Sunday, December 7, 2014

Rape Fantasies

Last month Rolling Stone published a story about rape on college campuses which began with a lurid account of a University of Virginia coed being gang raped at a frat party.  Doubts were raised almost immediately about whether this account was accurate and as I write this Rolling Stone is not standing behind their reporting.  I didn't read the story before it was discredited but in hindsight it does read like something Stephen Glass (famous for inventing a whole series of stories for the New Republic catering to liberal biases) would have come up with.  Which means Rolling Stone should been wary and extra careful with their fact checking.  Which they do not appear to have been.

Some people find it hard to imagine a woman inventing a story like this.  I don't.  It is fairly common for men who have never been in combat (or in some cases even in the military) to invent stories about their horrific combat experiences (and the post traumatic stress which continues to affect them).   The motive of course being to attract the attention and/or sympathy that such stories naturally elicit (when believed).  I don't find it hard to believe that some women would invent rape stories for similar reasons.  And because rape accusations are fairly rare it doesn't take a large proportion of such women among the general population to make false rape accusations a significant fraction of all rape accusations.

As for Rolling Stone I suspect the problem is that among their staff it is generally believed that only "bad" people would ever question a woman's account of being raped.  This makes it hard for normal journalistic skepticism and fact checking procedures to operate properly.  If actually hiring a more ideologically diverse staff is too horrible for Rolling Stone to contemplate perhaps for each story they should designate a devil's advocate to bring up the objections that people are suppressing for fear of being thought sexist pigs (or whatever depending on the story).  This advice of course applies to any institution where there is a danger of legitimate questions being suppressed because of pressure to conform to a party line. 

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