Law enforcement should automatically believe rape claims, to the point that they are seriously investigated. But what the left want is for rape claims to be automatically believed to the point at which the accused are punished, financially and societally, without regard to investigation or proof. The law must hold that the accused are innocent until proven guilty, but the left want the accused to be guilty until proven innocent . . . and even then be punished. From The Washington Post:
No matter what Jackie said, we should generally believe rape claims
Incredulity hurts victims more than it hurts wrongly-accused perps.
By Zerlina Maxwell1 | December 6, 2014
In last month’s deep and damning Rolling Stone report about sexual assault at the University of Virginia, a reporter told the story of “Jackie,” who said she was gang raped at a fraternity party and then essentially ignored by the administration. It helped dramatize what happens when the claims of victims are not taken seriously.
Now the narrative appears to be falling apart: Her rapist wasn’t in the frat that she says he was a member of; the house held no party on the night of the assault; and other details are wobbly. Many people (not least U-Va. administrators) will be tempted to see this as a reminder that officials, reporters and the general public should hear both sides of the story and collect all the evidence before coming to a conclusion in rape cases. This is what we mean in America when we say someone is “innocent until proven guilty.” After all, look what happened to the Duke lacrosse players.
In important ways, this is wrong. We should believe, as a matter of default, what an accuser says. Ultimately, the costs of wrongly disbelieving a survivor far outweigh the costs of calling someone a rapist. Even if Jackie fabricated her account, U-Va. should have taken her word for it during the period while they endeavored to prove or disprove the accusation. This is not a legal argument about what standards we should use in the courts; it’s a moral one, about what happens outside the legal system.
The accused would have a rough period. He might be suspended from his job; friends might defriend him on Facebook. In the case of Bill Cosby, we might have to stop watching his shows, consuming his books or buying tickets to his traveling stand-up routine. But false accusations are exceedingly rare, and errors can be undone by an investigation that clears the accused, especially if it is done quickly.
More at the link.
Well, what about the Duke Lacrosse case? After more than a year, the three accused players were declared not only not guilty, but completely innocent by North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, and the rogue prosecutor, Mike Nifong was disbarred. But the three accused players had their lives ruined, and were out hundreds of thousands in legal bills,2 had their educations disrupted, and know one can even know what career damage they suffered. The Duke lacrosse team coach was forced to resign, and the Athletic Director resigned two years later. I wrote about the case here, referencing an article by Jill of Feministe. If you read through the hundreds of comments, you’ll find that the majority are convinced, as Jill was, that maybe the three men who were accused didn’t rape Crystal Mangum, but that “something” must have happened there. A fine gentleman named Tony wrote:
She was raped, the DA screwed the case, the white boys had good lawyers and they got off.
End of story.
Yes, Tony is an idiot, but there are a lot of idiots out here, and I’d guess that there are still people out there who think that the Duke lacrosse players did something wrong.
And, from the limited evidence we have, I can’t say that I am impressed by the intelligence of Zerlina Maxwell, either. She is an attorney, yet she has just advocated that real harm — albeit not physical harm — come to those who are accused of rape, regardless of whether they have actually raped anyone. Why? Because “the costs of wrongly disbelieving a survivor far outweigh the costs of calling someone a rapist.” Yet, her prescription would assign real costs to people who have done nothing wrong!
Rape is a crime which is treated very differently in this country: almost no media, including the professional media and independent blogs, The First Street Journal among them, will keep the name of a woman who has claimed to have been raped confidential.3 The reason is clear: real reputational harm has come to victims before.
An obvious, if partial, solution is to keep the names of those accused of rape confidential as well, until the legal system has had the opportunity to work through the case. The real problem with “Jackie’s” story, and the Duke lacrosse case, and the Tawana Brawley case,4 is that the left have politicized these cases, using the allegations to push for regulations and laws attempting all sorts of silly changes. Our good friend Amanda Marcotte set up the straw man:
Interesting how rape apologists think that if they can “discredit” one rape story, that means no other rape stories can be true, either.
— Amanda Marcotte (@AmandaMarcotte) December 5, 2014
No, not at all. What it does mean is that not every rape allegation is true . . . as Miss Marcotte ought to know very well from her jumping in on the Duke lacrosse case. But, rather than admit that this was yet another case of the left trying to take political advantage of a story that isn’t true, she doubled down.
It should be considered an axiom: the more the left sensationalize a case or an event, the less likely it is that the story is true. If Rolling Stone and its silly reporter had tried to be actual journalists, and checked out the story before publishing it, it would never have been published, and there would have been little harm done. Instead, people like Miss Marcotte have actually hurt the people they claim to want to help: women who really have been assaulted. Miss Maxwell claimed that an attitude of incredulity toward rape claims harms rape victims, a point with which I agree, but it is precisely the politicization of unproven claims, claims which turned out to be false, which foster incredulity.
Not that that matters, of course; the important point is to make the political case, and if some no name, male or female, happens to get hurt, well that’s progress — and progressives! — for you. After all, you can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs!
- SooperMexican: Feminists Are In Full Mouth-Foaming Meltdown Over Rolling Stone Gang-Rape Retraction
- The Victory Girls: Rolling Stone UVA Story Is Epic Failure For Journalism And Rape Victims
- Le*gal In*sur*rec*tion: The Other Collapsing Campus Rape Story
- Hot Air: WaPo media critic: Fire everyone associated with Rolling Stone’s UVa rape story
- Zerlina Maxwell is a political analyst, speaker, lawyer, and writer. She typically writes about national politics and cultural issues including domestic violence, sexual assault, and gender inequality. ↩
- Each received a $20 million settlement from Duke University. ↩
- However, The First Street Journal will publish the name of someone who makes a false accusation of rape, as Crystal Gail Mangum did in the Duke lacrosse case. ↩
- Pushed by the despicable Al Sharpton ↩