Showing posts with label Rape. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rape. Show all posts

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Louisiana Female Teacher Commits Sexual Assault And Child Abuse

I don't have much to say about this story other than to repeat what should be blindingly obvious.
Women are not more morally upright than men. 
Women are just as capable as men of committing sexual assault.
Some women will assist in or direct sexual assault.
Making  gendered assumptions about the identity of the victim and criminal can make us miss the true perpetrator.

I am glad that this woman was caught. I would bet that this is not the first time or only time that she has done something like this.
I am not sure that I agree with the death penalty or that it should apply in situations where no one was killed.
I do know though, that if this woman happened to depart the world in a sudden and violent event in prison, I don't think many people would be shedding tears. 
I know I wouldn't. Also, it's a teacher and cop who are involved. Bad cops exist.

A former Louisiana middle school teacher has been sentenced to 40 years behind bars after admitting she fed students cupcakes laced with the sperm of her ex-husband, an ex-sheriff’s lieutenant.
Cynthia Perkins, 36, was sentenced Friday to 40 years of hard labor without the possibility of probation or parole. 

Friday, September 20, 2019

Woman Bites Other Woman's Face and Ear in Sexual Assault

No means no, right? That is a ubiquitous and correct message that everyone should hear and understand today. You can ask whoever for whatever but if he or she declines your generous offer then that's it. Move on to someone else. Unfortunately one Allison Weaver, a South East Michigan woman, appears not to have taken that common cultural message to heart. It is important to understand that no means no. It is also important to remember that contrary to some other ubiquitous messaging, not all of the violent sex criminals out there are men.

The Oakland County Sheriff was called to the Lake Village Apartments on Norfolk in Rochester Hills around 1:30 Tuesday morning. A neighbor on the first floor reported hearing someone moaning and calling for help. When deputies arrived, they also heard someone calling for help and entered the upstairs apartment. That's where they said they found two partially naked women in a bedroom, covered in blood.

Deputies say one of the woman had numerous bite marks on her face and other facial injuries, and that part of her left ear was bitten off. The other woman, now identified as Weaver, was hovering over the victim and that they were lying on the floor, deputies said. The victim, a 48-year-old woman of Rochester Hills, was taken to the hospital for treatment.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Gay University of Michigan Professor Accused of Rape

It is important to remember that no matter what we might hear from the more hysterical types in this #metoo era that immoral and criminal behavior can occur among both genders and in any sexuality.

Predation is not by any means something that only heterosexual males do to women. This latest story made me wonder if the University of Michigan might not have some explaining to do and/or even a little housecleaning. As always we should always grant every accused. male or female, gay or straight, the presumption of innocence. This particular alleged incident goes against the preferred media narrative. I have no idea if the powers that be at the University of Michigan knew of the rape allegation or all of the other sexual harassment allegations detailed in the story below. I would hate to think that people turned a blind eye to certain facts because they were eager to score a skilled performer or because they didn't want to be the ones to sound the alarm on a couple who were the poster boys for the country's acceptance of gay marriage. One minute you're on top of the world. The next minute, you're being extradited to Texas, which is not a phrase most people ever want to hear.

A jailed University of Michigan professor and his husband, accused of drugging and raping a man in 2010, won’t fight extradition on charges they face in Texas.

David Daniels, a 52-year-old opera singer, and William Scott Walters, a 36-year-old conductor and singer, both of Ann Arbor, waived their right to extradition hearings during brief appearances in Washtenaw County Trial Judge Carol Kuhnke’s courtroom Friday, Feb. 1.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Mary Kay Letourneau is Unrepentant

In some states the age of consent is sixteen. That is likely a leftover from the times when people who weren't married by their early twenties at the latest were thought to have something profoundly wrong with them, morally or otherwise. I think laws notwithstanding, today most adults would look askance at a thirty-four year old adult who decided to get busy with a sixteen-year old.

There is no state where the age of consent is less than sixteen. Most normal people in the United States recognize that no matter what they look like or say, such people are children. Adults shouldn't pursue sexual relations with children. That's abuse. That's wrong. You may remember that thirty four year old Seattle area married teacher Mary Kay Letourneau had sex with raped her sixth-grade student, Vili Fualaau, then twelve years old. Curiously enough one could make the argument that the apple didn't fall far from the tree. Letourneau's father, John Schmitz (a Holocaust denier, segregationist, and someone so noxious that he was expelled from the John Birch Society) also had an extramarital affair with a (former) student, though at least he was prudent enough to do his thing with a woman who was an adult. Letourneau had no such scruples.

Despite an initial slap on the wrist, legally speaking, Letourneau would not stay away from Fualaau, becoming pregnant at least twice and ending up with a prison sentence of a little over seven years. I think that was still too light all things considered. Anyway all that was a long time ago. The two married after Letourneau's release from prison. Letourneau and Fualaau are still married. He's 34. She's 56. The couple's children are now adults. The couple recently sat down for an interview with an Australian television show. 

Thursday, September 27, 2018

What is Justice?

I don't know whether Brett Kavanaugh assaulted Christine Ford in high school. I doubt most other people do either, regardless of how much they bloviate on twitter, Fox, or MSNBC.
After today's Senate hearing I may or may not move in either direction as to my belief in the story.

But there are a few issues raised by the reaction by some to this accusation which are to put it mildly, troubling.  It is true that Kavanaugh is not on criminal trial, has no inalienable right to be on the Supreme Court, and thus can not lay claim to the protective standard of "beyond a reasonable doubt". But whether you support or do not support Kavanaugh there are some standards which are or rather should be universally accepted by Americans, at least fair minded ones. If we want to get rid of these standards we might as well get rid of the justice system and the country altogether. Because neither institution holds together without these standards.

Innocent until proven guilty
Just because someone makes a claim doesn't mean that the claim is true. Even if we believe that the claim is true we still must go thru the motions necessary to prove guilt. Now what's necessary to prove "guilt" in a criminal trial where someone's life or freedom is at stake is a greater burden than what's necessary to prove guilt in trying to figure out who stole your iced coffee from the office refrigerator. But even in the latter case, just saying that the new guy did it doesn't make it so.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Judge Brett Kavanaugh: Attempted Rapist???

Do you remember what you doing in high school? You probably do if like the fictional Al Bundy, from the sitcom Married with Children, high school turned out to be the high point of your life. Many of us however may start to forget some details of our high school career, especially once we get beyond our thirties or forties and/or move away from where we went to high school. 

So it goes. But if in high school you were a victim of attempted rape or assault or you committed a rape or sexual assault, I think you would probably remember that. Unfortunately, for those of us who weren't there, it is difficult if not impossible to discover the truth when one person accuses another person or persons of sexual assault thirty some odd years after high school. 

