NYT Helps in Typical Rape-victim Smearing

We should have predicted this when we discussed the UVa Rape story in Rolling Stone last week, it was just a matter of time before people would start suggesting the central figure in the story, Jackie, might be fabricating. I would be surprised if this response did not occur, because sadly it is so typical. What I’m surprised by is that the New York Times, is credulously repeating this smear led by Richard Bradley, and Jonah Goldberg of all people.

Still, some journalists have raised questions about the story. Richard Bradley, who as an editor at George magazine was duped by the former New Republic writer and fabulist Stephen Glass, said in an essay that he had since learned to be skeptical of articles that confirm existing public narratives. “This story contains a lot of apocryphal tropes,” he wrote. Others, including Jonah Goldberg, a Los Angeles Times columnist, compared the case to rape accusations in 2006 against three lacrosse players at Duke University who were subsequently cleared and speculated that the Virginia story might be a hoax.

First, I’ll give you Richard Bradley might be legitimate, but his argument is completely speculative. He says it merely sounds odd to him. Hardly newsworthy. But then Jonah Goldberg? Author of “Liberal Fascism”? Who gives a damn what he thinks about anything? On the basis of basically one credible reporter’s feeling, they feel this deserves an article suggesting Jackie was not a credible source. Not on any independent investigation, sourcing or facts, they’re smearing this victim. And their argument about Rolling Stone’s reporting being adequate is highly debatable.

The subject of the article, who was identified by only her first name, had requested that her assailants not be contacted, and Rolling Stone decided that her situation was too delicate to risk going against her wishes, according to people familiar with the reporting process who declined to be identified because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

News media critics questioned the article’s reliance on a single source. “For the sake of Rolling Stone’s reputation,” said Erik Wemple, The Washington Post’s media critic, “Sabrina Rubin Erdely had better be the country’s greatest judge of character.”

So, the story should be rejected because they didn’t contact the rapist for his take on the story? Let’s predict how that would go. The guy would either say, “no comment”, “it never happened”, “I don’t know what you’re talking about”, or “talk to my lawyer.” If he was stupid he would admit some culpability or suggest it was consensual, thereby giving a future prosecutor an edge in establishing the fact of the crime. There, I filled in the blanks. Do they really think that would add anything to this story, or result in it not being reported? This is total nonsense.

Worse, it ignores the focus of the story, which isn’t about the facts of the victims allegations but in how my Alma Mater handles such allegations which is clearly sourced from discussions with several school administrators including the president Teresa Sullivan.

Can we call this anything but typical victim smearing? How dare the New York Times thoughtlessly promote this unethical critique of Rolling Stones reporting and this rape victim. This isn’t based on independent investigation, sourcing or facts, but on the feeling of one reporter, the reliable victim-bashing of a right-wing ideologue, and a misplaced argument about the value of obtaining “balance” by talking to an alleged rapist who (if he was smart) would undoubtedly be completely unhelpful or silent.

The point of Rolling Stone’s article was not to investigate a gang rape, but to expose how this University (and other universities as we discussed) similarly use internal rape boards to sweep crimes like these under the rug and avoid Clery Act reporting. NYT does a disservice to this victim, and other victims, by smearing Rolling Stone and Jackie in this fashion, without any real independent investigation or reporting. Maybe it’s time we write a letter to their ombudsman. I suggest you join me. Write to their public editor Margaret Sullivan at public@nytimes.com.

Also in today’s New York Times, another Cosby victim has come forward alleging sexual molestation when she was a minor. It strikes me as ironic, that this type of casual smearing of victims is the exact problem that allows serial rapists to thrive. Until we support victims, and stop reflexively accusing them of making rape allegations up, men who rape will have no problem moving from victim to victim without fear of justice.

58 thoughts on “NYT Helps in Typical Rape-victim Smearing”

  1. Rape is real. Fantastic claims about premeditated, organized, ritual rape and cruelty are usually false, and folks are right to be skeptical.

    Maybe you are too young to remember Santanic Panic in the 1980s, but I would encourage you to educate yourself on the topic and give the Rolling Stone article another read.

    Satanic Cults, urban gangs that require rape and murder for initiation, fraternities that require pledges to rape innocent victims, these are all ghost stories. Don’t flash your lights at the car with its headlights off, because they will kill you!

    If you actually care about rape (and almost everyone does) the Rolling Stone piece should anger you. When high profile rape allegations are proven to be false, does that make actual rape victims more or less likely to believed?

  2. The point of Rolling Stone’s article was not to investigate a gang rape, but to expose how this University (and other universities as we discussed) similarly use internal rape boards to sweep crimes like these under the rug and avoid Clery Act reporting.

    Try reading the entire blog entry, won’t you?

    You may satisfy your sense of… whatever it is you think you’re proving by dismissing this as a fable of an organized gang rape (such things do actually happen, btw) all you like, but the real problem here is that fraternities, in particular, DO create environments that encourage this behavior, and universities DO routinely sweep these crimes under the rug. “If the ref didn’t see it, it didn’t happen.”

