Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Writers upset that news outlets cover the news -- at least when the news is horrific false rape stories

Edit: 5:05 PM Eastern Time: In the Matt Folino case, the writer "martha" has responded to critics. My reply to her response to me:

You have excluded yourself from the public discourse on a very serious issue with your shrill odium. Matt's family and friends are reading these comments, as is Matt, I am sure, and your your insistence that his story should be censored the way the Soviet Union used to censor news stories is hateful. Moreover, it smacks of "patriarchy"-smashing gender get-even-ism. Mature adults have no room for such silliness in 2013. Matt can't help that he was born male, and that someone chose to victimize him in this fashion. Get over it.

Instead of sweeping problems like this, and Brian Banks' false rape claim and a thousand others, under the rug, you would do well to tell young women not to make false rape claims. They destroy innocent young men and do a disservice to rape victims.

This story isn't about "rape" or Steubenville or you. It's about a young man who suffered a grievous wrong. So nice of you to have compassion!


The way to battle false rape claims is not to pretend they don't happen, it's to join us in battling false rape claims.

Here's a trigger warning for the community of the wrongly accused: below are two comments, reposted verbatim, that appeared under two recent horrific stories about false rape claims. The writers in both comments expressed anger that the television station and the television network, respectively, dared to actually air the stories in the aftermath of the Steubenville rape case. The first comment appeared under the KDKA-TV story about a false rape claim near Pittsburgh.  The second comment appeared on CBS's "60 Minutes" site under the video of the Brian Banks story that aired this past Sunday.

Never mind that the completely innocent young men in both stories suffered unspeakable harm. Because the young men were victimized by false rape claims, their stories should not have been aired, these writers seem to think.

First, it is critical that these stories be aired because, all due apologies to the two writers, it would be difficult to imagine news short of murder as horrifying as a false claim that deprives someone of his or her liberty.

Second, while the primary victims of these two stories are the two falsely accused young men, these incidents also hurt rape victims, and they can't be swept under the rug. Every rape lie diminishes the integrity of every rape victim. Rape victims have expressed support for the work of this blog for that very reason. When the public sees that accusers are given license to destroy young men with impunity, and that the system doesn't provide adequate safeguards to keep the innocent from being hauled from school or their homes in the middle of the night on the word of a false accuser (as happened to the two young men in the stories commented on), jurors are all the more wary about convicting men and boys accused of rape even when the evidence supporting guilt is compelling. While the public insists on harsh punishment for rapists, it does not tolerate a system that destroys the innocent.

The way to battle false rape claims is not to pretend they don't happen, it's to join us in battling false rape claims. This means more substantial custodial sentences for proven rape liars, and  more safeguards for presumptively innocent men and boys accused of heinous sex crimes -- the kinds of things we talk about on this blog all the time.

Here are the stomach-churning comments:

While I sympathize with this young man plight, I find it disturbing that KDKA chose to run with this story in light of the recent events in nearby Steubenville. Instead, why doesn't KDKA do a report on the facts of rape. The low estimate of women raped in the US per year is 300,000...the high estimate 1.3 million women. The percentage of rapes not reported: 54%. A women's chance of being raped: 1 in 5. The number of women in the US impregnated as a result of rape: 32,000. The number of states in which a rapist can sue for custody of that child: 31. The number of rape kits left untested in Houston TX: 6000-7000. The number of adult men accused of repeatedly gang raping an 11 year old girl - 14. Their excuse: She dressed older than her age. The age of a woman raped in Central Park: 73. Percentage of rapists who have never been incarcerated: 97. And...percentage of rapes that studies find are false claims: 2-8. Did you know that the Supreme Court of Connecticut overturned the sexual assault conviction of a man who had sex with a woman who has severe cerebral palsy, the intellectual function equivalent of a 3 year old and cannot verbally communicate because she did not "bite, kick, scratch, screech, groan or gesture" her lack of consent? Where are these stories? Where is the story of the victim in the Steubenville rape? The rapists have been pitied all over the major networks yet no one stands for the courage of the young woman who risked everything to show the 'rape culture' that exists in this country. Shame on you, KDKA. Shame on you.


FRISCO1990 says:

While I appreciate the importance of Mr Banks' struggle and the atrocity of him being falsely accused, I am abhorred that CBS would highlight this story, in the face of the recent Steubenville trial/verdict. The timing of the story seems to suggest that CBS and 60 minutes feel that most rape trials/accusations are false and that the accusers should be castigated for speaking up. It perpetuates that belief that rape doesn't happen, that men can get away with assault, not be held accountable b/c the accuser should not be believed.

Unfortunately, the norm is that the victim does not report the assault, the crime is not judged, and the offending man is off scot-free without any accountability. This story, at this time, minimizes the incidence and impact of rape in this country and around the world. I am appalled that 60 minutes, a reputedly "excellent" news journalism program would stoop to this level and be so ignorant to not take into account the social milieu.

I expect a higher caliber of news from this station and show and expect a better understanding of the state of violence against women. How many hours have you devoted to the impact of rape on the lives of women? Not anywhere near the proportion of rape inflicted on women, unreported and/or unvindicated, to wrongly accused cases impacting the lives of men.

I don't dispute the injustice that Mr. Banks has suffered or the obstacles he's overcome to pursue his dream. I just can't believe that CBS/60 minutes chooses to air this story (a rerun so there was a conscious choice to air it tonight) at this time with this message. You need to balance this story by 100/1000-fold with the stories of the many women raped in high school, in college, in the military, in other settings; who have not received justice and educate the public about the impact such an act of violence has on their lives.

Step up 60 minutes; step up Leslie Stahl; Step up Anderson Cooper; Step up the lot of you and stand against the status quo.

- Disgusted in America