That is what happened to Judge Brett Kavanaugh, Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court seat vacated by Justice Kennedy. An anonymous constituent of Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein apparently sent Feinstein and her Congresswoman a letter in July accusing Kavanaugh of attempted rape in the early eighties. Feinstein didn't share this letter with her colleagues until a few days ago.  On Thursday she referred the matter to the FBI. 
On Thursday, Senate Democrats disclosed that they had referred a complaint regarding President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, to the F.B.I. for investigation. The complaint came from a woman who accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct when they were both in high school, more than thirty years ago.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Mother of Mercy is this the end of Harvey Weinstein?

Over the last year, year and half or so we have seen many (mostly) women and men make accusations of rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment and  generally inappropriate behavior against (mostly) men in primarily the media, arts and entertainment industries. With the possible exception of Bill Cosby, no man was more closely associated with such alleged bad behavior than Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein. 

Weinstein allegedly harassed, assaulted, or raped dozens of actual or would be Hollywood starlets. Weinstein had enough power and friends in the industry and out of it that he could allegedly harm the careers of women who didn't want to play ball with him. Weinstein allegedly hired Israeli private intelligence firms made up of former or current IDF and Mossad personnel to dig up dirt on accusers, handle hostile media and generally raise the cost incurred (legal or otherwise) to anyone inclined to mumble a bad word about his extra-curricular activities. Well nothing lasts forever. Weinstein was just formally arrested by the NYPD. 

Harvey Weinstein turned himself in to New York City detectives and was arrested on Friday on charges that he raped one woman and forced another to perform oral sex, a watershed in a months long sex crimes investigation and in the #MeToo movement. Around 7:30 a.m., Mr. Weinstein walked into a police station house in Lower Manhattan, flanked by several sex crimes detectives. Toting three large books under his right arm, he looked up without saying a word as a crush of reporters and onlookers yelled, “Harvey!” 

Friday, January 26, 2018

Grace, #Metoo, Ashleigh Banfield, and Aziz Ansari

The #metoo movement has emboldened many women to share stories of actual or attempted rapes, sexual assaults, threats, or harassment. Women have also spread stories of uncomfortable interactions that were not illegal.

An anonymous woman referred to as Grace went on a date with Aziz Ansari, an actor, writer and comedian of note, and male feminist. The couple returned to Ansari's apartment. Unfortunately Grace did not enjoy herself. Sadly, it was probably difficult for Ansari to be sure that Grace wasn't enjoying herself as she engaged in a number of sex acts multiple times with Mr. Ansari. You can read her entire LONG account here if you are so inclined

The summary is that by Grace's retelling Ansari was an inattentive and pushy partner. Ansari ordered the wrong wine at the restaurant; Grace's joy lessened from there. Per Grace, Ansari was overeager for what many heterosexual men and women would consider the main event. She declined that. Ansari didn't recognize Grace's non-verbal cues that she wanted to move more slowly. Ansari made requests. Grace claimed she felt compelled to comply with them. Grace harshly describes many of Ansari's sexual idiosyncrasies or boudoir moves which offended her. Grace was irritated at Ansari's repeated and insistent requests to do that last thing. Finally she left the premises. Ansari offered a qualified defense/apology for anything he may have done wrong:

“In September of last year, I met a woman at a party. We exchanged numbers. We texted back and forth and eventually went on a date. We went out to dinner, and afterwards we ended up engaging in sexual activity, which by all indications was completely consensual. “The next day, I got a text from her saying that although ‘it may have seemed okay,’ upon further reflection, she felt uncomfortable. It was true that everything did seem okay to me, so when I heard that it was not the case for her, I was surprised and concerned. I took her words to heart and responded privately after taking the time to process what she had said.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Judge Vonda Evans Lays Down The Law

One of my relatives sent me this video. One of his pet peeves is judges who lecture or insult people, usually defendants. I do have friends and relatives who are attorneys. Some of them spend or have spent time in trials. I would not have their patience in dealing with judges who are occasionally sanctimonious, patronizing, insulting, condescending and almost always bossy. I don't like bossy people.  I don't appreciate imperative tones. I don't like people who think they can speak to me any old way. But this is the way our justice system is set up. I don't think it could be any other way. When someone has the power to find you guilty or not, to sentence you fairly or not, and to put you in jail for no other reason than you got on their nerves and showed them contempt, then the wisest move for you, whether you are defendant, attorney, court worker or court spectator, is to tread lightly and keep a civil tongue in your head. Telling the judge "F*** you!" is usually not going to improve your prospects, no matter which role you currently happen to be playing in the court. 

Judge Vonda Evans scolded a man charged in a criminal sexual conduct case who swore at her in a Detroit courtroom. Anthony Thornton yelled "f--- you" at Evans during the trial Friday, and she responded to the outburst during the proceedings. "Be quiet!" Evans said. "Take him back. Take him out! Take him out now! ... I’m not even going to dignify that comment!"

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Nolan Bruder Rapes His Teen Sister: Judge Gives Him Probation

There have been oodles of studies that show that black people accused of or convicted of crimes received harsher treatment at every level of the justice system,up to and including sentencing. The flip side of that harsher treatment for blacks is more lenient treatment for whites. Regardless of race I tend to take the approach that if you can't do the time, don't do the crime: especially when it comes to crimes like rape or murder, when something is done that can't be undone. But Judge William H. Follett apparently doesn't believe in punishment, at least when it comes to white male rapists.

A judge in Northern California apparently thought the "stigma" of being a registered sex offender was punishment enough for a man convicted of drugging and raping his sister when she was 16 and he was 19. On May 17, Judge William H. Follett chose to sentence the now-20-year-old man to the lowest possible sentencing option — three years in prison — and granted him probation. Follett also sentenced him to 240 days in county jail at half time for the crimes of rape by use of drugs or intoxicating substances and incest. District Attorney Dale Trigg said the sentencing will likely mean the convicted rapist serves just 120 days in jail — and no time in prison.

Trigg told CNN that Follett, a justice in the Del Norte Superior Court, not only referenced during the proceedings the stigma the convicted rapist would face as a sex offender but also discussed the fact that the girl was not unconscious during the assault and had removed her own clothing during the assault. Trigg said those comments were "out of line" and blamed the victim.