  3. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. Because the “point” is not to create a false hysteria, the fact that I published (what appears to be) a work of fiction as a real event doesn’t even matter.

    But it does matter. Because when this account is proven to be false, it is going to make life that much worse for actually rape victims.

    False hysteria is never a good thing, even if it is motivated by a higher purpose.

    This is Satanic Panic 2.0.

  4. Maybe you are too young to remember Santanic Panic in the 1980s, but I would encourage you to educate yourself on the topic and give the Rolling Stone article another read.

    I would disagree. A central feature of satanic panic was the use of bogus psychological techniques such as recovered memory and abuse of children, not adults, who are even more easily suggestible. None of this sounds like this event was cultivated in the individual, further the event can be corroborated by her friends who encountered her after the incident, shoeless and beaten. If her friends came forward and said the facts don’t fit, that would justify evidence of a hoax (per the reporter in this podcast while not identified they know they are part of the story). So, is it possible this is a fabrication? Always. Should it be our first reaction? No. Does it resemble satanic panic? Not really.

    More importantly that when the university heard the allegations of this violent crime, they didn’t encourage criminal investigation. That’s the real story. Even if fabricated such an allegation should be pursued, and it wasn’t.

  5. Does it really matter whether it was an implanted memory or run-of-the-mill mental illness? Is that really the take home lesson about Santanic Panic? Not for me. The lesson for me is: be very skeptical when you hear fantastic tales about organized groups of sociopaths inflicting unimaginable cruelty on others. Doesn’t mean they don’t exist, but be very, very skeptical.

    We have seen moral panics pretty damn similar to this one time and time again. Satanic Cults. The Christian Right believed it because it confirmed their biases evil and nonbelievers. African American street gang initiations. Suburbanites believed it because it confirms their fears.

    You have to admit it maybe possible that the UVA rape story confirms your biases. Maybe if we sub out “fraternity kids” for “social workers” you would view the exact same story with a more critical eye. Maybe not. Maybe you would hear a story about 7 social workers getting together planning and executing a brutal beating and rape and think “sounds plausible.” No need to even question the story.

    Where are those awful sociopathic “friends” that didn’t want their friend who was bleeding after being brutally raped for 3 hours to go to the hospital (not even the police) because it might hurt their social life? Have they corroborated this story?

    I don’t know what to say if that part of the story doesn’t set your BS detector blaring. This is not the way real people behave. When my BS detector is blaring, my first instinct is to require more evidence before I decide to believe a hard-to-believe story. If I tell you that alien’s probed my butt (sexual assault) are you morally bound to believe me lest you are a “rape denier.” I don’t think so. My story is just too far-fetched.

    As to what you see as the broader point (i.e., UVA’s response), according to the story, Jackie was presented with the option of going to the police and decided not to do it. I guess the question is whether the Dean should have gone to the police against Jackie’s wishes. I think there are good arguments both ways.

  6. “Let’s predict how that would go. The guy would either say, “no comment”, “it never happened”, “I don’t know what you’re talking about”, or “talk to my lawyer.” If he was stupid he would admit some culpability or suggest it was consensual, thereby giving a future prosecutor an edge in establishing the fact of the crime. There, I filled in the blanks.”

    First of all, if he WAS stupid and did say “it was consensual,” that would be worthwhile to find out. And some rapists ARE stupid.

    Second of all, it’s *possible* that he would have answered “I was in France attending such-and-such an event that week, and I can document that,” and that Rolling Stone, given that information, would have been able to confirm that story. It’s not likely, but it’s possible. If that had been what had happened, then that would have been worth finding out for the reporter.

    Admittedly, neither of these things are likely. But a really thorough reporter would at least try, unless there’s a strong reason not to (as maybe there was in this case). Or so it seems to me – is there something I’m missing?

    Other than that, I basically agree with your post.

  7. Slate, the New Republic, the Washington Post, and the Daily Beast are also credulously repeating the smears against Rolling Stone. It’s a credulity pandemic.

  8. I seem to remember the same asinine “victim smearing” nonsense being thrown around during the Duke rape case. Remind me again, how did that turn out?

    Some of the details in the Rolling Story are ridiculous on their face.

  9. As for the “friends” who supposedly “encountered” the victim “shoeless and beaten”, the “reporter” in the article makes clear the only corroboration for that detail comes from, you guessed it, “Jackie”. Anyone who honestly believes that “friends” would find advise someone who had just been gang-raped, who they found “shoeless and beaten” not to go to the police or the administration because it would hurt their chances of pledging a frat(as is stated quite clearly in the RS article) is simply too gullible to put into words.

    “You were just raped by seven people, but hey, we really want to rush Psi Kappa, so please, don’t tell anyone about it.”

    Give me a break.

    This story is so much like the bogus Duke Lacrosse case that it is scary.

  10. “But then Jonah Goldberg? Author of “Liberal Fascism”? Who gives a damn what he thinks about anything?”

    Wow, that is one hell of a brilliant rebuttal, genius.

