account.
I get their whole thing about wanting to respect the victim’s privacy, but they’re a news and commentary source, and a darn good one—usually. They had one job, dammit, and that was to write a well-researched, fair and balanced story. They didn’t even ensure that the date of the event was valid, or that there was a guy from the fraternity who worked at the place the victim worked. How can you call a source credible if you don’t check any facts?
Bottom line is they blew it, and that makes my original remarks about the story even more important. A college campus is no place to render justice, and neither is the court of public opinion. I have no doubt that something happened to this young woman, and it probably was awful, and my heart goes out to her, but unless she wanted to press charges with the police, the details should have stayed between her and those she chose to support her. I don’t blame her; it sounds like she was pushed to do this—the magazine sought her out to tell this story publicly, not the other way around. Spreading unverified rumors about something so heinous is as wrong as the act itself, and Rolling Stone should know better.
via: Rolling Stone Says It No Longer Trusts Woman in Gang Rape Account | TIME

Rape is NOT an Honor Code Violation

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last week, you’ve no doubt read, seen, or at least heard about this Rolling Stone exposé detailing one young woman’s horrifying experience of gang rape at a UVA fraternity house. I recommend reading the article on an empty stomach, because the story will likely sicken you. It’s the sort of thing you read and wonder how one group of human beings could ever do that to another, particularly human beings who are smart enough and dedicated enough to be attending a high profile university. The focus of the article, however, is primarily on UVA’s and many other universities’ mishandling of rape cases and how the federal government is pressuring them to do a better job or face losing federal funding. While I don’t disagree with the sentiment, I fail to see how that’s really the big deal.
If you asked a mother and father to adjudicate an incest allegation between two of their children, would you expect an equitable resolution and a satisfactory outcome? For those who couldn’t read my sarcastic tone, the answer is no, of course not. You don’t ask strongly interested parties to adjudicate anything; generally, you ask them to recuse themselves in favor of neutral parties, preferably those with expertise in criminal and legal matters. University administrators and classmates are neither. Like the aforementioned parents, they are highly biased and ill-equipped. And understand, I say this as much for the accused as the accusers. An allegation of rape is not something that should be decided by a bunch of overachieving poli sci majors. Even if the case never makes it to the formal legal system, should students be allowed to be labeled as rapists by a kangaroo court? And potentially be expelled, lose scholarships, or be thrown off athletic teams? Such a ruling could unfairly effect the student’s entire life, if, in fact, they’re not guilty. I’m sorry, but the college honor council should not be imbued with that kind of power.
Sexual assault is a serious and despicable criminal act, not an honor code violation. In the FBI’s violent crime statistics, rape is second only to murder and non-negligent manslaughter. Plagiarism and stealing the rival team’s mascot don’t make the list. If a victim chooses to come forward, his or her case should be brought to the police, not the university cheerleading squad. To quote Robby Soave from his article in Reason magazine, “Cheating and raping are not related things. The former is an academic infraction deserving an academic punishment, like expulsion; the latter is a violent crime deserving a rigorous police investigation.” Universities don’t need to get better at handling rape allegations; they need to get the hell out of the way.
via: The UVA Rapists Should Not Have Been Expelled –