Creative Destruction

May 15, 2006

What’s wrong with this picture?

Filed under: Feminist Issues,The World's Oldest Profession — Daran @ 3:15 pm

While surfing the blogosphere about the Duke case I came across this extraordinary comment.

Had the dancers gained a conviction, civil suits could follow, with lucrative results. As the injuries the alleged victim showed up with might be among the injuries consistent with rape, she may have been raped by a boyfriend, a pimp, or a date. If a boyfriend or pimp was the perp, she’s still a victim. And isn’t it possible such a perp could have concocted a scheme with the intent of covering their own tracks while essentially seeking a monetary gain through a convoluted extortion effort utilizing the justice system?

Say what?

Hey, Kevin, take a closer look at the scenario you’ve just concocted. Do you see any other victims here than the one you identified? Is there another perp?

Edit: On reflection I should have paid more attention to the rest of his post:

If the alleged victim of rape is ultimately determined to have made a false claim, should she be prosecuted? Probably. After all, the damage done to reputations, to the career of the teams’ coach, and the inhibiting factor the case may cause to victims of rape are all serious and destructive. Yet what also will be weighed, either in the filing of charges or in the sentencing (if one or both of the women are found guilty) is whether the chief accuser was acting willfully or was reacting emotionally or under extreme duress as an abused woman who somebody else had just violently raped.

In short, it’s entirely possible that everyone (or nearly everyone) on both sides was victimized, that each was wronged, each was hurt, by legal definition. And that must be weighed before the best possible justice can result.

Belatedly, (more than halfway through the post) there is an implicit reference of the primary victims of this conjectural false accusation (though it doesn’t rise to an explicit acknowlegement. He mentions the coach and third-party rape victims, but not the falsely accused players). Unfortunately he presents it as though there were moral equivalence between the parties. Conjectually she tried to have them sent to jail. They racially abused her. That’s a serious matter, and I don’t want to trivialise it, but the two acts are not in the same league.

Lest I open myself to accusation of partisan hacking, I should also aknowledge the good in this post. In particular, I found the following comment remarkably thoughtful:

Yet we also mustn’t lose sight of the fact that the biggest impediment to successful prosecutions is not because of skeptical juries or a flawed justice system. It’s because rape usually occurs without bystanders as witnesses. That’s a conundrum that impedes the best intents and efforts of those who design and administer justice systems.

I’m not sure that it is the biggest impediment. I think it’s more likely to be an impediment in cases where a plausible defence of consent can be raised. I don’t know what proportion of all reported rapes that would be, nor do I have the measure of the magnitude of the other impediments. But it certainly is an impediment, and one that feminists often ignore when denouncing the system for its low conviction rate for rape.

1 Comment »

  1. Two comments from Hayden’s post stuck out:

    If the justice system does its job, the innocent will be protected in the end. The reputation of each member of the team will emerge intact. They may have suffered from the stress of the trial. Their season was destroyed, so some damage occurred there, to the players, the coach, the school, and the conference they play in. There are costs the men have accrued to defend themselves.

    Any lasting reputation damage might occur because of what the men actually did (hiring the dancers, making racist remarks, etc) instead of what the women tried to do to them. That has to be assessed fairly, too.


    It will be a shame if it turns out the women lied, and I would hope a fitting punishment would ensue. But I remain quite certain that, in that event (exoneration followed by the women’s convictions), the men will emerge with far less damage than every victim of rape endures.

    The latter remark I could not disagree with more. Hayden’s post, at least my understanding of it, dismisses the affects on these young men. He assumes that these young men have not been damaged in any real way. While the racial comment was wrong, it hardly justifies labeling the whole lacrosse team “racists” and “rapists.” Furthermore, no one has offered an explanation as to how hiring a stripper is demeaning to the young men, but not to the strippers who performed at a party with underage individuals who cannot enter strip clubs or drink legally.

    Further conflating the issue, Hayden states real victims will be deterred as a result of the coverage of this case, if it proves to be false. However, I am not aware of any statistics or studies demonstrating any such deterrent affect following these types of cases. The greater concern should be for the lives of the accused who will continue to be considered rapists regardless of whether they are proved innocent. In our society, we tend to assume that no one would make a wholly false claim. So some wrongful act must have occurred. That is a horrible stigma to live, and one the vast majority of female victims never have to face.

    That said, if this proves to be a false accusation, nothing will happen to this woman. She will not be charged, she certainly will not go to jail and her reputation (outside of those who know her name and what she looks like) will be largely intact. More than anything, in many cricles she will still be considered a victim and those young men her rapists.

    Comment by toysoldier — May 18, 2006 @ 11:49 am | Reply

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