Monday, April 4, 2016

South Carolina Cops Strip Search and Sexually Assault Black Couple

Usually I defer, however reluctantly or conditionally, to the received wisdom that the best way to proceed with police officers who are behaving unlawfully or unfairly towards you or yours is to comply with directions, keep your mouth shut and live to fight another day. They have weapons and you likely don't. Your goal should be to stay alive. But as the saying goes, a nation of sheep begets a government of wolves. So there must be limits to the tolerance we grant police. Police are not gods. They are not above the law. They only deserve deference or respect to the extent that they follow the law. When police obliterate the line between criminal and cop, they're just another thug. If someone who wasn't a police officer came up to you and demanded that you remove your clothing and underwear so that they could stick something inside of you or ordered you to strip in front of their leering sarcastic friends, I'm betting that you would reject that order. You would likely immediately remove yourself from the location, were you able to do so. And if push came to shove you would defend yourself from this pervert's demented desires. You have a right to defend yourself from illegal behavior. You have a right to self-defense. The only reason that we don't normally behave that way with police is because we have agreed to give some extreme powers to police in order to detect and apprehend criminals while keeping the rest of society safe. But when police become evil for lack of a better word that consent can and should be revoked. A horrifying example of how evil some police officers can be recently came to light in Aiken, South Carolina.  A white police officer unlawfully stopped a car driven by a black woman with a black man passenger. He and his cohorts then proceeded to unlawfully search the car and to strip search the man and woman, including the man's rectum. Most of this was on video. 
Lakeya Hicks and Elijah Pontoon were in Hicks’s car just a couple of blocks from downtown Aiken when they were pulled over by Officer Chris Medlin of the Aiken Department of Public Safety. Hicks was driving. She had recently purchased the car, so it still had temporary tags.
In the video, Medlin asks Hicks to get out, then tells her that he stopped her because of the “paper tag” on her car. This already is a problem. There’s no law against temporary tags in South Carolina, so long as they haven’t expired.
Medlin then asks Pontoon for identification. Since he was in the passenger seat, Pontoon wouldn’t have been required to provide ID even if the stop had been legitimate. Still, he provides his driver’s license to Medlin. A couple of minutes later, Medlin tells Hicks that her license and tags check out. (You can see the time stamp in the lower left corner of the video.) This should be the end of the stop — which, again, should never have happened in the first place.
Instead, Medlin orders Pontoon out of the vehicle and handcuffs him. He also orders Hicks out of the car. Pontoon then asks Medlin what’s happening. Medlin ignores him. Pontoon asks again. Medlin responds that he’ll “explain it all in a minute.” Several minutes later, a female officers appears. Medlin then tells Pontoon, “Because of your history, I’ve got a dog coming in here. Gonna walk a dog around the car.” About 30 seconds later, he adds, “You gonna pay for this one, boy.

This abuse won't change until someone (i.e. a bullying cop) gets put six feet under. I just don't see other ways. Marching and protesting and boycotting and avoidance and pleading and appealing to morality haven't worked. Cops who use their badge to insult, intimidate, harass and in this case sexually assault people just aren't bothered by the threat of legal consequences because everyone knows such consequences are very rare. Federal prosecutors just don't bring charges against local law enforcement personnel. In most cases like this there won't be a state criminal trial either. And if there is, usually prosecutors and judges do their absolute bare minimum. Juries are often reluctant to convict. This is especially the case since the system will do everything in its power to prevent people like Hicks or Pontoon from sitting on juries. Even when a police officer is charged and a diverse jury could be selected the cop can always just opt for a judge to decide the case. Many judges are former prosecutors. So legal penalties don't deter these cops. There's only a slim chance that they will lose their job. Apparently the endless diversity classes, Officer Friendly school visits and internal legal training haven't made a dent in the behavior depicted. From what I can tell, as far as the average police officer is concerned, the law on the street is whatever he or she says it is. Other people more qualified than I can argue all the legal whys and wherefores but according to the legal experts quoted in the Post story, everything that happened was illegal. The police had no reason other than bias and personal dislike (and sexual sadism?) to pull over the black couple. This policing is descended directly from slave patrols of antebellum America. Poor whites, who often didn't own kidnapped Africans, were able to vent their class and racial hatred and jealousy on slaves travelling between plantations or free blacks travelling to their home or business. It's also part of the War on Drugs and the resulting normalization of prison procedures (extreme immediate compliance, strip searches, aggressive interrogations) that have spread throughout society.

This sort of government overreach should be something that conservatives and liberals agree needs to be stopped. Unfortunately, with a few noted and honorable exceptions, the sort of conservatives who love to wave their Gasden flag, cite Thomas Jefferson quotes about the tree of liberty requiring blood, and yell about oppressive big government, don't seem to get that infuriated about examples of oppressive government physically violating citizens like Hicks and Pontoon. I wonder why that might be. This is the duality of America. A black man can be elected President twice. And yet a black man and woman can be treated by their own government as if it's 1816 and not 2016. How do we resolve that? I really don't know. Violence is a bad thing. I try to avoid it. But I can't let another man violate me or mine in such a manner. Somebody would have to go.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Rape of Sansa Stark and Feminist Outrage

If you believe that HBO Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and Daniel Weiss or A Song of Ice and Fire author George R.R.Martin are despicable misogynists who enjoy creating rape scenes then I don't know how to change your mind. I don't find enough evidence to justify the misogynist claim in their televised or written creations. I don't think that Weiss, Benioff or Martin hate women. That's a pretty strong accusation to make. Last week's Game of Thrones scene depicting the rape of Sansa Stark, eldest daughter of Ned Stark and Catelyn Tully and in-universe last publicly known Stark heir to Winterfell, was hard to watch. But rapes should be hard to watch should they not? I don't think that there's a universe of people out there who are eagerly tuning in to HBO each Sunday at 9 PM EST to enjoy watching a woman get raped. And if there are people like that I don't know them. I think some of the outrage over the Sansa rape is understandable (I hated the scene) but is definitely misplaced. I will explain this below but it will inevitably involve some mild spoilers/discussion from the books. So if you can't tolerate one scintilla of book knowledge then you know what to do. And if you have read the books, please don't take this as permission to blab all over the place about what's yet to occur in the story (not least because it may not occur on screen) or discuss or link to other book theories or future events. Although the amount of published source material yet to be adapted for the show is shrinking ever more rapidly there are still other moderators or commenters on this blog who would strongly prefer to see events play out on screen as they have not read the books and are unlikely to do so before the series completes.

