Friday, April 14, 2006

Rape and trial by media.

I have been following this case in America for the last week. It is about the alleged rape of a stripper by the players from a lacrosse team from Duke University, North Carolina.
I wanted to write abut it earlier in the week, but I decided to wait and see how it played out. And boy am I glad I did, I have never witnessed anything like the battle lines that are being drawn, not over this particular rape par se, but over rape in general and more importantly between furious women and angry men.
As it stands at the moment the evidence is sketchy. The woman in question was unable to correctly identify her alleged attacker and none of the DNA samples provided by 46 of the 47 boys has matched DNA found on the alleged victim and does not support her clain of rape.
On the flip side, according to the ER doctor and nurse who treated the woman, she does have injuries that would support an assualt of some kind and they are neither ruling out the possibility that she was sexually assualted or not.
Race is also a factor in this case, as is the dfferent social class of those involved. The girl is poor, she is black, she worked in a dubious career and has previous criminal record. Naturally in some quarters that immediately sends up a red flag and many have been quick to dismiss her as 'nothing more than a jumped up skanky ho' to use one of the nastier quotes I read.
The lacrosse team has been portrayed as a swaggering, elitist clique prone to loutish frat-boy behavior. They are wealthy, white ' privileged young men. Or in the word of one outraged lady, "Let me clear it up for you, this lovely lacrosse team is apparently filled largely with psychopaths and the psychopaths are still on campus." They are referred to is some quarters simply as 'the rapists'
In retaliation or to muddy the waters, attorneys for the players have released damaging information about the girl, and they defended releasing this information by saying their clients have taken a public beating since the March 14 incident.

The media is running the show with tilts and stabs tither and yon. Blogs have zoned in on whatever apsect of the case that best suits their beliefs. Feminist blogs are banging the drums on rape, rapists, the patricarchy, and whatever else they can staple to this case. Other more male dominated blogs are goating at the lack of 'real evidence' other that this girl 'said so' and that women "lie 'bout being raped all the time".
It is a mess.

Anyway, I am no expert on rape, or on alleged rapes or on false rape accusations. It is clear to me something happened that night, but we -the public-cannot know what until all the evidence has been gathered. This to me would seem obvious. So I was shocked by the naked hatred and vicious taunting I have witnessed this week. The glee with which the media have exhausted just about every sensational angle: sex, race, money, booze is disgusting. The flimsy curtain of acceptence and tolerance has been yanked aside, and trust me folks, the real stage is a gore soaked battle ground.
Blogs are taunting each other, colour is a badge, class has reared its head and is foaming at the mouth. Liberals and conservatives are screaming at each other. Black groups are up in arms, as are white.
But the real battle seems -to me- to be between men and women, and it was this that surprised me the most. The fury and point-scoring of the feminists, the scronful sneering contempt of the males. I amazed at the refusal of any party to take a step back and see this for the unpleasant situation it is.
I know I am a tiny segment of the blogsphere. I know I normally don't write on current affair topics. But I feel I have to comment on this. Not because of the case itself, but because of the divide.
It is staggering to see men and women take sides like this. Are we that different? Are we that hysterical and defensive that we must take a side when something as ugly as this situation happens?
When did men and women become enemies?

52 Comments:

Blogger KnackeredKaz said...

Yeah, I see where you're coming from. You'd think that both men and women would be on the side of what is 'right' and discussing the evidence, rather than fighting about the male/female thing. It generally tends to happen in rape or assault cases though and to be honest I don't know enough about it, or this case, to feel able to comment.


Keep us updated, I'd be interested to see how it turns out.

10:56 a.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Exactly Kaz, there are many elements to this case, so I was surprised to see it spliting gender so easily. And that has me asking questions.

11:02 a.m.  
Blogger Gorilla Bananas said...

I suspect that the people who are quarrelling hated each other long before this case arose. Sometimes you need an excuse to have a fight.

5:09 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Maybe GB, and maybe I'm too European to understand it all. Would this sort of baiting and sideline sniping happen if this happened in the UK or Ireland?

5:15 p.m.  
Blogger Angie said...

I have to admit I was one of those that automatically picked the female side. You just see this sort of thing too often. But that DNA thing threw me and I took a step back and said wait, we could be wrong.

And with me having boys, I do try to not react first. It's hard tho. I post alot about rape and children being molested --- more often than not, it's males doing the harm. Very rarely has someone lied about it.

But I have learned my lesson with this one, and am watching to see how it turns out. According to the latest, the police who responded first found her drunk and unresponsive.

5:34 p.m.  
Blogger Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said...

