In the past few weeks, pieces by prominent writers at Jezebel, The Frisky, and Salon -- sites that otherwise skew progressive -- have hurled vitriol at, and openly mocked, persons who defend the rights of the accused in sexual assault cases. Ironically, each of these pieces could have been written by the kind of law and order right-wingers who have typically opposed the expansion of individual due process rights at every turn. The articles are unworthy of serious refutation.
Jezebel's Katie J.M. Baker thinks that keeping an open mind about a rape claim, and acknowledging that there are two sides to the story, is "rape apology." She mocked the posters created by friends and acquaintances of young men accused of rape that proclaimed: "Speak the truth. There’s two sides to every story. Listen before you judge. The truth will come out. Stay strong and support the boys."
Jessica Wakeman at The Frisky labeled attorney Judith Grossman's thoughtful lament about the absence of due process protections for men accused of sexual assault at American universities as "rape culture" and "victim blaming." Wakeman didn't bother to discuss, much less challenge, Grossman's indictment of the college disciplinary system but, instead, changed the subject to proclaim that rape is rampant on campus, that women don't lie about rape, and that rapists aren't punished severely enough.
Katie McDonough at Salon thinks that someone who dares to suggest that "prosecuting rape" in a case that "boils down to a 'he said-she said' dispute" is "rape culture." McDonough was attacking James Taranto's Wall Street Journal piece defending General Susan Helm's decision to grant clemency to an officer under her command who had been convicted of aggravated sexual assault. Taranto showed that the evidence in the case at issue was disputed, and that prosecutors had failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the male officer did not reasonably believe the accuser had consented. McDonough mocked Taranto's defense of General Helms' decision and engorged the upshot of his article to say that "[w]hen the system sides with the accuser, something is terribly, terribly wrong with the system." That Taranto did not say that is of no concern to McDonough.
Every civilized society must strive to achieve the critical balance of eradicating heinous criminality by punishing offenders while insuring that the innocent aren't punished with them. When writers are given prominent forums to mock and hurl terms like "rape apology," "rape culture," and "victim blaming" at those who remind us of the need to insure that the innocent aren't punished with the guilty, that's a sign of a culture rotting from within.