Yesterday I viewed a fairly lengthy video put out by youtuber The Amazing Atheist, otherwise known as TJ Kirk. The video (which at one point gets VERY heated, though with good reason) is him putting in his take on a couple of articles released about the UVA Rolling Stone alleged gang rape scandal.
This was a story I had not anticipated on covering or writing about in depth (the online publications and social media have covered it well enough), but I will give a brief synapsis of what I know for the purpose of this piece.
A freshman female named Jackie attending the University of Virginia claimed to have had a date she was on turn into a horror show. After dinner, she and her date went to his frat house. Finding things to noisy downstairs on account to a party, she and her date went upstairs. That is when (she claimed) the horror begun. Her date and at least 5 others raped her, apparently on broken glass.
On release of the story by Rolling Stone (unverified with any sources other then Jackie), the reaction was swift. Social media users quite reasonably, exploded with rage. The president of UVA suspended the greek system. And the members of the frat itself became targets of vandalism as objects were thrown though the windows of the frat.
Written by Sabrina Rubin Erdely, the article got its first dose of scepticism from the Washington Post. Unlike Sabrina or any other members of the quality control team at Rolling Stone, the Post decided to fact check the story for authenticity. The results revealed an interesting picture.
One released detail was of the “party” at the frat on the night of the alleged rape. There was no party.
Then there were problems with some of the people alleged to be involved (the background stories didn’t check out).
The story of the attack itself was changed for the article, from what she had told her friends. The broken glass element was apparently not in the story given to Jackie’s friends.
The involvement of the friends in the situation was also in question. She claimed they urged Jackie NOT to go to the police, they claim they to her TO go to the police.
And then there are the photos of the “date” as sent to her friends throughout the course of the evening. Apparently the photos were of a previous acquaintance not even in attendance at the university. Someone who had not ever set foot in Virginia.
NOTE: The link above is meant as a jumping off point for those wishing to pursue the story further. The details above were gathered from a number of varying sources over time (and thus may not all be present in the article).
Though the story above casts a big shadow of doubt on this Jackie’s story, I am willing to keep an open mind. There seems to be an air of premeditation that would deflate an argument of misrecollection of the facts after a trauma, but who knows.
Either way, this is not a reason to cast doubt on all cases of rape allegation. Lets be honest. If that is even a part of your takeaway from this situation, then your an idiot. Its like saying that all Catholic priests are child molesters, or all evangelical ministers and pastors are “homosexual deviants” (to borrow a term from their library). There are many that make the news, but that is not an all encompassing picture of the entire group.
However, on the opposite side of the spectrum, many people are advocating that cases of alleged sexual assault should always be taken seriously and without question (the special pleading). Because of the traumatic nature of the crime, it is felt that the claim of the victim should always be first priority. Even in a justice system that is based on an “innocent until proven guilty” philosophy, the allegations are to to taken seriously and reacted upon swiftly, even before verification.
I am not kidding. There are people in the world of “activist journalism” who believe that action should be taken against perpetrators as soon as an allegation arises. They believe that even if the assault allegations are found to be false and the damage to the perpetrator is severe, it is still justified.
The sad part about this (and the part that makes TJ lose it in the above linked video) is that this stance is justified with the argument that it helps prevent women as being viewed as “disposable”. Meaning that its a genuine travesty to destroy the life of a women, but its fuck all to do the same to the life of a man, FOR NOTHING.
I am gender egalitarian (or “feminist” depending on who you ask) in my want to have both men and women on an even playing field. Equality should be a goal that is worked toward by all sides.
However, expecting special favours is NOT the path to equality. All it presents is yet another barrier to overcome. In the case of sexual assault against women, at best it makes the picture murky. At worst, it can be a tool of revenge and malice.
I understand the delicate nature of the situation. Being physically violated is traumatizing to anyone of any gender. But this fact does not justify the taking of all alleged cases of sexual abuse on faith, to be truthful.
I expect that authority figures (such as those in law enforcement) do not have such emotionally based irrational conclusions. It is their job to investigate the claim fully, and one hopes that they do so properly and without bias.
I also expect the same of journalists and of well renowned and credible news organizations. I am not talking about the so called “journalists” of viral click-bait or OP-ED websites either (where many contributors hardly have much more credentials then MBman the blogger, and where your click is money in the bank).
There is a time to be tender, gentle and understanding. But if you wish to do the right thing and seek justice, you have to expect to answer the hard questions. That is how a strong case is built for a court of law (yes, I am aware of the challenges of proving such cases).
This also adds an additional safeguard to prevent the misuse of the court of law in someones scheme of revenge. An important aspect, because false allegations are detrimental to public perception of ALL future allegations.
It is unfortunate that not all the damage done due to false rape allegations will be at the hand of the legal system. Police and the judicial system have to be rational and unbiased in their investigations (or at least should be). Unfortunately the public is not held to such a high standard, and will often not suffer ramifications to damage inflicted by their participation in a smear campaign.
Though you are covered by the first amendment for pretty much anything you might say (at least in the US), you should be careful what your inciting. Be aware that your actions may be doing more harm to your cause then good.
A short video of relevance to the issue at hand.