  11. Unfortunately for you and your pathetic narrative, the RS article and the shoddy reporting that produced it is being questioned by more than just Richard Bradley and Jonah Goldberg. You can add the Washington Post, The New Republic, Slate, and the Daily Beast to the growing list. But that doesn’t fit your “victim smearing” narrative, so it goes unmentioned.

  12. “Worse, it ignores the focus of the story, which isn’t about the facts of the victims allegations…”

    Yeah, those claims that someone was gang-raped by seven people? That’s just secondary.

  13. I’m curious, were you one of the people who demanded the Duke Lacrosse “rapists” be castrated, or were you just writing silly blog posts presuming their guilt?

  14. According to Rolling Stone, Jackie’s “friends” supposedly uttered, according to Jackie (and Jackie only, contrary to what you claim)the following statements to Jackie, after being told she had been gang-raped by seven people, for three hours:

    “have fun with it…[with a] bunch of hot Phi Psi guys””

    “we’ll never be allowed into any frat party again”

    If that sounds even remotely plausible to you, I have a unicorn farm, tended by leprechauns, I would like to sell you. It can be reached via the Brooklyn Bridge, which I also have for sale, along with some choice real estate in the Florida Everglades.

  15. The following quote appears in an article at Slate (I guess they are another credulous outlet specializing in the smearing of rape victims):

    “In her story, Erdely does describe a scene in which Jackie’s ‘three best friends on campus’ encounter her immediately after the alleged incident. The way Erdely writes that scene, it’s impossible to know if she’s getting the quotes directly from the friends (whose names have been changed in the story) or from Jackie’s recollection of what they said. Mostly, it seems to be the latter.”

    Yeah, so much for your claim that the encounter on the stairs was independently corroborated.

  16. Congratulations to the left-leaning media outlets who coughed up a shred of journalistic integrity (after several days). Congratulations also to those who would falsify rape claims; you have set back the cause about 30 years. The general public is not as stupid as you might think and they have every reason to question rape claims like this that trivialize the real sexual assaults that do occur.

  17. The only thing missing from this case is a corrupt DA cynically pressing charges and slandering a group of men in order to win the black vote in his campaign to be reelected.

  18. The following quote comes from a Washington Post story published today:

    “Several of the woman’s close friends and campus sex assault awareness advocates expressed doubt about the published account, and the magazine’s editors also apologized to readers for discrepancies in the story.”

    http://tinyurl.com/oy23n6b

    This story is collapsing faster than The New Republic.

  19. However, this statement, from the same article, is even more damning:

    “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”.

    So, for the clowns who smeared those who questioned this obviously bogus story, are you going to eat that crow with the egg you scraped off your face, or are you going to save room for the humble pie?

  20. Hahahahahahahahaha, if you don’t look like a total jackass right now, I don’t know who does.

  21. What have we learned from this fiasco?

    1. If anyone says a category of persons should always be believed about certain allegations that sometimes get made, that person is spinning you for political purposes. Discount it.

    2. If a given story violates your personal sense of logic, common sense and probability, your instincts are probably not wrong.

    3. We don’t want to live in a world where normal human skepticism about a given story, allegation or theory is shouted down by internet jackals like the author of this piece. No matter who you are or what group you identify with, do not let anyone silence you by questioning your motives or character.

  22. I guess I just need to republish the relevant piece from my post:

    The point of Rolling Stone’s article was not to investigate a gang rape, but to expose how this University (and other universities as we discussed) similarly use internal rape boards to sweep crimes like these under the rug and avoid Clery Act reporting.

    Or as I said in #3:

    More importantly that when the university heard the allegations of this violent crime, they didn’t encourage criminal investigation. That’s the real story. Even if fabricated such an allegation should be pursued, and it wasn’t.

    Even if this did not occur as Jackie has said, if she came to the university with this allegation, and they did nothing, that’s the problem. That is the issue Rolling Stone is trying to expose. That’s the problem we discussed when the article first came out. The point of the Rolling Stone article, and what will get lost when the focus becomes on slamming the victim of the crime, is that the culture of the institution is fundamentally defective, that internal rape boards exist to protect institutions and not sexual assault victims.

    After all, what was this story about? A girl described a violent assault taking place against her, and the university diverting the victim of the alleged violent crime into an internal disciplinary process that suppresses reporting, hides these crimes, and prevents criminal investigation that will allow the truth of allegations to be determined and criminals to be punished. We don’t know if this is a fabrication, or an exaggeration, in the meantime, when victims come forward alleging violent assault it’s wrong to just say, “that’s impossible” just because it sounds extreme, or unlikely to you. The proper thing to do is to believe victims, investigate the allegations, and find out the truth. And I stand by that Jonah Goldberg is a hack.

    If this turns out to be a fabrication that will be sad, because it will distract from the real facts of how colleges and universities suppress rape statistics, and funnel these victims into internal disciplinary systems which let rapists off the hook, and prevent legitimate data from being collected. This is what we explored last week, and that is still a valid problem.

