I'm writing to thank you for your astute deconstruction of the rhetorical failings of my "Open Letter to the Alumni of the University of Virginia." Just so others have context for this entry, I'll post your full comment here. First you quote me:
"I could say, rather, that she alleges that she was gang raped, but there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that what she claims happened to her really did happen to her."
And then you comment:
"Maybe if you ate an occasional burger you wouldn't be such an 'absolutely' anal retentive fucking moron."
So some backstory: on November 19, Rolling Stone published Sabrina Ruben Erdely's story "A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA," which provided graphic details about the brutal gang rape of "Jackie" at a Phi Kappa Psi fraternity party in 2012. The story pointed out the ways that UVA has systematically failed students who are victims of sexual assault, the existence of a Greek system that normalizes and perpetuates violent misogyny, and the power of tradition in the face of changing campus culture.
The outrage was immediate and national; UVA scrambled to respond, suspending the Greek system for the rest of the semester. Students at UVA protested, calling for an end to sexual violence on campus; they vandalized the Phi Kappa Psi house. And I wrote a righteously indignant blog, based on several things:
1. False rape accusations are rare. But they do occur. I have long trusted women when they say that they were sexually assaulted.
2. Fraternity men rape 300% more than college men who are not in fraternities.
3. I was in a sorority. And then I wasn't.
4. This. And this. And this. Annnnnd this. I could go on.
5. A credible reporter. A national publication.
Now Rolling Stone is recanting -- or something -- the story, stating that there now appear to be discrepancies in the story, and there are issues with regard to "Jackie's" credibility. Rolling Stone apologizes to everyone affected by the story. Despite the extreme vagueness of the Rolling Stone statement, The New York Times sheds some more light on the issue. The frat in question has issued a statement denying the claims made in the article. Believe it if you will.
MSNBC notes -- and I agree -- that in scapegoating the supposed victim, Rolling Stone has made matters much worse for everyone.
When I read the original article, I was devastated. It took me hours to get through it; it told me things that I know to be true, even as I now find out that the details of this particular incident may not be. And I wrote about it, calling out alumni, particularly Greek alumni, not to donate another cent to UVA until redress was made. I wandered around for a couple of weeks feeling like I'd made the wrong decision by not becoming a journalist, so powerful could the pen be. So motivational and transformative in the service of justice.
Then Rolling Stone did a 180, and all I could do was look at my computer screen and think, "what the fuck?"
Whatever is or isn't true, whatever did or didn't happen, Rolling Stone's irresponsibility, its shoddy fact checking, and its current cowardice in the face of these things will do unconscionable harm to any woman who comes forward hereafter as a victim of sexual assault. She would have been doubted before; now, I fear, there's no way she will be believed. And instead of galvanizing our nation's colleges and universities to act in ways that can prevent the very real sexual assaults that take place on their campuses, I imagine that the focus will shift to further discrediting victims, and, in the case of UVA, to vindicating itself of any wrong doing.
Anonymous, I want to get back to your comment: "Maybe if you ate an occasional burger you wouldn't be such an 'absolutely' anal retentive fucking moron."
First, mad props for the repetition of my "absolutely." Second, I'm not sure where in my original post there is any indication of a propensity towards anal retention. You'll need to provide concrete examples if I'm to buy that one. Try harder.
Third, given red meat's linkage to both colorectal cancer and constipation, eating a burger is unlikely to help in the anal retentive department, but thanks for making sure to link my veganism to your ad hominem indictment of me.
Finally, I do feel like a fucking moron, and I'm supposing that everyone who trusted Rolling Stone and Erdely's story feels likewise. I feel duped and betrayed, and I've opened myself up to attacks like yours, Anonymous, based on the fact that I was willing to trust a woman's story about a brutal sexual assault. I don't know what is true and what isn't at this point, but my certainty has been undermined, and women's credibility -- my own included -- has been compromised.
The fact that I feel like a fucking moron and the fact that you feel entitled to call me a fucking moron demonstrate the nature of this particular beast, the way that Rolling Stone's irresponsibility ensures that calls for campus-based action (like my call in my previous post) will fall on deaf ears.
Finally, I may be a fucking moron, Anonymous. But at least I'm not an asshole. And at least you're not really Anonymous anyway.