I saw the case too, fmc, and I don't know what to make of it. In the US though both camps have huge vested interests in this case. The legend of the Jock is alive and kicking over here and college sports is huge with revenue from the teams, in large part, keeping these university's viable - it certainly isn't government funding. The 'family values' crowd is also weighing in and the whole thing is happening to the wealthiest university in this Southern State. Money and religion combined makes for a powerful voice in the South, Add to that a dose of the region's famous racism and you have the case for the defense. And they are all on the defense which makes them that much more ugly and dangerously protective of themselves and their way of life. A white religious southerner is a Tasmanian devil when cornered. Nothing is out of bounds and they will rip this woman to shreds rather than concede these rich white jocks are guilty of anything. Plus they've all hired PR firms.

On the other side are the political groups (many, varied, some looney, some not) all trying to get media traction for their particular organisations. Women's groups, African-American groups, and political movements are all shrilly clamouring for attention and everybody has an opinion because, mostly, these groups are in the business of having opinions, and staying viable themselves. They need the media for that. This case provides an irresistably tempting platform for them to do gain exposure. There's nothing wrong, in itself, with wanting to get attention for your cause. But the woman and the accused men are secondary now to 'the process'. It'll be hard for anybody to find out what happened at this point because each side will hacve their spin doctors do their thing and it will become another great ugly spectacle for the American criminal justice system to balls up. I amn't usually a pessimist, but, in this case, I can't see how the truth will out. They'll probably try to buy this poor, black woman off and she might be poor enough to take the money. Duke, however will take a while to get over the bad publicity. Nobody will be satisfied justice has been done.

You're right. There couldn't be a more definitive case highlighting the social issues that divide America and the South, in particular.

What does Ivan think? That's his neck of the woods.

12:32 a.m.  
Blogger Binty McShae said...

I'm with you on this FMC. It always astonishes me, not just with gender based side-taking but also the frequent race or religion based stuff. GB is right when he says that often what you have is two sides looking for an excuse to scrap, but it's completely fucked up. Then again that's the downside of press freedom, and our own freedom to blog - it becomes impossible to see events in this world from an impartial position because 99% of the time the only info we get is biased.

I for one would initially have taken the side of the girl, but that wouldn't have mead me automatically come down on the team - there's 47 of them, and a damn good chance that they were not all involved or even knew about it. On the other hand after the DNA evidence I would have become far more sceptical... after all, it is not entirely unheard of for apparent victims to actually be crying wolf. Of course, maybe she is telling the truth but has just pointed the finger at the wrong men in error.... that too happens.

As Kaz said, keep us posted... at least your blog seems relatively bias-free on the issue!

9:27 a.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Angie, Sam, Binty, good afternoon. I read this morning that a police man reported that he found the girl unconscious drunk in her car the same evening, which is lendding credence to the Lacrosse story that she arrived drunk to their party.
This doesn't make it less likely that she was raped, but if she was that drunk it might explain her inability to identify her alleged rapists and that puts her case on shakier ground.
Sam, the hiring of PR firms is such a slimy thing to do. It's like Max Clifford over here, everytime I see that man I think scandal and white wash.

2:48 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Angie, re having sons. Whenever I read angry women write about men in a hostile way I always wonder which men they are talking about? My brother, my father, my paramour, my friends, male, gentlemen, loving and loved. And it makes me cross that they are all tarred with the one brush, in the same way let me add that some men refer to 'all women' get on my nerves too.

2:52 p.m.  
Anonymous tony said...

The division occurs when the media begins weaving its fact, fiction, and opinion into a story. The fact this woman is poor and black is the biggest feather in her cap.

However, some facts simply can not be overlooked. She claims the act took place over the course of a half an hour. The video in the club shows that is impossible as she is dancing a having a great deal of fun. Furhtermore, the claim is she got hurt when she fell. Evidence is on the railing and the stairs where ithe alledge fall took place to substantiate a fall. DNA facts simplt don't add up ... and this case doesn't even go to the grand jury until Monday 04/1}.

Despitre the evidence {thus far} overwhelmingly against her, the girl will win and the case will go to trial. Then the circus will really begin.

3:33 p.m.  
Anonymous tony said...

The division occurs when the media begins weaving its fact, fiction, and opinion into a story. The fact this woman is poor and black is the biggest feather in her cap.

However, some facts simply can not be overlooked. She claims the act took place over the course of a half an hour. The video in the club shows that is impossible as she is dancing a having a great deal of fun. Furhtermore, the claim is she got hurt when she fell. Evidence is on the railing and the stairs where ithe alledge fall took place to substantiate a fall. DNA facts simplt don't add up ... and this case doesn't even go to the grand jury until Monday 04/1}.

Despitre the evidence {thus far} overwhelmingly against her, the girl will win and the case will go to trial. Then the circus will really begin.

