Friday, December 6, 2013

Emily Bazelon, stop! Just stop!

Emily, this obsession you're having with the Jameis Winston case is unseemly, even for an ideologue. Just stop!

At the very least, please stop calling the "accuser" a "victim."

As for your assertion that "[i]t is uncommon for victims to make false accusations of sexual assault," please tell us what that has to do with THIS CASE?

And please tell your readers the whole story. False rape claims are relatively rare in the context of surveys where every claim is accepted as true, and none are tested against competing claims, and evidence, of innocence. That's a fact. For REPORTED rape claims, where investigators are required to consider competing evidence of innocence, the percentage of claims that can be classified with reasonable certainty as "rape" drops dramatically -- underscore dramatically.

Here's an example we cited yesterday: at the University of Michigan where a "preponderance of the evidence" standard is employed for sexual assault (ever so slightly more than 50%), of the 38 sexual assault violations reported to the school in the course of a year, only six students were found responsible and seven students were cleared of wrongdoing. In 19 cases, officials didn't have enough information to move forward. Thus, even with a preponderance of the evidence standard, fewer than 19 percent of reported claims could be proven. (We suspect that reported sexual assault claims are, on the whole, easier to prove than unreported claims. What does it tell us when the vast majority of reported sexual assault claims can't even pass the probable cause test?)

In contrast, if those same 38 sexual assault claimants had been merely surveyed, it is likely that all 38, or certainly the vast majority, would be deemed to be actual sexual assaults. Now tell us, which is more fair and accurate -- relying on a survey where every claim is uncritically accepted, or relying on the real world test where the claims are subject to competing evidence of innocence?

We loathe and detest this Oppression Olympics you seem to relish -- but we're not going to sit still while you trivialize the victimization of the wrongly accused by pretending there are too few of them to worry about, and we're not going to ignore your hissy fits when a man is cleared because there isn't even probable cause to arrest him.  Yes, Emily, your readers ought to know that in the Winston case, the state attorney said there wasn't even enough evidence (meaning, just probable cause) to arrest Winston, much less charge or convict him.  Yet you seem pissed that he's not going to prison.

You do your cause no favors. People are more than happy to string rapists up by their you-know-whats. But people don't like to see the lives of young men destroyed by doubtful claims.

But you seem upset that that isn't happening here, and that's very disconcerting.