Let’s Hold Accounts of Rape to the Standard As War Crime Reporting

By now, you might have heard that Rolling Stone has sort of, kind of retracted part of its story about campus rape at UVA because they don’t think their key source is credible. They then decided to release a statement blaming “Jackie” who had asked to not be included in the story–serves Rolling Stone right as far as I’m concerned.

Over the years, there have been many news reports of various war crimes, atrocities and the like (e.g., Sudan, Bosnia, Chad–well, the list is depressingly long…). However, in many ways, these stories, especially those involving rape, are nowhere near as well corroborated as many rape stories are expected. By that I mean, reporters typically aren’t drilling down into inconsistencies in the stories. To be clear, I’m not implying at all that horrible things didn’t happen. But I could easily imagine there being inconsistencies in survivors’ stories (as well as among different witnesses), between repeated tellings and the passage of time.

Because that’s what happens to people who are traumatized.

So do I believe “Jackie?” I’m pretty convinced something awful happened to her, even if all of the details don’t square up.

Oddly, we seem far more likely to believe the horror stories of women in other countries–sometimes to the point of calling for or conducting lethal military action*–while subjecting their testimony to far less scrutiny and requiring less of a threshold to consider discussing the allegations. Meanwhile women who are raped on the ‘homefront’ aren’t cut nearly as much slack.

As an aside, Rolling Stone did a lot of damage to vaccination efforts by publishing RFK Jr.’s article about the supposed link between autism and vaccination in 2011 (with they later retracted). Now, in 2014, they’ve just made it much harder for campus rape survivors.

Excellent journalism shitheads.

*Drone strikes against college campuses as a response to campus rape probably isn’t the way to go.

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1 Response to Let’s Hold Accounts of Rape to the Standard As War Crime Reporting

  1. Tiercelet says:

    You’ve also got to love how incredibly vague the retraction is–Rolling Stone didn’t seem to bother detailing anything that was wrong with it other than “inconsistencies.”

    The WaPo did a more detailed write-up, but as near as I can tell, the upshot was “She probably said the name of the wrong frat, because the guy didn’t actually name his fraternity, and she only has the frat name from her friend pointing the building out to her a year later.” (http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/u-va-fraternity-to-rebut-claims-of-gang-rape-in-rolling-stone/2014/12/05/5fa5f7d2-7c91-11e4-84d4-7c896b90abdc_story.html)
    Basically, the journalism in the WaPo reporting the inaccuracies is just as sloppy as the original RS article.

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