Monday, March 14, 2011

In response to: http://quizzicalpussy.com/dehumanizing/ (NSFW site)

The article she links to:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/09/us/09assault.html

First, this author's writing is shit - his disjointed description of the scene of the attack comes out of nowhere, the article has no clear direction or narrative, and the writing style isn't even consistent; it reads like every single paragraph was plagiarized out of other articles.  He uses the same source twice and changes the way he refers to her; Ms. Harrison is in fact Sheila Harrison, but is presented as a new commenter.

Judging by the quality of his journalism, I'm guessing this is his idea of a "balanced" article.  He's not alone.

"Balanced journalism" at some point came to mean "If the facts unilaterally support one side, add something wishy-washy supporting the other side so both sides are represented."  (Although, thinking about it, the facts don't actually -have- to support one side for articles to use this mechanism.  I've seen one too many an article about climate skeptics or tea partiers which ignored all the facts which didn't support the author's opinions, and then gave the opposition a wishy-washy response.  But I diverge from my point.)

I don't see rape blaming, I see behavior characteristic of EVERYTHING the media covers.  The victim is always "blamed" in some sense, whoever the victim is or what they were a victim of.  "Rape blaming" in the media is only a small subset of a broader issue: The media does not substantively address objective truth.  Every side is to be treated as having an equally valid position.  (Even when it misrepresents said position, but I diverge once again.)  This is obviously shit.

That being said.

Some of what is being complained about is valid reporting; when the defense attorney claims that the victim was a willing participant, that -is- newsworthy.  I'm willing to warrant the attorney's client is full of shit, but the attorney is doing his job, and the news agencies are doing theirs.  This -is- victim blaming, in a very real sense, but it has a definite place in the whole system, and insofar as the media should report on rape at all, it shouldn't simply ignore what the defense has to say because the defense says unsavory things; the prosecution is also saying unsavory things, and the point in a trial after all is not to protect people's feelings, it is to determine guilt.

Trials can get nasty, and things can and will be said which will harm the parties involved regardless of outcome, especially in rape trials.  Which leads to the question of whether the media should be reporting on pending rape trials at all, whether all rape trials should be unpublicized, closed-court, and closed-document.

This would, notably, resolve two sets of problems; first, the one discussed here, that rape victims are subject to a massive invasion of privacy and attacks of every measure on their character, and a permanent loss of reputation regardless of the outcome of the trial.

And second, in a parallel I find vaguely amusing (if it is in poor taste to point out), that those accused of rape are subject to a massive invasion of privacy and attacks of every measure on their character, and a permanent loss of reputation regardless of the outcome of the trial.

The media is no place to hold a trial.

No comments:

Post a Comment