Friday, February 6, 2015

Rape Charges, Now With Secret Evidence

Jezebel has its heart on the "always believe rape victims" bandwagon, of course, which is to say, actual investigation of charges is right out. Anyone paying attention during the University of Virginia/Rolling Stone fracas got to watch in slow motion as the Washington Post wiped the smirk off their faces upon digging through Sabrina Rubin Erdely's hyperbolic and false tale. So it's no surprise to read that same snark in their piece today willfully refusing to accept any contradicting evidence in the Emma Sulkowicz rape charges introduced by Cathy Young's fine article appearing in The Daily Beast. Author Erin Gloria Ryan's claim that "There is not, by these students' accounts, much ambiguity in their experiences with Nungesser" couldn't be more wrong; the evidence Cathy Young uncovered of friendly Facebook interactions days afterwards and the length of time between the purported rape and its report to authorities make for a pretty open-and-shut case against Sulkowicz's version of events. Ryan also goes so far as to purposefully misquote Christina Hoff Sommers as saying "rape isn't real"; whether intended as a summary or not, it's the sort of red-meat hyperbole that exposes the author as endorsing kangaroo courts and conviction upon mere charges, i.e. lynch mob justice.

There it would have stayed, except for the "context" she provided Jezebel:

So, Paul's comment that "this room is a mess, I mean there is no chance I'll be moving tonight. but would have been nice to see you" she reads as "Paul guilt-trips me for not helping him".


So, here he asks her to bring "some peepz" to a party, which she reads as "girls" — and agrees to do so! What kind of deranged lunatic would expose other women to someone she personally knew to be a rapist? The answer is pretty obvious: she didn't consider him a threat.

And so, back to the final insult I want to discuss here, the exchange between Young and Sulkowicz, in which Young tried to get Sulkowicz to verify the conversations as authentic. Sulkowicz responded:
If I gave you the post 8/27 screenshots plus annotations, would you still publish snippets of the earlier conversations in your article? If you publish even a snippet of the earlier conversations without context, it will be out of context, and thus misleading.

I just want to understand one thing. You wrote, "unless of course they contain material that violates the privacy of a third party, which would have to be redacted." Do you just mean that you would have to redact their names? You are unwilling to violate the privacy of a third party, yet you are willing to violate mine? If you are only publishing conversations that you have both parties' consent to publish, I do not give you my consent to publish any of what he has sent you.

Lastly, about your deadline. If I don't get this to you by tonight, you are just going to go ahead and publish what you have? I may need more than a day to complete this. This is not easy work for me. How dare you put a deadline on the moment at which you violate my privacy and carve out my private life in order to gain publicity for your website. I think that is despicable.
What in fact is despicable — the most despicable thing — is the idea that any exculpatory evidence whatsoever constitutes a violation of privacy on the part of someone who is making very public accusations of a felony. Sorry, but you don't get that. What Sulkowicz is really demanding here is the right to do exactly what Brett Bellmore claimed in discussions of proposed rape criminal law changes: reduce the standard for conviction to mere allegation.

Update 2/7/2015: Cathy Young has a Twitlonger update on the only question I have heard raised by the Jezebel piece that makes even the slightest bit of sense, and that is, why is it that Nungesser now has three accusers?
Sulkowicz comes to feel that she was coerced into anal sex by Nungesser. When she talks to his ex, "Natalie," and concludes that Natalie's experiences with Paul were abusive, this conversation reinforces them both in the belief that their sexual experiences with Nungesser were non-consensual. (Perhaps not coincidentally, this was all happening in spring 2013, just around the time of the Steubenville trial, when there was a huge upsurge of "rape culture" rhetoric, especially on college campuses.) However, Sulkowicz decides to embellish her account with violent details (choking and hitting) because she has heard that rape survivors often have a hard time securing a conviction unless they report a violent attack.
She goes on to speculate (because university proceedings are under seal) that both "Josie" and the anonymous male student file complaints on the grounds of arriving at a warped sort of justice. 

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