After being absent from the blog for nearly two years, I’ve returned with four posts about the recent gang rape charges at UVA published by Rolling Stone, which turned out to be a hoax. Okay, that’s a bit odd. Why do I care so much about this story?
Every forum thread and comment section on the internet devoted to this topic has overflowed with comments from UVA students and alumni. For the record, I am neither a student nor an alumnus. I did, however, live near Charlottesville for seven years, and had many friends among the students and faculty at the school. In that sense, it makes me particularly angry that Rolling Stone picked UVA as the target of its slander. If they’d instead made up a fictional rape case set at, say, the University of Alabama, it would be just as much a moral outrage, but it wouldn’t be so personal for me.
That said, it is a moral outrage. Accusing someone of rape, when you know that person didn’t commit rape, is a terrible thing to do. The ninth Commandments is “Thou shall not bear false witness”. Many translations give it as “Thou shall not lie”, but the original Hebrew makes it clear and specific: we should not falsely accuse others of crimes. For Jews and Christians, this has been a part of the basic moral order for thousands of years. Of course, the left-wingers who run publications like Rolling Stone and most major universities in this country proudly reject our Judeo-Christian heritage, so it shouldn’t be too surprising when they bear false witness shamelessly.
Well, whatever being wrote the Ten Commandments was right. It is wrong to falsely accuse anyone of any crime. It is wrong for the same reason that rape is wrong. Rape harms other people. So does a false accusation. Rape is selfish. So is a false accusation. Rape treats other people as worthless. So does a false accusation. This should be obviously and clear to all thinking people.
Regrettably, many on the left don’t seem to see it that way. Examples have multipled, but here are two much-quoted examples. A UVA student wrote an essay in Politico saying, “to let fact checking define the narrative would be a huge mistake.” Meanwhile over at The New Republic, Rebecca Traister tells us this:
The dismantling of Erdely’s story—both by anti-feminist agonistes and by those genuinely dismayed by possible journalistic error—would mean that Jackie’s story of being beaten and raped by seven fraternity brothers will be dismissed, and that the reading public will be permitted to slip back into the comforting conviction that stories like Jackie’s aren’t real, that rapes like that don’t happen, that our system works, and that, of course, bitches lie. What we will all be allowed to happily forget is that there are plenty of real stories of rape: of violent rape, frat house rape, gang rape, date rape; that most rape accusers do not lie and that in fact it’s quite likely, statistically, that Jackie herself did not lie.
Actually, to allow fact-checking to define the narrative is exactly the right thing to do. Facts matter. Truth matters. Separating true from false matters.
As for Traister’s statement, it’s quite telling. Supposedly “the reading public”, which presumably doesn’t include Traister herself, has a comforting conviction that rape isn’t real and never happens. In reality, no one believes this. Everyone knows that rape is a real problem and does happen. Traister is railing against a non-existent position.
Fortunately there are a few folks still standing up for reason. I highly recommend reading all of the following:
Emily Yoffe says that The Putative Epidemic of Campus Rape is Pushing Colleges to Adopt Policies Unfair to Men.
Judith Levine takes to task the absurd feminist responses to the whole story: “Feminism Can Handle the Truth.”
And Mollie Hemingway points out that Sabrina Rubin Erdely has a long history of writing utterly absurd stories and passing them off as true. Why haven’t her lies been exposed before?