    Finally Rudyard, don’t hammer-post, it’s annoying. And I won’t ever feel bad for sticking up for women who come forward with sexual abuse allegations. The Rolling Stone may have erred with this source, but that doesn’t mean the problem with rape on campus doesn’t exist. Your schadenfreude is really rather pathetic. This isn’t a victory for anybody.

  23. Virtually every single professional journalist who reported on this story noted that not getting a statement from the accused is a serious lapse of journalistic ethics. But why should you listen to them when you can just read the pathetic musings of Mark Hoofnagle? Because when you automatically assume the guilt of the accused, of course it is silly to get their side of the story. After all, when you are writing a piece that can destroy their lives, who cares what they have to say? This pointless victim-bashing must end.

  24. Whose life is destroyed by this article? Other than maybe Jackie now that it appears she’s exaggerated or fabricated? Someone named “Drew” at UVa?

    This isn’t about assuming the guilt of the accused but a need to stop immediately disbelieving rape victims, which sadly is the status quo. When you look at the data if 20-25% of women are being raped while at college, and only about 10% report, what’s the cause of that discrepancy? Could it be because we so readily disbelieve victims of rape?

    The RS article, if anyone has read it which I’m beginning to doubt, is not just about Jackie, or a crime piece on her rape, and doesn’t just use her allegations to substantiate their case. How about Liz Securro? No one can challenge her story, her rapist admitted to the allegations. How about the data from Lizak showing that the typical rapist on campus will have 6 victims. The article is about how college campuses divert victims from reporting violent crimes. It’s about how rape on campus is not taken seriously, and as a result, serial rapists can basically function without fear of reprisal.

    I suspect we’ll find out that Jackie has been a victim, but her claims are exaggerated. But so what? What does that change about the facts of the article? Does it alter the facts of how UVa handles rape allegations (even if they turn out false)? How they haven’t expelled a student, even those found guilty of raping students, in years?

    It will be sad indeed if we use this girl as an excuse to further ignore, disbelieve and further abuse victims of rape.

  25. My schadenfreude is pathetic? No, what’s pathetic is that you can casually accuse multiple people of committing violent felonies, without a shred of evidence, then smear as denialists or rape apologists those who are skeptical of a story that is so obviously bogus, anyone with an IQ over 12 can see it. Worse is the fact that you mock the attempts that should have been made to obtain any sort of evidence or corroboration. But even more ludicrous, yet totally indicative of the rest of your asinine bullsh*t, is how you think labelling someone a “right wing ideologue” is some sort of argument-winning trump card. Why prove your point with actual evidence when you can simply note that someone is, horror-of-horrors, on the right of the political spectrum? You’re not interested in the truth. All you care about is pushing a political narrative. You’re pathetic.

    Your style of “ignore the facts if they don’t fit the narrative” bullsh*t is precisely why cases of rape should not be adjudicated on college campuses and why everyone in the United States should be thankful the accused are afforded a presumption of innocence in non-kangaroo courts.

    “The proper thing to do is believe victims, investigate the allegations, and find out the truth”.

    How completely revealing that you list “believe victims”(notice the word alleged is never used, as you are evidently intent on not learning any lessons, ever) first. It is perfectly indicative of the “well-publicized accusations first, evidence later” modus operandi of the rape culture warriors. And you write this bullsh*t on a blog devoted to science and critical thinking?

    Schadenfreude? You fuc*ing deserve every last bit of the derision directed at you. That you try to pretend you don’t is laughable.

  26. Good lord, not only do you cite a study that has been derided by just about everyone, you can’t even do it right. The much talked about 20% concerns so-called “sexual assault”. The study, an online survey of two whole schools, used a ridiculously broad definition of sexual assault that includes things such as unwanted kisses on the cheek. Nowhere, NOWHERE, does the asinine study to which you refer indicate that 20% of women on campus are “raped” in the way rape is understood by the general public. It simply amazes me that anyone with half a brain thinks college campuses in the United States are as violent as a Johannesburg ghetto, which is what you have to believe in order to claim, with a straight face, that 1 in 5 college women are “raped”. If that were the case, we would be calling out the national guard, not debating policy in the pages of a magazine better known for publishing stories about shallow musicians.

    The following boils down your above comment: “We need to do something about ‘rape culture’, so who cares if innocent lives are destroyed in the process.” That summarizes pretty much everything you have written on this subject.

    Those who are making it easy to discount the stories of real rape victims are people, like you, who push the bogus ones without a single fuc*ing thought as to how many innocent lives they are destroying with their crusade.

  27. What have we learned from this fiasco?

    Nothing. Absolutely nothing. We are incapable of learning lessons. We are stupid, hairless apes possessing the ability of logic and reason, but who refuse to use those abilities if they interfere with our biases and superstitions.

    Don’t think for a second anyone has learned any lessons. The next time a moral panic inevitably arises, nobody except a small percentage will ever even remember this episode. And when reminded of this episode, the others will insist that the next moral panic is “totally different.” The next moral panic will be real. They will be certain of it.

    Without a hint of irony we denounce skepticism on something called the scienceblog. Because skepticism is tantamount to denialism. And denialism is anti-science. Therefore, skepticism is anti-science. Believe. Just believe. Believe unless you have concrete proof to disbelieve.