I wrote before that the "controversy" over rape in Game of Thrones seemed ginned up. Rape is horrible but it's not as bad as murder. Death is the worst event because death removes all future possibilities. I don't want to rewrite the previous post but it's very important to remember that numerous people of both genders have been murdered, harmed or mutilated in all sorts of horrific ways. For example, Show!Theon Greyjoy has been threatened with homosexual rape, raped by women, beaten, tortured, mutilated, flayed, starved, forced to live as an animal, enslaved, made to reject his own identity and ultimately castrated. This was all shown in great detail. I don't seem to recall too much twitter outrage over this. Certainly there weren't many (any?) feminists stating that "That's it. I'm boycotting the show!" after Theon was unmanned and later taunted with sausages by Ramsay. Theon's ordeals weren't quite as explicit in the books. There are some textual hints that Ramsay raped Theon. In either medium, book or show, Ramsay is over the top. He's pushed Theon into insanity. Ramsay doesn't care which gender he hurts. Ramsay killed his own soldiers for fun. Ramsay flayed a noble and his wife in front of their son and hung the skinned corpses on the Winterfell walls. So Ramsay is an evil disturbed sick SOB. Sansa, on the other hand, is a "little dove". She's not a leader like her older brothers Jon and Robb, an action girl who dislikes proscribed gender roles like her younger sister Arya, or a budding magician like her younger brother Bran. Her primary achievement to date has been to survive. That's not something that readily translates as heroic or active but in fact it can be heroic and is indeed a necessary part of human success. Sansa's continued survival could hold the key to the Stark Restoration, if indeed one is to occur.

In the books, Littlefinger is still in The Vale grooming Sansa Stark. Sansa is unaware that Littlefinger betrayed her father Ned Stark and likely suggested to Joffrey that Ned be executed. Sansa doesn't realize that her Aunt Lysa's last words implicated Littlefinger in the murder of Sansa's uncle Jon Arryn. She doesn't know that Littlefinger set up the war which brought about her family's near destruction. She has not revealed herself as "Sansa Stark" to anyone in The Vale, though some may have suspicions. Sansa's current roles include listening dutifully as Littlefinger reveals (or does he?) small portions of his plans, watching over Sweet Robin and not getting creeped out when Littlefinger touches her or speaks inappropriately about her mother Catelyn.

This would not make dramatic television. In both books and show, the Boltons seek legitimacy as Wardens of the North. The traditional way of doing this is to be a Stark. As all the Starks are missing or murdered the Book!Boltons decide to marry a fake Stark. The Boltons force Sansa Stark's friend, Jeyne Poole, to pose as Arya Stark. They make Theon vouch for her identity though he obviously knows she isn't Arya. After the marriage ceremony, Ramsay rapes Jeyne. He also forces Theon to watch and degrade himself by participating. The book scene was FAR worse than the television scene. It made me put the book down for a while. What's worse is the reminder that it was Littlefinger who initially enslaved Jeyne as a child prostitute and later sold or gifted her to the Boltons. So the book and show share common elements. Littlefinger provides a "Stark" to the Boltons. Ramsay marries a "Stark". Ramsay rapes and degrades his wife. Ramsay humiliates and degrades Theon in the process. The showrunners swapped out Jeyne Poole for Sansa Stark. We always care about main characters more than we care about secondary ones even though Jeyne has so far suffered more than Sansa. Her treatment at Ramsay's hands was not the first time Jeyne was raped. This change from book to show greatly raised the dramatic stakes for Sansa. Some people outraged over Sansa's rape are mistaking their emotional investment in Sansa Stark's wellbeing for moral rectitude. It's not. It's just that they like and care about the character, which means the show writers and actress have done their jobs. 
The reason I didn't like the scene was not just because I sympathize with Sansa. I disliked the scene, emotionally powerful though it was, because it was senseless for Sansa to marry willingly into the family whose Lord had murdered her brother and usurped her family home. What's next, Bran Stark reappears and asks Roose for a job as maester? In King's Landing Sansa had no choice. When the opportunity arose to leave King's Landing (with someone she thought was safe) she took it. But Sansa wouldn't want to live with her family's murderers. She's been there and done that already. In order to increase the dramatic stakes and emotional investment that we have in a main character the show runners make Sansa act as if she's learned nothing over the past four seasons. THAT'S the real mistake here. There are people in the North and in the Vale who would be willing to fight and die for Sansa Stark against the Boltons or the Crown. I thought it would have made much more sense for Sansa to ally herself with one of those factions rather than submit to the Boltons, especially as the powers in the Vale know who she is. That would have shown increased political acumen and ability to play the game. The North Remembers. And having Sansa do that also dovetails nicely with another book subplot. There were some people who thought that the scene's shift away from Sansa to the broken Theon crying was somehow sexist because it made Sansa's rape all about the impact on a man. I think that's a silly criticism. There are numerous film graphic scenes in which the director tells us what's happening primarily by the reactions of witnesses because to actually show us is considered to be too horrific. The ending of Braveheart is the first thing that comes to mind, closely followed by the rape scene in The Messenger, but I'm sure you can think of many other such scenes. If the showrunners had chosen instead to focus on Sansa's face or heaven forbid, body, many of the same people blasting them for cutting to Theon's tears would be harping on the showrunners for reducing Sansa to an voyeuristic object of rape. Guaranteed. Also remember that the showrunners know the ending and the fates of major characters. We don't. For all we know Martin might write a scene where Littlefinger rapes Sansa.

If you are a person who is sensitive to any and all depictions of violence then yes I understand how rape scenes or torture scenes or murder scenes would bother you. You might indeed decide that this show isn't for you. You might even skip over certain segments. I understand and respect those decisions. We've all seen movies or read books where we realized that certain things weren't our cup of tea. But if you were silent when Joffrey had Marillion's tongue ripped out, had nothing to say when Theon hanged the burned bodies of the miller's boys, or yawned when Ramsay cut off Theon's family jewels, feel free to get upset but please don't pretend moral outrage when Sansa Stark is raped. Your outrage is not moral. It's just that your particular emotional redline has been crossed. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Jackie's UVA Rolling Stone Rape Allegation Falls Apart

It should scarcely need to be said but obviously rape is one of the worst crimes a person can commit, second only to murder. So society should do its best to prevent rape and failing that, to punish rape harshly. You may recall that a while back we did a skeptical post on the fact that Rolling Stone magazine was forced to retract its story about a gang rape at UVA. Since that time the local police looked into the story. They did everything in their power to avoid saying that "Jackie", the alleged victim, was lying. What they did say is that there was no substantive basis to support her story. Similarly Rolling Stone outsourced an investigation of its journalistic process and procedures surrounding this story to Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. The School recently released its report. The report wasn't good in the same way that someone who comes home with 6 F's and one D on her report card didn't have a good semester. You can read the very long Columbia report for yourself if you are so inclined. For those of you who do not have the time or interest to read through 12,000 words let's just say that the report calmly eviscerates the lax reporting, fact checking and editorial standards at Rolling Stone magazine. If Erdely had called Kathryn Hendley and Alex Stock – their true names – to check their sides of Jackie's account of Sept. 28 and 29, they would have denied saying any of the words Jackie attributed to them (as Ryan would have as well). They would have described for Erdely a history of communications with Jackie that would have left the reporter with many new questions. For example, the friends said that Jackie told them that her date on Sept. 28 was not a lifeguard but a student in her chemistry class named Haven Monahan. (The Charlottesville police said in March they could not identify a UVA student or any other person named Haven Monahan.) All three friends would have spoken to Erdely, they said, if they had been contacted.

