Wednesday, March 16, 2011

It's OK to 'Victim Blame' if the Victims were Falsely Accused of Rape

A story in the Duke Chronicle triggered yet another debate about the Duke Lacrosse case.  A comment under the story purported to "explain" the false rape charges (the players "reaped what they sowed" because of their hard partying image) and I took offense.  See here: http://dukechronicle.com/node/154794/talk.

First her comment, then my response:

SenoritaRita: Great, so you acknowledge that they [the Lacrosse players] had a reputation for hard partying in public, behavior which [Coach] Pressler also knew about. The coaching staff--and the athletic department for that matter--did not care that they exhibited this type of behavior as a unit in a public setting, even though its conduct was unbecoming of a group that directly represents the university. it follows then that while this behavior is not atypical of the average Duke student, it created an environment where the allegations made against the team were imminently believable. The fundamental issue with the team under Pressler wasn't that the stripper's allegations were false, but that they rung true to the average person on campus because of their perceptions of the team. You reap what you sow.
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My response: "The fundamental issue with the team under Pressler wasn't that the stripper's allegations were false, but that they rung true to the average person on campus because of their perceptions of the team. You reap what you sow."

As founder of the world's leading Web site dedicated to giving voice to persons falsely accused of sex crimes, The False Rape Society, I find your comment morally grotesque.

The fact that someone belongs to a team that "parties hard" is never justification to destroy that individual's life with a false rape accusation, and your blithe assertion that "you reap what you sow" smacks of good old fashioned victim blaming.

If we were to suggest that a female rape victim "asked for it" or that she "reaped what she sowed" merely because she "parties hard," we would justifiably be branded as misogynists for such blatant victim blaming. Your comment is no less offensive merely because the vicims here happened to be male.

It is attitudes such as yours that engendered disrepute of Duke on an international scale due to the lacrosse outrage.

Shame on you.