    We live at the bottom of the rabbit hole, not at the top.

    Who cares if this farce has real victims in the form of rape victims that will have a harder time being taken seriously in the future?

    Who cares that a group of young men have had to wear a scarlet “R” around campus? Who cares that they have been harassed and shamed? Who cares that they have seen bricks thrown through their windows and their house vandalized? Burn the witch!

    No one cares because they are privileged little shits. Sure they have been harassed. Sure they are the victims of crimes. But so what? They are probably just rapists that haven’t been caught yet. They had it comin’, right?

    In the words of Clint Eastwood, “we all have it comin’, kid.”

  28. I stopped reading the comments, probably because they were all entirely rude and disrespectful. But, I am writing as a student at a University who was raped almost 2 years ago by a division one athlete, while his roommates stood outside the door making noises and remarks that I will never be able to forget. These men likely did not realize what was going on behind the door, but nonetheless they have changed my life forever. They encouraged this man to continue what he was doing, and when I was able to finally leave that night, I hid in shame and guilt for many months. I immediately contacted therapists to deal with the issue, but it was not until I failed a mandatory physical that I ended up revealing what had happened to me. People like you are the ones who force people like me into hiding. I was so afraid of what people would say or think about me, that I did not want to say anything.

    Two years later, I am still on anti-depressants, and the person I have accused of rape has never seen serious consequences because of the way our country and universities deal with these situations.

    Sexual assault is REAL. It is a huge problem, and I can relate to the RS story. It takes a true, very disgusting story to get peoples’ attention, and unfortunately it grabbed the wrong kind of attention from you all who have terrible things to say. RS is apologizing, because it is impossible for every detail in their story to be correct (no story is ever told the way that things happened….ever. Try it at home by making dinner with your wife and see what she says happened and what you say happened), and they want people to stop flaunting this story around like Holocaust denialist.

    This young ladies life has been forever changed, and I have met victims who have later gone on to commit suicide because of people like you. Rape is just about the most heinous crime I believe that a person can commit. The person survives the attack, and has to forever live with it. Victims of sexual assault are 13 times more likely than others to attempt suicide than those who have never been assaulted.

    I really hope you read that last sentence again, and realize that hiding behind your computer screen and saying terrible things like this will get you no where in life. Think about your daughter, your wife, you sister, your mother, and any other women you love dearly getting raped and possibly never being the same again. Your comments have led another victim to fall silent, and I hope you can one day change your ways.

  29. Mark, it appears this post attracted some MRAs who don’t care what it or your previous one was actually about. Your protestations are unavailing, because all they want is to carry the fight to the International Fem-Lib Conspiracy. I wonder if Rudy Bombast is running for office? He seems to be polishing his message.

  30. I’m thinking so. They definitely have that skeevy MRA vibe that they’re so filled with glee to find out this accusation may be inaccurate. We actually don’t know if it is an exaggeration, a fabrication, or just an error in memory, the girl is still insistent she was raped although she has now said some of the details may be wrong.

    What is disturbing is this insistence that gang rape is somehow unbelievable or just doesn’t happen. One just happened on JHU campus, a gang rape of a high school girl, only 16 at a party. Hopkins had even had difficulties within the last year of sweeping other gang rape allegations at the Pike house under the rug spurring a federal investigation.

    It is not unbelievable to think a girl can get gang raped at a fraternity, and it is extremely unusual for rape allegations to be false, the figure usually quoted is 2%. Automatically discounting the victim’s story because you don’t believe such things happen is not admirable, or “skepticism”. That’s just being a dick.

    Some additional issues DD writes:

    Without a hint of irony we denounce skepticism on something called the scienceblog. Because skepticism is tantamount to denialism. And denialism is anti-science. Therefore, skepticism is anti-science. Believe. Just believe. Believe unless you have concrete proof to disbelieve.

    I didn’t denounce skepticism or hint this was denialism. Just because we’re at denialism blog doesn’t mean that’s our one topic. This is a common response from people who don’t realize we discuss everything from crankery to health care policy here. All topics aren’t denialism all the time, denialism is a very specific behavior and I wasn’t alleging it occurred in this instance. Further, skepticism isn’t just saying “This doesn’t sound right.” One of my objections is the doubters kicked in before independent investigation or sourcing suggested there was a problem with the story. Just because, I guess, gang rape just doesn’t sound real. Well it happens, it doesn’t seem isolated.

    Who cares if this farce has real victims in the form of rape victims that will have a harder time being taken seriously in the future?

    That’s the most upsetting thing about this, I agree, that it validates the instant disbelief of victims, which is precisely the behavior that will make it more difficult for future rape victims to speak out.

    Who cares that a group of young men have had to wear a scarlet “R” around campus? Who cares that they have been harassed and shamed? Who cares that they have seen bricks thrown through their windows and their house vandalized? Burn the witch!

    No one should have assumed 100% of the fraternity members are rapists, and violence was never an acceptable response. I don’t believe the victim has been completely discredited either though. Yes details are wrong, maybe there is exaggeration, or mistakes, we don’t know yet. I think it’s highly-likely something happened to this girl, we just don’t know exactly what. It’ unfortunate for all involved.