I always thought that "Jackie" was making stuff up. Let's say I said I'm going on a date. I show you a picture of my date and it's a 1970s picture of Pam Grier. I state that this woman is not Pam Grier but rather an old high school classmate whom I haven't seen in decades. You might reasonably conclude that I was lying through my teeth. This would especially be the case after you tracked down that old high school classmate and she told you that she hadn't talked to me since high school and had never dated me. 

Unfortunately similar to witch trials or child abuse accusations we have allowed the country and its institutions of higher learning among others to become infected with the feminist idea that to even question a rape victim's story is proof of a misogynistic and rape apologist mindset. If a story can't be questioned and can't be weighed against alternate explanations, then how can we have a justice system? An accusation should be enough. Whether we're talking criminal charges, civil suits or journalism, a small but healthy amount of skepticism is important to keep close at hand. When someone already has a strong pov about an issue as Sabrina Rubin Erdely clearly did, it's essential to watch out for confirmation bias and ensure that questions are asked which will challenge the hypothesis.

You may hear some people saying that we should automatically believe victims. Well that's well and good for people I know intimately. I will believe them if they tell me that X happened. But for everyone else I'm going to require some level of proof. And I would certainly expect that other people who don't know me or mine would feel the same way. I wouldn't be offended if you were non-committal in automatically believing something you were told by someone I knew well but you did not know at all. It's why we have society wide procedures set up to determine if someone was a victim in the first place. It's only after that critical fact has been determined when we can start "believing victims" or "helping victims find their voice" or so forth and so on. Rolling Stone Publisher Jann Wenner has so far stood by Sabrina Rubin Erdely, the freelance writer of the untrue article, as well as the other editors and supervisors involved in this nonsense. Erdely will continue to write for the magazine. No one will lose their job. This is of course completely ridiculous. It shows how deep the rot has gone in traditional media. Too many readers and viewers no longer care what the truth is. They just want to have their biases supported. Every event must be placed into service to one or another ideological goal, no matter how much fact-bending or "truthiness" must be deployed. Even though Jackie is an apparent liar some people are trying to place all the blame on Rolling Stone. They simply can't find it in themselves to say Jackie lied.

We all have biases. I am not overly fond of police officers. If I were on a jury where there was strong evidence of police misconduct, the accused had better hope God has mercy on him because I surely won't. But if there is equally strong or even stronger evidence that the person accusing the police officer of a crime is lying then I have to vote to acquit. It doesn't matter how much of a problem I think police brutality is in society. Truth is more important than "social justice". Women who lie about rape do a disservice to everyone. They should own that. The fraternity is apparently going to sue Rolling Stone magazine. I don't know how much of a case they will have. Legal experts can give their opinion. But if that is the only way to make Rolling Stone change its practices, then I'm all in favor. It's important that rape victims come forward. It's also important that liars and hoaxers be revealed as such.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Rolling Stone Magazine Retracts UVA Fraternity Rape Allegations

Although it should scarcely need to be repeated for the generally fair minded individuals who read this blog every last single one of us has our own individual biases, which are often magnified and accelerated by our experiences and the gender, race, class, sexual, political and other identities through which we experience the world. It’s just the way human beings are. So that is why it is important, though we can all forget it from time to time, to remember that an accusation does not equal proof that a crime occurred. Sometimes people do not remember what happened. Sometimes people lie. And I have not seen any evidence that shows that lying is solely or even disproportionately the preserve of one gender or another. Men and women are equally human. We all have both angels and devils lurking within.

So when the Rolling Stone story about an alleged gang rape at UVA came out, complete with such lurid details as beatings and rape as fraternity initiation and a woman being violated on top of broken glass, I didn’t feel one way or the other about it. I wanted to see some proof. There were some inconsistencies in the account that made me think that this was more of an urban legend than an actual event but I am not a journalist or criminologist. If true then someone definitely should have been arrested and charged (unless of course the assailants were cops but I digress) Unfortunately UVA and the people who are concerned with stopping rape didn’t bother waiting to find out whether this was true or not before taking action against the fraternity (in UVA’s case) or repeating what have turned out to be untruths (in the case of the media and various other social justice warriors)

Well sometimes people who rush to be first forget to check if they're right. Other investigators, journalists and writers raised some of the same questions I had about the rape allegations. Rolling Stone actually had to go back and check its story. And it found that some of the details didn't hold up under scrutiny.

In the article, published on Nov. 19, writer Sabrina Rubin Erdely described the brutal rape of a woman — identified as Jackie — by seven men at a 2012 fraternity party, the university's failure to respond to the alleged attack and the school's troubled history of handling such cases. After its publication, both the university and the Charlottesville, Va., police department launched investigations and the fraternity, Phi Kappa Psi, suspended its operations.

On Friday, Rolling Stone managing editor Will Dana issued an apology, saying there were "discrepancies" in the woman's account. "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," Dana wrote. "We are taking this seriously and apologize to anyone who was affected by the story."
Earlier this week, Erdely, who had been criticized for relying on a single source and not contacting the men accused of rape, said she stood by her reporting.“I am convinced that it could not have been done any other way, or any better,” Erdely told the New York Times. “I am also not interested in diverting the conversation away from the point of the piece itself.”

Unfortunately I’ve seen first hand the impact that rape can have on a person. It is important to state again that nobody in his or her right mind is in favor of rape. Aside from murder, rape is the worst crime you can commit against someone. So to make up something that didn’t happen, to lie about rape because you think that the greater good requires it, is a particularly low malevolent malodorous foul thing to do. But this wasn’t the first time this has happened and it won’t be the last. Human nature guarantees that slanderous false accusations will happen again. There’s no real way to stop that. But what people should remember, and I definitely include myself in this, is that just because someone you already don’t like for other reasons is accused of committing a crime doesn’t mean that they did it. If someone is convicted of rape then let them pay the penalty and then some. But accusations or stories are not equal to proof, no matter how much some of us might want them to be. Lies about rape make it more difficult for real rape victims to obtain justice. It is the nature of our justice system that some rapists will be found not guilty at trial. I don’t think that requires a rejection of the idea of “innocent until proven guilty” or that people think it’s okay to lie about an accusation. When Erdely says that she is not interested in diverting the conversation from the point of the piece itself that is a red flag that such things as truth and reality are less important to her than the cause. And that is or rather should be a problem for any of us, let alone a journalist. Erdely didn't even bother talking to the accused. She apparently didn't do basic fact checking like seeing if there was actually a frat party on the night in question. There wasn't. Truth should be among the highest values to which we aspire. There is no justice without truth.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Bill Cosby Rape Allegations and Al Sharpton Tax Issues

