Thursday, August 22, 2013

White woman invents imaginary black rapist

Jillian Shea Moore, 24, who is white, has been accused of falsely reporting that she had been raped and stabbed in her home by a black man. She self-inflicted a minor stab wound to her own abdomen to "prove" the attack. According to a news report: "She told authorities she had been raped and stabbed by a masked black male in her home, who then stole jewelry items and fled."

The local sheriff’s office investigated and later determined the following:“Moore was not the victim of a crime and that her stab wound is consistent with being self-inflicted.” Moore's family attorney said that “from what we’ve seen, it appears that Jillian had a bad reaction to some prescription medicine she was taking, and she is now actively seeking the help she needs” at an inpatient mental rehabilitation facility.

Rape lies often include a "scary" black or Hispanic male suspect in an obvious attempt to lend plausibility to the fabrication. The underlying racial animus of these lies sometimes becomes a public concern. This is all the more pertinent in light of the recent public discourse over the Trayvon Martin killing. President Obama even told reporters that, like other African Americans, he has been followed by security guards while shopping, and has seen motorists lock their doors or women hold tighter to their purses as he walked near them.

In 2009, at Northwestern University, a bogus rape claim prompted two campus-wide emails: the first notified students that a female Northwestern student was sexually assaulted. It provided an explicit description of the suspect as follows: "African American male, approximately 25 years old, 5-6 – 5-7 inches tall, with a thin but muscular build, wearing a black leather jacket and dark jeans." The second email declared the first e-mail’s report as "false."

It was the first email's explicit description of the suspect that drew concerns and provoked a discussion about race on campus. "One student [at a panel discussion about the rape claim] said when she first read the e-mail she was more concerned about how it might reinforce racial perceptions than how it would influence perception of gender. She said she was surprised by the specificity, when previous cases have had more blanket descriptions that could apply to people of any race." A criminology professor said: "All black young men on campus become vulnerable to further suspicion."

The concerns expressed at Northwestern about notifying students that the accused rapist was black make for interesting discussion, but likely are misplaced. The Clery Act requires that reports of sexual assaults "shall be provided to students and employees in a manner that is timely and that will aid in the prevention of similar occurrences." At the time of this alleged incident, Northwestern's male population was roughly 47.1%, and its entire black population (males and females) was roughly 5.4%. Since the law mandates that the University community be apprised of sex crimes in a way that will aid in the prevention of similar occurrences, could the school not mention the alleged assailant's race?

And was the focus on the race of the imaginary rapist distracting from the real issue -- the fact that a woman invented an imaginary rapist in the first place? Put another way, are false rape claims not a big deal unless they are also politically incorrect?

It is well to be sensitive to concerns of the black community on this issue. The racial animus underlying lies that invent imaginary black rapists takes the prevarication to a whole new level of injustice. In 2011, a Brooklyn "nun" from a fringe Christian sect falsely claimed "that she was choked and raped by a black man." The New York Daily News reported that black men in the neighborhood were angered, but not surprised. According to the Daily News: "Cops even released a sketch of the phantom suspect and pleaded for the public to help catch him. After more questioning, [the accuser] admitted she concocted the assault to cover up her sexual shenanigans with a bodega worker."

The men in the neighborhood were, as one put it, "pissed."

"'I don't know why they must accuse falsely like that. I think it must be prejudice," said a 56-year-old advertising worker who lived across from the house where the "nun" lived.

There is a certain terrible, twisted logic of rape liars who invent a black man as their "rapist." Feminist Susan Brownmiller, in Against our Wills, demonstrated that disadvantaged blacks comprise a greatly disproportionate percentage of rapists. (A disproportionate number of rape offenders come from lower socioeconomic classes and are under-educated, under-employed, and under-skilled. See, among many others, Thornhill and Palmer, A Natural History of Rape: Biological Bases of Sexual Coercion; Batten, Sexual Strategies: How Females Choose Their Mates.)  But the fact that the inner city -- where every social pathology is heightened by fatherlessness -- sees a disproportionate number of rapes, of course, is small consolation to the overwhelming percentage of innocent black men who are painted with the same broad brush every time the group they belong to is stereotyped based on the misdeeds of some of its members.

And it is isn't just black men who are targeted. In 2010, WABC weather forecaster Heidi Jones, then 37, invented a Hispanic man as her attacker. Many expressed outrage on behalf of the Hispanic community.

That minority males are on the receiving end of injustice more often than anyone is scarcely a newsflash. Case in point: Brian Banks, who was urged to plead guilty to a rape he did not commit -- because his lawyer convinced him no one would believe a black teen male in a rape case.

The racial animus present when white women falsely accuse black or Hispanic men of rape is particularly repugnant because it taps into a time, not that long ago, of the hanging trees of the Deep South, when a white woman's word was a death sentence for an innocent black man or boy. It is a terrible and painful history. Its lessons about race have largely been forgotten; its lessons about gender have rarely been acknowledged. We will continue to remind readers of both.