    RH says:

    Your style of “ignore the facts if they don’t fit the narrative” bullsh*t is precisely why cases of rape should not be adjudicated on college campuses and why everyone in the United States should be thankful the accused are afforded a presumption of innocence in non-kangaroo courts.

    I think we actually have common ground here. I agree, sexual assault boards are kangaroo courts, and universities have no business adjudicating violent crime. Other than that, we seem to disagree. I don’t trust Jonah Goldberg and I think that his being an ideologue, and writing such ridiculous tripe in the past is enough to justify that. Ideologues are not impartial, fair, or even frequently honest, and that’s whether they’re left or right wing. Ideology is what makes people deny science, whether it’s a crusty hippy whining about nuclear power and GMOs or a right wing nut ranting about abortion and evolution, the problem is ideology. So yes, ideologues are almost instantly discredited in my view. Especially given the contribution of right wingers to misogyny and MRA bullshit.

  31. ” I wonder if Rudy Bombast is running for office? ”

    Hahahaha, so I was the one smearing people as denialists, casually dropping rape accusations and mocking the very notion of gathering evidence before reporting a story that could destroy the lives of countless individuals? Bombast? Perhaps, but not from me, genius.

  32. “People like you are the ones who force people like me into hiding. I was so afraid of what people would say or think about me, that I did not want to say anything. ”

    I don’t know to whom you are referring, but if your goal is to get me to apologize for slamming someone who made fake rape allegations, it’s never going to happen, EVER.

  33. “Your comments have led another victim to fall silent, and I hope you can one day change your ways.”

    What complete and utter bullsh*t. To summarize, we should just let false rape accusations go unchallenged as it might interfere with the broader narrative. Who cares if people’s lives are ruined because of accusations of crimes they didn’t commit? The presumption of innocence? That is just a pernicious evil.

  34. Yeah, but you guys had no idea the allegations were false, you just instantly disbelieved it because it was gang rape. Gang rapes happen. They happen in fraternities, just ask JHU as in links above.

    Further, you aren’t reading replies carefully. And you are the first person to use the word denialist on this thread. Just because it’s written about on this blog doesn’t make the topic denialism. This is a common troll obsession from people who just come here to shit on one post, it reflects an ignorance of the broad topics we discuss here and denialism. We reserve the right to talk about all sorts of things, and this continued insistence that we’ve made allegations of denialism are false. Denialism is a very specific set of actions, and was not what I was objecting to, which was victim smearing. I still think that’s what this was, but the smearers just got lucky and gaps appeared in her story.

    Now there are problems with her story. It’s not clear that she’s either mistaken about details or more perniciously fabricating. Although the crowing is premature. I suspect though, Rudyard, you probably believe all rape accusations are false. Your consistent nastiness to me and other commenters is getting old. Clean it up or be banned.

  35. The facts have come out: Erdely and Rolling Stone did not due their due diligence; Bradley was correct to point this out and call for more investigation of the facts in the article; after further investigation, RS decided they couldn’t stand by their story anymore. It was certainly something other than “typical victim smearing”. It was the truth.

    Give it up and admit that you were wrong. Until you do that, nothing you say helps. Defensive and evasive comments about the ‘real story’ do not rebuild the credibility of rape victims that this journalistic fiasco has destroyed. It doesn’t matter that Jonah Goldberg is a hack. It’s not about him or you or me.

  36. Mark. These are all cheap straw-men arguments. Has anyone here denied that rapes and even gang-rapes happen?

    Here is my first comment: “Rape is real. Fantastic claims about premeditated, organized, ritual rape and cruelty are usually false, and folks are right to be skeptical.”

    I’m not an “MRA” or a Satanist or a Communist-sympathizer (or on the flip side, funded by the KOCH BROTHERS!) or any of the other lame ad hominems you can gin up. I’m just a normal guy with a functioning BS detector.

    The people who sniffed out this story as likely fiction did not “get lucky” as you would like to believe. Rather than attacking them with ad hominems, you should take a deep breath and go back and try to read Rolling Stone story again with a more objective eye. Challenge yourself to see if you can spot the many clues that suggested the piece was false.

    Then ask yourself the really hard question: did everyone else just “get lucky” or did they see something that you missed the first time around.

  37. It sounds like Jackie was the sole source for virtually everything she told Erdley, from her alleged assault, to the two other victims she met, to her interactions with the school’s administration. It’s also been reported elsewhere that Jackie wanted to be left out of the story after her interviews with Erdley, but claims she was told the story would go ahead anyway. Assuming her story is at least partly fabricated, as seems to be the case at this point, this isn’t so much a false accusation as it is a story that completely got away from her. I feel sorry for everyone involved except the staff at Rolling Stone.

  38. Factual assertions of this author are disconfirmed by legitimate re-reporting by the half-day.

    “None of this sounds like this event was cultivated in the individual, further the event can be corroborated by her friends who encountered her after the incident, shoeless and beaten. If her friends came forward and said the facts don’t fit, that would justify evidence of a hoax (per the reporter in this podcast while not identified they know they are part of the story).”