It's difficult to keep up with the various rape accusations against Bill Cosby. There are currently over fifteen different women who have made allegations that Bill Cosby either attempted to seduce them or raped them. Unfortunately, for those of us who would like to know the truth, these charges detail events that may or may not have occurred many decades ago. Some accusers (Janice Dickinson) have made past statements which contradict their present ones. Other women claim to have engaged in ongoing intimate relationships with Cosby after the alleged rape. Cosby himself has categorically refused to address the accusations. He has previously reached civil settlements with some of the women. Because of the statute of limitations, unless someone with more current accusations pops up, these claims can't be criminally tried. I don't know if outstanding claims can be heard in civil court but there are lawyers who could address that. Nonetheless there are so many accusers that lack of criminal convictions notwithstanding, Bill Cosby's reputation and future business plans have taken a serious hit. NBC and Netflix cancelled planned projects. Much like with allegations with Herman Cain or Jian Ghomeshi, with this many women coming forward, even a Cosby fan who holds innocent until proven guilty as a moral cornerstone might wonder about some things. It's important to point out that I am agnostic on Cosby's guilt or innocence. Who among us knows either Cosby or his accusers? There is no evidence so far that anyone has provided that would strongly convince me of his guilt or innocence. Too much time has passed. We're not in a court of law.

We could be watching bitter former groupies or mistresses lie about an innocent man. We could be watching some delayed justice catch up with a filthy serial rapist. I simply can't call it. Women can and do lie about being raped. Men can and do get away with rape. People who claim that women never lie about rape or that men are constantly beset with false allegations of rape generally have ideological or personal axes to grind.

I wanted to write about this situation because of the news that TVLand cancelled reruns of The Cosby Show. Because apparently if you watch The Cosby Show you support rape or something. Other people are asking if we should boycott reruns of A Different World. 
I wrote on this before but I am not a huge fan of linking enjoyment of or appreciation for people's artistic accomplishments to who they are morally. If you consistently do that you won't enjoy much art. In her memoir Lena Dunham revealed that as a child and teen she had what many people would consider at best an odd relationship with her younger sister. At worst she was a molester.

As she grew, I took to bribing her for her time and affection: one dollar in quarters if I could do her makeup like a “motorcycle chick.” Three pieces of candy if I could kiss her on the lips for five seconds. Whatever she wanted to watch on TV if she would just “relax on me.” Basically, anything a sexual predator might do to woo a small suburban girl I was trying.

I shared a bed with my sister, Grace, until I was seventeen years old. She was afraid to sleep alone and would begin asking me around 5:00 P.M. every day whether she could sleep with me. I put on a big show of saying no, taking pleasure in watching her beg and sulk, but eventually I always relented. Her sticky, muscly little body thrashed beside me every night as I read Anne Sexton, watched reruns of SNL, sometimes even as I slipped my hand into my underwear to figure some stuff out.

Now I wouldn't watch Dunham's HBO show Girls if you paid me but if I did watch would that mean I support Dunham's perversities? No it wouldn't. One of the most beautiful rock ballads ever written, Led Zeppelin's "Ten Years Gone" was created in part by a man, Jimmy Page, who was having sex with fourteen year old girls when he was twenty-eight. That was statutory rape even back in the hedonistic seventies. If you listen to this song are you condoning sex with underage girls?  Do you boycott anything Sean Penn is associated with because he once went upside Madonna's head with a baseball bat? Charlie Sheen has beaten and shot women. Mark Wahlberg committed racist hate crimes, beating a Vietnamese man so badly he went blind in one eye. So even if every allegation against Cosby is true, I don't see what that has to do with the Cosby Show. Cliff Huxtable is a fictional character. Obviously I dislike some artists for non-creative reasons. I understand that because of an artist's criminal actions or particularly vile political or racial stances there will be Americans who hate the artist. I get that. What I don't comprehend are people who want to yield to the totalitarian impulse to insist that a disgraced artist have all of his or her art eliminated so that no one can enjoy it. Just because you enjoy someone's creative impulse does not mean that you support rape or murder or any other foul action or belief. Bill Cosby may or may not be a rapist. His Fat Albert cartoons, his comedy albums and his television shows are still worthwhile additions to American culture. Life is complex like that sometimes. If you think that Cosby committed these crimes and thus can't watch his comedy routine or tv shows again, that is fine. But other people can separate art from creator and that is also fine.

The New York Times recently ran some articles disclosing that the Reverend Al Sharpton of the National Action Network and of MSNBC has not been paying his federal or state taxes. The article also alleged that Sharpton had been moving monies back and forth between his personal accounts and his business and non-profit accounts. Supposedly this also included paying his daughter's tuition bills with funds that had come from non-profit organizations. The paper alleged that the good Reverend had been ducking out on private bill paying obligations. It's unclear how much information the Times obtained from investigation of publicly available documents and how much the Times obtained from sources within the IRS or elsewhere who wanted to drop a dime on Sharpton. The paper is mum on that since some of the information it has appears to be private. Al Sharpton wasted no time finding the nearest microphone to rebut some, but not all of the charges, and blaming it on unspecified enemies who wanted to disgrace him. There is a long history of prominent black political leaders being targeted in the press and discredited by untrue or partially true allegations. Sharpton's no doubt aware of this history and seeks to place himself within that narrative.

Although I think he's FAR too much of an uncritical water carrier for the Obama Administration and a horrible utterly inarticulate television host, on a few issues I care about Sharpton's heart is in the right place. But if you're going to stand up and be counted you need to make sure your stuff is together. Historically, some social justice or civil rights organizations, particularly black ones, have been one man charismatic operations that didn't give enough priority to the mundane business necessities such as ensuring that taxes and bills were paid along with staff workers. You can't maintain the trust of the people you're supposedly fighting for if you don't keep your business tight. No one with a functioning brain stem will give their hard earned money to someone who is paying himself a hefty salary and otherwise "dealing in dirt and stealing in the name of the Lord". It's understandable that a neophyte may not know all the various local, state and federal rules and regulations or generally accepted accounting standards surrounding non-profits, taxes, licensing, financial statements, and when you can and can not mix personal and business monies. But Sharpton is not a young man. He's been at this for a while. He should know better. Get it right. And young or not, everybody has to pay taxes. Ask Wesley Snipes.

What do you think of these situations?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

It's On Us and Yes Means Yes: Bad Ideas or Overdue Requirements?

