Saturday, August 2, 2008

"The AP does not name people alleging sexual assault without their consent ...."

That quote, from an AP story that ran on Saturday, is a classic statement of the American news media's deference to the sensitivities of rape accusers; absent from the AP's policy is the slightest regard for the privacy or dignity of innocent men accused of this vile crime.

The AP protects the secret identity of accusers with all the tenacity of Clark Kent guarding Superman's identity, but it has no compunction about possibly destroying the life of an innocent man, and often his family, by splashing his name all over the news for the world to titillate to the details of his humiliation on the basis of nothing more than the uncorroborated allegation of a lone, anonymous female, no matter how far-fetched it turns out to be.

Men and teenage boys have killed themselves and have been killed, been beaten, lost their jobs, seen their businesses destroyed and been raped themselves on the basis of rape allegations that turn out to be false. Read the accounts in this Web site. I am not engaging in hyperbole. Much of the harm comes from the public humiliation, the disgrace of being named. Innocent teenage males, for example, know that their grandparents, their classmates at college, their employers and their friends will always wonder "if" they really did it. If given the choice, many of these men would prefer to be raped themselves than to be falsely accused of rape.

We are stranded in a time when rape claims have taken on the aura of the Salem witch hunts, where a lone female can sometimes use the police and the news media to destroy the life of any man or teenage boy she deigns to accuse. It happens with alarming frequency, as shown by the accounts on this Web site.

While there are sound policy reasons for not naming the accuser, there are policy reasons at least as sound for not naming the accused until a conviction unless, for example, the male is the subject of a manhunt.

Unlike any other claim by a private citizen that a serious crime has been committed, a rape claim is very easily made and almost impossible to thoroughly disprove. The very physical act that constitutes the alleged crime is precisely the same act that has been performed countless times every second of every minute of every day of every year since the beginning of time the world over as an act of love that is welcomed by women. But a woman can transmogrify this most fundamental human act of love into rape merely by recharacterizing it as nonconsensual. My legal practice has seen exactly this sort of lie. Most women, of course, would never, ever tell such a lie, just as most men would never rape, but as shown by the accounts on this Web site, some relatively small percentage of all women who have sex lie and claim it was rape. Even when the charge is dropped and even when the woman recants, some people will always harbor the nagging suspicion that "something must have happened" (the feminist sexual assault lobby teaches that even recantations of rape claims must be viewed with suspicion). The fact is, there is often no way for an innocent male ever to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that he didn't do it. Innocent men often bear the taint of a false rape accusation for the remainder of their lives. All because a female decided to lie and news outlets decided that selling newspapers was more important than not needlessly destroying the life of an expendable male.

In Bellevue John Does 1-11 v. Bellevue School District No. 45, a decision of the Washington Supreme Court handed down on July 31, the court held that the identities of teachers accused of sexual misconduct are to remain anonymous when the claims are unsubstantiated as opposed to patently false (the latter is arguably more difficult to prove). Among other things, the court said this:

The mere fact of the allegation of sexual misconduct toward a minor may hold the teacher up to hatred and ridicule in the community, without any evidence that such misconduct ever occurred.
. . . .
It is undisputed that disclosure of the identity of a teacher accused of sexual misconduct is highly offensive to a reasonable person.

The logic of this rationale applies generally to all men who are accused of rape, not just teachers. Teachers were able to put a stop to having their names broadcast because they have a committed lobby that wouldn't stand for the injustice. Men, in general, have no lobby, and most people who have never been falsely accused or who have never had a loved one falsely accused have no problem in hearing the names of "those other men" broadcast since it feeds into some base curiosity prevalent in human nature. They don't realize that they or their father, husband, boyfriend, brother or son someday might be that "other" man. Naming men who are presumed innocent serves no legitimate societal interest, and even if naming the innocent served some slight interest, it would be far outweighed by the often terrible prejudicial effect on the innocent.

We need to stand up about this a lot more than we are doing.