Questions arise on Rolling Stone alleged gang rape at UVA story.

There is a technical term for the bolded part of this excerpt from The New Republic‘s otherwise laudable (no, really) look at the suddenly-problematical Rolling Stone article about an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia*:

“If I had to guess what happened at UVA—and at this point, we can only guess (which is why we should not be passing judgment),” Wendy Kaminer, a civil libertarian and feminist who has written extensively on both rape and free speech on campus, emailed me, “I’d guess that the story is neither entirely fabricated nor entirely true, and, in any case, compels a real investigation by investigators with no stake in their findings.”

Said technical term would be ‘lie.’  When we’re talking about an act which society considers (quite rightly) to be heinous – in this case, gang rape, linked with assault and battery – you don’t get to have shades of gray. I am perfectly ready to believe that something as gruesome as the story in Rolling Stone could happen – any look at true-crime literature will confirm that horrifically messed-up things happen all the time, while somehow being ignored – but right now the author of said story is going down a familiar road where all her answers boil down to Please trust me on this.  I’m sure that everybody reading this can come up with a list of times where it turned out that the best response to that was …Actually, no, I won’t.

One last note: I had this Megan McArdle post on the subject pointed out to me, and Meghan is quite correct about something.  Even as it stands there should be enough detail in the Rolling Stone article to identify two of the alleged assailants. With an accusation of this magnitude it behooves Virginia law enforcement to track those two people down and at least give them the opportunity to either confess, or deny the charges… which is something that the Rolling Stone author was curiously neglectful in doing herself.

Moe Lane (crosspost)

PS: For the benefit of any lurkers reading this: this is the problem with the not-uncommon Leftist habit of distinguishing between regular-truth and revolutionary-truth.  The more often people get burned by fake stories, the more skittish they get about possibly new-fake ones.  Why did Richard Bradley write the first post that really questioned the Rolling Stone story? Because he was one of the guys who got burned by Stephen Glass.  Why did The New Republic write the above article? …Hey, maybe because they got burned once, too (yeah, also Stephen Glass). And if this Rolling Stone article turns out to be faked, then it’s going to get added to the pile that will come out the next time a story like it comes out.  Whether or not that story turns out to be true – and that’s why people who aren’t conservatives should also care.  Meditate on our culture’s hoary folk wisdom, and become wise in your turn…

*Very short version: freshman was allegedly gang raped and cut with glass at a fraternity party at the University of Virginia, supposedly as part of an initiation ritual; even more explosively, university officials are alleged to have swept the whole thing under the rug.  The author has been deliberately reticent when it comes to identifying the accuser and accused; many eyebrows have been raised at the dearth of actual names, or denials gotten for the record.


  • Catseyes says:

    Is it just me or does the “reporter” seem to be saying that it’s the story that’s important not the facts of the story?

    • Spegen says:

      She just wants to keep pushing the “narrative” about college campuses, fact or fiction.
      After Duke, you would think even the Rolling Stone would do a better job double checking.

  • Herp McDerp says:

    … hoary folk wisdom …
    Even better hoary folk wisdom*. There’s a lesson here.
    * Warning: Other comics on that site are emphatically not safe for work.

  • Luke says:

    It’s clear that most of those discussing the issue don’t know much about fraternities.
    The story stinks to high heaven. It’s not remotely believable. (Above and beyond the whole thing being unsubstantiated and implausible.) You see, the major foci of nearly all fraternal organizations are fellowship and self-improvement.
    Deliberately engaging in felonious criminal conspiracies runs somewhat counter to those goals. You hear a lot about the “communal living”, but much of that is having a whole bunch of friends constantly around who are willing (nay, eager) to call you on your BS.
    But initiation is a scary word! We’ve seen it in Animal House, Revenge of the Nerds breathless news stories, etc.
    (Setting aside that initiation is actually a solemn, formal occasion, with lots of religious overtones.) They’re trying to talk about trials leading up to initiation. The problem is, even though there have been times when these have gone too far, or been poorly thought out, they pretty much invariably have the same purpose.
    1) To humble the applicant, so that they will accept the need for self-improvement.
    2) To drive home the point that the applicant can be cast out if he fails to strive to continually improve himself. Even after initiation.
    3) Male bonding. After the emotionally-traumatic part of the trial is over, it comes time to be accepted as equals, and hear the elder members share the stories of their own trials. With a roughly even mix between how much the experience sucked, and how the experience helped them to become a better person. (It is common for alcohol to be involved in this stage. But it’s not what you’d call a party.) There’s a sense of solidarity that comes from this that’s difficult to describe.
    Something that could only be called an evil sociopathic fantasy of power doesn’t fit the motif.

    • acat says:

      That sounds like what a frat is supposed to be.
      Sadly, it does not offer any actual proof of whether or not it is possible for a frat to devolve to the extreme point of committing the type of crime described in the narrative.
      Doesn’t mean it happened, just means this doesn’t disprove the possibility.

      • Greg Q says:

        Initiation rituals serve a purpose.

        An initiation that requires you to engage in unforgivable criminal acts is only going to be required by a group that routinely does unforgivable criminal acts.

        If the fraternity had actually done what they are accused of doing, then members would be regularly violently raping women.

        Got evidence of that? No?

        Then the Rolling Stone claims are not believable.

      • Luke says:

        Institutions do become corrupted.
        But when they do, their practices superficially continue to resemble their practices before they became corrupted.
        The allegations bear no resemblance to practices of fraternal organizations.
        Is it *possible* that this happened as reported? Yes.
        But it’s almost laughably improbable.

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