The Obama Administration recently launched a public relations campaign to combat sexual assault. The campaign was titled "It's on us". You can check out the video here. I do indeed feel a special obligation to look out for some women. This group would include all related women, particularly younger ones, some really good women friends or close co-workers, and any woman with whom there is, was, or might be an intimate connection. For those women I will risk confrontation and physical danger. I was raised to believe that it's my job to protect such women or offer advice, even if occasionally they eschew such assistance. So that is indeed on me. I wouldn't like it were I ever in a situation where I could have helped a woman and chose otherwise from fear or sloth. But strange women, women who I don't know from Eve, are not my primary concern. This is 2014. Many women proclaim that they are independent and can look after their own affairs. I don't think that they need or want a stranger monitoring their alcohol consumption and clothing choices, or deciding on his own that their planned sexual rendezvous with that dangerous looking biker is too risky and must be halted. It's one thing to see a woman being physically assaulted and callously refuse to assist her. I'm almost 100% certain that I would run to her assistance. There's no ambiguity about what's happening when someone is screaming for help or getting throttled or beaten. But the PSA is discussing preemptive bystander intervention. That's a horse of an entirely different color. That means someone would be overriding the woman's judgment with his own. That might not be such a good thing. It also means women can't be trusted to make their own decisions. I disagree with that.

Police officers make errors. They don't get it wrong all or even most of the time but they do make plenty of mistakes. They arrest people for non-existent crimes, wrongly accuse women of being prostitutes, harass people walking down the street, shoot people's dogs from pure spite, make drug raids on the wrong address, shoot people armed only with wallets, and make other errors that result in people being insulted, arrested, tased, imprisoned, beaten, shot or even killed. And these are the experts! If they make mistakes why wouldn't untrained men make even more mistakes. Police are paid to serve and protect. They often enjoy legal protection for that. But if I preemptively intervene in a couple's private affairs because I think something looks wrong, I could be making a horrible mistake for no gain. Such action contradicts my worldview that, generally speaking, grown people handle their own business. So is it really on me to watch out for people who I don't know? No it's not. Sorry. My Superman suit is at the cleaners. If you, like the woman in the debunked Hofstra "rape" case, happen to think it's a good idea to have simultaneous sex with three or four men in a bathroom , I won't stop you. You're grown. I avoid interfering with grown people's romantic and/or sexual decision making. There's a crude word for this that rhymes with dock locking. And it is an excellent way to get your lights punched out. I can't read minds. I can't distinguish between the couple fondling each other because they're drunk and will shortly have sex that one of them may later describe as rape and the couple fondling each other because they've reunited after a three month business trip and are happily anticipating numerous Kama Sutra approved activities. I don't find anything malicious about the PSA. It amuses me that it calls for patriarchal protection when "patriarchal" is considered a dirty word. I think this PSA is well meaning, if misguided in today's world.

I'm not sure I could say that the "yes means yes" law is well meaning. California recently made a change in the law by passing the so-called "yes means yes" bill. This only applies to college students who are studying at institutions that receive state funding. All non-savages want to reduce the incidence of rape but I just don't see how this law helps with that goal. All I can see coming from this law is unintentional comedy and further degradation of the innocent until proven guilty standard. The very best that could happen is that nothing changes. All we have is a reframed version of the current conundrum in such cases. There are no witnesses other than the accused and the accuser. The accuser says she was raped. The accused claims the accuser agreed to consensual sex. At trial everyone else has to weigh the evidence, such as there is, and decide if the accused was proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Reasonable doubt means that the prosecution has the larger burden of proof. In other words a woman's word alone is not enough to convict a man of rape in a criminal court of law. Nor should it be. There has to be something else. Feminists have never really liked the presumption of innocence as applied to rape accusations and have been chipping away at it for quite some time in the criminal justice system and in the court of public opinion. "Yes means yes" is a way to do that in the college justice system. The Obama Administration has already informed colleges that under Title IX legislation, colleges are to use a weaker "preponderance of evidence" standard when adjudicating rape accusations, something that received serious pushback and criticism from Harvard professors across the political spectrum.

The main problem with "yes means yes" legislation is that such legislation does not at all comport with the reality of how people really initiate or have sex. Although it might be amusing to imagine that everyone sounds like this when engaged intimately, the reality is that they don't. The "yes means yes" law virtually makes this reaction a requirement for every discrete sexual action. So if a man and woman are fooling around on their living room couch the man might ask the woman if she wants to go upstairs. Now both adults know damn well that this question is shorthand for "Would you like to get naked and combine body parts in interesting ways for the better part of two hours?". However under this law if the man did not get explicit permission for each separate action of inserting tab a into slot b, a woman disappointed with his performance, disappointed with her performance or annoyed for any number of other reasons, could come back at a later date and correctly claim that she was raped. A defender of the law might claim that well, better safe than sorry. That's always true when it comes to sex in a lot of different ways. But it's also true that the steps which a man would have to take to avoid liability under this law also happen to be steps which would destroy many women's erotic interest in that man.
More than once I saw disappointment in the eyes of women when I didn’t fulfill the leadership role they wanted me to perform in the bedroom. I realized that women don’t just desire men, they desire men’s desire―and often they don’t want to have to ask for it. I also realized that I was in many ways ashamed of my own sexual desire as a man, and that this was not healthy. 
At this point I was experiencing some cognitive dissonance with my upbringing, but in time learned to take an assertive lead unless I got a “no” or otherwise thought I was about to cross a boundary as indicated by body language.One night I ended up back in a girl’s room after a first date (those do happen in college). She had invited me in and was clearly attracted to me. We were kissing on her bed, outer layers of clothing removed, but when my hands wandered downward she said, “No, wait.” I waited. She began kissing me again, passionately, so again I moved to remove her underwear. “Stop,” she said, “this is too fast.” I stopped.“That’s fine,” I said. I kissed her again and left soon after, looking forward to seeing her again. 
But my text messages received only cold, vaguely angry replies, and then silence. I was rather confused. Only many weeks later did I find out the truth from one of her close friends: “She really wanted you, but you didn’t make it happen. She was pretty upset that you didn’t really want her.”“Why didn’t she just say so then, why did she say we were moving too fast?”“Of course she said that, you dumbass. She didn’t want you to think she was a slut.”
The man was correct to stop. The risks of not doing so were too great. No means no. But a law that presumes that men and women behave exactly the same in or out of the bedroom and that most women still don't expect men to be the ones to "make it happen" is a law that will be abused. The bedroom is not necessarily a place where there is constant talking, negotiating and begging going on. It's not always "Mother may I" unless you happen to be Norman Bates. Some people like other people to take charge. Some people like to take charge. This doesn't indicate lack of consent any more than a man taking the lead in a dance indicates lack of consent. Rape is a horrible crime. It is second only to murder in how despicable it is. Rape means lack of consent. That means someone does something to you without asking OR you are unable to consent OR you tell them no and they proceed anyway. Rape should not mean that you and someone are having sex, one of you tells the other one to move to the left and a week later one of you is in front of a college kangaroo court because after all there was no explicit permission granted for that "move to the left" order.

