Thursday, February 10, 2011

Chilling N.Y. Times Article Celebrated America's Overreaction to Rape Accusations

Today, I share with our readers a piece from the New York Times that is among the most chilling things I've ever come across. It explains much about society's knee jerk overreaction to rape claims, and our readiness -- no, our eagerness -- to convict men and boys of  rape in the court of public opinion based on nothing more than an unfounded allegation.

The piece is more than 113 years old. Don't stop reading because of that. Trust me. This piece unlocks more truth about our modern "always believe the woman" rape culture than anything I've encountered recently, or maybe ever. If we want to know where we are, we need to know where we came from -- and as you read this, you'll realize where we came from ain't pretty.

The article is difficult to read because of its shocking racism and blithe dismissal of any concern for the rule of law. The factual assertions in the piece about race were, of course, long ago completely discredited, and we link to it not as an endorsement of such assertions, but as a barometer of public sentiment about rape which transcends both race and time.

On September 16, 1897, The New York Times ran an unattributed piece from a writer in Georgia with this title: "LYNCHING IN GEORGIA. Public Sentiment Favors It as Punishment for the Single Crime That Brings in About."

The piece was an unabashed defense of the practice of lynching for the crime of rape. The writer openly asserts that while the lawyers, the newspapers, and the preachers are opposed to lynchings for the crime of rape, the masses approve it.

He concedes that the victims of such lynchings are "generally black negroes of the lowest order" because, he asserts, "the negro is generally the criminal" and "he seems particularly given to this odious crime."

The writer is quick to add that lynchings are rarely performed for crimes other than rape, even though "nearly all our thieves and burglars and house-burners are negroes,"a fact that proves to the writer that lynchings for rape are not racially motivated.

"For other crimes than rape," he succinctly writes, "the law takes its tedious way." He cites a cavalcade of brutal crimes that were not avenged by lynchings: the case of a man who murdered his entire family and whose guilt was beyond question; a "negro" who killed an old man for money; a "negro" who "killed his wife cooly and brutally." 

But when women were sexually assaulted, the men who committed the crime were subject to the vigilante justice of the hangman's noose, including a white man the writer cites. In sum: "lynching is generally done for one crime alone" -- rape.

All of this is presented without apology and without concern that the practice would be viewed as abhorrent in polite society. It gets even more chilling. The writer goes so far as to defend the fairness of the vigilante due process: ". . . the utmost care is taken to identify the criminal and only when his identity is beyond question is the execution ordered. It is done in a quiet, decided way as a general thing, although in cases of great atrocity sometimes the criminal is shot as well as hanged."  He adds that mob lynchings are "not more cruel than a long confinement in a close dungeon . . .."

What about false claims?  Make sure you're sitting down when you read this: "The only ground of objection to this mode of dealing with these criminals is the fear that the innocent might suffer. As the most careful precautions are taken against this result it is not a likely thing lest the wrong man is executed."

"Lest the wrong man is executed"?!  Say what?

How to stop the lynchings? "I can see only one remedy for it, and that is to stop the crime [of rape]." 

The people who condone lynchings do not want to be law breakers. "They simply recognize the fact that there are extraordinary measures demanded by extraordinary occasions."


Current "Always Believe the Woman" Attitude Taps Into America's Inclination to Overreact to Rape Claims

As this blog seeks to give voice to the men and boys falsely accused of rape, it is well to remember that rape is a crime that elicits a visceral reaction of outrage unlike any other. America -- and particularly American men -- have a long and shameful history of overreacting to rape, both under color of law and through vigilante "justice."

The article I link to today celebrates that overreaction in stark, bloodcurdling terms, without apology. It is the same attitude that later allowed the Scottsboro Boys sham trials, the Martinsville Seven executions, the Duluth lynchings, the Duke lacrosse charges, and hundreds of other atrocities.

President Theodore Roosevelt's December 3, 1906 State of the Union address articulated this overreaction in a national forum. He spent an inordinate amount of time discussing the problem of lynchings for alleged rapes that too often took the lives of innocent men, and he declared without equivocation or explanation that rape is a crime "even worse than murder" that deserves the death penalty.

Shocking vigilante justice allowed the mobs in a hundred Southern towns, not to mention places like Duluth, Minnesosta, to hang men and boys without a trial conducted under due process of law. But we don't need to reference back to the hanging trees of the deep South to see examples of such "justice," we need only consult recent news stories. 

Two teenage girls lied to a 19-year-old man that another 19-year-old, Cory Headen, had raped one of them, so the man broke into Mr. Headen’s home and beat him to death with a baseball bat while he was sleeping. See here:

John Chalmers, a 47-year-old prominent businessman, suffered devastating brain injuries in a vicious attack after a woman's brother was wrongly convinced that Mr. Chalmers had raped his sister, so the brother thrashed Mr. Chalmers. So terrible was the beating that Mr. Chalmers has had to “learn everything again.” See here:

Darrell Roberson had come home unexpectedly from a trip when he found his wife, Tracy Roberson, and her lover, Devin LaSalle, together in Mr. LaSalle's truck. To cover up her affair, Mrs. Roberson falsely told her husband she had been raped. Mr. Roberson shot and killed Mr. LaSalle. In a rare switch, a grand jury refused to indict Mr. Roberson, but Ms. Roberson was charged, convicted, and imprisoned for five years for involuntary manslaughter. "The wrong person went to prison," fumed Jill Davis, Roberson's attorney. See here:

And we could go on and on and on. These rape attitudes long predated the feminist revolution and seem to have their roots in ancient notions of chivalry.

But our modern day sexual grievance industry, backed by feminist philosophy, has tapped into society's natural inclination to overreact to rape by insuring that "the woman must always be believed" attitude is institutionalized in our law enforcement apparatuses. They've done this by insisting on numerous rape reforms that make it easier and easier to arrest men and boys first, investigate later. They've done this by insisting that every claim of rape, no matter how outlandish or far-fetched, is treated by police with a gravitas previously reserved for a presidential assassination. We no longer need vigilante justice to give teeth to the attitude that "the woman must always be believed." Our law enforcement apparatuses live by that mantra.

The attitude that allows presumptively innocent men to be arrested, charged, and sometimes tried and convicted, on the basis of nothing more than an accuser's say so, can be seen in the Duke lacrosse charges, and a thousand other atrocities. A recent example is the Hofstra false rape case

Modern people cannot stomach the sort of vigilante “justice” referenced by the writer in the article linked above. But the Hofstra case is a somber warning that the witch-hunt hysteria fomented by those self-anointed rape avengers of yesteryear is alive and well in our news media, in our law enforcement apparatuses, indeed, in society at large. 

Except now, it is politically correct, and the ones who urge restraint in automatically believing a rape charge before it is investigated are deemed to be misogynists.