(Continued from my previous post)
Okay, so the Rolling Stone article is looking like a hoax. Nothing sure yet. It might turn out to be entirely true, but the smart money’d definitely on hoax. What’s the evidence? Well, the skeptics that I’ve linked to have already pointed out several things:
1. Supposedly in the room where Jackie was raped, there was a glass table that got shattered, and both her and the rapists rolled around in broken glass for several hours. Clearly this is not remotely plausible.
2. Afterwards, Jackie supposedly went downstairs, where the crowded party was still going on. She was supposedly bleeding profusely at the time. And yet nobody noticed this.
3. The very notion that a group of nine frat boys at a major university would carefully plan a gang rape is quite far-fetched. Moreover, one line in Erdely’s article implies that this gang rape was part of an initiation ritual, which is even more far-fetched.
4. It’s being alleged, though only in comments on other blog posts so far, that the details don’t add up. UVA frat boys pledge in the Spring semester, but the alleged assault occurred in September. Supposedly the frat party was continuing until early morning; in reality, parties don’t last that long.
5. Proper journalism requires names of witness, not anonymity; it requires the journalist to speak with anyone accused of a crime and allow them to respond. A simple read of the article shows that Erdely made no attempt to reach even these low standards. The Washington Post has just posted this: “Rolling Stone whiffs in reporting on alleged rape.”
6. Moreover, Erdely doesn’t seem to have any coherent explanation. When asked about these lapses in her reporting, she’s babbled out incoherent responses full of “sort of’s” and “kind of’s” and “I guess’s”.
On top of that, I’ll add some reasons of my own.
7. Rolling Stone is not a credible source. It is better known for topless pictures of Britney Spears than for anything resembling journalism. It’s is shamelessly left-wing and routinely attacks groups that it doesn’t like: Republicans, conservatives, Christians, capitalists, and others. An attack on a bunch of rich, white frat boys fits perfectly with the magazine’s biases.
8. Erdely provides many direct quotes, supposedly from Jackie and her friends. They don’t sound remotely like actual college students. “Her reputation will be shot for the next four years”. “She’s gonna be the girl who cried ‘rape,’ and we’ll never be allowed into any frat party again.” This is not what actual college students sound like. It’s more like what a clueless journalist thinks that college students sound like.
9. What’s true about Erdely’s dialogue is also true about her whole story. We’re being asked to believe that minutes after a young woman was gang raped and was bleeding badly, her friends cared nothing about her, but only about the reputations and access to frat parties. This isn’t realistic. It’s more like a parody of fraternity and sorority culture. And the reason why it sounds so much like a parody of fraternity and sorority culture is that, in all probability, it is a parody. In other words, it’s a work of fiction designed to attack and mock certain types of people.
As I said at the start, the whole story might be true. But certainly at this point, any credible evaluation of the evidence (or lack thereof) would lead to the conclusion that it’s probably a hoax. If we learn in the future that Erdely made the whole thing up from scratch, that there was no real “Jackie” and no friends of Jackie, that Erdely’s goal was to smear rich, white people and nothing more. Time, I hope, will bring the truth to light.
(The list of evidence continues in the next post.)