Now you would think that civil libertarians would be the ones leading the charge against this law. Well some are. But as I've always said we are all hypocrites in some way or the other. There are some people on the right who are big defenders of the Bill of Rights, except when it comes to black people being harassed or searched without warrant by the police. At that point they will talk about black criminals, say that there's an emergency and claim that the police are justified in unconstitutional activities against the black population. They will demagogue on the issue by claiming that if you're against stop-n-frisk you must be for "black crime".

Well not to be outdone in contempt for the underlying values of our legal system, Ezra Klein, while openly admitting that "yes means yes" is a bad law and that innocents will be harmed, still says that he supports it because the rape crisis on college campuses justifies extreme actions.
If the Yes Means Yes law is taken even remotely seriously it will settle like a cold winter on college campuses, throwing everyday sexual practice into doubt and creating a haze of fear and confusion over what counts as consent. This is the case against it, and also the case for it. Because for one in five women to report an attempted or completed sexual assault means that everyday sexual practices on college campuses need to be upended, and men need to feel a cold spike of fear when they begin a sexual encounter.
Colleges have settled into an equilibrium where too little counts as sexual assault, where the ambiguity of consent gives rapists loopholes in which to hide, and forces women to spend their lives afraid. The Yes Means Yes laws creates an equilibrium where too much counts as sexual assault. Bad as it is, that's a necessary change.
Da Kommissar! That should be the law's primary purpose. These evil men need to feel fear when they start having sex. They should know that the state is watching them. There are no innocents in Klein's world when it comes to rape. There are only guilty people who haven't been caught yet. And if well a few eggs get broken while making an omelet, well we can't build our Brave New World without a few sacrifices along the way. Anyone who disagrees is obviously pro-rape and need not be taken seriously. Klein shows shocking disregard for one of the basic foundations of the Anglo-American legal system, the Blackstone Ratio. Obviously Klein would reverse that ratio. In his ideal world it's better that ten innocents suffer than one rapist go free. And if this "yes means yes" law makes those college men live in fear, so much the better. Again, for those of us who are not in college, do not live in California or have sons going to college in California, this may not seem like too much of a big deal. But make no mistake, this law will eventually spread beyond California and beyond the college judicial system. And that would indeed be a big deal because even more men would be convicted of crimes which they did not commit. This "yes means yes" law is simply alien to our stated values of law. It's also important to point out that over the past twenty years there has been a large decrease in the numbers and rate of sexual assault against women and girls. The idea that there is some sort of epidemic of rape is just not accurate. The way to reduce rape is to harshly punish convicted rapists and teach men and women that drunkenness is not a necessary precursor for sex. You don't reduce rape by claiming that almost every man is a rapist and making men prove their innocence. 

I thought we wanted the state out of people's bedrooms? Unless you want men bringing a public notary and video camera into the bedroom or avoiding college women altogether, this "yes means yes" law may have some unpleasant unintended consequences. Everyone is against rape. But there must be a better way to combat it than this.

What do you think?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Ms. Annie Roberston - Rape and Race

We've long heard the startling statistics regarding rape in the United States. According to Crisis Connection the statistics are even more startling when you focus on college campus' in the United States. Here are a few of those statistics:
  • Every 21 hours there is a rape on an American college campus
  • 1 in 4 women in college today has been the victim of rape, and nearly 90% of them
    knew their rapist  
  • Of the college woman who are raped, only 25% describe it as rape
  • Of the college women who are raped, only 10% report the rape
  • 34% of completed rapes and 45% of attempted rapes take place on campus
    • Almost 60% of the completed campus rapes that take place on campus occur in the victim's residence
    • 31% occur in another residence
    • 10% occur in a fraternity
It gets worse when you take a closer look at the recent high profile cases, (Steubenville/Genarlow Wilson) which involved victims below the collegiate level.

I am a young woman, so I don't need these stats to tell me that there is a problem. I can also understand the indescribable pain that victims of rape feel, as well as the devastation that occurs for victims who speak out against their perpetrators, only to feel silenced. I get it! So the controversy at Sarah Lawrence College involving Annie Robertson and Garvey-Malik Ashhurst-Watson are of no surprise to me.

Annie in her own words:

To make matter worse for Ms. Robertson, Mr. Ashhurst-Watson was initially charged with two counts of sexual misconduct and those charges were later dismissed. The Westchester County District Attorney’s Office launched an investigation and concluded that there were inconsistencies in the accounts of the events between the two parties and not enough evidence to prosecute Mr. Ashhurst-Watson.

"How can you tell a woman she is safe when her body no longer belongs to her? When you are finally able to burn me at the stake, frame my ashes for your school’s distinction. Until then, I will be tying nooses with the strong cords of my voice. I will be hanging your boys up and invoking my no until the spirit takes them and their legs stop twitching." - Annie Robertson
It's unfortunate that Ms. Robertson decided to unnecessarily invoke race with well known and documented elements of slavery. For this I can't take her seriously. I can't see how, through what I imagine to be the most devastating and hurtful of circumstances, Ms. Robertson can only see the race of her "perpetrator". Ms. Robertson was a victim of a crime, a victim of violence. So why would she choose to focus on the fact that her "perpetrator" was black?

This poem is indicative of Ms. Robertson's mindset and her character. Words are powerful. Ms. Robertson knows this. So to now pretend that the racial elements were unintentional is just not cool.

If Ms. Robertson really wanted to make sure that her "attack" didn't happen in vain, she would have set out to truly make a difference. Look at the statistics (especially the ones above) and make the decision to begin a meaningful national conversation on rape and sexual violence on college campus'. Ms. Robertson could have started a movement in her back yard, by galvanizing everyone at Sarah Lawrence with a mission to make campus rape a thing of the past. No, instead she made a decision to put a "poem" on her Facebook page about lynching black men.  This poor decision not only weakens her argument, but it weakens a movement that already exists to help young women recognize when they are victims of violence, and take action against their perpetrators. Coming forward and accusing someone of rape it already a very difficult act. Victims fear persecution, so many remain quiet. Ms. Robertson has made it even worse, especially for anyone who may be a victim of rape or any other form of violence, at Sarah Lawrence.

I really wish Annie Roberston hadn't taken the direction of this conversation to such a disgusting level.

Sound off...

1 - When you read Annie Robertson's "poem" what did you think?
2 - Has Ms. Robertson weakened her argument?
3 - When the charges were dismissed against Mr. Ashhurst-Watson, what should Ms. Robertson have done? What should any victim in Ms. Robertson's position do?
4 - Is this situation a lesson for young men on college campus' across the US?