    One of the reporters of that podcast has done exactly what you suggest. Your assumption, baldly speculative, is false: as Hanna Rosin reports, Jackie’s friends, immediately after the alleged incident, saw her without physical injuries and in no state of dishevelment or undress. Further, her friends say the reporter of the Rolling Stone article never contacted them. The reporter’s quotations she ascribed to them in the Rolling Stone article were made up, they say. Go home; you’re drunk.

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2014/12/06/rolling_stone_uva_rape_story_continues_to_unravel_jackie_s_friend_andy_speaks.html

  39. Heck, I concur with doubters here: big claims require big evidence and extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. The burden of proof is on the women to prove a rape occurred and prove who did it. The alleged rapist has no burden of proving his innocence. If she’s has no evidence that a crime has occurred than tough luck.

  40. Dear Doctor Hoofnagle,

    I disagree with a number of your statements.

    The NY Times and others were justified in criticizing Rolling Stone’s lax journalistic standards. It is Rolling Stone magazine, in fact, that failed to give campus sexual assault the proper ethical treatment. Addressing a subject with a sensationalist story and questionable fact-checking is not merely disingenuous, but distracts from the crux of the issue. That distraction, as you mentioned, is presently occurring. As others have noted, the fallout from this journalistic lapse may very well result in campus sexual assault being taken less seriously.

    Reasonable skepticism, as expressed by Bradley and Soave, should not result in scornful dismissal. In this shameful era of hyperbolic print and news media, it is a very harmful practice to discourage skepticism and journalistic accountability. Even if such skepticism was not vindicated, as it seemingly has been, it was still valid criticism.

    Rejecting an argument based on political affiliation or gender advocacy is an ad hominen fallacy, and contributes nothing to a rational debate.

    Most importantly, the seriousness of an issue does not justify unethical means. Conversely, the seriousness of an issue demands ethical means.

    Sincerely,

    Brantforth Maximilian DeWinter III

  41. Yes Gang rapes do quite often occur. But sadly, especially for Rape Crisis Feminists, the rapists are often anything but “overwhelmingly blonde”

    http://www.unz.com/isteve/think-progress-defends-rolling-stone-by-noting-3-current-campus-gang-rape-cases/

    In England recently two horrific cases of gang rape, one including 1400 mostly underage girls came to light. When you look up the definition of “rape culture” these are the cases to should pop-up. Once again though, these cases did not interest Rubin Erdley. Could race have something to do with it?

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2734694/It-hard-appalling-nature-abuse-child-victims-suffered-1-400-children-sexually-exploited-just-one-town-16-year-period-report-reveals.html

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2851680/13-Somali-men-convicted-running-inner-city-prostitution-ring-British-teenagers-abused-raped.html

    Please tell me why all these rape advocates are so eager to go after white frat boys even when the accusations are fictional instead of going after actual real cases of gang rape?

  42. Golly: who’s engaged in denialism now that we know that the UVA gang rape claim was a hoax, courtesy of the Washington Post’s REAL reporting (vs. Rolling Stone’s feminist fantasies)?!

  43. They did nothing? The RS story contains plenty of paragraphs about meetings with the Dean who kept telling Jackie that she could press charges. It seems to me like the school was ready and willing to do what Jackie wanted. Where do you get the idea that they didn’t do anything?

  44. Mark, I understand what you are saying, but you picked the wrong hill to die on. Yes, some people disbelieve actual rape victims, but there is no value in harping on a case where people disbelieved a fabulated and false report of rape. Yes, many college administrators sweep rapes under the rug, but that fact is hardly relevant to do what administrators did with one attention-seeking teenager who may never have even talked to them.

  45. Totally tangential here, and it might have been a throwaway line by Mark, but abortion is a thorny moral issue, not a scientific one. No one disputes whether a fetus is biologically alive, only whether it has legal rights. If science is to give any agency to only one side in the abortion debate it could quite plausibly be argued that it’d be the pro-lifers.

  46. “When you look at the data if 20-25% of women are being raped while at college…”

    Bullshit!! That would be a crime wave of unprecedented proportions, an anomaly against a background of rapidly diminishing violence. The only person harming genuine rape victims here is you with your sensational, unfounded and irrational adherence to what is increasingly likely to have been a false allegation.

  47. The new facts in this case have changed so much in the last 3 days it requires a new post. It will appear tomorrow AM. We’ll move comments to that post.

  48. I tried to comment on the other post, but for some reason, by comment has been filtered out.

    I think we need to tread very carefully with the notion that “memories are fluid” and trauma causes that much confusion. If the notion that rape-trauma causes victims to be confused about the basic who/where/when of the crime takes root in our collective psyche, no prosecutor will ever get a rape conviction absent DNA evidence. There will always be reasonable doubt that the victim is misremembering the crime due to the trauma. Your heart is clearly in the right place, but this is a reckless idea to advance that you haven’t thought all the way through.

