The YouTube video for “Sympathy For The Devil” implies the weird situation I’m in with respect to the UVA rape story. I never liked UVA because I knew a bunch of obnoxious, self-entitled individuals who were just bred for the preppy Rugby Road manor. I still remember these jerks from High School and the memory isn’t a particularly nice one. So the not-so-likeable part of my personality that hasn’t followed wisdom and relinquished vengeance really wants to see those frat boys rot in the slammer. That evil part of me doesn’t really care if the Rolling Stone article accusing a UVA fraternity of brutally gang-raping freshman girls is true. It’s a vehicle. An excuse to put UVA frat guys where they truly belong. As The Iniquitous Kos would comment: “Screw ‘em!” And that, right there is why I step back from this and treat it with skepticism.
As the Rolling Stones put it in the video above, sometimes good judgment requires just a touch of sympathy for the devil. Not because the devil is anything other than evil; but rather instead because I’m not always able to accurately discern just who the devil really is. Particularly when the baser urges I admit to having urge me on to cheer for blood here. I *hated* people like these UVA fraternity members growing up. I still feel a residual disdain and contempt for their ilk. And that, right there, is why I again take a step back from the lynch mob.
One other interesting voice of skepticism is none other than Richard Bradley. Why care about Richard Bradley? Because he used to work closely with Stephen Glass. He knows a thing or two about being taken for a ride by a fabulist coopting other peoples’ cognitive biases. He describes his own professional humiliation below.
Some years ago, when I was an editor at George magazine, I was unfortunate enough to work with the writer Stephen Glass on a number of articles. They proved to be fake, filled with fabrications, as was pretty much all of his work. The experience was painful but educational; it
forced me to examine how easily I had been duped. Why did I believe those insinuations about Vernon Jordan being a lech? About the dubious ethics of uber-fundraiser Terry McAuliffe? The answer, I had to admit, was because they corroborated my pre-existing biases…
Many of the evil stereotypes about UVA have a certain ring of truth to them. The Rolling Stone article describes well a major failure of the modern, elite university in America.
Attorney Wendy Murphy, who has filed Title IX complaints and lawsuits against schools including UVA, argues that in matters of sexual violence, Ivy League and Division I schools’ fixation with prestige is their downfall. “These schools love to pretend they protect the children as if they were their own, but that’s not true: They’re interested in money,” Murphy says. “In these situations, the one who gets the most protection is either a wealthy kid, a legacy kid or an athlete. The more privileged he is, the more likely the woman has to die before he’s held accountable.”
All of this is probably true, and could very well support a culture of dangerous sexual contempt towards women that rivals the John F. Kennedy White House. However, none of it means that Phi Kappa Psi gang-raped at least three freshmen girls as a fraternity initiation ritual. That’s what the Rolling Stone Article alleges, and to establish that; we need more proof. Fantastically horrible stories require fantastically credible evidence. Rolling Stone Magazine doesn’t seem to bring such forward. Judith Shulevitz of The New Republic questions aspects of the story below.
First, the saga of the extraordinarily violent gang rape, described in excruciating detail in the first ten paragraphs of the piece, relies wholly on the testimony of one woman, identified only as Jackie in the piece. (It is her real first name.) Second, the reporter, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, allowed herself to be bound by a vow she made to Jackie not to contact the alleged rapists, especially the pseudonymous Drew, said to have lured her into the room where seven men raped her.
And then there is the reaction of the bandwagon lynch-mob. Jezebel* has an ad hominem intended to question Richard Bradley’s questioning of the Rolling
Stone rape article. It’s well,…Jezebel.
On Jezebel, a writer named Anna Merlan takes me to task for questioning elements of Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s Rolling Stone story on an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia. Referring to me as “a guy by the name of Richard Bradley” who is “now mostly retired” (I am?), Merlan says that my post below is a “giant ball of shit.” (I would love to use that as a book blurb someday.) She doesn’t really say why she thinks
I’m so fecally wrong, except that I’m male and, apparently, old, and insufficiently appreciative of Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s “months of work.”
So we have a sensationalistic complaint (brutal and inhuman gang rapes) lodged against an utterly obnoxious antagonist (a UVA fraternity), in line with a powerful modern Zeitgeist bias (misandry) that isn’t supported in a way that would win in any court other than The Twitterverse. What
do? The part of me that believes UVA sports teams are called “Wahoos” because their fans are too drunk and ignorant to spell “Cavalier” just thinks this is a fine and dandy excuse to hang them all and let Gawd sort it out. The more urbane and less judgmental part of me thinks three words “Duke Lacrosse Team.” So again, what do?
This. Name all the alleged rapists. Name them publically, swear out the requisite warrants and try this entire sordid incident in a criminal court of law. If they are found guilty, I’ll promise to gloat as proper justice is done. If Sabrina Rubin Erderly made this whole thing up, let her career burn the same way Stephen Glass’ did. If it’s somewhere in between, The Justiciar** within us all will walk away unhappy. But in that unsatisfying case, we will have at least have done the right thing in the proper way rather than behaving like a mob of egregious Roundheads. Not even UVA frat members deserve a kangaroo court trial by Rolling Stone Magazine.
*-I have no intention of linking Jezebel. Sorry, but if you Google “Jezebel, Anna Merlan, Richard Bradley” you can find the hit piece.
**-Synonym for Cavalier ironically.