Thursday, October 1, 2009

Show of hands: Who is sick and tired of the kind of hysterical reporting that passes along an accusation as fact?

. . . You know the kind I mean. A lone female tells police that an unknown man or boy did some terrible thing. Police pass it along as fact, and newspaper and broadcast news repeat it as fact. And then, quite often, it turns out to be a lie, or at the very least, wrong. But not before adding yet another slander to an entire gender.

The way that the police and news media foment hysteria about males is an important phenomenon. In this day and age, any girl or woman (or boy, but it's usually a female) with a hyper-imagination or who feels a need to invent a monster for some ulterior purpose, need only go to the police and her story is automatically accepted as fact. The police obviously think they're doing a public service by passing it on to the news media, so they become nothing more than messengers for women or little girls who might just be liars. And the news media, using all its supposedly well-honed journalistic skills and editorial processes, becomes nothing more than the messenger of the police and the accusers when they blast the accusations in newspapers or over the airwaves.

When the story gets to the reporters, they are able to add extra helpings of credibility. They usually don't report it this way: "A girl claims a man tried to abduct her." They usually report it like this: "Police say that a man tried to abduct a girl . . . ." And technically, that is correct, but they don't bother to explain that all the police are doing is repeating what they were told by a lone female, and that they have no other evidence for this alleged crime. Nor do the reporters explain that they have done nothing on their own (since they are, you know, reporters) to uncover more information. They simply pass along the female's account as fact. Moreover, at least on television, the reporters don't just repeat the story, they sensationalize it by showing the reporter walking around the "crime" scene and describing the alleged act in grave and solemn tones to make it scary. And then they grab some mother to tell how the "crime" has the entire neighborhood on edge. Because scary gets ratings, and that's the name of the game.

The result: the hysteria of one little girl becomes everyone's hysteria, and one hysterical incident is piled atop another, and another, and another, helping to create a culture where men and boys are feared. It is this culture that enables false rape accusers to tell plausible lies. Need some very recent examples? Well, there was Hofstra -- remember how that was reported? And from last week there was this one. Need something more recent? How about this story:


Police look for 'rusty' van in Pa. luring attempt

CHICORA, Pa. - State police say a middle aged man driving a rusty green van tried to lure a 13-year-old girl into the vehicle in western Pennsylvania.

Police say the incident happened about 5 p.m. Monday near the parking lot of the Missionary Alliance Church in Chicora, Butler County. That's about 40 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.

Police say the girl ran away and got help.

The girl told police the man opened a sliding door on the van and tried to get the girl to come toward the van before she ran away.


Reported child luring attempt was misunderstanding

State police say a report that a man tried to lure a 13-year-old girl into his rusty green van in Butler County was just a misunderstanding.

Police say a 13-year-old girl reported the incident about 5 p.m. Monday near the parking lot of the Missionary Alliance Church in Chicora. That's about 40 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.

Police say the girl ran away and got help, but shouldn't have been alarmed by what she saw.

Police say the man and a passenger had stopped in the parking lot to fix a sliding door that was ajar. The girl saw the passenger get out and became scared when she saw him open and close the door when she was nearby.

Police say the men did nothing wrong.