The Rolling Stone story on the alleged University of Va. gang rape is invaluable for revealing the current standard of respectable thinking. The Washington Post posted an article by a female lawyer on Sunday with a headline proclaiming that “we should automatically believe rape claims.” I assume that the writer would not also say that accusations of malpractice against lawyers should automatically be believed. The article’s subheadline declared: “Incredulity hurts victims more than it hurts wrongly-accused perps.”
Zerlina Maxwell, who the Post mentions is also a “political analyst,” wrote: “We should believe, as a matter of default, what an [rape] accuser says. Ultimately, the costs of wrongly disbelieving a survivor far outweigh the costs of calling someone a rapist. Even if Jackie fabricated her account, U-Va. should have taken her word for it during the period while they endeavored to prove or disprove the accusation… The accused would have a rough period. He might be suspended from his job; friends might defriend him on Facebook… But false accusations are exceedingly rare, and errors can be undone by an investigation that clears the accused, especially if it is done quickly. The cost of disbelieving women, on the other hand, is far steeper. It signals that that women don’t matter and that they are disposable…”
So because women are so fragile, we must vest them with absolute power to make accusations without any evidence – accusations that can ravage the lives of innocent parties. Rules of judicial procedure that have developed over a thousand years are supposed to be cast aside because the contemporary rape crisis is so grievous. But the statistics on the campus rape epidemic are as shaky as a political campaign speech.
Maxwell’s piece spurred some great comments on the Post website. My fav: “I wonder what a date with Zerlina would be like? Flowers. Dinner. Maybe a show. Jail.”
This dogmatic notion that accusations should be treated as divinely-revealed truths is especially misplaced in the UVA case. T. Rees Shapiro, the Washington Post reporter who has helped shoot the Rolling Stone article to pieces, was quoted in an ABC News story yesterday: “Shapiro told ABC News that Jackie’s statements to him contradicted Rolling Stone’s reporting. ‘She said that maybe the party wasn’t at Phi [Kappa] Psi and then she told me that maybe the person that attacked her wasn’t a member of the fraternity at all,’ he said.”
If Shapiro’s comment is accurate, then Jackie sounds like she has or is on the verge of recanting on her key accusation – a fact that has received far less publicity than it deserves. Or perhaps feminists believe that, as long as someone or some group of guys abused Jackie somewhere in the Charlottesville vicinity, she should be allowed to accuse whoever she pleases?
[[the photo at the top is from protests spurred by the fraudulent rape charges involving the Duke Lacrosse team.]]