Monday, September 15, 2008

Columnist calls girl in story about do-gooder a "victim" and I take him to task

The story about the "do-gooder" that is the subject of our post immediately above this one prompted a Minnesota journalist to refer to the accuser as a "victim." That term is inappropriate under the circumstances, and I took the writer to task for it.

HERE IS WHAT THE WRITER WROTE:

Minn Post.com -- August 5 By David Brauer

The Strib's Anthony Lonetree
chronicles the strange case of Ali Abdilahi, the accused wheelman in a rape; charges were dropped last week. Along the way, his mug shot was flashed on TV, he lost two jobs, his car and his reputation. Prosecutor Susan Gaertner offers little sympathy — she pointedly says she won't file false-claim charges against the victim. (Abdilahi says the girl told him she was beaten by a friend.) Video and some circumstantial evidence backs up Abdilahi.

HERE IS MY COMMENT:

In your discussion about Ali Abdilahi, the man falsely accused of abducting a girl, you erroneously refer to the girl as "the victim."

Um, excuse me, but the only victim here is the man falsely accused. Why is it so terribly difficult even for newspaper reporters, who ought to know better, to shed the presumption of guilt when it comes to men falsely accused of crimes against women and girls?

Likewise, the enlightened prosecutor has apparently flatly ruled out filing charges against the girl for making a false police report. Never mind that the REAL victim here suffered unspeakable harm because of the girl's lie. The prosecutor is content to treat him as virtually all men falsely accused of sex crimes are treated -- as unfortunate collateral damage. The theory goes that we must not discourage women and girls from "coming forward" so, heaven forbid, we must not charge them for a crime even when they have committed one. The fact is, only when false accusers are charged and punished in a manner proportionate to their lies will others be deterred from wantonly destroying other innocent men and boys.

Most such false claims concern rape. Objectively verifiable data indicates that at least 9 percent and probably closer to half of all rape claims are false. Yet the crime of making a false rape report has become so embroiled in the radical feminist sexual assault milieu that it has been largely, and improperly, removed from the public discourse about rape. Sexual assault counselors often disingenuously refer to the fact of false rape accusations as a "myth." Denigrating the experience of the falsely accused by dismissing their victimization as a myth is not merely dishonest but morally grotesque. http://falserapesociety.blogspot.com/

AUTHOR DAVID BRAUER'S RESPONSE:

Journalistically, I can't quite go far enough as you. The prosecutor made it clear that she's not prosecuting the girl for false claims, and her case against Ali could've been dropped for lack of evidence, not just because he was falsely accused.Of course, prosecutors' word isn't golden, but given that no one has proven the girl made a false claim here, I can't take away her "victim" status.There are tons of questions, though. Thanks for reading.

MY RESPONSE TO DAVID BRAUER:

David, I appreciate your response, but precisely who elevated this girl to the status of a "victim"? She is, in fact, a self-proclaimed "victim," and I am unaware of any journalistic standard that justifies the use of this nomenclature for someone whom the objectively verifiable facts tell us likely is NOT a victim. The falsely accused man seems every bit as much -- and more so -- a "victim," does he not?

At worst, we have one person's word against another's, with ample circumstantial evidence for rejecting out-of-hand the young lady's account. It is wholly inappropriate to attach sanctity to her tale for no reason other than the fact that she made the claim. That is offensive to a man who is supposed to be presumed innocent, and who the facts tell us in all likelihood is innocent.

We owe it to all men falsely accused of similar crimes to stop presuming their accusers are "victims" when, because of the nature of the crime, it may never be possible to disprove the accuser's account beyond any conceivable doubt.