3:33 p.m.  
Anonymous Tony said...

Tony two times.

{the case goes before the Grand Jury on Monday 04/17}.

3:37 p.m.  
Anonymous Tony said...

Tony two times.

{the case goes before the Grand Jury on Monday 04/17}.

3:38 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Thank you tony. Monday? Wow, that seems very quick. It is my understanding that most of the players have yet to be even interviewed.
I'm not terribly up on my American law. What happens with Grand Jury exactly? Is this a pre-trial process to determine if a trial should go ahead depending on evidence?

4:45 p.m.  
Blogger Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said...

That's it exactly, fmc. The grand jury review the evidence to decide whether there is a case to answer and then they bring the indictment. The grand jury process was originally meant as a check on public prosecutors.

6:28 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

FMC ... actually it appears to me the process slowed down a bit. A high profile case such as this which happened over a month ago should have been presented by now.

9:12 p.m.  
Anonymous Tony said...

I don't know why I came up anon ...
fmc ... appear to having a bit of difficulty today.

9:14 p.m.  
Anonymous Tony said...

The following was on teh news the other day.

WNCN-TV
1:01 a.m. EDT April 12, 2006
DURHAM, N.C. - More DNA tests are being conducted in an alleged rape case involving Duke University lacrosse players, Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong said Tuesday. The day after attorneys representing lacrosse team members announced that tests conducted by state forensics technicians found no genetic link between the players and the woman accusing them of rape, Nifong told a community forum that more tests need to be completed before the investigation is complete.

A North Carolina Central University student told police she was beaten and raped while performing as an exotic dancer at a March 13 party attended by lacrosse team members.

No charges have been filed in the case.

Forty-six members of the lacrosse team submitted DNA samples to authorities, and defense attorneys said Monday the fact those samples didn't match evidence taken from the woman should exonerate their clients.

But Nifong dismissed that stance Tuesday during a public forum at N.C. Central.

"It doesn't mean nothing happened. It just means nothing was left behind," he said, noting that is common in sexual assault cases.

9:21 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Thank you again Tony for the update. I had a look at The New York Times earlier. Nifong's wording is slighty odd. Again he said, "I believe a sexual assault took place." Earlier in the process he bandied the word rape around a lot. His initial fervor seems to have waned somewhat.
I didn't realise cases came so quickly before a Grand Jury in America. Why do you suppose there is a delay in this one?

11:55 p.m.  
Anonymous Tony said...

I believe Nifong is toying with his words due to new evidence emerging. The tape from the club is most distrubing as the accusor
stated she was repeatedly raped for over half an hour. She was missing from the tape for about 5 minutes and upon showing up again, she resumed her dancing and fun.
Furthermore the {minor} injuries on her body are not those of a sexual offense.
The delay in this case in my personal opinion is that it is so racial charged, both sides want to make sure they have their eggs safely in the basket.
Just keep in mind one never knows what the jury is going to do ... silly me, I thought OJ was guilty.

12:47 a.m.  
Anonymous Tony said...

I believe Nifong is toying with his words due to new evidence emerging. The tape from the club is most distrubing as the accusor
stated she was repeatedly raped for over half an hour. She was missing from the tape for about 5 minutes and upon showing up again, she resumed her dancing and fun.
Furthermore the {minor} injuries on her body are not those of a sexual offense.
The delay in this case in my personal opinion is that it is so racial charged, both sides want to make sure they have their eggs safely in the basket.
Just keep in mind one never knows what the jury is going to do ... silly me, I thought OJ was guilty.

12:48 a.m.  
Anonymous Tony said...

Sorry ... I don't know why some of my comments are being duplicated.
I'm working on it.

12:51 a.m.  
Blogger Binty McShae said...

"nothing was left behind"....

I was always given to understand that it was damn near impossible not to leave behind a trace of your dna, or is that just me swallowing hollywood bullshit?

2:36 a.m.  
Blogger Twenty Major said...

Binty - you simply smear yourself with the DNA of a panther and it totally masks the human DNA.

Don't tell anyone I told you though.

9:39 a.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Morning Binty, Twenty. She left behind three or four false nails, which she claims broke off when she scrapped one of her attackers. She also left behind a cell phone and 400 dollars. No DNA was found under the nails
But-as the defence-are saying, the fact that she left things behind might be a good indicator of her drunken state. Whereas the prosecutor says this is a clear indication of her panicked haste in getting the hell out of there.

10:52 a.m.  
Blogger ill man said...

Bad Brains put it best.

"Olly olly oxenfrees who pick a side and hide"

The problem is that the truth becomes the property of the side who's horse comes up trumps in the courts. Anything to perpetuate the myths and polarise eh?

11:43 p.m.  
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