    You still are not being fair to Bradley and the other skeptics. No one “got lucky.” You yourself quote the statistic that 2% of rapes are false. That would mean that the skeptics had a 1 in 50 chance of “beating the odds.” You are a scientist. What is more likely: that the skeptics overcame long odds or that they picked up on details that you missed?

    Maybe Bradley soft peddled his suspicions (“this doesn’t sound right”) because he was being polite. Would you rather he have said, “this story fits the pattern of bullshit?”

    This was not a story about rape or gang rape, this was a story about brutal gang rape used as a rite of passage. That’s the detail that should sound warning bells. Throughout history these types of ghost stories crop up over and over again: this group of OTHERS uses rape, kidnapping, torture and/or murder as a rite of passage or to fulfill some ceremonial purpose. I gave a list of examples in the other thread about similar folklore that ultimately proved false (but not until after many lives were destroyed) but you can trace the pattern back to blood libel in the Middle Ages. I’m sure this motif extends back even further. (I’m no historian).

    Why does this matter? Because these tales are used to other-ize groups of innocent people. Those people aren’t like us, it’s their cultural norm to be cruel sociopaths. The Others are less than civilized people and they are not worthy of being treated as civilized people. Our rules of compassion and empathy don’t apply to the Others.

    It’s okay to harass and threaten the Others. It’s okay to throw bricks through their windows and vandalize their home.

    We also reflexively believe terrible accusations about the Others. You reference the UW-Milwaukee “mass drugging.” A not-even-that-careful reading of that story shows that the “evidence” against the Others is purely conjectural. A follow-up investigation found marijuana and adderall, but no roofies. “The complaint does not accuse Kreinbring of spiking any drinks with drugs.”

    http://www.jsonline.com/news/education/national-fraternity-suspends-uw-milwaukee-tau-kappa-epsilon-chapter-b99355105z1-275806711.html

    Maybe the Others hid the roofies. But then why would they keep other illegal drugs around that could send Others to jail? One theory would be that the Others had a secret meeting and selected a sacrificial lamb to be criminally charged for drug possession to conceal the real crime. Everyone knows that the absence of evidence is proof of the conspiracy.

    Smells like Salem.

    Rape is real. Gang rape is real. But these are crimes caused by sick, disgusting individuals and not groups of Others.

    Finally, I basically agree with you that colleges have little place for ferreting out the facts related to sexual assault. These are crimes and should be handled by police and prosecutors, not academics and certainly not boards of students.

    1. Weird, don’t know why its holding you up.

      I do get your argument, and its more subtle than the “rape is exaggerated” crowd pushes. In retrospect, yes that detail stands out and I think I’ll view it more skeptically. However, as Seccuro’s story reveals, every other detail is pretty believable.

      As far as the fluidity of memory my experience with that goes all the way back to my public defender days. No one thinks eyewitness testimony is reliable, even that of victims. It is one of the most unreliable forms of evidence despite the weight juries give it.

      Do you listen to the serial podcast?

  49. Most studies show the faux-rape rate at between 2-8%.

    Let’s make a comparison to a similar lopsided level of crime — black murders. 94% of blacks are killed by other blacks. That means only 6% of blacks are killed by non-whites so let’s say 5% are killed by whites. This 5% number is well within the range of faux rape accusations as well.

    Using your method that we must privilege the vast majority of cases; people who accused the white Darrell Wilson of murdering the black Michael Brown were engaging in black-on-black-murder denialism.

    So if for example, despite the fact that many witnesses saw the white man murder the black man, if Rolling Stone wrote an article claiming it was a black-on-black crime, and some critics questioned the truth of this article, saying they suspect the article is incorrect and perhaps a white man killed Brown, would you accuse them of denialism?

    If not why not. Even if you hold fast to your 2% number, is the difference between 2% (your percentage of faux-rape reports) and 5% (the percentage of white killing blacks) really enough to totally change the intellectual attitude you would take towards deciding either case?

    Going back to Jackie / Rubin Erdely case, people were basing their criticism on the total implausibility of the story — which is glaringly obvious now in light of the fact that it has come out that she is the biggest liar since Casey Anthony.

    Only the weakest intellects would hide behind a totalitarian concept of “denialism” to scare people away from searching for the truth no matter what the case is.

  50. I don’t know what it is about trolls but they can’t ever seem to get past the title of the blog seeming to think that if it’s written here it must be about denialism 100% of the time. The whole “totalitarian” thing is a dead giveaway too, very cranky. In the seven years we’ve been in existence we have written on an enormous diversity of topics, all of which are easy to see in our archives. And even within this thread I’ve pointed this out before, I never described this as denialism, because it isn’t. Denialism has a specific definition, and this doesn’t fit.

    The only people talking about denialism have been the drive-by trolls who clearly are just doing drive-bys on all the posts on the topic. It adds nothing to the conversation, it’s irrelevant and a straw man. I’ll just delete such comments here on out, not that saying this will likely help because consistently trolls have shown zero reading comprehension, and basically ignore all responses preferring to just piss on the comments before walking off.

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