January 12, 2016

UVA Follow-Up

The Washington Post has been following up on the now-retracted Rolling Stone article that described a brutal gang rape at a University of Virginia fraternity.

Here's what they published recently:
Ryan Duffin was a freshman at the University of Virginia when he met a student named Jackie.

Both teenagers were new to campus in September 2012, and the pair quickly became friends through a shared appreciation of alternative rock bands such as Coheed and Cambria and Silversun Pickups. Early on, Duffin sensed that Jackie was interested in pursuing a romantic relationship with him. Duffin valued her friendship but politely rebuffed Jackie’s advances for more.

Just days after he met her, Duffin said, he was goaded into a text message conversation with a U-Va. junior named “Haven Monahan,” whom Jackie said she knew from a chemistry class.What followed was what lawyers for Nicole Eramo, an associate dean at U-Va., described in new court documents as an elaborate scheme to win Duffin over by creating a fake suitor, Monahan, to spark romantic interest — a practice known as “catfishing” — that morphed into a sensational claim of gang rape at a U-Va. fraternity that Jackie said was instigated by the fictitious upperclassman, and finally a Rolling Stone story that rocked the U-Va. campus and shocked the nation.

A Charlottesville Police investigation later determined that no one named Haven Monahan had ever attended U-Va., and extensive efforts to find the person were not successful. Photographs that were texted to Duffin that were purported to be of Monahan were actually pictures depicting one of Jackie’s high school classmates in Northern Virginia. That man, now a student at a university in another state, confirmed to The Post that the photographs were of him.

Police ultimately determined that no gang rape occurred, and Rolling Stone retracted its story.
What I wrote, when the story first broke of Rolling Stone's errant reporting:
The thing about the Rolling Stone story is that it's not just about Jackie's assault. The rape as described in the piece is used as indicative of the rape-culture at UVA and UVA is used as an proxy for the country's colleges and universities. Lots of bad bad stuff going on out there.

But at the heart of the story is Jackie's gang rape. Had it been another woman's gang rape, the overall story would have been the same. But it isn't. Jackie's gang rape is the center of the story.

The problem is that the reporting of Jackie's story isn't what it should be. Its errors erode the confidence the audience should have about the rest of the piece and by extension the greater issue being discussed - campus rape. And that's the big problem.
The only way to get around this is to be as factual as possible - ideologically driven pieces (of any issue) that, as Bradley warned, "play into existing biases" will get us, as a culture, absolutely nowhere. The bad reporting by Erdley and Rolling Stone did no one any favors, not Jackie, not UVA, and certainly not the next woman to be sexually assaulted on some college campus somewhere.
Is still true.  As uncomfortable as it has to be to think about, any accusation of a crime has to be thoroughly investigated and fact-checked.  Had Rolling Stone fact-checked Jackie (and, for example, found what the police found - that no gang rape had occurred), their story would have been vastly different.  They should have written about someone other than Jackie and I am sure they wouldn't have had to look to far to find a woman raped on a college campus.  By not doing their due diligence (out of respect to Jackie or, perhaps, out of an instinct to "believe the accuser") they damaged the very important cause of reducing campus rape.  And that's the real sin here - not Jackie's "cat-fishing" or whatever kids these days call it.  By pushing a story that was unsupported by facts they made it far more difficult for the next raped woman to be taken seriously.

Remember, we live in a society where the accusation of a crime is not evidence of that crime.


Social Justice NPC Anti-Paladin™ said...

Please overlook that Feminists and their progressives allies called anyone who questioned the UVA rape story Victim blamers, Rape Apologists and Rape Denialists.

Such as Terry O’Neill, President of the National Organization of Women saying that
The more discrepancies in a rape story the more likely it is true because the victim went through such trauma it distorted her memory and the Hero Police can magically tell when someone is lying.
It wasn’t Jackie’s job to get the details of her rape correct. It was Rolling Stone’s

Zeus0209 said...

RS running the story prior to investigation and/or filing of criminal charges by proper authorities says quite a few things about the magazine. Nevertheless, as far as the topic of campus rape goes, there is no such thing as bad publicity. While RS tarnished its own record via sensationalist reporting, I surely hope their actions did not trivialize campus rape and if anything pointed the public to see the smoke.