Saturday, December 06, 2014

The UVa Fraternity House Rape Case -- Something Happened

It's been all over the news in the last few days, and I'm afraid that it's another one of those things that we will never get to the bottom of.

I'm willing to stipulate that something happened to UVa student "Jackie". But, since she did not go immediately to report it and get swabbed with a rape kit, I'm not willing to conclude exactly what that was, except that her rape story seems to be coming unraveled.

One of the problems with the original story in Rolling Stone, and how it grew "legs", was that there was hardly a person in the country who was not able believe that members of a college fraternity could be involved in something like this. Anyone who attended a major university is familiar with the whole frat-rat "Greek" culture, and how they tend to come off as a bunch of snobby self-important entitlement-elitist exclusionary assholes. Anyone except the members themselves, of course.

Couple that with the cultural-shift backlash that has happened over the last few years to counter the traditional "blame the victim" mindset that had afflicted the police, the courts, university administrations and (according to some) the whole male half of the population, and it's a fertile field for the kind of sensationalism that the original Rolling Stone article, aided and abetted by the "if it bleeds it leads" media, was willing to plant, till and nurture.

Now that counter mindset has become institutionalized in our culture, to the point where anyone who even tries to raise any reasonable doubts, or even concerns, about facts in a particular case is dismissed as a blame-the-victim reactionary.

If it turns out that "Jackie" was not telling the whole truth about what happened, then that will give inestimable aid and comfort to the old blame-the-victim crowd. Remember the Duke University lacrosse team case? It happens that people sometimes make up stories. In other words, they lie. And sometimes the alleged perpetrators are, in fact, innocent.

If in fact, "Jackie" is not telling the truth, then what will that do to the people who are still being raped and victimized? Are they going to be so willing to come forward and level charges in the face of this onslaught of disbelievers? Go through that battery of semi-invasive and humiliating medical tests? I think if I were a woman, I'd have to think twice about it: Victimized once, then victimized again. Uh, no thanks...

And on the flip side of this, how many rapists are going to be emboldened by this story? They can claim that the sex was consensual, that "the chick was asking for it the whole night" and then got an attack of moral conscience afterwards and is lying about the rape, and they will have a good chance of getting away with it.

The whole sordid mess raises some questions that are not easy to answer. Rolling Stone itself has taken a big hit in credibility with this, and it will suffer for it as well.

It's a lose-lose-lose situation for everyone, from the victim to the administration to the police to the courts to the media. And the bigger it becomes, the more play it will get in the slavering-for-a-scandal media, and it's these big cases that people will remember. Look at Duke Lacrosse -- eight years later it's still be used as a example of wrongful prosecution that defense attorneys can pull out of their bag of tricks.

1 Comment:

double nickel said...

You nailed it. A total clusterfuck now. Bad news all around.